Transformation of the Day: Gail lost 55 pounds with Jenny Craig. After losing her job, her trainer, and access to the gym due to the pandemic, she continued making healthy food choices and started exercising on her own. She also used her faith to conquer emotional/stress eating.
What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going when you wanted to give up?
My motivation came from a photo. While I was traveling for work, a co-worker took a full-body photo for me. Although I was smiling, I was really unhappy on the inside. For the first time, I realized that I had let myself go.
One morning, I woke up, made an appointment, had one last BIG meal, and headed over to Jenny Craig. I needed a “tribe” to help me on this journey; one for the food (Jenny Craig food and counselor) and one for exercise (a personal trainer). I needed people in my corner who would push me, hold me accountable, and, more importantly, encourage me.
From the first day, I asked my counselor and my trainer not to share my weight with me until I lost 30 pounds. Not focusing on the scale helped me to stay motivated on eating right and exercising. My trainer took my measurements each week, so that helped to motivate me too.
Within the first two months, I lost 27 pounds, but then life got in the way. COVID-19 shut down all of the gyms, and I couldn’t work out with my trainer anymore. Two weeks later, I was furloughed from my job, followed by being laid off a month later. The stress and anxiety of being laid off during record-high unemployment should have given me a good reason to stop, but I kept going. Fortunately, I was able to continue the coaching and purchasing of food from Jenny Craig. I started walking outside and using my treadmill at home. I also bought a few dumbbells and a resistance band. I also finally bought a scale and started tracking my weight once a week.
How did you change your eating habits?
After watching several documentaries on health, I decided to become a vegan to see if it would help with several years of pain and inflammation from tendonitis in my ankle. I wanted to see for myself if my diet was directly connected to the tendonitis. The pain and inflammation stopped for a short time, but unfortunately, I became a junk food vegan and overindulged in anything crunchy, salty, or sweet. I ate too many carbs and processed foods, which packed on the pounds. After a year, I became a semi-vegetarian, eating only chicken and fish (no beef or pork). I needed to learn how to eat healthy, along with portion control. That’s why I choose Jenny Craig. This was my third time on their program, so I was familiar with how the process works. I could enjoy a variety of foods that I like but in smaller, healthier portions.
What did your workout routine consist of?
Before COVID-19, I would attend cycling classes at the gym or use a cycle app 4-5 times a week. I would also weight lift with my trainer 2 times a week.
When everyone was quarantined, I would walk 2-6 miles outdoors or on the treadmill. The cycle app started adding more features, so I started using the app to mix up my workouts with indoor walking, jogging, and a bodyweight boot camp.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight was 256 pounds. My current weight is 201 pounds.
What is your current height?
My height is 5’9″.
When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
I started on January 8, 2020, and it took eight months for my transformation.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Writing down my ‘why’ was my biggest lesson. I wrote down all the reasons why this weight journey would be different this time. I would frequently read and reread my ‘why’ and even change it along the way. I learned how to listen to my body and understand if I was eating because I was physically hungry or psychologically (emotionally) hungry. Eating every 2 to 3 hours helped me to stay focused on my physical hunger. The psychological hunger is where I struggled because it’s hard to break that habit of running to food to fill a void.
I made it a daily goal to drink anywhere between 10-12 cups of water every day. To mix it up, I would drink flavored sparkling water or use liquid water enhancers. I also figured out what foods would satisfy me when I was hungry. Instead of reaching for processed foods, I would drink hot green tea and eat an apple. When those stressful days would come, or when I was eating out with family or friends, I wouldn’t let one meal or one day give me an excuse to give up or forget my goals. I would get back on track as soon as possible! Weight loss is a lot like pass or fail. Some days you pass (lose weight or maintain), and some days you fail (gain weight). That does NOT make you a failure! It makes you human, and tomorrow is another day to get it right.
What advice do you have for women who want to lose weight?
Since it seems like life can be out of control, I had to focus on the things that I could control;
1) My Mindset
To get me through those days of silence or rejection during my job search, I focused on having a mindset of prayer and being positive. Every day became a daily dose of believing in myself and working through the big and small efforts. You have to believe despite what you see or don’t see happening in the job process, despite how slow things seem to be going, and despite the naysayers… much like weight loss.
Don’t do this alone! Find encouraging people to cheer you along the way. That made a big difference for me. My family was incredibly supportive during this time. During my journey, my sisters contacted Jenny Craig and placed a credit on my account for my birthday! I also became a part of several weight loss groups via Facebook. I encouraged people, and they encouraged me!
I saw this quote on the BWLW Facebook page, and it made me pause and really think it through: ”There is joy in the journey.” Really? How do you find joy when the weight loss is slow or comes to a complete standstill? How do you find joy when you’re unemployed, want to work, interviews are few and far between, and you find yourself disappointed, discouraged, and dejected on most days? How do you find joy when you did all of the right things (exercise, drinking lots of water, eating right), and you KNOW you should have lost weight, but instead, the weight loss was minimal or even worse, you gained weight? How do you find joy when you find the job you really want, you nailed the interview, and the door still shuts in your face?
There IS joy when I changed my mindset and started looking at things from God’s perspective, not my own. I learned to face the weaknesses I had in my life (fear, grief, faith, loneliness, disappointment… just to name a few). It’s easy to turn to food when those emotions hit. This time, I turned to my faith, and when those disappointing moments would come, I would move past them as soon as possible.
It’s important to celebrate the non-scale victories (NSV) that have nothing to do with the numbers on the scale. When I could wear clothes that had been in my closet for years, that was a VICTORY! When I wouldn’t turn to food when I received rejection during my job search = VICTORY! When several years of tendonitis in my ankle had gone away for good = A BIG VICTORY! Weight loss is not a one and done kind of thing. It’s a slow, on-going journey, but it’s well worth it when you see yourself becoming a healthy and confident new version of YOU!