@12gaugekate: Learning to Love My Reflection

Kate Olsen aka @12gaugekate is a study in contrasts. She’s intensely private but posts motivational quotes to her followers on Instagram. Uncomfortable in her skin at times, but defiantly posting revealing transformation pictures. She sometimes has a private account but is intensely loyal to her friends.  It took me some time but I finally got a chance to peek inside the world of @12guagekate.

Kate, you’ve been a follower of Garage Gym Life for a little while. What attracted you to this online community?

@garagegym_gal (Maranda Granger) actually was the one that introduced it to me after she had a name change on her account.

Is this the first time you’ve gotten involved with an online fitness community? I think you’ve got a BodySpace profile right?

I have actually been on the online community with fitness for almost 2 years now. I first started with Instagram fitness back in April 2015 when I had to lose weight to be a bridesmaid in a wedding for a friend.  Which was very hard at first. Seeing all these amazing people on Instagram posting all these photos of their food and their gym and of course the famous booty shot photos. And all I could come up with was me standing in front of a mirror with sweatpants and a sweatshirt on because I was too embarrassed at how I looked. As I kept adding more photos to my account with more hashtags I slowly gained followers and a lot of great friends along the way.

What’s the significance of your Instagram handle? Is it related to shotguns or piercings?

I haven’t always had the IG name @12gaugekate. When I first started out it was cleaneats_KTO which I absolutely hated and then I turned it into @pushback.fitness which I kept for very long time. That’s how most of my followers would know me. Then the whole “Instagram depression” kicked in and I was constantly comparing myself to others along with trying to strive to fit into certain clothing. Which send me down into a spiral. To the point where I had to delete my Instagram account. After a month off, I came back with a new account and a new mindset. I still struggle daily with try not to compare myself to others in Instagram which I will tell you is very tough. Because you see people getting results faster than you.

You know I completely understand. I just reposted a video of a guy I used to train with who just deadlifted 606lbs and I’m very happy for him, but at the same time, I’m always tempted to pump the brakes on the path I’m on and start focusing on powerlifting training but I know I’ve got to trust the plan that I feel God has for me. Back to your story. You left Instagram but came back obviously.

So when I came back after my month vacation I wanted something different with a new mindset so I searched the Internet for some cool ideas on names and I ended up finding @12gaugekate on a roller derby girls website. And I thought it fit perfectly and I do like guns, I’m not a huge fanatic, I just enjoy them so don’t ask me any questions about them!

Ha! That’s like me and languages, because of how I grew up, I know how to say hello in several languages but I’ve always got to add, “That’s all I know, don’t ask me anything else! Ha ha! But anyway, tell me about your background, were you involved in sports as a child?

Kate Olsen outdoorsMy background isn’t an anything special. Long story short, I grew up taking care of myself. My mother was never in a real stable relationship and she was always working. So as far back as I can remember I took care of myself. If you ever met me you would probably think I was pretty stubborn. I am very independent and like to do stuff myself. Which the boyfriend hates because he is always trying to help me and I refuse. Growing up I was always a normal size kid until about junior high when emotional eating kicked in. I had a very stressful home life at the time. And there wasn’t really much I could do besides turn to food and my mom would always buy the stuff that I enjoyed eating so In a way she was my enabler but at the same time I knew what I was eating and I chose to eat the items. Growing up my mother was a very heavy drinker. Which led her to the hospital and many rehabilitation programs. Until her body had enough and she finally passed away when I was 20 years old. My school life was nothing special I had a few friends, no sports just your every day school kid I did spend a lot of time in the art room making things. I’m not much of an artist that can draw.

But all through high school I kept gaining weight and I was over 220+pounds when I graduated high school. After high school I cut back on my eating habits and had jobs where I was constantly moving. I was able to get down to 150 and stay there until about five years ago when I started putting all the weight back on. I was in a new relationship and became very comfortable around him and food. There were days where I would eat more than him and he’s a pretty big guy. So when I finally realize I was putting on a lot of weight I actually tried to go on some of those fancy diets. There is one I did that cost me thousands of dollars. I was so upset about it! And they claimed it was the best thing in the world! Yet you were barely eating anything which I knew wasn’t right and obviously it was a horrible choice. After that I decided to go running outside at that time we were living in an apartment so I would go and run around on the sidewalks. Which ended up with me in the ER, I have a cyst inside of me that got agitated and put me in a lot of pain. So I don’t do running anymore! Ha ha! Unfortunately none of it worked for me because I was a little lost and didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t bother to research anything. So unfortunately the weight kept coming.

