Lost: 100 pounds. Found: New life.It was sweet sweat and tears on Cally Olson’s tongue as she sat on a picnic table off Scenic Highway 61 this month. Behind her were 13 miles, more than 100 pounds, and any lingering doubts.
It was sweet sweat and tears on Cally Olson’s tongue as she sat on a picnic table off Scenic Highway 61 this month. Behind her were 13 miles, more than 100 pounds, and any lingering doubts.
“I choked up,” she said about the long run June 3 and waiting for her husband. She was testing her new body for the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon she will run Saturday.
“It was fun to pick her up,” Wade Olson said. “To see that smile on her face. It was a milestone for the whole journey the past 13 months.”
As Cally says, Wade “married a thin girl who became a fat girl.”
Through years of yo-yo dieting, depression, and a total lack of energy, Cally went from 120 pounds in her early 20s to a 33-year-old who weighed 255.
Last year, the Two Harbors resident decided she needed to take drastic action. She opted for a gastric sleeve bypass operation April 29 that would leave her stomach the size and shape of a hot dog.
“I was on a total cycle,” she said. “I hit 200 pounds and thought, oh my God, how am I going to lose this.”
It was a difficult decision for someone who grew up in an active, fit family. She was a three-sport high school athlete in Silver Bay.
But somewhere in a busy adult work schedule and the birth of her son, Brody, four years ago, “I was beat.”
She needed a kick-start, she said, and the surgery was it.
When her mother, Lauri Hohman, heard about the decision, she cried. “I wanted her to do it in a more natural way,” she said. But looking at her daughter’s desperation through all the diets and the sluggishness, coupled with sleep apnea, she backed her decision.
“I was sweating just blow drying my hair in the morning,” Cally said.
Her mother wasn’t sure she would stick to the exercise and diet regimen required post-surgery. Many had their doubts, even Cally.
Six weeks after the surgery, she grudgingly began workouts four days a week. She said one factor in not exercising in the past was the embarrassment of heading to a gym with a super-sized body. “When you’re 200-some pounds, everything is bouncing.”
She did power yoga and Pilates, a strenuous muscle toning plan.
“Surgery can make a big difference,” Wade said, “but it’s exercise and eating right.”
She regained energy and started to feel good about herself. More than 30 pounds melted off in a few weeks.
She was the pride of her doctors, a “poster child” for how to use the surgery and a changed lifestyle to meet goals. “I feel so lucky,” Cally said, because she has had no issues after the surgery. She eats less, but isn’t restricted in what she eats. “All I have is a smaller stomach,” she said. “This is a tool.”
The weight kept coming off. Doctors often call the year after surgery a “honeymoon phase,” Cally said, and wouldn’t have expected the kind of transformation she’s shown.
She realized she needed to work on a cardio exercise regimen after going on a 12-mile hike with her mother last fall. “It killed.”
She hadn’t done much running in her past but got on the treadmill and attacked. Soon, she didn’t feel “like the fat girl running.” By February, she was 100 pounds lighter. When she saw that number on the scale, she signed up for the half marathon.
“I figured if I could lose 100 pounds in less than year and work out religiously four days a week for close to a year, I can run or walk 13 miles.”
Cocky? Yes. And that’s me, Cally said. Her new-found energy and positive outlook oozes out of her.
“I’ve got my old daughter back,” Lauri said. They will run together Saturday, along with seven other friends and family members.
They’ve trained with the Fitgers 5K and Two Harbors May Day race this spring.
A proud mother
Lauri once felt guilty that perhaps she pushed her children too hard and they were rejecting the healthy life-style she’s maintained all of her life. “I sometimes felt like the Lone Ranger,” she said.
It comes easy to her, she said, and sometimes she forgets that other people can struggle.
She gets critical, and her children were “almost hating me at times” for her lectures on more healthful ways of living.
Cally gets this now. “Mom is my sounding board. She understands. Exercise is my Prozac, not food.”
A mother can take pride in a daughter living healthfully.
“It’s amazing how one person can inspire others to get back into the groove,” Lauri said.
Lauri has run in the half marathon before but not in at least 10 years, she said. “(Cally) asked me and I said ‘sure, I’ll do it,’” she said. “I’m fired up. I can’t wait.”
If her husband was bothered by her depressive moods and weight, Cally never knew it. “He was supportive,” she said, just like on the day he picked her up after she ran from her nursing job at SMDC in Duluth to the Lakeview Castle. “He was kissing my salty cheek over and over, saying ‘I’m so proud of you.’”
“I loved her no matter what,” Wade said. Yes, it was difficult to see her struggle with her weight. “She just didn’t want to do a whole lot,” he said. “She just wasn’t motivated, even for just going to the grocery store.”
He always thought she would handle the 13-mile test this month. “She was nervous, and had to prove it to herself, but I knew she could do it.”
He’s thrilled to have the “old Cally back,” a woman who can go on walks with their son and be part of an active family.
“Our home life is happier,” he said.
“I’ve never been healthier, stronger, or happier in my whole life,” Cally said. Today, she weighs 120 pounds again. “I’m 34 and I have my life back.”