My Story

My story begins like many other people's story, a history of trying to lose weight only to stop whatever plan I was on after a few months and then gain all the weight plus some back.  My weight slowly increased over the years starting in sixth grade and continuing through 2013 when I reached my peak weight of 227 (pregnant) and 211 when I officially made a commitment to change.  I'm not going to go through my whole history here as I have already written a whole post called My History.

What I want to focus on in this page is the story from the time that I decided to change my life for good to the time I reached my goal weight.  When I think about it there really wasn't an "ah ha" moment for me, I knew I needed to lose weight and I was planning on signing back up for Weight Watchers after Chloe was born.  However, I didn't fully understand the predicament I landed myself in until after I started to lose weight.  Yes, I was in a form of denial mostly telling myself that my lack of energy was entirely due to my pregnancy and after Chloe was born I would be just fine.  How wrong I was.  Long after Chloe was born and I was well into my weight loss campaign I finally admitted just how poor of shape I was in.  I couldn't go up the stairs without being winded.  If I was in the basement and needed to go up to the bedrooms (on the upper floor) I would have to stop to catch my breath on the main floor.  I couldn't make it through the day without needing a nap (although admittedly that one could have had sleepless nights from a new baby as a factor thrown in there).  I was always tired, tired, tired, tired and quite frankly..... I was tired of being tired ALL the time!  I never felt like I had any energy at all.
227- the day before Chloe was born
 My very first step was to sign up for Weight Watchers because I had no idea how to feed my body.  I really knew nothing about portion control and since I was nursing, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to affect my milk production.  Learning how many points were in various foods I ate and then making sure to eat within my points was my next step.  I was very good at tracking on days when I ate well.... but on days when I ate poorly, tracking went out the window.  My typical week would go something along the lines of tracking and staying within my daily points allowance Monday-Friday, not so good on Saturday and totally out of control on Sunday.  Sunday was my no tracking, splurge day.  I made a batch of cookies almost every Sunday and ate to my heart's content.  In the beginning, I still lost weight.  This habit continued for about three months when two things happened: 1. I started thinking about feeding Chloe solid foods and saw that I was going to lose half of my nursing points (7) at once as soon as I made the switch, and 2. I was tired of working Monday-Thursday just to work off the food I ate on Sunday.  About three to four months in to my weight loss endeavor, I stopped splurging so much on Sunday and tried to focus on eating more balanced throughout the week.  Although admittedly Sundays were still very hard to stay on track and I generally ate more on Sundays but I had stopped splurging so much on Sunday.

In regards to exercise, I didn't exercise at first.  For the first month and a half to two months I only tracked my food and I didn't add exercise in at all.  Once I hit about 195 pounds I decided that I needed to add exercise into my routine since I felt like just tracking food wasn't enough anymore.  Here was a real problem.  With two young children (age 2, and a few months old a the time) and, Matt (my hubby) being in Graduate school and working two jobs, I was on my own.  Since I was staying home with the kids, we were (and still do) living on a single income budget.  That meant that a gym membership was out of the question.  A monthly gym fee plus daycare for two was not feasible.  I have never been a big fan of running for exercise and even if I were, I can't just go out and run with two little kids to take care of (and pushing a running stroller around at almost 200 pounds did NOT sound like something I wanted to do (not to mention we had already bought a new double stroller and we didn't have any more money to buy a jogging stroller, not even a used one since Chloe's health insurance cost us an additional $350 a month we were dead broke, but that is another story). 

That is when I remembered that I really enjoyed Zumba a few years ago when I was trying to lose weight after Lily's pregnancy.  In fact, Matt had bought me the basic Zumba DVDs a few years back as well.  And so it began.  I popped in the starter DVD (Chloe was chilling in the bouncer) and gave it a whirl.  The first program is only about 20 minutes long and it about killed me!  I was sweating bullets and I had a hard time moving around the living room.  I only did this exercise about twice a week when I first started exercising and that is when I really realized how out of shape I was.  I couldn't jump because it hurt to have all of my fat bouncing around, and I couldn't keep up with the tempo of the songs.  I had to keep everything low intensity.  Unfortunately, after only a few weeks of doing the DVD I quickly got bored.  Doing the same routine over and over, and it didn't really feel like the Zumba classes I remembered.
Image from Amazon

