"During the past year, my life has changed completely. I've lost 120 pounds and I've learned to love myself again."
I have always been what is called big boned. Even as a child, I was the biggest girl in the class. While I was in middle school, I went through very tough situations and became very introverted. I stopped playing sports, I stopped hanging out with friends, and I stopped living life. Throughout the next four years, I continued to put on weight and ended up graduating high school at 244 pounds. Having no real plans or goals after high school, I became even more depressed, and within a year my weight had ballooned all the way up to 310 pounds. By the time my twenty-first birthday came around, I knew I wanted a different life, but I didn’t know how to get it or even if I deserved it. At that time, I began to try everything — from pills to shakes to starving myself on just fruits and veggies for a year — in order to lose the pounds I had packed on. I did lose weight, but as with all quick-fix fad diets, I eventually put it back on and found myself feeling more depressed, less motivated, and struggling to believe I could lose weight for good.
Then one of my best friends cut me out of her life, and I was devastated. I hated myself and knew that until I began to make a change — in my body and how I viewed myself — my world would never be different. I got on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon and decided to try to lose the weight one last time. At 290 pounds, I knew I needed a lasting change, and I felt that getting healthy would be the first step toward improving my life.
In late January, I saw my first episode of The Biggest Loser and was totally drawn in by the fact that these were people dealing with the same struggles as me, and actually doing something real about it! I began to start thinking that if they could do it, so could I. I decided to check out JillianMichaels.com — within a week, I was hooked. The amount of information, encouragement, and support, along with the sincere sense of community I felt on the Message Boards, made me feel like I belonged and gave me the strength I needed to begin believing in myself again. I also loved Jillian’s in-your-face, aggressive approach to weight loss, and how she doesn’t take no for an answer or give in to excuses. She doesn’t just talk about the physical aspects of weight loss but instead takes a holistic approach. What I saw in her on The Biggest Loser was a true sense of concern and compassion for the people she was training, and I knew that behind her “bad ass” attitude was a woman who truly cared about people and wanted to see them reach their potential! I invested in all things Jillian — I bought her DVDs and books and began listening to her podcasts. I became a huge admirer of this woman who could create such a safe community and help millions of people without even having to meet them.
Along this journey, I faced many challenges. My friends and family turned out to be less supportive than I had hoped. I started attending classes at the local college while also working, and I didn’t have a lot of money, so a gym membership was out of the question. What I realized was that if losing weight was something I really wanted, I needed to be a little creative and disciplined. I also learned to create boundaries and communicate with the people around me in a more honest way.
For exercise, I followed the circuit-training program on Jillian’s Web site four days a week, while including extra cardio or DVD workouts each day. I added two full cardio days and one rest day a week. I have done everything from walking countless miles around my neighborhood to climbing the stairs at my college stadium for hours — anything to keep myself moving. I completely reformulated my relationship with food. I went from seeing food as a reward or a cure to seeing it as a form of energy that would sustain me through my day. With that in mind, I stopped drinking soda, cut out processed foods, and began to eat more cleanly. I even began counting calories, sticking to the program's recommended 1200-1400 per day allotment, and keeping track of everything, from how much water I was drinking to how much sodium I was taking in each day.
During the past year, my life has changed completely. Not only have I lost 120 pounds, but I’ve learned to love myself again and found real joy in actually living my life. I can do so much more now than I ever dreamed possible. I am an active participant in my classes, I can chase my nieces and nephews around for hours, and I am open to sharing myself with the world around me. I love that I can shop anywhere now. I started my weight loss journey wearing a size 22/24 pant and a 1X or 2X shirt. I couldn’t just go to the mall and pick out anything I wanted to wear because most of the time things didn’t fit or the store didn’t have my size — so I hated shopping and stuck to getting cute shoes or handbags. Now I wear a size 10 pant and medium shirts, so the options for fun clothes to wear are endless! I want to lose 20 more pounds and sculpt my body, but for the first time in my life, I know without a doubt that I can do this — and anything else I want to in life — as long as I am willing to work hard and not give up.
Activities now: I had always wanted to be a runner, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would actually run in a race. So far I have run in a 5K and a 5-mile race, and I am currently training to run in both a half and full marathon this year! These are things I never would have thought I could do before, and here I am doing them! It’s super exciting!
Best compliment: The most meaningful compliments I have received are words of encouragement and support from Jillian’s members on the Message Boards. There’s something so special about having someone who’s on this journey with you tell you that you inspire or motivate them. Beyond that, I love seeing friends I haven’t seen since before I lost the weight and watching their amazement at what a person can do in a year!
Advice for others: To everyone on this journey, or those thinking about starting this journey, my advice is simple: DO the WORK! Weight loss is hard. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes getting educated, and it takes a willingness to look at your skeletons, but it’s all WORTH it… and YOU are worth it! Everything in life is a choice — you choose what you want, where you will go, and how you will get there — and ultimately it is you who will choose to change your life! You CAN do this, and you’ve got great support on Jillian’s Web site to help you along the way!
*Participants can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.