The Only Way Out is Through: My Journey Through A Fitness MLM

Katie Butler

It’s actually kind of weird to write this, considering my Google Drive is still full of edited photos showcasing my “sweaty selfies” and “transformation” photos. Clearly this is a journey I’m still working through, but here we go.

It starts with a feeling. That feeling that if I could only lose some weight, I’d feel more comfortable in my skin, I’d have less anxiety, I’d relax.

For me, the weight loss really began with a divorce. With a feeling that I did not deserve food, so I wouldn’t eat. Then I did not deserve to live, so I’d run late at night and hope I was abducted.

I wasn’t. Instead I lost about 50 pounds in the space of six months, and instead of asking me if I was okay, I was told I looked great and got asked what my secret was.

That should have been a sign to me. A sign that people don’t see your struggle. They only see the result.

Instead, about two years later, when I was happy and I started putting weight back on,  that friend popped into my DMs with a “hey giiiirl I want you on my team,” I was interested this time. I wanted to hear people comment on my weight loss again. I wanted to feel that elusive “skinny” feeling again. I got sucked back in.

I was working out six days a week. I was eating 1200 calories a day. I was allowed one “cheat meal” a week. I obsessed over everything I put in my mouth. And all people could say was how GOOD I looked. How I should “keep going.” Harder better faster stronger skinnier there’s ALWAYS MORE YOU CAN DO.

I felt proud of my goals. My obsession with workouts. Calories in, calories out. I was BALANCED. I wouldn’t eat a treat like a donut without an intense sweat session or a “fast”. It all made sense to me. I was doing amazing. So fit, so strong. My clothes from high school fit again and I was doing so great!!

Then I read an article on orthorexia. And I realized it could be me. An obsession with every bite I put in my mouth, every workout I did and often multiple workouts a day, crying over slipping into a day of “poor choices,” and getting angry. SO ANGRY if anyone suggested that maybe I had lost too much weight.

It dawned on me that I was so tired. Tired of never eating a treat without punishment. Tired of tracking every single workout I did every single day. Tired of feeling guilty for every calorie that went into my body. I was so frustrated that every element of enjoyment in my life had a price, and I wanted off the calorie counting merry-go-round.

So I stopped. Not overnight, but I tapered off with my daily “sweat sesh”. Then I started eating more of the foods I genuinely loved. And I began to feel less guilty about it.

It was after taking a big step back I saw the commercialization of it all. Sure I lost the weight and kept it off, but at what price? I felt guilt every day, with every “non-clean” bite, with every day I skipped my “health shake,” with every week I didn’t work out six days out of seven. I was exhausted, and what had been the point? Maintaining a pants size and being physically attractive to complete strangers? I didn’t like the logic behind that.

And then there was the guilt of harassing friends to “join” me in my “fitness journey.” Messaging people at random, with words kind or generic hassling them to join me. I hadn’t always cared to know their story. I had risked being cruel.

It wasn’t okay, regardless of my reasoning behind it.

Next thing I knew, I was pregnant. And with that realization, my MLM journey was over. I had a new focus.

It took a little time to let things go, but a few months into growing a new human I realized that there are far more important things in life than being physically fit and losing weight. Like lifting up your fellow new mama, and raising caring and kind mini humans. And my mindset shifted for good towards more worthwhile goals.

I still find myself getting caught up in self image some days. It’s natural, my body has changed a lot! I’m still adapting. But with time, I’m realizing I don’t need to earn the right to exist by being physically fit. I don’t need to lose weight to be worthy of the life I live. I’m worthy, right now. Exactly as I am.

And I’m here to say SO ARE YOU.