A Thanksgiving Transformation: Katie’s Story

Meet Katie!

Last year, Katie Adzima’s Thanksgiving was filled with what so many of us love about the day: friends, family, football, and food.

Lots of food.

That day, before dinner, Katie noshed on chips, dips, and appetizers. When her aunt announced dinner was served, Katie giggled with glee as she ran through three full rooms of food – each room more delicious than the last. She loaded up with two full plates of dinner and then prepared to call it a day.

And then came the pies.

With a weakness for desserts, Katie dug in to eight pieces of pie. That one’s worth repeating: eight pieces of pie. In spite of her stomach ache, when her family rolled out a full Italian meal at 11 p.m., Katie loaded up again.

“I think I blacked out,” says Katie, “or that’s what I tell myself, because the next thing I know, I’m eating pasta.”

Katie literally ate herself sick that day.

While overeating on Thanksgiving isn’t exactly uncommon, what Katie did about it is. “The very next day, I made a decision that I needed to make some changes. It was the most unhealthy day of my life and it was not acceptable to put my body through this, now or ever again.”

That experience, which she describes as “a last supper,” resulted in her stepping back to evaluate her lifestyle. The very next day, she began a detox consisting of plant foods.

“I thought I should just eat completely raw and unprocessed and I don’t need anything from a box. And that was my only plan, so I went to the grocery store when I got home and stocked up on fruits and veggies.”

What started out as a one-week detox quickly turned into a lifestyle. Within three days of her detox, she felt positive effects which spurred a decision to go vegan. The sudden change in her lifestyle was without hesitation:

“I am an extremist. If there is gray area, I feel unsuccessful. I feel like there is room for me to fail. That probably isn’t healthy but I am sure it’s common with many people.”

Katie immersed herself in knowledge about a plant-based diet, and identified resources and support to help her make the change. Her roommate worked at Whole Foods and was able to connect her with books, cookbooks, and products.

She found the popular book Skinny Bitch to be both funny and resourceful, and stumbled upon No Meat Athlete in her search for vegan resources. As a result, she started incorporating smoothies into her daily routine. “Every. Single. Morning,” she says.

Before the change

Katie, pre-vegan, pre-runner

Although Katie’s Thanksgiving was – to put it mildly — indulgent, her daily routine before that wasn’t so reckless. Compared to the atrocious habits that are unfortunately the norm for most Americans, Katie’s lifestyle back then doesn’t look so bad.

She was active through weightlifting, group fitness classes, cheerleader coaching, her job as a physical education teacher, and another part-time job as a nanny.

Katie didn’t always have the energy she needed to keep this up, and blames her diet, which, although high in fat and processed foods, looks pretty typical.

Breakfast: Eggs, toast, bacon or sausage and “definitely lots of cheese on whatever type of scramble, omelet, or sandwich I had.”

Lunch: A hoagie (sub for anyone not from Pennsylvania) with tons of mayo, oil, vinegar, turkey, extra cheese, chips and soda.

Dinner: Salad with grilled chicken, cheese, ranch dressing, egg, the works. Or sometimes pizza or chicken nuggets with lots of french fries.

Snacks: Ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and string cheese. Sometimes fruits and vegetables sporadically.

“I had very low energy and I had noticed I had been putting on weight even though I wasn’t doing anything differently than I had in college. When I hit age 25, I felt like my metabolism fell off the face of the earth, and I realized I had to change what I was putting in my body. But I hadn’t quite decided when or how.”

Just one year later

Thanksgiving was the catalyst that Katie needed to get into action, to stop worrying about “when” and “how,” and just make the change happen.

One year later, her diet is drastically different.

Breakfast: A smoothie (frozen fruit, flax seed oil, almond milk, kale or spinach, “super seed’ from whole foods, sometimes chia seeds, and a banana).

Lunch: A sweet potato, almonds, and fruit.

Dinner: Soup and steamed broccoli, or beans and rice and veggies.

Snacks: Almonds, fruits, and all-natural peanut butter on rice cakes.

Even better, the change in her diet allowed Katie to see her body in a different light. Once a weightlifter who swore she’d never be able to run for more than a mile, Katie decided she wanted to train for a 5K.

Her all-or-nothing approach applied to her training, too, and after her 5K, Katie decided to run a 10-mile race. So last April, just five months after her that fateful Thanksgiving, Katie completed the famous 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia.

