Local women top or approach 100-pound weight loss


Losing weight and exercising more are the most common new year’s resolutions.

For two local women, the decision to lose weight came later in the year, but they both set a goal and are well on their way to reaching it.

Jasmine Mills, 27, of Brownstown has lost 111 pounds and now weighs 188, and Kate Stahl, 37, of Seymour is down 98 pounds and weighs 171.

Their 2021 resolution is to keep pushing forward. Mills wants to get down to 165 pounds, while Stahl’s target weight is 135.

Jasmine Mills

Growing up in Posey County, Mills said her family didn’t have a lot of money and often relied on food pantries.

“You ate what was put in front of you, so I didn’t have a lot of healthy options,” she said. “My mom, she was disabled, so it’s not like we got out and did a whole lot, so I wasn’t really active. (The weight) just kept piling on, and before I knew it, there’s nothing I could do about it.”

She said she tried several types of diets, but nothing really suited her.

In the summer of 2018, at age 25 and 299 pounds, she had to quit her job at Sonya’s Cakes Created and Party Plus in Seymour after having really bad lower pack pain. She went to the doctor and learned she had hip deterioration and was getting arthritis in her knees.

For the second time, she became interested in gastric bypass, a type of weight-loss surgery that involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting the newly created pouch directly to the small intestine, according to mayoclinic.org.

After attending a meeting at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, she decided to start a seven-month dietary program and then had the surgery in May 2019.

A big motivation was her grandfather, who died that year.

“That was my No. 1 person in my life, and I’m like, ‘He was really there for me. I want to make him proud. I want to do something with my life. I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to do better,” she said. “He was just such an inspiration for me, and my grandpa did all of these things and had so many stories, and I’m like, ‘I want to be like that. I want to have stories to tell, but I’ve got to live long enough to have stories.’”

Mills found success with the surgery, going from wearing an XXL shirt to medium and size 18 jeans to 8. She also got off of several medications, and she now has to take vitamins.

“I’m still considered overweight on paper even though I’m 5 foot, 8 inches, but I’m happy,” she said. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I’m healthy.”

In October 2019, she completed her first 5K.

“I cried the first time I finished one, and it was just amazing,” Mills said. “I never would have thought I would be able to do something like that. I ended up doing four or five more. I couldn’t even run in high school, and I was doing 5Ks. I wasn’t first to finish, but I have medals from the 5Ks that I did. That’s amazing.”

She wasn’t able to do many 5Ks in 2020 since they were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she’s hopeful that will change this year.

“Hopefully whenever things start coming back up, I’m able to get back to it because it’s something I really enjoy, and it’s an accomplishment and something that I never thought I would be able to do,” she said.

Mills’ diet also has changed because her stomach only holds 4 ounces. She’s focused on smaller portions and mindful eating.

“I can’t drink while I’m eating because it fills you up faster,” she said. “A big thing is I’ve upped my protein. Once a day, I always have a protein shake because I try to get about 80 grams of protein a day, and that just helps boost your metabolism and burns carbs. Carbs, I try to say underneath 50 a day, less if I can help it.”

Mills also had several other big accomplishments in 2020: She landed her dream job as a 911 dispatcher for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and had an offer accepted on her first home.

“The day I decided to do something about my health, my whole life changed. It gives you a new perspective on everything,” she said. “When you’re working on being your best self, you see those around you that don’t want that for you, and it really makes you reevaluate who you let in your circle. My life has improved greatly by doing so. Even though my circle was small for a while, it has grown tenfold this year.”

In a year with so many struggles, Mills said she found so many blessings.

“I will remember 2020 as the year that changed my life because of the good, not the bad,” she said. “I have made a lot of accomplishments in the last year, and I hope I can make a whole bunch more and I can’t wait to see what comes in 2021 because 2020 had a lot of good things.”

For those with resolutions of losing weight and exercising more, Mills said she hopes her story inspires them.

