Good morning!  After four nights in a (haunted) hotel, it was so nice to wake up in my own bed next to the Husband, James, and Maggie.  :) 


A yogurt mess!  I had Honey Greek Yogurt, cinnamon-encrusted almonds, a mix of oatmeal and a fibery cereal, and a banana.


Yes, it was as good as it looks!


In other news, Arnold and Oroweat have posted beautiful professional photographs of the Healthy Living Summit on their Facebook page!




I really appreciate all the kind comments that the planning committee has received about the event.  Putting on a show like that for 200+ people is a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it in the end.  :)  (Here’s my full disclosure statement, as always:  I was contractually employed by the Healthy Living Summit LLC to put on this event, which was sponsored by Arnold and Oroweat, Stonyfield, Quaker, Frito Lay, Attune, Adora, Thomas, Open Sky, Subway, and Athenos.)


Healthy Tipping Point – Emily’s Story


I wanted to share with your this inspiring Healthy Tipping Point story!  I can really appreciate Emily’s story because it shows that transitioning to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily need to happen overnight. 


I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I was never a thin child. Nor was I particularly active. I was mostly the bookworm, the homebody, and avid movie watcher. In 2006, after breaking up with my boyfriend of 4 years, I decided to join Weight Watchers. I remember the moment I stepped on the scale vividly. I was 222 pounds. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. It just didn’t seem possible to me. I had no idea how out of control my life had gotten.


I lost some weight with Weight Watchers. I learned about portion control and healthier food options. But ultimately I couldn’t quite stick with counting and writing down every “point.” I tried other diets, the master cleanse, eating ridiculously small amounts of food a day, any attempt to lose weight. It just wasn’t working.


I finally joined the gym and started going frequently. For over a year, I managed to maintain my weight of 158lbs. I ate hundred calorie packs and drank diet soda, but I was frustrated because I was always hungry and I only managed to drop a little weight. I felt as though I was working hard at the gym but I wasn’t really getting anywhere.  I started going out a lot and partying and the gym visits became less and less frequent. I would eat less during the day, so I could binge drink at night. I knew things were getting out of control and if I didn’t get it together soon the weight was going to creep back on.


Around this time last year while searching the web for more diets, I landed upon some healthy living blogs. I spent hours reading and writing down tips and recipes, and I am SO glad I did. I cleaned up my diet, cut out my nightly binge drinking, and started eating more of the right things. I began running and lifting weights, and I was able to drop the 30 lbs I had been holding onto! From October of 2006 to July of 2010 I have lost a grand total of 96 lbs! I am happier than ever.  I am more fit then I could of ever of imagined and am gearing up to run my first half marathon in the fall.


I’m so happy I took my time losing the weight the right way. I now can see myself for the beautiful woman I was, as well as the beautiful AND healthy woman I am today. I am excited about the fitness goals I aspire too. I still love books and movies but I also get excited to go hiking on the weekends, and go to the bay with my family too. I have the self confidence that I always imagined for myself, and I am living proof that with the necessary tools and a lot of heart you can do anything! I only wish I had found “healthy living” blogs sooner!


Can you relate to Emily’s story of a slow mental change in attitude about your healthy lifestyle?



  • HTP Dad August 17, 2010, 9:27 am

    what hotel? How was it Haunted?

    • caitlin August 17, 2010, 9:29 am

      Congress Plaza Hotel – stories are that Al Capone haunts the hallowed halls.

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs August 17, 2010, 9:27 am

    I love that HTP story 🙂 My change was a gradual one too, about 2yrs, from ‘ as many lowest cals as possible’ to ‘as many healthy cals as possible (+ treats :p)’! WAY prefer the latter – I feel fabulous!
    I saw the facebook photos – they’re so awesome!

  • Nicole - August 17, 2010, 9:28 am

    I like traveling, but am always happy to b back in my own bed! I can relate to Emily’s story. I’ve been in the process of improving my health for the past 10 years!

  • Heather August 17, 2010, 9:29 am

    what a great story! she looks great!

  • Kelley August 17, 2010, 9:37 am

    I loved Emily’s story. I completely understand what that’s like. I have tried to lose weight for YEARS and always failed. I finally did it this year and have lost 45 lbs. It’s been such an amazing accomplishment. The mental game is the biggest part of the battle. I’m so grateful for Emily’s story. It helps inspire to keep at my new healthy habits!

  • Kristy @ August 17, 2010, 9:38 am

    Whoa. Need to hear more about these hauntings…it’s almost October after all! 😉 LOVE Emily’s story! So inspirational.

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) August 17, 2010, 9:42 am

    Wow, Emily’s story is amazing, and she looks stunning!! I have struggled with my weight all of my life, but I’ve learned so much and have changed so much (physically and emotionally) in the past few years that I am at peace with it and continue to strive for balance, not perfection or unrealistic time limits. 😀


  • Sharon August 17, 2010, 9:43 am

    Caitlyn, I saw an article about operation beutiful in Glamour magazine!!!

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite August 17, 2010, 9:45 am

    What a great story!! Thanks so much for posting it!

  • Amy August 17, 2010, 9:47 am

    Wow, gorgeous Emily, inside and out!

    And can I please say that I am soooo addicted to Overnight Oats in a Jar? Cravingggggggg them all the time!

  • Amy August 17, 2010, 9:48 am

    And I just saw your book mentioned in Woman’s Day! You go, girl!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg August 17, 2010, 9:49 am

    Wow– amazing story!!! She looks great!

    Isn’t it SO great getting dog and husband love after being out of town? Love it.

  • Caitlin @ Right Foot Forward August 17, 2010, 9:51 am

    Thanks for sharing Emily’s amazing story! She looks great – happy AND healthy.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday August 17, 2010, 9:52 am

    Wow Emily, you were gorgeous before you lost weight, now you are gorgeous AND healthy. Way to go!

