Reader mail 8

August 8th, 2009  |  Published in Reader mail & blogs, Stumpblog  |  15 Comments

frances-beforeHey Krista,

Love your site. I have included a couple of pictures for you, as I know you love them.

I live and work in Toronto. I was unfit my entire life and avoided the gym for years, convinced that it was going to be just like High School gym.

In my late 20s, I went through a rough patch and got seriously depressed. My weight ballooned to the point that when I turned 30 things were at their worst and I weighed 315lbs. This was when the picture of me in the orange tank top was taken. I am 6′ tall, but still.

I was working in Halifax a few years ago when I finally decided that I had to stop “waiting”, and get to it.  I credit my friend Jess and Sarah with helping me to get started and showing me the gym was NOT like High School phys-ed. They showed me how to work the machines and ignore the frat boys.

When I got back to T.O. I kept the momentum going and got a membership at a nice gym, and started with a trainer. For me it was the best thing because I was still really unfit and knew nothing. He showed me I could do a lot more than I thought I could and, more importantly, what to do as I began to improve.

I also discovered that I was gluten intolerant, which I hadn’t known.  This prompted a radical diet change which really got the ball rolling. I am now a big fan of sweet potatoes.

I recently posted the newer pictures on Facebook. A friend, upon seeing my transformation for the first time, asked me if I had ever felt like giving up.

frances-afterI told her that I felt like giving up every morning when I had to get up at 4:30 am so I could have breakfast and get to the gym before work, when I had eaten all of my calories for the day and my stomach was gnawing on my backbone, when I went weeks without the scale going down while I tried and tried.

What kept me going was: my family was very supportive, helping to make sure I had the right food at the holidays feasts and not trying to derail me; seeing another guy working his butt off at the gym and then having him come up to me and tell me that I was his “inspiration” — that if I could do it, so could he (I never thought I would be a fitness icon!). Seeing that I was gradually lifting more weight than most of the guys in the gym and, mostly, when I started to LIKE my reflection in all those mirrors.

I actually cried the day I tried on a pair of pants at a store and, not only did they fit, but they weren’t even the largest size they carried. Now I am a total gym nerd. My trainer holds me up as an example to his clients and regularly tells me I do not lift “Girl Weight” which makes me laugh.

As of the newer pics I weigh 193lbs. That’s 122lbs lost…a whole person! I sometimes surprise myself with my own reflection. It has literally taken years (I am now 36), but definitely worth the effort.

As a side note, I am a professional artist and part time knitter. I am thinking of starting a group for women who can knit and work out…I think I will call it “Power Knitters”.  Our slogan will be: “Knit the Yarn, Love the Iron!”.  We can have an entire section on wrist bands and leg warmers…

Thanks again for the great site, and feel free to post my pictures for your inspiration section.


Dear Krista,

A couple years back you taught me how to do a pull-up and I sent you a video. You wouldn’t believe how my worldview changed after that first pull-up. I began to think there was nothing I couldn’t do, and I started acting accordingly — flipping tractor tires, climbing ropes, swinging sledge hammers.

Now, I have become a full-fledged, honest-to-goodness powerlifter. At a whopping 130 lbs and towering 5’3″, I squatted 308.5 lbs in competition last Saturday, breaking a state record for my age and weight. [Krista’s note: Holy SHIT!!]

Again, I offer you a video of my deeds.

I’m stronger and healthier than just about any woman I know. I plan, now, to live forever.

I just wanted you to know what you started. I still read your blog every day. You rawk.

Thank you for the years of inspiration,

Update from Katie Feb 2011

Hi Krista,

I want to give you a progress update on me. Years ago, you taught me to do a pull up. A real, big-girl pull up. I felt invincible, like I could take on the world. It was a major life changer because I was always the last girl to be picked for teams in PE class in school. I was an uncoordinated nerd.

So, in the natural progression of things, I began powerlifting. My last meet — yesterday — I got a 340-lb. squat, 175-lb. bench press and 300-lb. deadlift. I’m in the 132-lb. weight class (between 123 and 132 lbs.).

