Inspired by the wellness journeys of our readers, we’re starting a new series called Fitspiration to highlight those who, through discipline and heart, have changed their own lives.
Our first story comes from Jenn Taylor, the 31-year-old mother of three from Strathmore, AB., who, over the course of two years, lost 200 pounds all on her own. Read on for the first-hand account of how she took weight loss head-on and learned to eat right. Read her motivational story and get the weight-loss tips that worked for her.
I had spent my whole life overweight. I was a pudgy baby, a chubby child, and at 21, an obese adult.
My weight had usually been around 270 pounds, but after a complication due to my first daughter’s birth left me immobile for six months, my weight skyrocketed, topping out at 346 pounds.
I never understood why I was overweight. I never thought I ate much, and since losing the weight, this has become one of the most common things I hear from people I talk to. Since then I’ve learned it was when I ate, how I ate and what I ate that was the issue.
I had no idea about calories and no idea about food at all, other than the fact it tasted good. Looking back, I was consuming more calories in a single meal than I should have been eating in a whole day! It wasn’t the quantity, but the lack of quality — fried food, fast food, everything covered in cheese.
In 2004 I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler. I would take my daughter to the park and watch her play. I could never chase her around or play with her, even pushing her on the swing would leave me winded – everything left me winded.
Putting my daughter’s needs first, I would skip breakfast and often lunch, left starving by the time dinnertime hit, which led to my biggest downfall — nighttime eating. Once my daughter was in bed, I’d relax and watch TV with my glass of pop and bag of (insert fatty snack here).
My turning point was on one of those nights.
Getting on track
I was watching The Half Ton Man — I always loved those shows, perhaps it made me feel better about myself – and he was talking about his many health problems. I lay there picturing myself bed-ridden. How could I take care of my daughter like that? Everything changed.
The next day I woke up and made my daughter’s breakfast. I made myself breakfast too. For the next few weeks I ate breakfast and lunch every day. I also, replaced pop with water. When dinner came around I felt less hungry and my desire to eat at night was gone.
A few weeks in, my clothes getting looser, I started reading about nutrition. I learned about calories and fat and it was then I realized how poor my diet had been.
Finally, encouraged by the slack in my clothes, I stepped on the scale. Without even noticing it, I was down to 316 pounds! Up to that point, the only changes I’d made was eating breakfast and lunch, substituting water for pop and not eating at night. I kept an eye on portions and made better choices.
In addition to helping me lose weight, these foods were giving me more energy. I started to play more at the playground with my daughter. We went for walks together, we danced together, I felt better than I had in years. I felt like a better mom too.
Keeping the ball rolling
After I got below 300 pounds I began walking, which eventually turned into jogging. Every few days I would add a few minutes to my run and the more I learned about food, the better my choices became.
Within a year I’d shed 150 pounds and by the end of year two I’d lost 200 pounds! Two years ago I had surgery to remove the excess skin from my tummy and I feel amazing.
As cliché as it sounds, if I can do this, so can you. Here are my eight basic tips for creating change in your life:
1. Small changes are lasting changes: Most people think you have to cut out everything right away but the best way is to start small. If you don’t eat breakfast, start. Regulate your meals and avoid nighttime eating. Small changes give your body time to adjust, so set realistic ones.
2. Get to know what you’re eating: You can’t make changes without understanding what’s good for you and what isn’t (Canada’s Food Guide is a great place to start). Understand serving sizes, find out the amount of calories you need to eat daily, and plan around that.
3. Drink plenty of water: Drink a large glass before each meal and you’ll likely eat less. Water also aids in digestion, which can help eliminate waste more quickly.
4. Pass on the pop: People think that because diet pop is calorie-free that it’s OK. Wrong. The artificial sweeteners make your body react the same way regular sugar does. As soon as you’ve had one can, your body starts craving more sweets. Pop also messes with your hunger, takes away from your daily water consumption and the caffeine can mess with your sleep patterns.
5. Hold yourself accountable: Telling people your intentions will make you work harder to reach your goals. Keep a journal and track your progress. Sharing pictures of your success is also a great way to get a boost of encouragement, whether from an online forum or your loved ones.
6. Think before you eat: If you’re reaching for a less-than-healthy snack, before you eat it ask yourself, “How will I feel after?” Skip the unhealthy snack – it will pay off in the end.
7. Recommit yourself daily: It’s a good idea to wake up every morning and take a minute for you. Stand in front of the mirror and commit to yourself. Look at what you like about yourself as motivation. Tell yourself regularly, “I deserve to be happy and healthy.” If yesterday was a bad day, move forward. Don’t let a bad day turn into a bad week.
8. Be active: As a mother of three, I don’t always have an extra hour, or even 40 minutes for exercise, so I split my workout into two 30-minute sessions. Half while my little ones nap, and the other half when they go to bed at night. Another one of my favourite ways to get in exercise is to dance with my kids — you can burn a lot of calories in a half hour.
Have you made a drastic and positive change to your health? Tell us about it in the comment section below.