  • Heidi M August 17, 2010, 9:54 am

    Great story! Does Emily have a blog?

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 10:02 am

      She’s a reader!

  • Natalie @ Scarlett Notions August 17, 2010, 9:56 am

    Great story! I’ve learned the best way to lose pounds is to take everything in moderation, exercise frequently, and just enjoy life!

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 17, 2010, 9:57 am

    What a great HTP story. I have seen the early stages of her story in my family. They have yet to reach the tipping point though.

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete August 17, 2010, 10:02 am

    Thanks for sharing your story Emily! I also lost weight with WW but it wasn’t until I started reading blogs and living a healthier lifestyle that everything finally “clicked”.

    Emily do you have a blog?

    Caitlin– all of the HLS recaps make it seem like it was alot of fun, it looks like you did a great job planning!

  • Maren August 17, 2010, 10:02 am

    Emily’s story is so great! I can definitely relate because healthy living blogs have seriously helped me overcome many obstacles with weight and image!

  • Julia @ Brit Bride August 17, 2010, 10:10 am

    Great story from Emily!


  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) August 17, 2010, 10:11 am

    I love Emily’s story. Healthy living is definitely the best way to go about changing your lifestyle!

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write August 17, 2010, 10:12 am

    I can definitely relate! What a great success she is! Congrats! At 343 pounds, I had my own tipping piont and ended up losing 200. The hard part for me has been keeping it off. I’ve regained 20 pounds twice and had to lose it again. I just keep on keeping on. That’s success. 🙂

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 17, 2010, 10:18 am

    Congratulations Emily! I can relate as well – my HTP was mainly for weight loss purposes, but now that I’ve reached my goal and realized that there’s SO much more to life than a number on a scale, it’s the HEALTH part that is so much more important to me.

    Any idea when HLS 2011 will be yet? I want to make sure I put it in my calendar early!! 🙂

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 10:37 am

      It will prob be in August 2011 but not sure on the location yet!

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic August 17, 2010, 10:25 am

    What an inspiring story. I think slowly but surely is def the way to go!

  • Amylase August 17, 2010, 10:26 am

    Oh wow, Emily you are beautiful!

  • Kelly August 17, 2010, 10:27 am

    That’s a great story! Sometimes the hardest thing is understanding that low cal isn’t always the best option.

    • Whitney August 17, 2010, 10:33 am

      Very true!

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) August 17, 2010, 10:28 am

    What a great story! I like when people include how long it took them to reach their happy weight.

  • Christina August 17, 2010, 10:28 am

    I can definitely relate to Emily’s story. After having to quit skating and some illness in my family I was badly out of shape. Slowly, over the last few years, I’ve been getting back to me. I’d like to lose a little more weight but I’m not on a diet and my focus is firmly locked on being athletic again. I even started doing some races this year and it feels awesome!

    Unhealthy doesn’t happen over night and neither does healthy.

    • Ashley August 17, 2010, 10:30 am

      love the last comment! so true!

  • tanyasdaily August 17, 2010, 10:30 am

    what a great job you have done!

  • Ashley August 17, 2010, 10:30 am

    I definitely relate to emily’s story. I have been a weight watcher since I was 13 and hit goal a year later (65 pound loss). Through high school and college I gained it all back and now about about 15 pounds away from goal, again. These changes are so much more than knowing what to eat and starving off of 100 cal packs and diet pop! So glad to hear Emily found success! Such an inspiration!

  • Whitney August 17, 2010, 10:31 am

    Wow, what an inspirational story and she is beautiful! 🙂

  • Rachael @ Mrs-Adventure August 17, 2010, 10:35 am

    Wow way to go, you are beautiful!

  • Gwen August 17, 2010, 10:39 am

    BEAUTIFUL story and BEAUTIFUL woman! Thanks for sharing!

  • mary & christina (sisters running the kitchen) August 17, 2010, 10:41 am

    Glad the HLS went as planned!!!!

  • Andrea ( August 17, 2010, 10:41 am

    What a wonderful healthy tipping point story! Doing it in your own time and on your own terms is really commendable. Thanks for sharing!
    In other news, I apparently need to keep my mouth open when I take pictures- as exemplified in the first pic of bloggers snapping photos. Ha.

    Have a great day!!

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 10:43 am

      I love that pic! You look so enthralled!!!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) August 17, 2010, 10:43 am

    emily, you were beautiful before, but you look completely radiant now. thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and congratulations on living a healthier life!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman August 17, 2010, 10:44 am

    I give you guys major credit for pulling that whole thing together. That’s a big conference to plan while busy with a million other things!

  • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul August 17, 2010, 10:49 am

    Emily’s is a truly inspiring story and I love it because it was such a slow and deliberate progression. As we know, 98% of dieting fails – and this is usually because it’s founded on desperate attempts that crash and burn. Making healthy lifestyle changes takes energy and TIME. And Emily is a wonderful example of how learning and growing can lead to a beautiful life. I can definitely relate as my journey is far from complete – health is a process!

  • Neen August 17, 2010, 10:50 am

    The HLS looked awesome, hats off to you for organising it!
    Emilys story as well as her before and after pics are AH.MAY.ZING! i can totally relate to it, i went to Slimming World and lost a couple of stone, it was sooo slow, but i learnt alot along the way, then i threw the towel in and went it alone (well i say alone – but with the help of calorie counting, clean eating, exercise and of course healthy living bloggys) and the last stone came off a whole lot quicker and a whole lot healthier!

  • Joanna @ August 17, 2010, 10:55 am

    I love the 3rd picture down. It is brilliant. Kudos to whoever snapped it. Good shot!