At the end of 2014 I was asked to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding and that’s when my whole weight-loss journey began.

 Tell me how you started training at home. What got you to make that decision to buy all of the equipment and dedicate the space to home workouts?

I haven’t always worked out at home I actually I started off at a gym, Anytime Fitness. I would go really early in the morning when there was nobody at the gym.

What did you start your garage gym with? What was the first piece you added?

I didn’t receive any of the at home equipment until November 2015 when I received the huge piece of equipment that I have in the middle of the basement that has multiple exercises on it. I actually got it for free from my uncle that was trying to get rid of it. It took us a couple weeks to put it together which was very stressful because I wanted it done right away. Then I purchased some free weights and a hex squat bar. And then just a few months ago my aunt gave me her old treadmill.

Have you ever sold anything that you now wish you hadn’t?

I am actually been debating getting rid of all of it except for the treadmill and free weights and building or purchasing a power rack. Something a little smaller for when we actually start finishing our basement. Because half of the stuff on the large piece of equipment I don’t even use or I have used up all of the weight it offers.

What motivates you to train every day? I don’t think you participate in a sport and I’ll be the first to admit that training at home is tough. Really tough! You’ve got no training partners, if you train in a garage like we do, you’re getting out of bed to go down into a room that’s probably at least ten degrees colder than the rest of the house at least at first. What stops you from just hanging laundry on your equipment and giving up?

I have my days just like anybody else where I don’t even want to walk downstairs to see the workout equipment. Some days are harder than others but if I miss a day or more I get disappointed in myself and know that I should be doing something with myself because there’s a lot of people out there that wish they had equipment at home but cannot afford it or don’t have room for it.

Tell me about your dogs. I think you’ve got two, what breed are they?

I do have two dogs running around. A chocolate lab and a Bluenose pitbull. Which can be very frustrating some days.blue nose pitbull and chocolate lab

Are they always in the garage with you? I ask that because I like to roll up the garage door in the summer and so I had to train my dogs not to wander off when I do that. I also had to stop them from coming up and licking me when I lay down to bench press or walk behind me when I squat!

The main reason they are usually down there is I’m home alone or it’s early morning and I’m letting the other half sleep in. Or there’s other days where I keep them outside the door because they are constantly in the way I can’t count how many times I’ve knocked him in the head by accident with a dumbbell. But for some reason they keep coming back. And I can’t do any floor exercises when they are around because they will attack me with their cold noses and wet kisses. They usually wrestle around while I work out. Between my sets I’m usually throwing toys for them so if some of my videos show them sitting right next to me it’s usually because I have one of their toys.

Honestly, I don’t believe that most men or most people period agree with the notion pushed on us by the fashion industry that all women have to fit a certain mold. We know women come in different shapes. That’s why I’m a huge fan of what GRRL clothing is doing to empower women worldwide. Besides that, I’ve had the honor to meet several female strength athletes like Samantha Coleman, Kimberley Walford and Sioux-z Hartwig Gary who all have different body types but who are all phenomenally strong and accomplished. I don’t mind telling anybody that I admire these women. Who do you look up to in fitness and why?

kate olsen wearing garage gym life When I first started the whole fitness on Instagram I was a little blown away on all the stuff you see whether it’s good or bad. A lot of it obviously was photo shopped. So it is very hard to find role models to look up to because I would find somebody and I would enjoy their posts only and find out they were complete fake or just looking for people’s money. Which I fell for a time or two. I remember when I got my first program from somebody that I had barely known what they do and what they offer. It was a huge mistake they had me eating a little over 1000 cal a day with an hour worth of cardio. And anybody that knows anything about fitness knows that is a horrible idea. But I was desperate to fit into that bridesmaid dress and would do anything to get there.