And THAT is when my sister invited me over to play Zumba Core Wii and it was LOVE at first dance!  I LOVED the songs, and I LOVED the moves!  I loved that there were several different workouts already created for you and that they varied in length and intensity.  I loved that I could scroll through the songs and pick out the ones I wanted, and most importantly I LOVED that I could choose songs create my own custom workout playlist!  Since I didn't have a Wii of my own, I went over to play my sister's Wii ALL the time!  This is how I was able to work my way up from exercising for only 20 minutes to exercising for an hour!  I was able to work on getting my intensity up and I was having a great time doing Zumba on the Wii with my sister.
Image taken from Amazon
And then the wonderful day came that Majesco finally came out with an Ipad Zumba game App!  Now I have an IPad, so I just went out and bought some cheap speakers to plug the Ipad into so I could turn up the volume.  I downloaded the app and bought all the songs the same day.  I was in heaven!  I loved the App.  It had a lot of my favorite songs from Zumba core Wii and it had many great new songs as well!  Now, when I start something I tend to throw my whole heart into it and the same thing happened with exercise.  Well, when you go from not exercising at all to doing a high intense workout like Zumba (because of course I liked all the high intensity songs that had all the jumping and craziness in them), it was too much for my body.  I developed shin splints.  That has happened one other time before when I was on the cross country team in high school.  Me being stubborn, I decided not to do anything about the shin splints and over time they got worse and worse.  Shin splints are a stress injury when you increase your physical activity too quickly and the only way to get rid of them is to stop working out, or dramatically decrease your activity.  I wasn't wanting to do that of course because everyone wants to lose weight as fast as they can, and another bad thing I was doing was not stretching.  So the inevitable happened.  I pulled a muscle in my back and so then I couldn't exercise for about a month because it just hurt too much.  After my one month recovery period my shin splints went away and I haven't had a problem since.  So the moral of this story is: if you get injured make sure you take the time to heal!  (this comes back to haunt me later as you will see).   I have logged many, many hours playing the Zumba Dance app for Ipad.  I went from 211 down to 183 (and then back up to 187 during my one month hiatus right after my sister was married and continuing until my birthday in mid July)

My Sister's Wedding-Photo by Jessica Leavitt Photography
When I picked back up and got back into weight loss mode, I went from 187 down to 150 using this App!  The ability to make your own custom playlist meant that I never got bored because I could select new and different songs every time I worked out!  Even after playing my favorite songs dozens of times I never got bored because I could rearrange the order I played the songs in, or just rotate different songs into my routine.  These Zumba games are what made it possible for me to exercise at home, and have fun, and lose weight.  I went from a BMI of 36.2 to a BMI of 25.7 because I was able to manage my food intake and find an exercise that I really enjoyed and was able to do from home and fit into my life with two kids and a husband who is virtually gone.
Image taken from This Site

150 pounds
Somewhere around August of 2013 I started looking forward to when I would stop nursing and I noticed that my milk production was slowing down and I wanted to know how that would affect how many points I was allowed per day.  I was devastated when I realized I would be losing 7 points a day! That is when I made the choice to eat healthier.  I started making sure I had vegetables with every meal.  I stopped making so many foods with cream cheese and cream of chicken soup.  I looked into eating fresh, non-processed foods.  (Called eating clean).  I was not perfect at it, but making the changes really helped.  I made many small changes instead of making one big change.  I am still working on making healthy choices, since I have made poor food choices most of my life it is hard to continually find and make foods that are purely "eat clean" foods.  But I work on it every day and I am committed to re learning how to eat and how to feed my family healthier food so we can eat more of it!

I stopped my weight watchers subscription in December of 2013 due to financial hardships, and it took a while of searching and trying out different sites before I finally transferred completely to My Fitness Pal.  My Fitness Pal has been working very well to keep track of my exercises and my calorie consumption to help keep my food on track. 