  • Dez @ Dezolutions August 17, 2010, 11:04 am

    WOW!! What a wonderful story!! She looks AMAZING! Slow and steady wins the race. I’ve done an overhaul of my diet and exercise, and have only lost 15lbs in a year. Yes I am MUCH happier, healther and have SO much more energy, but I’m still 40-50lbs away from my happy weight.

    I have a question for the readers, a lot of HTP stories start off with “I tried weight watchers first”. I was just curious if that was a good place to get started? Seems to be a common practice. Any WW participants care to give some feedback?

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 11:05 am

      I haven’t tried WW but I can weigh in (ha ha).

      I think a lot of people find WW to be helpful because it teaches portion control on a very basic level AND it makes you more aware of what you are eating. Also, I hear the support groups are great.


      • Elizabeth @ Eat Clean Fun August 17, 2010, 11:11 am

        I did Weight Watchers when I was in college and I thought it was a great way to learn portion control. However you have to watch how healthy the things are that you eat, becuase you can eat unhealthly items and stay in your daily “points range.”

      • Cynthia (It All Changes) August 17, 2010, 11:11 am

        I am still a weight watcher. It is a great place to learn portion control, eating whole foods (they have filling foods), importance of activity. But then it is your responsibility to not make it about the low point foods and about healthy foods. It took me a year of being on WW to get to that point. Now I don’t eat the bars, diet things and I’m still maintaining and doing well.

      • Sarah August 17, 2010, 11:12 am

        I lost 50 pounds with WW but the fat talk never stopped, it changed. I became obsessive about calories and points and portion sizes, weighing and measuring everything I ate. I did this for years until I had a baby and it was time consuming to do so, but then I felt guilty when I didn’t track, measure, etc. It was hard because I still had baby weight to lose (and my daughter is now 2.5) but I finally just said enough and began to listen to my body, not eating when I wasn’t hungry, stopping when full and that has worked so well, I am learning to trust myself.

      • Marci August 17, 2010, 11:12 am

        I think it’s a good starting place. It does teach portion control and is a simpler way of counting foods by points which combines calories, fat, and fiber. But then I think people grow out of it when they can count on their own, listen to hunger cues, and know how to cook and eat better.

      • Maria @ Chasing the Now August 17, 2010, 11:13 am

        As a former WW member, I lost most of my weight on the program. It’s a great place to start learning about portion control and how much your body really needs vs. What you are used to eating. I moved away from WW only because I was interested in learning more about nutrition, which isn’t the biggest focus on WW. Give it a try if you’re interested. Bit remember there are lots of free sites similar where you can log in for free. You don’t gave to spend a lot of money to lose weight.

      • Jenn Sutherland August 17, 2010, 11:17 am

        4 years ago, I lost 40lbs doing Weight Watchers Online. It’s a fantastic way to start – as Caitlin mentioned, it teaches you portion control, which is really what my problem was in the first place. The great thing about Weight Watchers is that you really can eat anything – just so long as you watch your “points.” This is really helpful from an emotional perspective to know that nothing is off-limits, and you can plan for one “splurge” meal in a week…it kept me happy, and kept the pounds coming off.

        BUT, I also fell in love with learning about nutrition, and figuring out what my body really needed to eat to fuel myself for tip-top health, and Weight Watchers does not give you “real” nutritional info – just the points. So, I left WW, and joined – which is FAR less expensive, has a great online community of members, and I get all the REAL nutritional info on the foods I eat, and can put in my own recipes to get the nutritional info on my own things. And after 4 years since the initial weight loss…I’m maintaining at 155lbs, cycling 20-25 miles a day & just ran my first half-marathon! I don’t “diet” anymore. I live a healthy lifesytle!

      • Melissa August 17, 2010, 11:18 am

        I have been a member of Weight Watchers for over a year and have successfully lost and kept of over 50 lbs. It is a great program, but it’s not for everyone. I too get tired sometimes with counting the points for everything, but it works for me, and the counting (for now) is helping me to get to a healthy place. Will I do it forever? Probably not. But it is the first thing I’ve tried that actually made sense and was livable.

      • mindy @ just a one girl revolution. August 17, 2010, 11:22 am

        I did WW online for a couple years and lost 70 lbs. I learned a lot about portion control and such. The important thing for me was slowly transitioning off it, to know that I can still maintain without having to count my points. I thought it was really useful tool, but definitely not for a lifetime.

      • mindy @ just a one girl revolution. August 17, 2010, 11:22 am

        I did WW online for a couple years and lost 70 lbs. I learned a lot about portion control and such. The important thing for me was slowly transitioning off it, to know that I can still maintain without having to count my points. I thought it was really useful tool, but definitely not for a lifetime.

      • Di August 17, 2010, 11:25 am

        I lost a lot of weight (~80lbs) on Weight Watchers, but I was originally eating all “diet” food. I ended up hungry and binging on junk when I was eating a lot of low point processed food as opposed to more whole foods. But I think that’s just how the plan was back then…geared towards all non-fat/low-fat instead of balanced choices.

        They’re starting to put more emphasis on what they call “filling” foods, which I think is better for weight loss and teaching people to make better choices. I do recommend it, especially if you need help with portion control. It’s a great plan to start but I think counting points for a really long time causes people to go a little crazy. (That’s just my opinion.)

      • elaine! August 17, 2010, 2:07 pm

        I haven’t tried WW, but I’ve noticed a trend in this thread about point counting making people feel crazy and eat less wholesome foods in order to keep point low. I don’t think that’s unique to Weight Watchers. I learned how to count calories in college and have done so on and off for almost 9 years and feel the same way.

        It’s really easy to count points or calories unhealthfully. It’s very deceptive thinking that your weight is simply the result of all these numbers — calories in, calories out, point totals, exercise, etc. That’s true, but it’s only part of the story. Pretending that calories are the only thing that matters will give you a borderline eating disorder, guaranteed.

