Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Starting Weight: 228 pounds
Current Weight: 157 pounds
Pounds or Inches Lost: I’ve lost 71 pounds so far!
Jennifer is a ShapeFit member who goes by the username of ArtzyJen and she has contributed to the ShapeFit forum where she documents her weight loss journey (read her forum topic). Below is her interview with Bossman, the ShapeFit.com forum moderator.
Jennifer’s Weight Loss Interview!
So Jennifer, please could you tell people something about why you started on the road to fitness.
I spent my life being overweight, but a rough pregnancy and my son’s subsequent multiple months’ stay in hospitals led to terrible emotional eating and I ballooned to an all-time high weight of 228 pounds. When my son was 6 months old and his health finally started to stabilize, I knew something needed to change. I did not want to be that kind of example to my son.
That is completely understandable. So looking back at those first few months, what do you feel you started to realize or notice about yourself and what things if any did you have trouble trying to overcome?
Probably just reigning in my cravings for sweets and carbs was the first step. I’d spent much of my life as a carb loader, so to recognize that and actively attempt to change it, marked a shift in my mind. I logged my food intake and drank more water. That summer I started adding in small amounts of exercise. I found a fitness channel and started doing what I could handle. I dropped 12 pounds in the first month, and that was a huge boost to my ego. It made me want to keep going.
I personally think that is one of the most important things, to get that first bit of weight loss in order to validate what you are doing. So based on your own experiences of starting a weight loss journey, what things do you think people should bear in mind and what advice do you think you could give to people who are just starting out?
Don’t give up. You are going to fall off the wagon and splurge, or you’ll miss workouts, or you’ll get sick and not be able to workout, or you’ll find yourself in a plateau. The key is to keep getting up and dusting yourself off. Don’t give up hope.
Wise words I am sure the readers will relate to. Now I know that recently you completed a triathlon which we will touch upon in more detail later on, but looking back on the past few years, when you started changing your life around, did you ever feel as if one day you could do something like that?
No. I really didn’t. I had a hard time adjusting my mindset to the fact that I was getting more fit. Some of it was outside noise, but most of it was internal doubts from spending the majority of my life overweight and far from fit.
I can appreciate that, as to start with it must just be about the baby steps to fitness, not some grand vision. Now some might say, myself included, that you are someone who could now be called an athlete, in the same way an Olympian could be called an athlete; but in your own mind how does that description of you make you feel and would you even consider yourself to be an athlete now, as opposed to say a fitness enthusiast?
I’m still adjusting to that term. The first time I was called an athlete was by a nutritionist earlier this year. That is a massive shift in thinking, and quite frankly, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around that. I still have a lot of goals ahead though, so maybe I’ll get more comfortable with it.
As stated earlier, you recently completed a triathlon and congratulations to you for that, but what was your motivation to do this and what advice could you give to anyone thinking of doing something like that in the future, in regards to things like relevant equipment and clothing, planning the training and just general all round considerations?
I started running about 3 years ago on a whim. I was doing a charity 5k and just decided I’d give it a shot and try jogging the whole way. I did, and I stunned myself. From there I gained distance in running,and ran a lot more races, but I’m someone who likes variety. I’ve done a lot of different cross training over the years, but cycling is something my husband and I started doing together a little over a year ago (he is a major cycling enthusiast and did a 150 mile charity race last year). It seemed a natural progression to start thinking about a multiple sport race, so I took a gander at local triathlon events and found one that allowed me a few months to train for. Swimming was the hardest for me to master, and I say that as someone who used to teach swimming lessons! I hadn’t done laps in a pool in years, my breathing was completely off and I definitely had a few gasping sessions after accidentally inhaling water (laughing thinking about it). On race day I actually beat my expected swimming time by almost 3 minutes, so training early really paid off. As for equipment, preparation and training, I’ll repeat the things I learned:
- Starting out, a Sprint Triathlon is best.
- Don’t worry about flip turns if you’re in a pool. Take open turns as a break and a chance to get a breath.
- Don’t go out and buy a new bike for your first triathlon. Stick with equipment you know.
- Trial run-throughs are invaluable to knowing where you can improve. I recommend running a couple of times through all three events a few weeks before race day. It really helped prepare me.
- Pick a race that is friendly to newbies. I called and asked the race venue what the atmosphere of the race was. It helped knowing that other people were going to be doing the same race, going through the same first-timer nerves I was having.
- Two piece triathlon suits are better if you’re going to buy a tri suit. I had a one piece and it was, shall we say, cumbersome when it came time to use the restroom.
Very good advice indeed. So reflecting on the race and your preparations, do you think there were any things you could have done differently, in terms of preparation and race strategy and did you have any specific strategy leading into the race?
If there was one thing I’d change, it would be to consider the weather conditions possibly and be prepared to make allowances for that. It was incredibly windy on race day, which led to a lot slower time on the bike than I’d anticipated. I had to readjust my expectations mid-race. Going up hills with a 30mph headwind is a killer.
My only strategy was to finish. I promised myself I would finish even if I was crawling over the finish line. I did better than that, I jogged over it so I’m happy!
I can imagine (smiles). So I know you are planning to run a half marathon sometime in the next twelve months, could you please tell us how that is going?
I’ve just started training for one at the very end of November. I’m a little late starting the training process, but I’m starting from a higher base of miles than a novice, so I think I’ll be okay. My long run this week will be 5 miles, which I won’t have a problem doing since I’ve run that before. I’m really looking forward to race day and having that half marathon finisher medal around my neck!
I know you will deserve it (smiles). So finally, if you could find a way to adequately sum up what you’ve learned and experienced along the way, what would your reflections on the past few years be?
ShapeFit.com came into my journey towards the very beginning and it’s been an instrumental part in keeping me motivated along the way, through many plateaus, setbacks, and goals. The forums have been a lovely resource of encouragement and information and I’ve definitely made some friends. I may dodge in and out from time to time these days, but I always know I can find support and encouragement there if I need it.
Overall, I’ve learned that I’m capable of doing things I never thought I’d be able to do, and that giving up should never be in the equation. I look back and see how far I’ve come, and know that I’ve become the example to my son that I wanted to be. I look forward knowing many great things are still to come!
I would like to give a big thank you to Jennifer for her kindness, help and support in doing this interview. She has been an absolute star and I hope there will be a positive message for the readers to take away from this.
I think you will agree that Jennifer has come a long way since the beginning and has achieved some physical successes to be very, very proud of.
However this kind of success does not come without its ups and downs and the required perseverance and ongoing learning, to better understand how to find continued progress, but for Jennifer it has been a truly worthwhile journey and learning experience, that in a few short years has changed her from just an ordinary person, into someone a bit more extraordinary and has helped her to become an even better role model to her son and a more confident person than she might have ever thought she could be.
Being fitter and healthier can potentially open many more doors to happiness and longevity and for Jennifer the future is definitely brighter and more assured, than perhaps even she could have realized those few short years ago.
If you want to read more about Jennifer’s journey, comment and follow her progress, please check out her forum journal.
Bossman, ShapeFit.com forum moderator