Katie Summers’ aha moment came in March 2013. At age 23, the mother of Gracie (then age 2) and Henry (2 months) tipped the scales at 215 pounds and felt constantly tired and depressed. Even simple activities like going to the park or pool made her feel self-conscious. “One day, Gracie caught me crying. I couldn’t really recognize myself. That  was the moment I knew things had to change.” She began her weight-loss journey the next day. (Follow her transformation photos on her Instagram @LoseItConKatie.)

Her first move was to change her diet, using trial and error to create more well-balanced eating habits. “The first thing I did was to switch to mostly whole foods,” Summers says. That meant a lot of chicken and brown rice, in small meals five to six times a day, paired with veggies. At the same time, she began going to the gym, although at first she admits she wasn’t quite sure what she was doing. “I did a lot of things backward!” She spent about 30 to 45 minutes on the elliptical and total-body weightlifting circuits three to four days a week. 

Her journey has had its roadblocks, including the death of her father and a divorce. But her newfound confidence helped her through the tough times. Motivation didn’t just come from weight loss—it was about being happy with who she was. By December 2014, Summers had lost more than 90 pounds and was looking for a new challenge.

She signed up for a fitness competition to push herself and to inspire others. It took nearly six months of prep, but she stepped onstage for her first competition the following April in the transformation division, finishing in the top five.“I loved walking onstage, but I loved prepping and getting into the best possible condition even more,” says Summers, who has plans to compete again soon. She also enjoyed the camaraderie she felt backstage. “Hearing the other women talk made me realize that even people who you would think were never insecure can be vulnerable.” But Summers says the most important lesson she’s learned is to make your journey your own. “There are a lot of ways to lose weight—just identify with your individual goals, and you’ll inevitably succeed.” 

TRAINING PLAN: Summers trains six days a week for 1 to 11⁄2 hours a day.

FAVORITE EXERCISES: Standing military DB press, lateral and front raises, and upright cable rows. 

CHEAT MEAL: Mexican food (especially tacos!). 

KEY KITCHEN TOOL: Slow cooker“I love using this for basic meal prep—as a busy mom, it makes making meals so much easier!” Favorite dishes: overnight oats and barbecue chicken (made with water, raw honey, and 3 tbsp barbecue sauce). Turn to page 80 for more slow cooker recipes. 

KEY SUPPLEMENTS: BCAAs, protein powder, digestive enzymes, multivitamin, plus Motiv8 Burn (an all-day energy supplement) and Motiv8 Muscle (pre-workout). 

MOTIVATIONAL MANTRA: “All steps move you forward. Commit to persisting.” 

SAMPLE WORKOUT (BACK): “I typically isolate the back once a week, but other compound moves may also hit these muscles on other days.”

  • Bentover Row
  • T-bar Row
  • Wide-grip Lat Pulldown
  • Seated Close-grip
  • Cable Row
  • Hyperextension Pullup