        Whether you do WW or control your portions some other way, you have to be absolutely committed to seeing food as fuel and being patient with your progress. Shortcuts will backfire, whether it’s immediate (when you’re starving and you binge eat, or you’re exhausted from eating way too little food) or delayed (when you gain the weight back soon after losing it, or develop health problems from losing the weight without nourishing your body).

        On a side note, those of you interested in counting AND nutrition might want to check out Vitabot over at Motivation to Move:

        It’s similar to other online food journals, except that it gives your daily meals a report card. The awesome thing is that if you’re low in something, it will give you suggestions so you can get a better grade. Like if you’re low in vitamin A, it will suggest carrots for a snack. And of course, there’s a huge database of meal plans with good grades that you can use or adapt to your day.

        Anyway, CONGRATS EMILY! You are simply beautiful (in both the before and the after photo!) and I love to hear it when healthy living finally “clicks” for someone, because I hope to get there soon too. 🙂

    • Maria August 17, 2010, 11:11 am

      I thought Weight Watchers was a good place to start and it worked for me for a while…the only problem is my mind eventually became littered with thoughts of how many points items were, will I ever be able to eat that again, I have to measure this out, etc and I became so unhappy because of it. I detail all of this on my blog, but just based on my experience it is a very slow process that works, but I’d rather have a clear and healthy mind.

      • Lindsay August 17, 2010, 11:41 am

        Agreed! My bff had an eating disorder a few years ago and after she recovered did weight watchers to get the weight off in a healthy way. While it worked she said it could be really triggering and consumed her mind just like before (the only difference was instead of calories it was points)

    • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story August 17, 2010, 11:11 am

      I have done weight watchers successfully for well over a year. I find it helps me keep portions in check and to me, it’s always made more sense than counting calories alone.

      It helps you learn balance and moderation. You can have anything you want, as long as you plan your eating appropriately to stay with points. It’s been great for me personally.

    • Sarah August 17, 2010, 11:12 am

      I recently lost 30 lbs and the first 20 or so were done with weight watchers. I loved it. I had a completely unhealthy relationship with food and WW taught me how to view food and how much food I should actually be eating. During the early stage of weight loss it was very helpful to be surrounded by people who were experiencing the same emotions and feelings as me. They had been where I was.
      I eventually got tired of counting points and just wanted to transition to living a healthy lifestyle on my own terms. I lost 10 more pounds after WW through just eating well and running/yoga and I’ve kept all 30 off for 6 months. I think WW is definitely a great place to get your start if you’re like me and just need a complete attitude adjustment when it comes to your health. I definitely wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without it.

    • Haley August 17, 2010, 11:13 am

      As someone who has lost 30 pounds on weight watchers I think it is a great place to start. The only problem that I see is that you get X amount of points a day, so technically you could eat all of your points in candy, cake, etc and never really learn how to eat healthy foods and treats in moderation. However, if you eat fruits, vegetable, lean meats, whole grains- it is very easy to stay in your point range and have complete success on the program. I also recommend going to the meetings since they do keep you accountable and part of a support group.

    • Theresa August 17, 2010, 11:13 am

      I found Weight Watchers really helpful as a starting off point for becoming more aware and conscious of my eating choices and portion sizes. I was able to lose 70 pounds on the program, and over time I was able to change the way I used my points to focus more on whole foods rather than just what was the lowest point value, regardless of the nutrients and value. I think it is a great starting off point, and I often go back to looking at points values if I start to feel like I’m not eating the best way I know how. I hope that helps!

    • Carolyn @ lovinlosing August 17, 2010, 11:14 am

      As long as you follow the Good Health Guidelines [fruits, veggies, dairy (optional), vitamin, water, healthy oils] and don’t use your points for junk it’s a great way to learn portion control and talk about issues with others having the same problems. Of course, you don’t have to go to meetings, there’s an online program, too.

    • Laura August 17, 2010, 11:14 am

      I did WW years ago and lost 30 lbs. It’s a good starting point to learn portion control and get used to adding more vegetables, fruit, and water to your diet by tracking those. It can also help in getting you started with an exercise routine because you earn points through that. It can also be eye-opening to see just how awful some restaurant foods are when you look at them in terms of points. I did the online program, so I didn’t take part in the support groups, but it was nice to have message boards available for questions, ideas, and support.

      The program also helped me keep going with my weight loss because I was tracking it and paying for it – wanted to get my money’s worth!

      That said, I wouldn’t be able to go back to the system again. It was a great starting point, but counting points can become exhausting once you have the basics under control.

    • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) August 17, 2010, 11:14 am

      I’ve also done WW. This was way back in high school so my mind was in a different place, but for me, WW is about the quantity of food, not the quality. I know they teach you about the food you should be eating, but I was only concerned about the points. It became quite the obsession and I would see everything in points. I would have good days and bad days and good days would be gauged by how under my allotted points I was. I think for someone with a healthy mindset, WW could be okay but my main goal was to lose weight, not get healthy so it didn’t have the best affect on me.

    • Leanne August 17, 2010, 11:15 am

      I agree with many of the posts ahead of mine, WW is great for teaching you about portion control as well as teaching you about the types of food you should be using to fuel your body.

      I’m currently a WW member, but struggle with the concept of weighing myself on a weekly basis. I don’t want the number to start defining me or my body but I want to have some measure of my progress. I also think WW forces you to keep a food journal and if you are honest, you are able to pinpoint opportunities for improvement.

    • Esther Crawford August 17, 2010, 11:15 am

      As a WWer, most people join because they’ve seen someone else have success on the program. It’s an inexpensive program that doesn’t require purchasing a certain kind of food and Caitlin is right that it focuses on portion control and helps to give people a more accurate picture of what is going in.