I just like to keep you in the loop since you started this insanity. Here’s the video:

The squat is ugly because the guy running the monolift (the contraction that holds the squat bar) wasn’t paying attention, but the lift was still good, so no harm. And I need to work on the rounded back on my deadlift. Still, not shabby for a nerd, I think.

Thank you for everything,


  1. Cara says:

    August 9th, 2009at 9:34 am(#)

    You are super awesome! Keep up the good work! :-)

  2. Janet says:

    August 9th, 2009at 3:13 pm(#)

    Frances, thanks for sharing your story. You are gorgeous!

    My husband has a similar story – though not about weight loss. He hated gym class and so believed he wasn’t athletic. In the 15 years we’ve been together, he’s discovered that he loves hiking, cycling, indoor rock climbing and yoga. He’s even started swinging the kettlebell!

    Are you a member of Ravelry ( You’d probably find other knitters keen to join your group (and you may find other groups you want to join – e.g. Kettlebell Crafters.

  3. Jill says:

    August 10th, 2009at 7:27 am(#)

    Ooh, Frances, I love your knitting group idea! Please start it up on Ravelry, so non-Toronto folks can join up.

    Bravo on your years of dedication and hard work!

  4. Steph says:

    August 10th, 2009at 11:12 pm(#)

    As a knitter and a lifter, I’ve gotta say “You GO, girl!” And I’ll join up on Ravelry if you get that group going.

  5. Diana says:

    August 11th, 2009at 1:43 pm(#)

    These are the types of stories I like to read. Hard work = great results. You’re putting the grrrr in girl… way to go!!! I too lift yarn and iron. Here we come Ravelry.

  6. Megan says:

    August 12th, 2009at 9:05 am(#)

    Oh hon, I love your arms. I hope you wear sleeveless shirts the rest of your days.

  7. jeanne says:

    August 15th, 2009at 5:07 pm(#)

    Frances: As someone who is also a knitter AND happily watching her clothes get baggier the more she goes to the gym, THANK YOU for your post! Please set up a group on Ravelry – you’ll have plenty of company! ;D

  8. Cameron says:

    August 20th, 2009at 9:00 pm(#)


  9. Ninja M says:

    August 24th, 2009at 9:48 am(#)

    Hey Frances,

    WAY TO GO on your awesome transformation. You truely are inspiring!

    I’m a weight-lifting knitter in Toronto and would LOVE to join your knitting group, if it goes ahead. Krista has my info, so you can contact me through her!

    Congratulations again on reclaiming your life and your health!


  10. lara says:

    August 31st, 2009at 12:46 am(#)

    Congratulations! It’s so wonderful to read such an inspiring story.

    I’m visualizing knitted dumbbell cozies… actually, such things could probably be quite useful, to keep the weights from scratching up the floor. Hmm. Time to dig out my knitting needles.

  11. Frances says:

    September 18th, 2009at 6:00 pm(#)

    Thanks for the posts, everyone! I will be starting the group on Ravelry, and I am going to be making themed stitch markers for everyone’s enjoyment. Just give me until November!


  12. felipe says:

    September 28th, 2009at 5:43 pm(#)

    Wow. Wow.

  13. KicknKnit says:

    March 25th, 2010at 10:53 am(#)

    Hey! there is a knitters who lift group on Ravelry!

    (sorry for posting the linky in the comment. No advertising, I promise! if this is not cool, just remove it. Thx. )

  14. Pepperreed says:

    March 22nd, 2011at 8:11 pm(#)

    Way to go Frances and Katie!!

  15. Kat says:

    August 19th, 2011at 8:40 am(#)

    Knitting and lifting rock! So do these ladies!!

Get "Fuck Calories"

Enter your information below and the magical gnomes that run Stumptuous will send you a copy of the "Fuck Calories" e-book for free!
Email Marketing by Javelin