Katie Hug began gaining weight after high school due the combination of her metabolism slowing down and taking prescription drugs for depression and anxiety.
“I was put on different medications that made me feel more sluggish, and then all I wanted to do was eat,” Hug, now 34, tells PEOPLE.
By 2012, Hug had reached 270 lbs. At her doctor’s office for a routine checkup, the Kuna, Idaho-based mom of three got a surprising wakeup call about how unhealthy she had become.
“My doctor looked at me and said, ‘You know you’re morbidly obese, right?’,” she recalls. “I knew I was overweight because I was shopping at the plus-size store and things like that. But to have someone say that to me, to have another female look at me like, ‘You need to do something other than sit home and eat all the time,’ I think that’s what did it. I just got sick and tired of being fat and being overweight and being miserable in my own skin.”
Hug began tracking her food intake and became more aware of how much sugar, fat and carbs she was consuming — her diet at the time consisted of mostly soda, processed food, bread and pasta. But the biggest change in her lifestyle came from discovering her love of fitness.
“[When I was heavier] I didn’t find any joy in it, it wasn’t fun for me,” she says. “I actually hated everything about it. My kids would go for a walk with my husband, and I would stay home. I didn’t want any part of it.”
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Knowing that she needed to exercise to get healthy, Hug started with a 15-minute workout video at home, which she challenged herself to do every day for 30 days. When she finished that, she found herself looking for a new fitness challenge.
“All of a sudden I wanted to walk, so I’d walk around my block and I’d be drenched in sweat, but I’d go again and go again, and the distances would get longer, and eventually it turned into a walk-jog and kind of took off from there,” she says.
Now Hug does cardio five days a week and strength training two to three days a week. She’s even become an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer and teaches group exercise classes.
“You start to feel that serotonin and dopamine and all that from exercise, and I didn’t have that before,” she says of learning to love working out. “I used that as the outlet for stress, anxiety, depression. That made a huge difference.”
Hug has dropped 130 lbs., and says the best part about losing weight has been the positive effect it has had on her family.
“Everything’s easier when you’re taken care of — when you’re not taken care of, everything else falls apart,” she says. “I can go out and play with my kids now, and it’s not an issue. You can go do more things, you feel good, and when you feel good you want to participate more too. Overall, I just feel better and it’s reflected so awesomely on my family and my marriage. It’s just been great.”