Fat Farm

Kathleen loses 167 pounds 

Life Stories

Kathleen Bruno is a beautiful, upbeat southern woman who used to be morbidly obese, massively depressed, and stuck in a place where she felt like giving up. After losing more than 150 pounds and finding a new life at Live In Fitness, she’s excited to reach out to anyone who is desperate and struggling to make a change. Please read her story and don’t be afraid to reach out to her…she wants you to.


 Hi again,


Thanks for coming back. If you didn’t read the first part, I’ll give you a quick recap: I was miserably overweight, had a husband and a daughter (still have a daughter who didn’t leave me for a skinny blonde), tried almost everything to lose weight, nothing worked, almost died because of a botched bariatric surgery, had homicidal fantasies, marathon cried in the fetal position, almost gave up, look for a fat farm and found Live In Fitness and decided to go. 


Before I dive into part two, I have to address something that was brought to my attention after part one…by my mother.


My mother is a true blue “steel magnolia” from Morton, Mississippi (population 3500) who reminded me that neither was I born in a barn nor raised to air my dirty laundry in public, so it was no surprise when she sat me down for a good talking to. Apparently, the relatives have been calling with concerns, not about my honest and raw accounting of my life, but about my use of some indelicate language. Mother’s advice to me (which is always solid) was to imagine myself standing before the congregation of the First Baptist Church whenever telling a story.  


Her advice is good, so before I sat down to write, I took the time to wash my mouth out with soap. But I hope she understands that my congregation, although possibly not Baptist, are the too many beautiful dadgum souls who are struggling with the same physical challenges and emotional H-E-double toothpicks that I once faced. And frankly, it would be easier for me to burn those fat photos and bury the ashes in the backyard, but if there’s a chance that my story can help anyone, I’m gonna swallow my pride and tell it…using ladylike language, of course.


So where were we? Right…I booked four weeks at Live In Fitness.


The drive from Jackson, Mississippi to Hilton Head Island was eleven hours, and I cried the entire time. It was like driving in a heavy rain with no windshield wipers. If you’ve ever done that, you know it’s a miracle I made it there safely.


I pulled in and was ready for my first workout…the six stairs leading up to the facility. I had to navigate them slowly with both feet landing on each step before progressing. I was sweating by stair two, and my quads were none too happy about the burn. They hadn’t experienced anything like that in years. In fact, I had stopped living on the second floor of my own house a long time ago, because it was just too difficult, not to mention painful, to make it up one carpeted flight of stairs.


When I finally made it up the six stairs to the front door, I felt like I was breathing through a straw…not so much from the “exercise,” but more because I was paralyzed with fear. My mind raced with images of all the humiliating things that were going to happen to me once I walked through that door. I was going to be squeezed into spandex shorts. I was going to be forced to push a giant tire around. A drill sergeant was going to scream/spit commands in my face, while tears rolled down my puffy cheeks.


Thankfully, none of that happened. Instead, when I walked through the door, I was greeted by something far more humiliating than spit or spandex: the most gorgeous man I had ever seen (in real life). He had thick black hair, electric green eyes, a super buff body…even a soap opera name to match. So what did I do? Yep, I started crying…which turned into sobbing…and then quickly morphed into a full-blown ugly cry, right in front of Mr. Steamy and Dreamy. That was the precise moment when all my fear, shame, sadness, loneliness, bitterness and anger showed up and announced with a giant thud that I had officially hit rock bottom.


Speaking of rock bottom…apparently that’s the best time to have a “BEFORE” photo taken. It allows the photographer to truly capture all the despair.   


After my glamour shot, they weighed me, measured me and briefed me on the barrage of testing I was about to undergo. They started with the always-fun hydrostatic body fat testing. I donned a swimsuit in front of yet another gorgeous trainer, climbed into a tank of warm water and discovered just how buoyant I was. I pictured my butt cheeks floating like giant buoys above the water line and was convinced I had made a terrible mistake. The printer spat out my results and announced that I was almost 50% body fat. As a chef, my first thought was, “I’m a piece of bacon.”


For the next test, I got to keep my clothes on, so I had a faint hope that I could maintain a modicum of dignity.  It was the VO2 Max test. It discovers your true cardiovascular fitness level…while completely obliterating hope and dignity. I had to run uphill on a treadmill, wearing a Darth Vader mask, until I couldn’t do it anymore (not fun for chubby girls). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I scored “Very Poor,” which is the worst possible score for a human.  Cue unmannerly, but cleansing tears.


There were more tests, and all were brutally honest confirmations that I made the right choice after all. I look at my BEFORE photo and no longer recognize those dead eyes, bloated face, and hopelessly disconnected body. How did I exist like that for so long? Maybe it was because I had an expensive hair product addiction, nine different anti-aging face creams, read voraciously and spent hours in counseling. Everything above the neck was being addressed except my need to stop ignoring my body and find the balance that would make me truly whole.


The body part wasn’t easy, but the work was worth it.  I’ll be back next week to tell you about it…if it’s okay with my mother.

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