Transformation of the Day: Jennifer lost 101 pounds. This Zeta Phi Beta soror is a busy working professional, mother and student. While being prepped for weight loss surgery, she decided that she could release the weight naturally instead and declined the procedure. She shared with us in depth about how she changed her lifestyle. Check out her story for some true gems and wisdom.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight was 346 pounds and my current weight is 245 pounds. My height is 5’7″.
When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
I started my journey February 10, 2016 My transformation has taken 2 years.
What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going when you wanted to give up?
My motivation to lose weight was being recommended as a candidate for weight loss surgery late 2015. I didn’t have any significant health issues outside of being morbidly obese. I was always the confident plus-size girl who felt good about my size and was probably more in denial than I realized; in hindsight.
Any who… I completed the whole process (dieting, psychological counseling, and required tests) and it wasn’t until I was getting prepped for the surgery (yes, down to the minute) that I questioned whether I was making the right decision. I thought, “Am I willing to risk my life for weight loss surgery (the risk with any surgery) knowing that I hadn’t fully committed to any healthy lifestyle changes?” It was at that point, I used my dedication to the pre-op diet (the hardest diet I’ve ever done) that resulted in a 20lb weight loss in two weeks to give me the motivation I needed to stop the surgery and try a natural weight loss journey instead.
A year into my journey, I became extremely frustrated because I hit the dreaded plateau. I was stuck at 275lbs for almost 4 months. The scale stopped moving and it seemed like motivation was not enough. I turned to social media for my inspiration. I needed to know what other people were doing or did when they hit an emotional and mental low in the process and what they did to prevail.
I started watching YouTube videos (like Brooklyn’s Journey). I read blogs and articles that talked about the very thing I was going through. At this point, I took their advice and figured out what worked for me. I stepped away from the scale and started focusing on pictures, measurements, and doing new workouts to confuse my body. In other words, I found new reasons to be inspired by me!
The pictures and measurements materialized my gains and motivated me to do more, push my limits and try new things. I became more critical of my body and my health (in a positive way) and recognized my body is my canvas. It’s a canvas that I have control over, in terms of, my health, how I feel and how I want my body to look. I took control of me. As a result I’ve learned to love myself in new ways, embrace my journey for the highs and the lows, and most importantly I’ve learned the art of perseverance.
How did you change your eating habits?
I changed my eating habits gradually, because I wanted to ensure that I would implement lifestyle changes that would be easy to maintain. I started by learning how to stop drinking my calories and only drink water or unsweetened teas. From there, I limited my carbs to one serving per day and gave up sweets. Next, I started to detox once per week and go meatless on this day.
After my plateau, I continued to do everything above but, I incorporated Weight Watchers. This was important because it was the beginning of my food diary and really tracking what I ate. Next, I began incorporating intermittent fasting on the weekends. As a working professional, a mother, and a student, meal prepping was essential to my success. I make sure that I create a menu for the family every week that consists of more than one meal. It’s hard eating the same thing every day for a weeks at a time. Diversifying your menu helps you not to get bored.
Lastly, I began to address my cravings in healthy ways. I learned how to and the importance of allowing for cheat meals (not DAYS) to avoid over indulgence.
What did your workout routine look like?
In the beginning, my workout routine consisted of doing dance cardio with free YouTube videos (such as Dance Fitness with Jessica, MDP, and The Fitness Marshall) every morning for an hour, 5 days a week before work. After 6 months, I added evening workouts (Zumba and Kick box Cardio) twice a week. As my fitness level evolved, my motivation and discipline began to grow. My passion for my journey grew as well, which led to more of a focus on Strength Training and HIIT workouts instead of just cardio.
Currently, I go to the gym Monday-Thursday, before work, for an hour. My workouts consists of cardio/abs (2 days), back/abs/butt HIIT Circuits (1 day), and full body HIIT (1 day). I am still committed to my evening workouts twice a week but, I go to a personal trainer for these sessions. And lastly, I added Saturdays to my routine where I focus on cardio and weight lifting (full body). However, I am a big fan of super setting and incorporate free weights in majority of all my workouts where possible. This helps me to address arms and abs every day in some form.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
This journey has shown me the rewards of patience, focus and discipline. I learned my strengths, how to overcome my weaknesses, and the best way to challenge myself to do and be better!
What advice do you have for other people who want to lose weight?
The best advice I can give to a person on their weight loss journey is a saying I learned long ago but helped me tremendously in my journey: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance!” In other words, life happens and you have to prepare for the curve balls life throws at you.
While on my journey, I unexpectedly lost my brother and needless to say it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever endured. During that time, I lost my motivation to do anything especially work out or care about what I was eating. I understood it was a part of the grieving process and took time away from working out for about a month. However, I realized the importance of healthy eating habits and really focused on what I ate during my grieving process because I know how easy it is to eat your feelings. I made sure to stock my fridge with healthy options and practiced portion control.
This was important because I was stayed with my mother and father during this time and family and friends always brought comfort (NOT diet) foods over for support. That month, I simply maintained and I was ok with that because I overcame emotional eating tendencies.
I also faced a challenge with my workout schedule as my daughter transitioned from daycare to Kindergarten and I got a promotion. In the beginning, I did home workouts because my daughter’s daycare location in proximity to our home and my work schedule aligned perfectly. As I knew I had to find a school for my daughter, I began to think about how I needed to adjust my workout regimen to account for this change almost a year prior to the process. Keep in mind, I was planning for prospective schools and a
school schedule that I wouldn’t know for months due to the Chicago Public School enrollment process. However, I’d already started looking at prospective school time schedules to plan for various scheduling possibilities that supported my journey, as well as, my family needs. In the process, I received a promotion that required me to work further from home and longer hours. Long story short, planning for the possibilities and accounting for uncertainties helped me adjust and transition my workout regimen smoothly. This is important because it helped me stay on track during what could have been a chaotic time.