      Not everyone sticks with what they start with, and obviously lots of folks are successful on their own but there’s no way I could’ve done it without the ongoing accountability that the meetings provided. Weighing in at home by myself just doesn’t motivate me enough but it’s fabulous that Emily got the info she needed and found a way to make it work in her life!

    • Sarah for Real August 17, 2010, 11:17 am

      For me, WW was just another diet. I think a lot of us read magazines, blogs, books, etc and are pretty aware of what healthy eating looks like. I’ve heard from a few people that WW helps them recognize correct portion sizes, but that’s about it.

      My experience is that diets of any kind don’t work. I don’t want to count points my whole life. I ended up getting bored and switched to all their pre-packaged, processed diet food options they would push at every meeting.

      Also, any “diet” that doesn’t distinguish between margarine and olive oil isn’t right in my book. I don’t want to be restricted to exactly 8 almonds, no thank you.

      Besides, I realized that the meeting I attended was more of just a support group for overweight people. No one ever lost weight, they just kept meeting to lament the fact that they ate too much at last weekend’s barbecue. That’s not the right environment for me to be healthy. I need to surround myself with positive, inspirational examples, like Caitlin!

      • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 11:26 am

        Thanks 🙂

    • Suzi August 17, 2010, 11:20 am

      I have been a proud member of Weight Watchers for almost 2 years. I am proud to say that I have lost 84.8 lbs so far and I am only 7.2 lbs away from hitting my goal weight!! 😀 Also thanks to the encouragment & confidence Weight Watchers has given me, I became a runner last summer and I will be running my very first 1/2 Maraton in September!!
      As corny as it sounds, it is true what they say; Weight Watchers isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You dont eat “special” foods or any of that nonsense. You learn how to make healthy choices and how to handle some of the “unhealthy” ones. I would not hestitate for a second to recommend Weight Watchers to anyone, of any size.

    • Emily August 17, 2010, 11:34 am

      I started there and I definitely lost a great deal of my weight with WW, but ultimately, I think it’s what lead to my bad habits and obsessive weighing and calorie counting. I was a part of the “core” or “filling foods” plan which focused on a list of foods that were always okay to eat in any amounts, minding fullness, and alloted 30 points each week for foods off of that list. The plan was very restrictive on whole grain carbs, allowing only two servings a day. I became obsesssed with which meals would be allowed grain carbs (something that my body definitely needs a few servings of). I also became totally freaked out by using my points. I would rather do anything I could to avoid using them during the week so I would be able to go out on the weekends without extreme guilt and anxiety. I was also doing this plan online and, without the support and accountability of the group meetings, I was really left on my own to let the rules spin out of control. The online forums helped, but there were many extremists on there as well and they could sometimes exacerbate the guilt that I was feeling on my own.

      In the end I was grateful for the knowledge gained at the beginning of the program about good carbs, excessive sugar, and good meal planning, but ultimately it is not something I would recommend to others.

    • Dez @ Dezolutions August 17, 2010, 11:49 am

      YOWZAH!!!! Now that’s some feedback!!!

      Part of my weight loss journey was becoming a vegetarian. This is very easy for me to maintain, I love all veggies and it’s easy to whip up a yummy recipe. I’m certainly aware of what healthy foods are and what to limit to moderation or not even touch (hello fried dough!?). I absolutely do NOT like ‘diet’ food. The bars, the shakes, the fat free sugar free artificial flavor with too much sodium. I just can’t do it.

      Sounds like the biggest benefit of WW was portion control. In my area, meetings at $44 a month, it’s a little pricey for me on top of a gym membership, yoga classes and boxing classes. I do keep a food journal and count calories, and I already don’t like that. I can imagine what its like to count points?? I’d go bonkers!

      I wonder if making an appt. with a nutrionist AND purchasing the ‘portion control’ plates might help me?

    • Karen @ Not Just Celery August 17, 2010, 12:21 pm

      I’ve lost about 90 lbs on Weight Watchers and kept it off over a year, so it works for me! I’ll be transparent and say it’s my 3rd time going to WW, but in previous attempts it wasn’t the program not working, it was me not working the program. It can be overwhelming to look up points and track every little thing, but you get used to it and I hardly need to look things up anymore I have most things memorized! I like that it focuses on portions and doesn’t push deprivation.

    • Penny August 17, 2010, 12:28 pm

      I have done Weight Watchers for years. I recently just had my second baby, and though I focus primarily on eating ‘real’ food and being a vegetarian, I use Weight Watchers as my core. It has always worked well for me. BUT, if I feel like I need more than the 20 points a day that is allotted to me, I go for it. I don’t follow it religiously, just as a general guideline. I have learned how to listen to my body. Some days I need more food than other days.
      Since having my baby almost 1 year ago…I have lost 50 pounds. I’m in my healthy weight range, but I would like to take off maybe 15 more pounds. (Which would still be in my recommended range). I intend to utilize WW. But, again, I focus mostly on eating wholesome foods, vegetarian foods. WW simply helps me control the calorie intake of said foods.

    • Amy August 17, 2010, 1:16 pm

      I lost 50 pounds on WW and I’ve kept most of it off for 3 years. I recently joined again to lose 10 pounds that I had put back on, but things were different the second time around. Maybe I became more interested in nutrition and healthy eating, but the meetings often made me uncomfortable. The leaders were nice, but I realized the focus was often all on diet food. The leader would sometimes try to pull the conversation away from “how many points is this and that, I can’t possibly eat that, etc,” but talk like this is what the meetings were all about. (I tried several), but overall they were a waste of money. The last meeting I went to the leader said we didn’t need good food, we just needed “good enough” food.
      This could have had a lot to do with where I live – Los Angeles. We’re definitely a diet-obsessed city, and I lost my weight in Massachusetts the first time around.
      I’m still doing WW online because I do like having a method to track what I’m eating. I wish I could find a good meeting here because they can be a great tool.

