A few months ago at a book signing here in AZ, I was rushing to run to the restroom before hopping back on book duty when I was stopped by the sweetest, most energetic woman. She immediately whipped out her phone and began telling me her transformation story right then and there in the Barnes & Noble restroom. I was FLOORED to find out she had lost 100 lbs in 6 months. 6 months!!
After talking for a few more minutes, I hurried back to the signing only to find a few hours later that she continued to wait in line all afternoon to speak with Chris and me again. I couldn’t believe it! Her energy was infections, and her story was so remarkable I knew I had to get her information and share her transformation journey with all of you. Ladies and gents—I’m so excited to introduce you to Jennifer. Here’s her story…in her own words:
Hello! My name is Jennifer, I live in Phoenix, AZ, I’m 38 years old, and have had a weight issue for 30 years. I’ve been a fan of Heidi and Chris for years, and while I’ve been inspired by them and their EWL transformations, I still wouldn’t make the changes I needed to make in order to live a healthy life. I learned bad eating habits as a child and never learned to cook much, which made it easy to eat lots of takeout food as an adult. I also started emotionally eating at a very young age. My weight has yo-yoed since I was a teenager, and I have never been at a healthy weight as an adult.
When I was 34, I moved to London, England. While there, I developed severe plantar fasciitis and tarsal tunnel syndrome in both feet, and these issues made walking even half a block excruciatingly painful. Within two years, I saw 13 doctors and tried everything to fix the issues. Nothing worked, so I was forced to leave London, my favorite city in the world, and move back to the US so I could get the surgery I so desperately needed.
By this point, I had been emotionally eating to cope with my chronic pain and my weight kept increasing. I had foot surgery after I moved back to the US, but then found out I had a massive fibroid and endometriosis, which resulted in two more surgeries. I was in chronic pain, which gave me another excuse to continue to gain weight.
By early 2015, I had recovered from my surgeries, but my other foot was in extreme pain, and I knew I needed surgery but kept putting it off. I was at my heaviest weight and overwhelmed by how much weight I had to lose and how many changes I needed to make to become healthy. My blood pressure and cholesterol were getting high again, and I became depressed about my weight and didn’t want to go out much. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had let myself get so big. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, and I was constantly asking myself, “How did I let myself get like this?”
Everything changed for me in June of 2015 when I decided to commit to myself despite having a chronic foot issue, and I have lost 138 lbs in less than a year! I still have about 50-60 lbs left to achieve my goal by the end of September 2016, but I know I will do it. Here’s how I lost 138 lbs:
On June 1st, 2015, I vowed to start eating better and tracking my food. However, it wasn’t until the next day that everything changed for me when I read Heidi’s newest blog post about keeping promises to yourself. I had read about promises in Chris’ books, but at that time, I wasn’t ready to commit to myself and hadn’t fully received his message. When I read Heidi’s post, I got her message loud and clear and knew I was ready to begin my transformation. It was a profound “a-ha” moment! And I didn’t just want to lose weight—I wanted to change my entire relationship with food and exercise, and most importantly, my relationship with myself. Heidi’s post made me realize that by breaking promises to myself, I kept myself dis-empowered, and I didn’t love myself. I still didn’t fully believe in myself at this time, but I took a leap of faith and made some SMART goals. My first goals were easy because I wanted to make sure they were attainable, like Chris and Heidi suggest:
- Track my food every day using Spark People, even if I mess up or eat something unhealthy.
- Drink enough water every day (half my body weight in ounces).
- Take a multi-vitamin every day.
- Do water aerobics three times a week (20 minutes each session—just move!).
After the first week of committing to myself and honoring my promises, I felt so empowered! Little by little, I started to love myself and believe in myself again.
After I got each goal down, I would add more goals. I was consistent—EVERY DAY—about reading my goals and reasons for committing on my phone, checking my goal board in SparkPeople, measuring my food, reading nutrition labels, and much more, which helped me stay focused on my commitments. I believe that to lose the most weight, you HAVE to track your food—it will open your eyes and allow you to make small changes in your nutrition.
After one month, I made my spare bedroom into a fitness room. Due to my foot issues, I could only do free weights if I was seated, but that was ok! I also started using the spin bike, which didn’t hurt my foot like other machines did. The first time I rode the spin bike, I could only do it for 4 minutes, and within a month, I was able to ride it for 35 minutes. I was also able to do water aerobics. As time went on, I continued to gradually increase the amount of exercise I did weekly. I was doing my workouts and nutrition planning alone, but I had support from friends and family, which helped me greatly.
