Name: Jessica Amber Anderson
Height: 5 feet, 5 inches
Before Weight: 189 pounds
How I Gained It: When I was in high school I was a size zero. I could eat anything and everything and I was constantly complimented on my body, my skin, my hair, my smile. To me, my looks went hand in hand with a successful life and my own happiness. I had all a girl could want. Nobody noticed I was smart, with a grade point average of 4.0, part of the National Honors Society and in line to receive an honors diploma — what everyone saw in me was that I was skinny and pretty, so that was my focus.
Two years later, after being married twice already, dropping out of college and skipping out on an exciting job offer, I found myself feeling like a fat housewife with stretch marks and no ambitions. I was not as happy as everyone told me my looks would make me.
I had two children and did not watch what I ate or how much activity I was getting. I spent too much time on the couch eating cereal, french fries, chocolate and whatever else I could get my hands on. This went on for for too long. I weighed in at 189 pounds the day I had my second child but even then, I wasn’t motivated to get healthy. Breastfeeding helped me lose the first 35 pounds of pregnancy weight — that was the easy part.
Breaking Point: A few months after I had my second child, I noticed how unhappy I was. I didn’t want to leave the house because I was sick all the time — I don’t mean postpartum, I seemed to be constantly afflicted with colds, flu and fevers. I knew that the pop tarts for breakfast, the burger and fries for lunch and the burger and fries for dinner were actually making me ill. When you’re sick you’re bound to be unhappy. Plus, after the breastfeeding stopped and the baby was sleeping through the night, I had so much time on my hands.
One day, I stood up off the couch one day and declared my revenge. The source of my anger was all the magazine articles, fashion sites and high school girl comments that made me believe my education and health didn’t matter as long as I was skinny and beautiful.
How I Lost It: For me, my weight loss goal was never to be skinny, but to be smarter about my health, my life and my future. I decided that in order to really be beautiful and healthy I’d have to be smart and eat smart. Nutrition, not diet, is what has fueled my progress. That’s how I’ve kept it off and kept going. For years, I took my metabolism for granted, but guess what? Your metabolism changes when you get older and have children.
As part of my determination to get healthy, I went jogging one day and have never stopped. It has led to weight training and other fitness programs such as Glamour’s Bikini Blast and the absolute best at-home fitness program, the P90X. When it comes to fitness, diversity is important to me because I get bored easily.
Being able to accomplish something as self-disciplined as losing weight and getting in shape has pushed me to do more intellectual things as well. I want my children to be able to say the their mother is beautiful, and I want them to know that beauty in both inside and out.
The most important life lesson I have learned is that peer pressure is real, and it affects your health, your diet and your hygiene. I also have to credit my parents; My father always told me to be self-reliant and not depend on others for happiness. Always listen to your parents, especially when they tell you to finish college, focus on your career and eat your vegetables!
After Weight: 130 and counting
Jessica finished her first 5K run in June and finds inspiration through blogging.
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