The GRRL company is a great example on how they’re trying to change the fitness industry with women. And not having them think that they can be a piece of lettuce and two hours of cardio. They actually promote strong beautiful women no matter their shape or size. Kourtney Olson is a huge inspiration to me. She has legs I can only dream of. Another inspiration is Dana Linn Bailey. She is absolutely gorgeous and so down to earth. But my absolute favorite is Ashley Hoffmann. She isn’t as famous as to other two. But she is amazing. She is actually the reason I got into weightlifting I came across her article she had in bodybuilder.com and after reading those I absolutely fell in love with her and weightlifting.

What are fitness goals for @12guagekate and how have they changed since you began your fitness journey?

When I first started working out I was so desperate to fit into a bridesmaid dress. That I was doing hours of cardio just to get there. Which I did I ended up losing 20 pounds from April to July 2015.since then unfortunately I have gained all the weight back. But I’ve also added a lot more muscle and have done less cardio LOL. After I started gaining the weight back I did get a little depressed again and set me down a long spiral of emotional eating. Because I was so obsessed with trying to fit into clothes that didn’t fit me anymore. I would go to stores and try stuff on and leave in tears because I was back at the beginning and I didn’t know what to do. Eventually I had to take a step back reevaluate things and come back fresh and new. That’s when I started my new Instagram account. This time around I want muscles and to be happy. I didn’t care what the number or letter was on the clothing item. There have been a few times where I have gotten upset but the amazing people and friends that I have came across on Instagram have help me through the tough times that I fell. So I would dust myself off and get back to work.

I mentioned BodySpace and you entered a transformation contest on there. I’ve done one of those and it was pretty tough. I didn’t win unfortunately but it was a great experience that pushed me to the best shape I’d been in up to that point. What have you learned about yourself so far in doing this competition?

When 2017 came around I knew I wanted something different. I wanted the muscles but I also want to love myself no matter the size. Which is been a very hard challenge that is for sure. And when the new year began there’s always a challenge going on a bodybuilder.com which I wanted to enter. So the week before it started I took pictures and entered them into the contest. I will admit I have given up on that contest because I felt myself going back to the beginning again and not seeing fast results and I didn’t want that. I still am working out and pushing as hard as I can with what I have in hopes of making myself better while learning to love myself.

What’s your support structure like outside of Instagram? I ask because you’ve got some posts where you appear to be almost defending yourself against things people have said, or might say. Do you find that you need to defend yourself, or are you more saying it to yourself as a way to motivate yourself?

I usually post stuff when I am having a hard day because I know I’m not the only one. I don’t have much support outside of Instagram. The boyfriend will tell me to go work out but he won’t join me even though I’ve asked him numerous times. Family members really don’t know; I kinda keep it hush-hush. There is one family member that does know about it and she also works out but she is the type of person that eats a piece of lettuce and does lots of cardio and complains that she’s fat so I don’t really talk to her much or ask what her advice unfortunately. I do wish I had more family/friends around for the support. That’s why I am very grateful for the people on IG.

Who designs your training programs? Do you have an online coach, do you modify programs you find online or in magazines or do you just freestyle them yourself?

I don’t actually have a program or a “online” trainer. I have tried a few but not a big fan and I have tried the programs that bodybuilding.com offers and I don’t really care for them. They are either two extreme for me or there isn’t enough I feel like I need to add more to the program. So I usually make up my own programs. I have a huge list divided into body parts and I just pick random workouts from that list and make up my own workouts.

 @12guagekate working on being comfortable in her own skinWhat’s your bucket list goal? What one thing would you love to do if money was no object and you were in your best physical condition?

I am not striving for anything special or becoming Instagram famous. I am just looking to be happy and healthy with muscles. That is my main goal. If money wasn’t an object I definitely would like to open my own gym close to my house so I could just walk there every day. And have all the equipment I would need. But I know the chances are pretty slim that’s why I love seeing all the people on @garage.gym.life and all their equipment they have. Definitely gets the creativity flowing when thinking about our next home we plan to build.

Thank you so much for letting me share my story. I know it’s not to exciting but I know there are people out there like me that struggle daily but keep pushing every day even when the results are minimal.

Kate, thank you for being willing to share your story! You can follow @12gaugekate on Instagram. 

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on Amazon.com.