Excelsior Citizen

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Citizen Spotlight: Katie Zornes

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Courtney Cole

Eric and Katie Zornes take a break from homesteading for a quick pic (photo S Jason Cole).

Katie Zornes believes in you, just like she believes in herself. The transplant to Excelsior Springs recently found some success on social media when one of her inspirational posts went viral and ended up being featured on the Good Morning America website. Katie has a lot of great things going for her. She and her husband Eric met at Northwest Missouri State as broadcast majors and married in 2017. They moved to Excelsior Springs to be closer to family, Katie’s dad John Denison lives here and Eric grew up in Kearney. She and Eric found a little home out on Y Highway where they have a homestead with a variety of animals and a large garden. Katie began using her skills as a broadcaster to create social media posts about their homesteading journey on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Back in 2020, at the peak of the COVID pandemic, Katie who had always struggled with depression, said she hit a new low both physically and mentally. Her struggles lasted well into 2021, “I was in my early 30s but I felt terrible. I’d convinced myself that I’d never be able to do the things I wanted to do again,” she said. By the end of the year, she had gained back more than 100 pounds after an extreme weight loss of more than 180 pounds a decade earlier. Towards the end of the year, Katie began fighting back against her depression. She started setting small achievable goals for herself, like 10 minutes of activity and brushing her hair each day. “It really had gotten that bad,” she said.

Slowly, she began to regain her confidence. She decided she wanted to have not just a singular New Year’s resolution of losing weight. “I didn’t want my identity to once again be wrapped up in a number in which I only have so much control over. I wanted to never forget again that I’m capable of hard things. So many things are out of our control and when those things come I want to be a little more confident and a little bit stronger,” she posted on her social media accounts. So she created her list of 22 hard things in 2022 and set out to conquer them all by year’s end. 

The list included some physical challenges, some mental challenges, some fun challenges, and also some painful challenges. “I had things like ‘make a perfect loaf of sourdough bread’ on the list, but I also had ‘decide a plan to finally spread my mom’s ashes (20 years later),” she said. Katie began to document her challenges on social media both as a way to hold herself accountable, to gain encouragement, and hopefully to inspire others.

1. Take a class
2. Run a 5K
3. Make a perfect loaf of sourdough bread
4. Complete a 10k
5. Do a push-up on my toes
6. Do a triathlon
7. Bike 40 consecutive miles on the Katy Trail
8. Do 22 classes at the gym
9. Make goat cheese with our goats’ milk
10. Train for a half marathon
11. Go to the dentist
12. Hike Paintbrush Canyon in GTNP
13. 80 Dad Gym workouts
14. Try 20 new recipes using the chickens we raised
15. Make veggies the ⭐️ in meals multiple times a week
16. Enrich my relationships through actual conversation over text
17. Sew a bag
18. Grow broccoli, watermelon, and acorn squash from seed
19. Make a farm business plan
20. Write snail mail once a month
21. Raise our own meat
22. Decide a plan to finally spread my mom’s ashes (20 years later)

Katie’s Full List of 22 Hard In 22

About halfway through the year, Katie was doing well, feeling healthier, and had even signed up for a triathlon, swimming, biking, and jogging, she had regained a feeling of power and even happiness. Before she left for her race she posted her last training video to social media, really pushing herself in preparation for the big day. While she was at the race she didn’t check her social media accounts and allowed herself to be fully present in the race. “It was one of the best times of my life, it was so fun, and I felt great” she recalled. When she got home she discovered that things had taken a turn for the worse on her last post. While there were some words of encouragement, some ‘trolls’ had discovered the post and said some very hurtful things about Katie. “When I read those comments it really hurt me for several days, I began to get discouraged,” she said. 

But then Katie got an email from the race organizers with photos of her participating. “I looked so happy, and I remembered having the time of my life. I decided then and there that I wouldn’t let their negativity bring me down,” she exclaimed. She went online and posted her thoughts about the negative comments, and doubled down on her resolve to complete her challenges. Her response to the haters garnered her more than 20 Million views on her video, prompting the attention of the crew at Good Morning America. 

Now Katie says she’s continuing to do the things she enjoys. She’s as healthy as she’s ever been, even if the scales don’t reflect the ‘perfect number.’ She’s continuing to set small goals for herself and sharing her journey, encouraging others to do their best.

Be sure to check out Katie’s accounts and keep on being your best selves, Excelsior Springs!


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2 thoughts on “Citizen Spotlight: Katie Zornes”

  1. I enjoyed talking with you! I appreciate so much what Excelsior Citizen offers the community and I’m looking forward to meeting more people in the area!

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