How I Lost 101 Pounds During the Toughest Time in My Life

Catherine Anderson, 47, of Maynard, Mass., was coping with divorce and the death of her father. But she somehow found the will to lose over 100 pounds by forming a support group at her local gym.

catherine anderson

Eight years ago, Catherine was living near Boston and coping with not only the death of her father but the end of her 15-year marriage. “I was trying to spend time with my parents, who lived in Pittsburgh, and take care of my two kids, who were 2 and 6 at the time,” Catherine says. Thanks in part to all that stress, her weight soared—from 150 pounds to 225. “Sometimes I would eat too much, and at other times I wasn’t eating enough,” she says. “I felt so alone during my struggle.”

The low point came when Catherine’s husband filed for divorce shortly after her dad died. “I felt really broken for a long time,” she says. Not long after the divorce, she joined Weight Watchers, but she was halfhearted about it, she realized. A year or so later, she asked her neighbors if she could use their treadmill, which was stored in their garage. “I started walking on it. I really wanted to run on it, but I couldn’t at first.” She used that treadmill three or four times a week for 10 months, and later that year her mom bought her a membership to Anytime Fitness, a gym near Catherine’s house.

Going to the gym changed everything. “I built a team of friends there who had similar interests,” Catherine says. “It felt really good to be part of a group.” And, as her workouts increased, Catherine could see her body was changing. “I’d hear my trainer at the gym using me as an example for other women,” she says. “I remember hearing him say, ‘That woman has lost about 100 pounds. If she did it, so can you.’ I felt so proud!” For Catherine, feeling strong is the best reward. “Being thin is a fantastic side effect, but it isn’t the No. 1 reason I wanted to change my body,” she says. “When my body is strong, my soul feels strong, and that strength trickles into all aspects of my life.”