100 Pounds Lost: Achieving body bliss
NAME : Jenn
BEFORE WEIGHT : 280
AFTER WEIGHT : 180
POUNDS LOST : 100
WHEN DID YOU START DEVELOPING A WEIGHT PROBLEM?
The last time I wore a bikini was when I was 3, and the photo is the only evidence of it. I have always been a “chunky”, “heavyset”, “curvy” girl. I was wearing Cheryl Tiegs pants in elementary school, and in Pretty Plus for most of my childhood. By the time I started high school, I was morbidly obese, despite being on the junior high volleyball team and biking all weekend with my family.
My main problem was I ate as much as I wanted, and as a latch key kid, that meant I had many opportunities to eat away from watchful eyes.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?
Confidence was never my problem, yet I was a quiet kid. I was the teacher’s pet who got straight A’s in school, had a great circle of friends, but rarely spoke up. I am proud to say that I was quite the go-getter- at my 9th grade dance, I asked every single guy in my grade to dance! Almost no guy refused.
However, my least favorite part of being obese was the rude comments from folks who didn’t know me, my older brother’s friends, and even family members that thought I just needed to “eat less”.
Also, I HATED shopping for clothes, because they were all shapeless, black curtains that did nothing to make me feel like a cute teenage girl.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
Even though I almost died from gall bladder complications in my junior year of high school, I still vowed never to eat anything green once I turned 18. (I was a stubborn kid).
My turning point came from death. My beloved Grandma Espinosa passed away in my senior year of college from heart problems. She had just turned 88 years old. She inspired me, because she was a strong woman of faith who survived her husband to raise 6 children with an 8th grade education and limited English skills. Then, she cooked amazing food for us, took care of me while my parents worked, and was the matriarch of our family for many years.
When she passed, I realized that I may not live to 88 as she did, and didn’t like the future I saw with the path I was on.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I had no idea what to do, but I was a broke college student with no interest in supplements or support groups. So, I took a pen and paper and wrote down EVERY BITE I ate. I set some basic guidelines loosely inspired by the Weight Watchers points system (high fiber, low fat), drank nothing but water and milk, and lost 20 pounds in one month.
Over the course of the next year, I found the power of macronutrients and was able to drop an additional 80 pounds.
As for exercise, I didn’t have interest in gyms, so did exercise videos at home with Kathy Smith, MTV dancers, and whatever else appealed to me. That was when I discovered lifting, and found my strength by following bodybuilder tips on technique. On occasion, I also joined a community education class to shake my routine up.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?
I saw results in the first month. However, it took 11 more months for me to lose 100 pounds.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
I was broke, so searched for free options. Also, I refused to take any sorts of products or pills, as I knew a friend from high school who had a bad experience from Fen-Phen.
I was a single girl living with a roommate, so had alot of freedom in both my schedule and environment to make the changes necessary. While my family knew what I was doing, I only saw them 1-2 times a year after a 6-hour drive, so they rarely commented.
My biggest challenge was enjoying veggies. I grew up eating canned vegetables with only butter and salt. I didn’t even realize that green beans are not supposed to be a puke green color! I spent many hours gagging on those veggies (except corn) and wishing I could finish quickly so mom would let me leave the table. Raw veggies and salads do not appeal to me AT ALL, so I found ways to roast, puree and saute my veggies so they are tasty.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I sure did, which inspired me to shake up my routine. If it had been awhile since I wrote anything in my food journal, I returned to tracking my eating. If my exercise was no longer making me lose my breath or feel sore, I changed the duration, intensity or type of movement.
I kept drinking my water, and searching for acceptable foods at the grocery store. There’s always something new and fun to try.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?
One year, and I have maintained that loss for 18 years, even after marriage, two baby carriages and job loss.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?
One of the most exciting victories I had was ditching the plus size clothing section for the Misses section! Suddenly, I had all sorts of beautiful clothing to choose from. Instead of pining for certain styles or colors, I could fit into some of them.
I will never forget the feeling of leaving behind the “Pretty Plus”.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
Actually, at my heaviest weight, I rarely ate out. That was due to budget constraints, as I was supporting myself, paying for college, and had only a part-time job. My downfall was eating lots of canned and processed foods, no veggies, and drinking soda. Also, my portions were out of control.
It wasn’t uncommon to eat a whole frozen meat pizza followed by a 4 scoop sundae with chocolate syrup and nuts. Several hours later, I would snack on something else. I ate mostly for pleasure and taste, and avoided most produce.
I was an emotional eater, but mostly from boredom. Happiness and positivity are my default setting.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
I was always active, but I started falling in love with lifting weights. I’m no professional, but feeling the strength and seeing definition gives me a huge feeling of satisfaction.
Running and gyms have never held any glamour for me, so I explored every single possible dance form- from Latin to belly dance to hoop dancing and hip hop. Dance is something I can do anywhere, especially in my living room with my two daughters.
Today, I have some basic equipment in my basement, and use free Youtube videos for specific routines. My favorite tools are kettlebells, free weights, resistance bands, and a core ball.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Choose dessert or drinks, but never both.
- Get intimate with food and nutrition labels. Even when eating out, browse the menu ahead of time, as you make smarter choices when you’re not hungry.
- Incorporate defensive eating, which means eating before you are hungry. I had no idea how hungry I was at any point, so eating every 3-4 hours taught me a lesson on when I was hungry, and saved me from overeating when I wasn’t.
- As a mom, get your exercise in while everyone sleeps, and your healthy breakfast, too. Once those kids are up, your day will not always go as planned.
- You are not a baby, so don’t “eat” baby food like shakes, purees, or juices or something you sip from a straw. Until your teeth fall out, use those chompers to eat more fibrous foods that fill you up.
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