    • Rachel August 17, 2010, 2:21 pm

      I just wanted to chime in that I also joined Weight Watchers and lost 50 lbs at my lowest weight and have kept most of that off. It is a good starting point to learn proper portions and healthy substitutions.

      For me, it actually triggered some of my first instances of disordered eating, guilt, and binging. I had no idea I was even at risk for an eating disorder, but joining Weight Watchers and not reaching my “ultimate weight loss goal” has morphed into something really negative and damaging.

      Just be careful that you maintain your self worth and don’t let the scale or your points allotment dictate who you are as a person. I never thought that would happen to me, but it did.

      Now I turn to healthy blogs, the operation beautiful movement, and will be starting to attend a support group for disordered eating in the coming months. I want to get back to loving myself again.

    • Kate August 17, 2010, 2:26 pm

      I have not done WW but I worked for a somewhat similar company (LA Weight Loss) for 2 years. They teach (or did teach…I’ve moved across the country so honestly I have no idea if they are still in business) about portion control but the options on their plans are more limited than on WW. When I was working there I followed the plan pretty rigorously. I became obsessed with weighing and measuring and developed an unhealthy sense of guilt whenever I would deviate from “The Plan.” Now 5+ years later I still struggle with some of that guilt but I am learning to focus more on health and not on weight loss. Obviously everyone doesn’t become like this but it is definitely something to be conscious of! Good luck!

    • Stepf August 17, 2010, 3:22 pm

      Save yourself the time and money, and join SparkPeople. We’re free. Can’t beat it! If you don’t like it, then join WW, but I think you will be happy with!

    • Jo @ Steamed Broccoli August 17, 2010, 4:05 pm

      I also started with WW and lost a total of 30lbs on program over 3 1/2 years. However, I stayed the same weight for 1.5 years and got tired of paying, counting points, and my weight not budging. I also developed my own psychological issue with having to weigh in every single week and seeing the scale not move (when I have/had a good 30lbs to go to get to WW’s “goal weight” based on my BMI) and thinking I just wasn’t trying hard enough or was eating the “wrong” foods. Yes, you can eat what you want on WW but there is a lot of guilt that goes into it when you take a bite of something you “shouldn’t” have.

      WW is great because it teaches you portion control. However, it encourages “diet” and overly processed foods. I normally do recommend it to people who have weight to lose but I do not think it is for everyone (and after 3.5 years I realized it’s not for me). I now prefer to eat wholesome, fresh and good for me foods. Having that support system is great- and I met some of my closest friends there- but I think through blogs, supportive family and friends, and your own determination, you have everything you need.

      Losing weight is not an easy process- it doesn’t happen over night. No matter what you try, it takes patience, determination and hard work. You need to find what works for you. Just know that you CAN do it! Good luck 🙂

    • Summer August 17, 2010, 4:21 pm

      I did WW, too, several times. It’s a great program, and it had changed every time I went back. I agree with those who say it teaches portion control and mindful eating, but it can make you obsessive if you’re not careful. I eventually move over into calorie counting and deciding to eat higher calorie healthy foods instead of 100-calorie treats. Like, you might not eat nut butters or avocado because they’re higher in points, but instead you’ll load up on Dannon light’n fit yogurts or use sugar-free syrup because they have less points. I realized that it was much more important and better for my body to eat real, whole ingredients instead of fake, manufactured ones.

      Honestly, my life changed more and more for the better when discovered healthy living blogs. Made me feel better about a lifestyle change. Oh, and Sparkpeople ROCKS—made a world of difference for me.

  • Corinne August 17, 2010, 11:05 am

    I can relate. I have lost 120 pounds and cannot seem to drop the diet sodas and diet food. I am addicted and terrified of stopping. Ahhhh!!!! I drink A LOT of diet soda. 🙁 And when I start eating real sugar, I seem to lose control. How will I ever stop??

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 11:06 am

      Don’t be scared to stop the diet foods 🙂 No one ever got unhealthy from eating real foods in moderation, I promise. Maybe try slowing switching to more natural food choices over time? As Emily proves, slow is best!

      • Lindsay August 17, 2010, 11:44 am

        “No one ever got unhealthy from eating real foods in moderation”

        I love this! It’s crazy how before “diet food” was invented, many Americans were actually healthier 😀

    • Julia August 17, 2010, 11:12 am

      I used to drink a lot of diet soda and cut it out gradually. I would replace them with water and iced tea. I got down to just a few a week, and then just once in awhile. Recently I cut out caffeine completely, and so far I don’t miss it. Good luck!

    • Sarah for Real August 17, 2010, 11:23 am

      I’ve found that when I switched off of diet foods, there was a little rebound period where I probably did eat a bit too much. But after a while, I finally found my actual “hungry” voice and was able to start eating intuitively. I’ve maintained my weight like this for years without calorie counting or dieting. It’s freeing. You do have to let go a little bit though and for me, that went hand in hand with stopping the fat talk, coincidentally.

      • Summer August 17, 2010, 4:24 pm

        I think you make a great point, Sarah, and are a great example—I remember noticing that you ate full-fat yogurt and dairy products but still maintained a healthy lifestyle…something I didn’t used to think was possible!

    • Corinne August 17, 2010, 11:29 am

      This makes sense. What I find difficult is when I crave somethign sweet I drink diet soda, which seems to fill in the sweetness craving but then I end up craving more and more…I will try to find something else I can drink at night to help me relax. I can drink between 1 to 2 liters a day… I KNOW LOL it’s really bad!!! I have trouble with limits, it’s either ALL or NOTHING…Grr!!