And then what seemed to be a disaster struck.  The very day my weight hit 150, and I was so excited to work towards 145 and reach my healthy weight range, I injured my foot.  I was actually at my older sister's gym (a gym that offered a free class she wanted me to try) and we were doing traveling, jumping, inside toe touches (if that makes sense) and I landed on the outside of my left foot, effectively halting my exercise for a little over a month.  My foot was black and blue and I was afraid that I might have broken something.  (See I told you this resting after an injury thing would come back to haunt me)  However, being stubborn and not wanting to go to urgent care or the emergency room due to the costs (Lily, my now three year old, had just cracked the back of her head on a table and we had to take her to the ER to get a staple in her head and we had a $600 bill we needed to pay off, despite the fact that we do have health insurance- they applied everything towards our family deductible.... that frustration is another story).
So I hobbled around unable to exercise, or walk, for a month.  I was fairly depressed that I could not continue my weight loss journey at the moment and so everything just fell apart for the month of January 2014.  Nearing the end of the month I could walk mostly normal again, but I couldn't run and I certainly couldn't Zumba with all of the different moves and footwork involved.  Unfortunately, although my foot wasn't working, my mouth was working just fine and my weight crept back up to 153.7 So I started looking into Pilates (which I hated) and Yoga (which I hated even more).  That is when I started looking on Amazon for different exercise videos and I found Chalean Johnson.
My foot all bandaged up
Black and Blue

She had two exercise programs I was interested in, the first being the one I really wanted to do which was a high intense Cardio program called Turbo Fire and the second being a weight lifting program called Chalean Extreme.  Being unable to do high intense cardio because of my foot, and that being the reason for my predicament, I decided to go for the weight lifting program first.  After all I have always heard that building muscle is important, I just never really liked lifting weights and when you build muscle, the numbers on the scale do not go down.  Three months.... three months of lifting weights and  not seeing the scale go down about killed me.  The weight training videos are about 30-35 minutes long each so on weight training days, I also added some Zumba on afterwards once my foot started feeling better.  (about three weeks into the program I could do Zumba fairly regularly but I was still being very careful not to tweak my foot).  And of course I used my favorite Zumba app because no matter how much time I had left to make it up to an hour, I could just pick whatever songs I felt like doing and do those songs until my exercise time hit one hour.  Sometimes it was just a few songs and sometimes it was several, and that is the beauty of the Zumba App.
Image taken from Amazon

I finished Chalean Extreme May 5th 2014 and started Turbo Fire.  I lost 6 inches doing Chalean Extreme and only two pounds.  Psychologically it is killing me that five months later I am still hanging out around 150 pounds.  But I have come to learn to accept that changes in my body are not always reflected on the scale.  It has been a very difficult lesson to learn, and I am still not entirely over it but I am beginning to change my thinking about myself, and my body.
To see all my before and after pictures click HERE

If you want to read a more detailed review of my experience you can read this post here.  Three weeks into Turbo Fire my friend started a Turbo Fire challenge group.  A week into that I decided that I really needed to crack down on my nutrition.  I realized that I was eating way too much sugar and so for one week I did not eat any sugar, and I did not sample any food I was making or eat any of the kids left over food.  Over the next two weeks I learned what it took to break my plateau.  It was a very hard two weeks, possibly the hardest two weeks I have had to endure, but it was well worth it.  The struggle was over, I broke my plateau and started heading down and for the first time in six months I saw the scale go down.  To learn about enduring and overcoming a plateau read this post HERE.

Although I overcame my plateau, I spend the next few months hovering around 145 my weight fluctuating between 143 and 148.  That is when I did some serious evaluation about what I was doing and what I needed to change and I found that I was really good at sticking to my workout schedule but my yo yo eating was killing me.  I would eat about 1400 calories for 5 days (143) and then just go off the deep end for two days (148).  And the cycle would repeat.  This is more or less what I had done my entire year and a half journey and although I had tried to lose the dieter's mentality I had never been successful.  So I decided that I was sick and tired of living like this, existing always between two extremes.  It was time to really figure this out and stop yo yo eating every week.

Family Photos July 2014- I worked hard to look that good in those photos!  Not at goal yet, but much closer than ever before.  Somewhere around 143 pounds

Then I ran across a book called "How to have your cake and your skinny jeans too" by Josi Spinardi.  It is all about hunger directed eating and I was just captivated and enthralled by this book.  Check out my inspirations tab to see a list of posts about hunger directed eating.  But what I will say here is that everything this book promises to help you learn how to do is what I have always wanted.  To have a normal relationship with food (no more binge eating as mentioned in the paragraph above), to eat like naturally thin people, no counting calories.  Just listening to your body, learning to feel what foods make your body feel good and what foods make you feel bad, learning to eat when you are hungry and stop when your body tells you that you've had enough.  I was so intrigued because I could see these behaviors in my children (3 1/2 and 1 1/2) and they haven't disconnected with their bodies yet, or learned unhealthy eating behaviors (Ex: you must clear your plate regardless of how full you are).