After the Broad Street 10-miler

Katie’s advice to beginning runners: “Never increase more than one mile a week; that helped keep me injury free. Foam rolling is a lifesaver. And for those like me that are saying ‘I could never be a runner,’ I suggest good music, a running partner, great shoes and socks and proper fuelalways.

What made Katie successful?

Lots of people experience guilt after overeating on holidays. But so few people ever succeed at making change happen. So what made Katie’s story different?

  •  She made a definite decision. Rather than saying “I really should do something about the way I eat,” Katie firmly decided that the old way was no longer acceptable — that it was over.
  • Katie took immediate, massive action. Instead of letting herself eat leftover turkey sandwiches and mashed potatoes for the next few days, which would have given her time to forget about how badly she felt after Thanksgiving, she went right to the grocery store and bought raw fruits and vegetables for the next week.
  • Katie did some research and planning so that the change could last, but only after she got some momentum with initial changes. Too often, our “planning” stage lasts forever and we never actually start.
  • She found new goals, like running the 10-miler, to keep her focused and to enjoy the benefits of eating a diet that allowed her to do more with her body.

How Katie changed more than just herself

As it turns out, Katie’s changes rubbed off on her students, as she got more involved in the physical activity they did in her class:

I’m so much more active than I was before! I do warm ups with the kids and challenge them in push-ups or sit-ups. One day, close to my 10-mile race, I ran the mile with each of my class periods. My schedule that day was 6 classes back to back so at the end of the day I ran 6 miles and my students absolutely loved seeing me out there with them, not just standing with a stopwatch waiting for them to finish!

Word got out that I was running with the students, so each class would race into the gym that day and be like, “Ms. Adzima…are you running with our class too??!” It sets such a good example for my students to care about my own health and be active with them as well. I felt better and more energized, I snuck in my own workouts with my students which was awesome, and I really think they admired the fact that I was motivating them by running or working out with them.

The time is now

Looking back on the past year, Katie is proud she’s not the same person who ate herself sick on Thanksgiving. But in hindsight, she recognizes that eight pieces of pie was exactly what she needed to finally make the changes she had put off for so long:

“People always say ‘I’ll start on Monday, or after Christmas, or when I graduate school, etc.,’ but those are all excuses. People see that they can’t give 100% at the moment, so they don’t do it at all.”

Major kudos to Katie for sharing her story with us. Leave her a comment to congratulate her on her amazing transformation!

P.S. If you’re looking to create your own amazing transformation, stay tuned for an exciting announcement about a No Meat Athlete training group for the Rock N Roll USA Marathon and Half in DC in March!



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  1. This was such an amazing transformation story. Congrats Katie on making a major life change, sticking with it, and reaping the benefits!

  2. Congrats Katie! It’s hard to against the norm, but so often that is what is needed. Keep up the good work!

  3. Awesome! What an inspiration!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Katie – it’s exactly what I needed to hear! Time for a change…

  5. Katie’s pre-transformation sounds very similar my Thanksgiving feasts year after year. However, unlike Katie, I’m still looking to find that motivation to actively pursue a new life style which remains consistent and doesn’t dissipate after a few weeks. This story is truly inspirational & shows me that people can actually make lifestyle changes that will work for each of us depending on our individualized diet and exercise preferences. Congrats Katie, you truly are an inspiration to us who are hoping to turn our life around in the health and fitness department. Your story is one that exhibits regaining one’s control of your life and choices throughout each day. Thank you.

  6. WOW! what an inspiring story!!! That’s exactly what I love most about this site…it propels me forward with zest and gusto!!!! Thanks for sharing this awesome story! And Congrats to Katie!!! WELL DONE! 🙂

  7. I almost did not read this story. When I saw the word “Transformation” in the title, I immediately dreaded the “after” photo which would show a super-thin, no-body fat superhuman. Someone who managed to achieve the uber-athlete ideal. How glad I am that I read it anyway. This story is the first one in a while that has made me smile and feel like these achievements are not impossible for the average female such as myself. Ms. Adzima is a beautiful, strong, young woman and I am inspired by her. She became vegan and fit and the best part is that her “transformation” was not into a “social x-ray”, but into healthy, strong and capable body.
    Thank you for this.

    • Katie Adzima says:

      So happy you read it to! Thank you, your kind words made me smile 🙂 Cheers to good health, inspiring others, and happiness!

