"Competing in a 5K was something I never thought I would do, and now I know I can."
As a child, I always had a tendency toward being overweight; however, I really began to gain weight later in life, after moving to the United States from Romania in 1998. I think a lack of exercise and eating more calories definitely contributed. A few years after I moved, I got married and had my first baby. After that pregnancy, I reached my highest weight, 131 pounds (I'm 4' 11"), and never went back down. After I had my second baby three years later, I decided I was ready to get back on track.
I became determined to lose all of my baby weight and maybe even more. After watching the season finale of The Biggest Loser, I signed up for Jillian's program. Jillian's straightforward, no-nonsense approach on The Biggest Loser made me want to join. She doesn't expect anything less than the best from her team. I could appreciate that because as a teacher, I try to do the same with my students. I followed the program very strictly by weighing my food and using a notebook to record everything— all 1200-1400 calories-worth per day — that I put in my mouth. I also worked out five days a week using the exercise routines on the Web site and Jillian's 5-disc DVD set.
After two months on the program, I wanted a different focus and decided it was time to find a new goal: running in a 5K event in Nashville. I always thought running was a joke of some kind. I've always said, "Running is not for me. I'm too heavy on top." With the encouragement of my online buddies on JillianMichaels.com, I changed my thinking and took up my own challenge. I trained for one month and completed the 5K in 32:39. The best part of all is that I ran the entire course, coming in seventh for my age group.
Being in shape has changed my life greatly. My energy level is up, and my family benefits because we eat healthier, more nutritious food. Nowadays, I am used to calorie counting, so I don't write things down — I just know how much to eat and I listen to my body.
Having a goal in mind was the best motivational strategy for me. When I hit a plateau, my husband and Jillian reassured me that it would pass. Finding my own self-motivation and the strength to say "I can do this" also helped me through the process. I've lost 28 pounds in about seven months using a combination of Jillian's exercise routine, cardio, and healthy cooking. I look and feel great and know that I am an inspiration to others and a role model to my daughters.
Activities now: Once I reached my personal weight-loss goal, I slowed down a bit. Now my goal is to maintain my current weight. I'm currently training for another 5K and am using a heart-rate monitor when I work out. I try to work at least 80 percent of my maximum heart rate every time I exercise.
Best compliment: When my husband said that he could tell my energy level was higher and that I look awesome. The encouragement of my online buddies was also great. They posted things on the Message Boards like "Way to go, Felicia!!!" and "Felicia, I am so proud of you…you rock!"
Advice for others: Eating healthy, exercising, and surrounding yourself with people who encourage and believe in you is the key to success. If you lose focus, find something to keep you going. When I tell my friends I lost the weight by counting calories and exercise, many of them believe they can't do that. Every time someone says that, I think, "Well, you asked and I've told you. The rest is up to you!"
Before I joined this program, competing in a 5K was something I never thought I would do, and now I know I can. It was exhilarating and gave me a taste of real accomplishment…and all of it was made possible by the Jillian Michaels Online program!
*Participants can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.