By Rebecca Drew
A GAMING addict has revealed how she shed almost six stone in just a year after swapping Call of Duty for weightlifting.
Software engineer, Kaitlyn van Brunschot (26) from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, who describes herself as ‘a typical gamer’, used to fill her spare time playing Call of Duty and Halo on the Xbox with her friends when she would mindlessly consume junk food and soda to keep herself satisfied.
This lifestyle saw Kaitlyn gain weight and at 16st 4lb and a UK size 20, she would avoid social events as she hated dressing up and showing off her body.
After she divorced her ex-husband in 2016, Kaitlyn found herself with lots of spare time and channelled her energy into weightlifting as a distraction. She soon fell in love with her new hobby and watched the weight melt away. For the first six months, Kaitlyn still ate junk food but she eventually swapped this for fresh, whole foods and is now a fit and healthy 10st 8lb and a UK size 10.
“I was just your typical gamer, I would geek out and snack all the time. It was a lot of mindless eating, and eating really bad junk food and soda, that really lead me to gain weight,” she said.
“I never truly felt that attractive when I was heavier. It’s funny because I look back at old photos and I don’t think now that I was unattractive; I looked fine. I just think I was much harder on myself back then.
“I would literally not hang out with people because the thought of having to get dressed up to go out with people would be too much for me to handle.
“Pool party? Forget about me coming, there’s no way I was wearing a swimsuit in front of people back then. I remember trying so hard to appear smaller than I was. I always had negative thoughts about my body and how I looked too, which really wears your confidence down a lot.
“I went through a really difficult breakup in summer 2016. I married my first boyfriend and a lot of things just weren’t there that needed to be there. So when I split up with him found myself with a lot of free time and little to no idea of who I was as a person.
“After my divorce I turned to weightlifting to fill my time and keep my mind off of things. I fell absolutely in love with weightlifting and how it made me feel. I had tried cardio regimes before and never really enjoyed them the same way that I enjoyed weightlifting.
“It fills me with energy and makes me excited about what my body can do. Once I began to celebrate the things my body can do instead of ruminating over what it can’t do, that’s when the excess weight really melted off of me.
“I challenged myself to do a GoRuck challenge and every time I could do more push ups or I could tell that I had gained more endurance I was so excited. I liked having a goal that was fun to work towards. I did a St Paddy’s day GoRuck in March 2017 and loved it.”
Kaitlyn says that the first few months of her weight loss regime were the most difficult as she would only go to the gym late at night to avoid other gym-goers out of embarrassment.
However, she soon got over her fears and realised how weight lifting encouraged her to take care of herself.
“Weight lifting has helped me realise the importance of taking care of myself. Losing weight itself was really just a side effect of me wanting to be healthier and feel better. I know now that it’s not good for your body to just eat junk food all day,” explained Kaitlyn.
“I can’t believe how much food I used to eat; it was normal for me to eat until I was sickeningly full every meal. I would honestly eat until I was sick almost every day. I think eating was a means for me to ignore all the things in my life that I felt like I had no control over.
“When I was heavier I always felt judged and isolated. I realise now that I was the one who isolated myself because I just wasn’t really a happy person. I complained a lot and had really fallen into a victim mentality.
“Now I know that I alone have the power to change what I put out to the world. If I put out happiness and joy and am nice to people, then I meet other people like that.
“The first few months were hardest for me. Having that lifestyle change is always a learning process and can be difficult to maintain at times.
“I used to work out late at night, like nine or 10pm, because I was too embarrassed to go weightlifting in the free weight area with all these very fit people.
“It was hard to get over that initial embarrassment or fear of trying new things, but once I got over it, it began to get a lot easier.”
Kaitlyn tries to work out daily, fuelling her body with fresh foods but she doesn’t deny herself the occasional treat every once in a while. She shared her advice to others.
“Being realistic is helpful. Don’t try to change your diet and your exercise regime at the same time,” she added.
“I would recommend either starting some physical activity that you love, or changing your eating patterns, but not both at the same time. And one hundred percent to be gentle with yourself.
“It’s a learning process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Have faith in yourself too. You’ve probably done a lot of great things in your life, you’re probably a hard worker, and just believing that you can do something is the first step in actually doing that thing.
“It makes me feel so loved when my friends ask me for advice, and I am so happy that I can help any of them in any small way.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/kaitlynesse