      • Stacy R. August 17, 2010, 12:06 pm

        I use to love diet soda, I would usually have 1-2 per day and while it wasn’t that unhealthy I knew what the acid and fake sugars were doing to my body. I started off slowly by only having one a day and swapping the other one out for the single serving crystal light packets eventually I switched the packets to plain water and did the same with my lunch time serving. Now when I get a craving for something sweet or bubbly I drink sparkling mineral water, it’s a great no cal, no sugar option and you can get one of the flavored ones (lime, lemon or berry) to help curb your craving.

  • Brooke - One Healthy Cookie August 17, 2010, 11:06 am

    Wow! Such a great story! I love it when people can achieve their goals with clean eating rather than dieting. I just wish everyone knew it could be done that way.

  • Angela August 17, 2010, 11:07 am

    For me struggling from and eventually overcoming an eating disorder is all about a slow change. My initial attitude was that skinny = healthy and you were skinny by limiting calories and fat. To me, even at my lowest point, I was healthy. But I gradually began to understand how much food, especially healthy foods nourish your body and mind. As I continue to grow and deal with my ED, my attitude towards food and fitness evolves.

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) August 17, 2010, 11:11 am

    I love Emily’s story!!!! How inspiring!

  • Kate August 17, 2010, 11:11 am

    Love when you share these stories! Also…I’m dying to know…WHAT was it about the hotel that convinced people it was haunted? Other than the bizarro freezing temp/high humidity combo I didn’t *feel* anything otherworldly, lol.

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 11:12 am

      hahah oh you know how rumors spread!!!

    • Elyse August 17, 2010, 1:17 pm

      if you go to on the bottom of one of her recent posts she has two links to articles about the haunted hotel!

  • Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! August 17, 2010, 11:14 am

    What a wonderful story! Congratulations, Emily, on the incredible loss–you look so beautiful, and more than anything, you can be proud of how fit and healthy you are. My mental shift was very slow, too, and it took me almost a year to fully adjust to my new lifestyle. Now I’ll never go back! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this story, Caitlin!

  • Camille August 17, 2010, 11:18 am

    Yay Emily!
    Another inspiring story 🙂

  • Emmanuelle August 17, 2010, 11:27 am

    Great story, congratulations Emily! It is true, getting healthy is a slow process and doesn’t happen overnight, that’s how you find out what works for you.
    Caitlin congrats on organizing the HLS 🙂

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine August 17, 2010, 11:28 am

    I love all the pics!! This weekend was absolutely EPIC, I only wish I’d gotten the chance to talk to EVERYONE there.

    Emily’s story is amazing. I’m always in awe of people who lose so much weight- it takes such a huge commitment, and they always seem to find a healthy balance along the way. Are you still accepting “healthy tipping point” submissions? I think mine actually came this weekend…

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 11:29 am

      Yes! email me!

  • Amy @ Amy Starts to Run August 17, 2010, 11:37 am

    Emily’s story hits right at home. Since I’m a “work in progress,” I can relate to everything she wrote. I know slow and steady wins the race and I feel like I finally know what I’m doing. Great story!

  • Cindi August 17, 2010, 11:37 am

    What a great story! I’m still trying to lose my last 30 pounds (I’ve been stuck at the same weight since April!!!) – so it’s nice to see that just a few adjustments to my workouts and/or food could make the difference.

  • Amanda (tomboy that wears makeup August 17, 2010, 11:40 am

    Wow, that is so amazing. Congrats on your success Emily. I have definitely been inspired by healthy living blogs. I have now cut out dairy and sugar, I drink less and I am about to go on a 5.5 mile run. It even inspired me to start my own blog. I don’t have tons of weight to loose, just a good 10 pounds, but I have already lost 2 so I’m on a roll!! Thanks “healthy living” blogs!!! You ROCK my world!!!

  • Corey - The Runner's Cookie August 17, 2010, 11:41 am

    Absolutely! Any major shift in perspective (from a commitment to “dieting” to a commitment to health) does not happen overnight. That must be a very inspirational story for many people who want to make the same change, and I think it speaks to the power of healthy living blogs and how influential they can be in peoples lives.

  • ActiveEggplant August 17, 2010, 11:44 am

    I can 100% relate to the slow switch – I have crash dieted before but never considered it “crash dieting” at the time. The problem was that I made sudden & drastic changes to my eating habits and lifestyle. Then I would reach my goal, go right back to my old habits and gain all of the weight (plus some) back.
    I’ve discovered now that slow and gradual changes add up to big success. I’ve lost 20 lbs so far, have gained lots of muscle, and exercise on a regular basis FOR FUN and for training purposes.
    It’s amazing how making one small change, getting use to it, and then adding another small change creates such big results. It’s like a fitness snowball!

  • Kathryn @ Foodies Not Fatties August 17, 2010, 11:53 am

    Wow, Emily you look incredible! What an inspiring story!

  • Amber K August 17, 2010, 12:00 pm

    My change has been happening slowly as well. I have lost over 90 pounds, but it’s these last few that have been the hardest. It was just recently that I’ve realized that cleaning up my diet and getting rid of foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce would be best. And not necessarily to lose more weight, but to just be healthier in general!

    Thanks for sharing another inspirational story!

  • Julie (Etsy Stalkers) August 17, 2010, 12:02 pm

    I’ve done Weight Watchers on and off for years. I finally became a lifetime member about 4 months ago. The funny thing is that I recently became a vegetarian (not to lose weight, just for overall health reasons) and now I feel like I don’t have to eat Diet foods to maintain my weight. I’m eating what I want and not gaining because they are more wholesome. Emily’s story is very inspiring!

  • Kristy August 17, 2010, 12:17 pm

    Taking away the time line to creating the life you deserve is the hardest thing I’ve ever been faced with. Amazing story <3

  • Lisa @ I'm an Okie August 17, 2010, 12:32 pm

    beautiful story!