  8. Way to go Katie!
    You must be so proud of all that you have accomplished – keep it up!

    ~Live Inspired~!


  9. ~What a great influence Katie is on others~ This was my first vegetarian Thanksgiving and I believe it was the best one ever! Next year will even better! Keep at it Katie and we appreciate the inspiration!

  10. Becky Richardson says:

    Great job Katie. It’s so nice to see when someone realizes that health is so important to overall happiness.

  11. Katie,
    Knowing you since elemetary school I can express how proud I am of you. You have always been the active, fun loving person but I know this new lifestyle has literally transformed you into you perfect you 🙂 Congrats xoxoxo

    – Britt

  12. this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear!! I just had days upon days of overindulgent nonsense and this is just what I needed to kick me in the booty!! time to get serious!!!!

  13. Katie Adzima says:

    WOW! WOW! WOW!!! Thank you everyone for your kind words…this website has had a 100% influence on all my positive changes and I am glad to see I can contribute to inspiring others. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. is capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for..make this your year do that “thing” that you keep saying “I’d love to do that..BUT..” You guys all made my day 🙂 Thank you!

  14. The other Ms.Adzima says:

    I have known Katie for three years and each year if having her in my life as friend is a blessing and an inspiration! I remember that Monday after break and Katie’s plan for a change. Being over weight myself, Katie sparked something inside of me. Together we kept our weight off and kept each other motivated. We did 6am boot camp workouts and def held grudges when the other didn’t show. Katie truly has an impact of those around her and she brings out the best in everyone. The students who have Katie as a teacher will realize what an amazing role model she is. I feel VERY fortunate to have worked alongside Katie for two years, but I know the really blessing is callig her a friend. Thank you for your story, your inspiration and being you. I’m so proud of you and love you!!!

  15. great story! so inspiring! thanks for sharing with us.

  16. This article is so well written and describes Katie so well! I am proud of you and I hope you now realize just how inspiring you are. You have touched the lives of your friends, colleagues, students and now strangers by sharing your story. Love you, keep it up!

  17. YAY Katie! You are a great example of a strong, motivated woman who can kick some butt! Meat, dairy, eggs & processed food stuff…who needs it??? Not us! YOU GO GIRL!!! Thanks for sharing your story!

  18. Great story! Very inspirational! I think I’m converted to the smoothie idea. I bought a (reasonably) good blender a couple of years back but hardly used it. I had a smoothie for lunch today and I’m converted. Smoothie for breakfast is the new plan. Also went for a run this afternoon. Great turn around from a rather unhealthy breakfast. Looking great Katie!

  19. I loved this post! Thank you for the inspiration, Katie!

  20. What an inspirational story!

  21. Katie, Congratulations on taking the initiative for your health, and being a worthy role model for your students. Best of luck in your future endeavors (I’m sure there’s a Marathon waiting for you!).

  22. Marty Cowan says:

    Loved this post! It feels great that the other meatless athletes are out there inspiring others every day! Way to go! 🙂

  23. Keep it up, Katerade! So proud of you 🙂

  24. Katie! What an inspiration story! I love this quote: “People always say ‘I’ll start on Monday, or after Christmas, or when I graduate school, etc.,’ but those are all excuses. People see that they can’t give 100% at the moment, so they don’t do it at all.”

    It’s so easy to find excuses, but you can always find a way if you try and plan. Congrats!

  25. Great story, Katie. Glad that this is inspiring so many people!

  26. great story, very inspirational

  27. That’s amazing, Katie, you truly are the change we all (at least on this website) want to see in the world. I would love to read more about your journey to transform your lifestyle..wanna start blogging? 😉

  28. rock on! you inspire me!

  29. Amazing work, Katie! Those are some seriously drastic lifestyle changes that take most people a lot longer to put in place than they did for you. I think it’s fantastic that you’re such an inspirational role model for your young students. Kids need more active adults like you to look up to!

  30. Katie, Beautiful story– you look strong and vibrant! I love the attitidue of just saying, “I’m going to do this” and doing it– no excuses, no “tomorrows”, just now. Love it.

  31. an inspirational story! thanks for the great post! sharing this!

  32. This is fantastic! Great job Katie!

  33. So proud of you Katie! Mom needs help and I do too

  34. I need to see this, and I’m so happy that I read through the whole thing.

    Congratulations on all of your hard work, Katie!!!!!

  35. awesome job Katie!

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