(Editor’s Note: I love all of our cover stories and success stories, but this one is particularly moving. Jennifer is an inspiration to us all whether you want to lose 5, 10, 50 or over 100lbs. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story!)
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 40 years old, happily married, mom to four wonderful kids aged 17, 15, 12, and 8 years old, from North Babylon, NY on Long Island. I love music, dancing, working out, running races, baking and taking pictures, especially of my family.
2. When and why did you commit yourself to losing weight?
My Weight Loss Journey started on November 3, 2010. In late 2010, I faced a number of different health problems. I was overweight, suffered from herniated and slipped disks, had high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as ovarian cysts and nodules on my thyroid (cancer scare). With a family history of Type 2 diabetes, I was at risk of developing the disease. To top things off, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in September 2010. I felt like my world was falling apart. But the wake-up call that snapped me into action happened on a vacation to Aruba when I could hardly fit into my airplane seat and wasn’t able to buckle the seat belt. I thought to myself, “I can’t be that fat, can I?” But I was. That day, I made the commitment to quit my bad habits and adopt a healthier way of life through diet and exercise.
3. What led you to join Lucille Roberts ?
After working out at home for a couple of months, I was getting bored of the same old workout DVD’s and one day my friend took me as a guest to the gym that she belonged to. I enjoyed working out at the gym but did not feel comfortable working out in front of men. That night I came home and actually saw a commercial on TV for Lucille Roberts and the next day I took my friend with me to the Lucille Roberts in Bayshore with our guest passes, to check it out. When I walked in I was welcomed with open arms. The staff understood my goals and challenges and explained to me how I can make it happen and how it will happen. They were very encouraging. I have been a member ever since. I also love that it is an all women gym. I feel very comfortable working out because I feel we can all relate to each other. Working out in a group setting with all women is also very encouraging and motivating. I find that I push myself more working out with others and it is so much more fun!
4. What steps did you take to lose over 100lbs?
I knew I had a lot of weight to lose and that diet alone just wasn’t going to do it for me. Besides changing my eating habits for the better, I wanted to try and incorporate working out in my routine to help me lose the weight faster but also to help tone so I would not have sagging skin since I had over 100 lb. to lose. I wanted to get healthier and stronger since I had so many health problems, and the one thing the doctor said would help me with a lot of my issues was working out. I started off slow: 15 minutes at a time at home with workout DVDs.
5. What were your biggest food and exercise challenges and how did you overcome them?
I was just not eating healthy or thinking about what I put in my mouth. I was over eating and my portions were out of control. I knew I had to get healthy and couldn’t eat like that anymore. I started following a diet of no white carbs and no added sugar, only natural sugars from fruits. I eat a lot of lean protein and a lot of vegetables along with whole wheat carbs every now and then. I now eat to fuel my body instead of destroy it. Eating this way is a lifestyle change that I can follow for the rest of my life.
The challenge I had with exercise was I hated it, I did not want to exercise. It was like torture to me and not fun at all until I joined Lucille Roberts. The best thing I did for myself during my weight loss journey was rewarding myself with a Lucille Roberts Gym Membership! I have not been the same since. I am healthier and stronger. I come to the gym every day since I joined. I started off just using the machines like the treadmill and elliptical. I would watch the classes as I was on them. After about a week of watching the classes I decided to give the classes a try and ever since then I am HOOKED. I LOVE them all and I love that Lucille Roberts switches the classes up to challenge us and keeps things interesting.
6. Was there ever a moment when you felt like giving up? What did you do to stay motivated?
There were times when I did feel like giving up especially at the beginning when I did not see any results and at other times along my journey. I Never did give up though. I thought to myself what will happen to me ,especially with all the health issues I had, if I gave up? Will I be around for my family? As a mother of four children, I wanted to be a model of good health. I had more than 100 pounds to lose and looking at that big number was often very overwhelming, so I set mini goals of ten pounds at a time and kept at the exercise, which helped me stay motivated. I also kept pictures of my progress on my wall which helped me realize that I never wanted to go back to where I started and that would happen if I gave up.
7. Do you feel that having a support team is important? Who is on yours?
I absolutely think a support team is key for anyone who wants to lose weight and workout to be their best. I have the greatest support team in the world. My family and my friends are my biggest supporters and are very encouraging. They have been my cheerleaders along my journey. Another support team of mine is my second family away from home, the members, instructors, and staff at Lucille Roberts Bayshore. The instructors are so motivating and push me to achieve things I never thought I could do with their classes. They have shown me how strong I actually am and have been there to help with any questions I have had and any struggles that I have come across.
I have made so many close friendships since I joined and everyone there is just like family. We are all there for each other, listen to each other and help encourage and inspire each other. So many people have come up to me let me know how incredible and amazing I look and how much of an inspiration I am for them to get started on their weight-loss journeys. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world to be able to inspire others and show them that their journeys can lead to health and happiness. I could not have been successful on this journey without all the support from everyone I have and that have come into my life since I began this new healthy lifestyle change.
8. What can you do now that you never thought you could do?
I am loving the challenge of taking on new things and feeling stronger and healthier every day. I love being able to run around with my kids and do things I never thought were possible for me. In October 2011 I ran my first 5k race. Since then I have run 4 more 5k’s and one 10K. In March of 2012 I ran my very first half marathon and finished in 2 hours and 36 minutes. When I first started my journey, if someone told me I would be running a half marathon, I would have laughed in their face. I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without becoming out of breath. Who would have ever thought that I would LOVE and WANT to work out? It is the BEST thing for you!!! This coming from a person who hated exercising. Now I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t get to the gym.
9. How do you feel when you look into the mirror?
I used to be ashamed of the person I saw in the mirror before I started my journey. In fact I would try to avoid mirrors at all costs. Now I actually like to look in the mirror and see the person that I have become. I feel amazing, happy, proud, healthy, athletic, self confident, and accomplished knowing how far I have come from the person that I used to be. I see a person who is going to be around a long time for her kids, family and friends.
10. What advice do you have for women who are trying to lose weight and meet their fitness goals?
I have my favorite quote that I always think of and that I have up on my refrigerator: “Nothing is impossible: the word itself says I’m Possible”. Keep at it for a healthier, happier you because it IS possible! Everyone can lose weight and meet their fitness goals; just keep at it and don’t give up even if the results are not happening as fast as you would like. After 14 months, I am 115 lb. lighter because I DID NOT GIVE UP!! I was able to run my First Half Marathon because I DID NOT GIVE UP!! Make small changes and set mini-goals throughout instead of looking at the big picture—this helped me so much. And remember, slow and steady wins the race. It is a lifetime journey. I am living proof that you CAN change your body. 115 lb. later, I am feeling Strong, Sexy, and Confident!!!
Check out the full February 2013 issue here.