At 12 years old, five feet tall, and 175 pounds, I was the heaviest I’d ever been. My parents had gotten divorced and life seemed to be just falling apart around me. I started skipping school and failing classes — and those were the more trivial things. I had turned to food (Taco Bell, pizza, Cheetos, and soda became my best friends) and would just sit on the couch, eat, and be miserable. My mom tried therapist after therapist, but soon realized that I needed a physical outlet to release my anger and frustration. Enter martial arts.
In this photo: Jillian at age 12.