“It is so hard to reach for certain things that you think aren’t attainable, but it’s possible,” she said. “You’re going to have downs. Success is not a one-way street. You’re not just going to shoot straight to the top. It’s hilly, you’re going to go down, but you’ve got to come back up because whenever you make it, it’s amazing. You really feel like you’ve accomplished something, so just don’t give up.”

Kate Stahl

Stahl said if a person is going to make a really serious change, they’ve got to have a really good motivation and a will to do it.

Her motivation came during her annual checkup Feb. 15, 2020, while talking to her doctor. At the time, she weighed 269 pounds.

She credits one big thing for her getting to that point.

“I really like food,” she said, laughing. “I’m a foodie. I’ve always loved cooking. I’ve always used cooking as kind of my way to show love to other people.”

While her doctor had previously talked to her about her weight, Stahl said the difference last year is she was just ready to make a change.

“I know it’s hard for other people who have someone they love, who they see making bad decisions, but the thing is you can’t do anything until they are ready to do it for themselves,” she said.

“I’ve dieted before and lost weight before because my weight is something I’ve struggled with since I was but a wee child,” she said. “It has been a total mental change, and I can tell at this point that it’s much more permanent than anything I’ve ever done before.”

Stahl now tracks what she eats and counts calories every day. The only thing totally off limits is alcohol.

“I decided when I started this to quit drinking because A, it’s empty calories, and if I’m going to spend calories on something, I need it to be something that’s going to satisfy me. And B, when I drink, I tend to want to eat more, which is obviously not a good thing,” she said.

“It’s not to say I will never have a drop of alcohol ever again for the rest of my life, but that’s the one thing I totally changed,” she said. “I didn’t have a problem or anything. I just saw the patterns and knew that was probably something that could get in my way, so I cut that out.”

Stahl said people have to find what works for them that’s sustainable for the long term.

“I never eat without a plan,” she said. “A good friend of mine said that to me early on, she never eats without a plan, and that’s one thing that has kind of stuck with me. I think about what my choices are going to be for the day and how I can work in what I want and make sure I’m satisfied. That has been the big thing.”

Being a teacher working from home during the pandemic last year wound up being a good thing for Stahl because she was able to cook healthy meals.

“Everything was so out of control last year that I feel like food was one thing I could control,” she said. “Everything else may be in chaos, but I can have control of that segment of my life.”

Stahl said she has never liked exercise, but she’s trying to get better at it. Last year when the weather was nice, she went on hikes with her family.

“Instead of being the one that’s saying, ‘Hey, wait up, I need to catch my breath,’ everyone else is behind me, so that’s kind of fun,” she said.

She also has benefited from having a coach that checks in with her once or a twice a week through the app Noom.

Initially, her goal was to lose 100 pounds, and everything over that would be icing on the cake.

“By the end of the year, I wanted to be below 200, and I’ve gone almost 30 pounds beyond that now, so I’ve kind of left things in the dust in terms of what maybe was my biggest hope,” she said. “So now, I’m sharing my biggest goal, and that is to be half my size.”

To have success with weight loss, she said it’s about doing it when you’re ready and being consistent.

“Part of this, too, has been about putting myself first, which is something that’s not necessarily second nature to me, and making myself a priority,” Stahl said. “I know a lot of people have trouble with that for different reasons. It’s a big thing. It has been a big change. I never dreamed I would be at the point I am today, and I’m hopeful for 2021 that I’ll meet my ultimate goal.”

She hopes to reach that goal by the end of September when her brother gets married.

She will have to continue to adjust her wardrobe, too, as she has gone from XXXL to nearly medium.

“I would really like to be at goal weight at the beginning of school because when it comes to next fall, I would like to buy clothes that will fit me and that I will not shrink out of again because that’s expensive,” she said, laughing. “The winter coat that I got for this year is already getting kind of big. For summer, I definitely have to buy all new stuff again, and I already did one round of that.”

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