After 3 months, I had lost over 50 lbs! I was gradually increasing my exercise each month, and I started doing DietBets. Winning my first DietBet was so empowering and motivating and very hard!! I have continued to play DietBets and have only lost 3 out of 14 games! On the games I lost, I came within one pound of winning, so even though I lost, I was proud that I came so close. My belief in myself continued to get stronger and stronger.
In September 2015, I started carb cycling with the Turbo Cycle and have done it ever since. It was difficult for me at first mainly because I am a vegetarian and had to figure out how to get protein without increasing my carbs too much—I love my carbs! But I was able to tweak the non-vegetarian recipes in Chris and Heidi’s book to make them vegetarian. After a few weeks of carb cycling, I realized I could do it, and it was worth it because I was losing a good amount of weight each week. Carb cycling prevented my body from hitting a plateau for a long time, and when I did hit a plateau, it didn’t last long thanks to carb cycling.
Six months after I began my transformation journey, I had surgery on my other foot. My goal was to reach a 100 lb weight loss by the end of December, but I knew it would be hard since I would be recovering from surgery and wouldn’t be able to exercise like I’d like to for several weeks. Two weeks after my surgery, I discovered that I could burn calories with seated cardio and that—along with seated weights—is what I did for about a month while my foot was recovering. I also focused on my nutrition since that was the main thing in my control. Despite my recovery, I made it to my goal—a total of 100.7 lb weight loss—by the end of December! I had a few tough moments during my recovery when I doubted if I could manage to lose and not gain, but I worked so hard to pick myself back up and get back on track. I read my goals, reasons why I wanted to commit to myself, and my SparkPeople goal board daily to stay focused. I reviewed the pictures I’d taken of myself taken throughout my journey. I reflected on how far I had come and realized that nothing can hold me back from taking care of myself—not physical issues, not emotional issues, nothing. I have my power back and nothing can take it away from me.
Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped me during my transformation journey:
- The scale won’t budge. When this happened, I was a little upset at first, but I soon realized that the scale is not the only way to measure success. I knew I had done great with my nutrition and exercise that week, and while I was frustrated, I told myself to trust in the process, which was one of the hardest things for me at first. I continued to be true to myself and stay consistent with my goals, and eventually the scale reflected my hard work! I also recorded my inches and took pictures of myself each month to track my progress, which helped when that scale wouldn’t move.
- Reward or Cheat Days. I don’t give myself reward or cheat days because they can get too out of hand for me, and that’s not worth it! Instead, I give myself small treats—“Daily Hugs”—throughout the week that will not jeopardize staying within my daily nutrient ranges. On my weigh in days, I allow myself to eat out as long as I can stay within my nutrient limits. And I never keep trigger foods in my house!
- There is no such thing as perfection with transformation. It is a process of several small changes that add up to big changes, and it starts with true commitment to myself—I am perfectly imperfect, as Heidi says. There will be ups and downs, but I stay committed to myself and am consistent with my nutrition and exercise. I have made mistakes and gone over my daily nutrient limits at times, but when that happened, I would still make myself track the food so I could see the damage. I would learn from my mistakes and make better choices at the next meal, and I wouldn’t beat myself up. I would show compassion and love to myself in those moments and recommit myself. The more I do this, the better I get at it, and my commitment becomes so great that NOTHING can get in the way of my transformation.
- Cravings. At the beginning of my transformation, I had severe cravings, and I had to talk myself out of acting on those cravings. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t, so I made a list of small treats that would satisfy my cravings but wouldn’t jeopardize my daily nutrient limits. I believe it is very important not to deprive yourself or it may cause you to overeat or binge. Small rewards throughout the week really help satisfy cravings, and eventually you will find you need the rewards less and less, or your rewards will change to healthy rewards. You can also make healthier versions of your favorite unhealthy foods!
- Dealing with Injuries. Weight loss is 90% nutrition and 10% exercise, so don’t let injuries hold you back. You may need to get creative with your exercise, but you can do it! Make sure to focus mainly on your nutrition—which IS in your control—no matter what.
I have come so far in my transformation journey. Situations may arise that change how I do something, but I will still find a way—I love myself too much not to. I am worth it, I deserve to be healthy, and quitting is not an option! If you’re wanting to begin your transformation journey, do these three small things: Make small changes and attainable goals and keep your promises to yourself. Life is short. Start now!
Inspired by Jennifer’s story? You can start on a transformation journey of your own with the TRANSFORM app! Our latest and greatest tool for at-home transformation success!
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