In August 2014 I started applying some of these to my routine.  For the first time I checked in with how food made me feel after I ate it and I also allowed myself to eat if I was well and truly hungry.  These two things changed the way I thought about food.  I no longer cared how much food other people were eating because I knew that if I was truly hungry then I could get something to eat regardless of how many calories or points I had eaten that day or had left.  In other words, I stopped obsessing over food so much.  I also made the astronomical realization that I no longer craved feeling full.

Regardless of everything I thought I knew I just freaked out mentally and emotionally.  I hit a brick wall.  I was tired of dieting, I was tired of pushing myself to do things I didn't want to do.  I wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted, I wanted weight loss to feel more natural, I wanted it to be easier.  I had worked so hard and I was done.  I wanted to change my thinking but couldn't, I was obsessed with weight loss with no desire to put the work in required to achieve it.  I tried and failed countless times to get back on track in a 7 month period of time.  I gained 15 pounds back in 5 months and then for 4 months gained and lost the same 5 pounds over and over again.  I just couldn't get started, I couldn't shake the depressive mood I was in, I was letting things from my past bother me and having a hard time accepting my weight gain and moving forward.  Then I signed up for the triathlon I was thinking of skipping out on and everything changed .  I had a goal, a purpose, a reason, a challenge.  I was terrified of coming in dead last or even worse, so far behind everyone that they started clearing up the race course before I finished.  I didn't want to embarrass myself, especially not in front of my In Laws!  (My Father In Law signed up for the race with me.  He is the one who is really into triathlons and the main reason why I set a goal of running a triathlon race).  The race we signed up for was an Xterra race, which is an off road race.  It was a 1600 swim, 6 mile bike and 5k run.  Basically a sprint tri with an extra long swim (swim length is almost the length of a full tri race). Then I got sick, but before that I knew I wasn't making the progress I needed to in order to complete a triathlon.  I hadn't gotten in enough outdoor runs (only one), and only three out of 10 outdoor mountain bike rides.  I got really sick in the beginning of July, and I was sick for three weeks which meant no working out, and when I did start working out again I was very weak.  We decided to cancel our triathlon race, but we were able to move our registration to a different race about a month after our original race.  This race was to be a relay, but when my father in law had to get surgery on his elbow, I picked up the swimming part as well as the running part.

Then I started Whole 30 because I was desperate.  My eating was so out of control and I was so tired of being hungry, counting calories, and feeling like I couldn't eat anything in order to lose weight.  While Whole 30 is restricting in ways (no grains, legumes, dairy, sugar) it was also freeing.  I was not hungry for the first time.  I didn't feel the urge to snack, and I was able to eat what I wanted when I wanted as long as it was on plan and the food made me feel good.  It tool almost the whole 30 days before I finally started to really feel better and to have more energy.  Probably a combination of being sick at the start of the program and horrible eating habits before the program.  I still suffered from the desire to emotionally eat, but it was much more manageable when I wasn't hungry.  After 30 days I lost 6 pounds and was finally back in the 140s.  I was noticing that I looked better and I was feeling better.  More confident, and happier.  Like for the first time I was actually making progress and I just might be able to conquer my food problems after all.  Making progress in finding a healthy way to live, not just counting calories for a limited period of time to try and lose weight.  And there was not calorie counting which was perfect for me.  It helps you be more in tune with your body, and therefore to recognize when to eat and when not to eat.  They give you guidelines to follow, and a lot of tips and support.  I liked pretty much everything I made and for the first time in so many years I have a real hope that this is a permanent change I could actually commit to making and live with.  Maybe I can find a way to eat and be happy after all.

Disclaimer: Neither Zumba, Majesco, Weight Watchers, Beachbody, nor anyone else has paid me to use their products or write this on my blog. This is purely my own experience and my own opinions.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jenna,

    I work for the Half Size Me show, which is a podcast dedicated to helping people lose weight and maintain their weight loss. Heather, the host of Half Size Me, has lost 170 pounds and is working to spread the word that losing weight and getting healthy is possible. She loves your message and would like to interview you for the show.

    If you would like to check out the Half Size Me show, you can listen to past episodes in iTunes, Stitcher radio or at If you are interested in scheduling an interview, Heather records week nights at 7pm EST ​over Skype or the phone. Interviews last about an hour. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thank you so much,
    Meredith Jones
    Half Size Me