    I loved that you lost your weight slowly–and the healthy way. Now, you know how to live healthfully (is that a word?) and not just diet!


  • Jes (Self Motivation) August 17, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I really love Emily’s story! It is so inspiring and positive, and I love that the focus is on being healthy rather than just being thin.

  • Niki Jackson August 17, 2010, 12:45 pm

    That breakfast looks really yummy!

    What an inspiring story, I can totally relate. I have gradually changed my eating habits and learnt so much from healthy living blogs like yours plus walking our dalmatian daily. I’ve now started to add in 10mins of pilates most days and it’s great. I’ve lost 49lbs so far and am near my goal weight. I love what Emily said at the end about loving herself then and now. Very important lesson I’ve had to learn. Niki x

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin August 17, 2010, 12:46 pm

    I love hearing Emily’s story! My switch to healthy eating (and thinking) was definitely a gradual one as well– in fact, I still consider myself a work in progress! I’m so happy when I hear success stories of people eating “real food” rather than packaged stuff and counting points, since I’m sure that would be exhausting to maintain long term!

  • Lauren at KeepItSweet August 17, 2010, 1:02 pm

    That is a great story and inspiring. It is so hard to find a balance between “dieting” and thoughtful intuitive healthy eating.

  • *Andrea* August 17, 2010, 1:25 pm

    love the story! it’s hard sometimes to really believe and live out the difference of losing weight to be healthy vs. the desire to be thin

  • m August 17, 2010, 1:38 pm

    did you profit from the HLS? i don’t think this has been disclosed before. not that there is anything wrong with it since it was so much work. maybe you could make that more clear instead of ‘planning

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 1:56 pm

      Yes I was paid a stipend. The planning committee puts in several hundred hours to do this work. I’ve referred to it as a part time job several dozen times throughout the last year.

      • m August 17, 2010, 3:13 pm

        i could not find these references but maybe i just missed them. i also don’t recall them on the other girls’ blogs (which i know does not impact you). i know it would be a pain to mention it on every post but i think it would be fair to mention it when promoting things that relate to profit (e.g. ticket sales etc). one of the reasons i like your blog so much is because you are very honest. i think you do thus very directly with everything else and i am sure that you also intended to share this with your readers. i just was surprised because this was not directly mentioned until today. it sounds like a ton of work and i agree a stipend is well deserved. i also think it would be fair for you and the other planners to directly share this information when you are promoting something in which you have a vested interest.

        • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 3:14 pm

          point taken! i appreciate your feedback and if I were to do a similar event in the future, i would make it crystal clear 🙂

  • eatmovelove August 17, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Wow what a story! HUGE congrats to Emily. Inspiring.

    I’m interested Caitlin – did you struggle with your weight in terms of being heavier or thinner? Did you suffer from an eating disorder at any point? I know in your book (which I love) you talk about your feelings and body image issues, etc. – like most typical women – but you didn’t expand on it…which was nice as well 🙂

    (and I emailed you)

    P.S Those are some Hot girls in that photo !

    • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 1:57 pm

      I used to weigh 10 pounds more but it was just because I was unhealthy and never exercised. I’ve weighed less than I do now but not because of an ED.

      • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 1:57 pm

        And I’m glad you liked the book!

  • Rachel August 17, 2010, 2:14 pm

    These stories always remind me that so many of us are going through the EXACT same struggles at some point in our lives, and we don’t ever have to feel like we are alone.

    Thank you for that.

  • Monica August 17, 2010, 2:29 pm

    Amazing story!I was overweight as a child as well and since losing my first chunk of weight my freshmen year of college have teeter-tottered back and forth with my weight, health and well-being.

    It wasn’t until I discovered the healthy living blog community that I learned that the weight loss process has to start from within and a clean/fresh diet is truly the answer to a more balanced life. It has been tremendous help!

    Your story reminds me of a valuable lesson that I seem to forget daily – patience! So many people seem to lose weight overnight and I feel like I have been doing this forever! It is hard to remember that I didn’t gain this weight overnight – I have been overweight my entire life, and losing it certainly won’t happen in a day.

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous August 17, 2010, 2:48 pm

    Whoa, Emily! You go girl 🙂 Amaaazing. I’ve always been active, but my healthy mentality towards food is a work in progress. I keep learning and becoming more balanced with my eating, and slowly I feel like it will be less work and just second-nature. At least I hope!

  • Kate August 17, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Congratulations Emily! This is a huge accomplishment and you did it in a healthy way!! Good for you, girl!

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! August 17, 2010, 5:19 pm

    TOTALLY! That is what I had to do in order to lose weight myself! What a great story, love them! =)

  • sarah k. @ the pajama chef August 17, 2010, 5:34 pm

    awesome story! i have a friend i may pass this along to…

  • Lauren @ The Raw Cure August 17, 2010, 5:47 pm

    Wow, Emily’s story is amazing. Way to go Emily! So proud of you. 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 17, 2010, 7:28 pm

    Wow, congrats on losing the weight in such a healthy way, Emily! 🙂 I can definitely relate to being really inspired by healthy living blogs.

  • Wei-Wei August 17, 2010, 7:56 pm

    What a great HTP story! Emily looks absolutely amazing.


  • Sarah August 17, 2010, 10:37 pm

    I hit that point seven weeks ago. I simply said that I have to do 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week in order to keep from dropping dead too early.

    Actually, I need to do more, but I’m finding doing just a little bit better at a time really helps. Thanks for the awesome inspiration!

  • John August 28, 2010, 8:58 pm

    “I landed upon some healthy living blogs”
    This also was a big help in my current weight loss journey. Lately I’ve been struggling and after trying to figure out why I’m thinking it’s because I haven’t been keeping up on my blog reading this past month. I made it a point today to read blogs again. Hope I’m back here commenting consistently again!

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