After running Ragnar Cape Cod last week (and posting pictures from the event) several people asked me if I had lost weight.  Unfortunately the answer is no.  The pictures they were referring to just happened to be taken at really flattering camera angles (I can thank Shaun and the professional photographer on leg 35 for that).  I do well with a 3/4 angle and they both caught me in a pretty much perfect position.  For comparison sake, the two pictures below were taken within 24 hours of each other last weekend.  The one with the spring green top and gray capris was taken during my first leg and the one in the navy shorts and Boston shirt was taken after 31 miles.  Pretty huge difference in how I look, but they’re both me.  Just goes to show what a big difference a camera angle can make.

race_171_photo_2481118 race_171_photo_2484306


The bigger issue isn’t what camera angle makes me look my best, but the fact that after spending over $7,000 to try to determine a root cause and finally lose weight, I have, yet again, failed.  Last December when I first started working with Jeff Donatello, I was incredibly excited that maybe this would be “it” and I would finally be able to lose weight.  In retrospect, my excitement was misplaced.  Despite Donatello’s best efforts, I weigh more now than I did in December; my wallet, however, is significantly lighter.  I have joked to Shaun several times that for the money I spent on Donatello I could have had liposuction on my thighs and stomach and would have at least seen some results.  I am both sad and frustrated that here is something else that just didn’t work for me.  It is difficult, but I am trying to accept the fact that maybe I am just a fat person.  I, like most everyone else, carry the belief that with hard work, attention to diet and regular exercise, anyone can lose weight.  Unfortunately I am an example of years of hard work, attention to diet and exercise and I continue to gain weight.

Its also difficult to publicly discuss the struggle.  Inevitably lots of people want to try to help and want to offer advice on what worked for them or what they think can work for me.  It is also difficult for me that many people assume that I am not attentive to diet and exercise and that I must be “cheating.”  At this point I feel as if I have tried it all.

I have eliminated all processed foods

I have eliminated sugar

I have eliminated gluten

I have eliminated dairy

All my produce and meats are organic

I eat 5+ servings of non-starchy vegetables a day

I limit fruits

I reek of ammonia every time I train

I have taken more supplements that I can remember or name (in fact my most recent protocol required me to take in excess of 56 pills per day at a cost of over $700 / month)

I have used coffee enemas

I have starved myself

I have tried to up my calorie intake

I have fasted

I have counted calories and I have counted macro nutrients

I have juiced

I have made massive green smoothies

I have done neuro feedback therapy

I have done talk therapy

I have worked with over a half dozen RDs and nutritionists

I have trained more than 15 hours / week

I have given up training for an extended period of time

I have travelled to New York City and York, Maine in search of answers

I have had a gas exchange RMR test

I have had multiple sets of blood work

I have had a fecal analysis

I have spent well over $10,000 in total trying to figure out why I cannot lose weight

Despite all of these efforts, I continue to fail at trying to lose weight.  I want to be able to say that I can accept the fact that I cannot lose weight, but I can’t.  I want to be able to think of weight the same way I think of my height.  I am accepting of the fact that I am 5′ 8″ tall (and there’s nothing I can do about that), why can I not accept the fact that I weigh 185 lbs (and there’s nothing I can do about that either)?  While there are days when I am able to be more accepting of my body, there are also days when I absolutely hate what I look like and how I feel — I cannot stand all the jiggly bits.  I feel that right now the best I can do is acknowledge that there may not be anything I can do about my weight and work towards being accepting of who I am regardless of the number on the scale or the width of my hips.

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05


Tara · May 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Your story is a classic example of why no one should look at anyone else and believe they know their story. I struggle too and really appreciate this clear recounting of your experience. I hope you get to a comfortable place.

Wendy Prince · May 18, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Wow, I thank you for you honesty. I too have spent more money than I care to figure out on how to lose weight. I could have written this article, my frustration with weight loss mirrors yours. Mine has reached the point where I will be forced to give up 14 years of active military service because I can no longer meet the standards and it kills me because no amount of effort, diet, exercise, or hypnotism can change my metabolism. Be greatful you can exercise, 1 injury has turned into 3 more and I now weigh more than ever and will spend the next 5 weeks in a boot. Keep running, because I now look forward to reading your blog.

    gael · May 19, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Youre not fat not even close. Maybe you don’t have the weight you want but I wouldn’t ever call you fat. Not even close.

R Thomas Berner · May 19, 2014 at 6:56 am

I’m no expert, but I would say that you have a big body. After all, you are 5-8. Your body appears to be proportional, unlike mine. I’m 5-6 and 40 pounds over my ideal weight and you know where most of that weight shows up. Keep the faith. You look good.

Victoria · May 19, 2014 at 8:38 am

I’m so sorry you’re going through this – I wish I couldn’t relate, but I can. I’m the exact same height, and need to eat next to nothing to maintain just under 160 lbs. I do, however, agree with one of the posters above – you don’t look like you weigh as much as you report you do, probably because you have a good, muscular build. I like to think I’m the same way, but maybe I’m just kidding myself.

I am sure you have been tested for EVERYTHING, but I found out the majority of my weight struggles are due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Once I found that out, I was able to make very specific dietary adjustments so that I could better support my training without giving in to runaway weight gain. A lot of the recommendations for endurance athletes don’t work for women with PCOS, so it’s been an adjustment.

Victoria · May 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm

As always, I commend you for so much – your candor on the struggles you face, your thoughtfulness and bravery as you share those issues with all of us. I hope the struggle lessens and I agree with Berner (above, he was my fave college prof) You look good. You are strong. xo

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