A young mom battles depression with fitness

Katelyn Carr, 23 years old from Alpena, overhauled her physical and mental health and redefined her future when she took her nutrition and fitness seriously during a scary time in her life.

After the birth of her second baby, Katelyn quickly became pregnant again and her marriage hit a rough spot. Life felt overwhelming and Katelyn was living in the dark. She talked to her doctor and discovered she was struggling with postpartum depression.

Her doctor explained that she could take an anti-depressant, but there could be a risk to her unborn child. She decided that medication was not the right answer for her, but neither was drifting through each day with sadness.

At seven months pregnant, Katelyn started light exercise with guidance from fitness professionals, hoping it would lift her spirits. It did. The gloom around her faded and she smiled more after each workout. She felt stronger and more confident immediately. Exercise helped her fight postpartum depression. As a result, she welcomed her third child as a healthier, happier mother just two months later.

Katelyn jumped right back into her workout routine at Bay Athletic Club six weeks after her new baby was born and has even taken up running. With this new passion for fitness, she was ready to improve her nutrition. She found the willpower to cut out the daily soda and drive by fast food without stopping. She said these urges eventually went away. She occasionally enjoys her favorite cheese pizza, but mostly eats healthy options for her meals. As a busy mom of three, she has to plan ahead to avoid quick, processed options from her past.

“My life before I became active was nothing to be proud of. Fast food was a normal meal for me. I tried at-home workouts and gym memberships, but I never took anything seriously. I always had an excuse and no ambition. I was overweight and I barely had any clothes that fit.”

Her hard work with fitness and nutrition has paid off on the scale as well. Katelyn has lost 43 in the last four months and is able to wear old clothes that she never thought would fit again.

“Even better though for me than the weight loss has been the emotional change for me. I just feel happier. I don’t worry about falling back into a depressed state. I feel happy and I’m gaining confidence … something I never thought I would be able to say.”

Katelyn’s new zest for fitness even gets her day started better. She no longer dreads mornings. She wakes up ready for the day and excited about her morning workout while her kids are sleeping. This is a far cry from her life just six months ago. Her family benefits in many ways from her as a healthier mom. In fact, her son starts his first year of school this fall and she looks forward to being active in his class. Feeling better about herself has helped her break away from her shyness.

Katelyn wants other moms to know that postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Depression does not mean you are a bad mom or love your children any less. It should always be addressed with your doctor,” she said. “I just threw myself into exercise as my way to deal and fight it. Every time I walk into the gym, I’m greeted with a smile. When I take a class, the instructor wants me to do my best. You might never even realize that positive interactions like that can make such a difference in someone’s life when dealing with sadness.”

Katelyn keeps motivated by looking back at her journey. As a special reward, she decided that when she has lost a total of 50 pounds, she will plan a family photo shoot. She is very close to that goal and wants to schedule it for fall.

Her advice for other moms is simple but powerful. “I just want moms to know they should not feel guilty for taking some time out of the day to focus on their own health.” She believes that all moms have “mom-guilt,” but she thinks that other moms can make it worse by judging and commenting about being away from their children.

“I know that hour I spend at the gym is making me a happier and healthier mom.”

Katelyn is living life to the fullest because she faced her struggle head on and embraced a fit lifestyle.

Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.