It’s time for another Shed & Share! Meet Jessica–a determined young gal with an awesome, inspiring story!
Profession: 5th grade Language Arts teacher
How long have you been on this weight loss journey? 14 months
Weight Loss/Inches: 55 pounds, 19.75″
Blog/Facebook Page: Get Busy Living – http://www.getbusyliving.org
What was your “low point”?
I’ve had a couple of “low points” that have caused me to try to lose weight, but this is definitely the longest I’ve actually stuck with it and made it a permanent change. This time, there wasn’t necessarly a low point. I was reading “Made to Crave” (Lysa TerKeurst) and “Reshaping It All” (Candace Cameron Bure) in the Spring of 2011, and they were the first Christian “diet” type books I’d ever read. Before reading them, I never really understood how my overeating and sedentary lifestyle were not only dishonoring to God, but actually sinful. Seeing my life this way is what gave me the wake up call I needed.
Also, in February 2010, I lost my husband to cancer. He had cancer the entire time I knew him, and fought an almost 5 year fight against the disease. His cancer was osteosarcoma, a rare cancer that affects mostly children and teens. The doctors offered no explanation as to why he got this cancer. The more research and reading and documentary watching I’ve done, the more I wonder how much of his cancer (and that of others) is caused by the toxic things we put into our bodies. This is my motivation for choosing healthy, organic foods. My husband’s cancer caused him to need a total knee replacement, meaning he – who was an avid soccer player – could no longer run. He wished desperately to be able to run and play sports, and that motivates me to keep going with my workouts.
How did you get started?
I have tried many types of diets – counting points or calories or carbs or anything. This time, I decided I wasn’t doing that. I know myself enough to know that I can’t spend the rest of my life counting every morsel that goes into my mouth. So, I adopted the “Eat Clean” lifestyle. I eat almost entirely following a Jillian Michaels motto – “If it didn’t grow from the ground or have a mother – don’t eat it.” I cut back on my portions and started eating clean, fresh foods. For the first 40 pounds, I didn’t track calories. I just couldn’t do that mentally – I needed to focus on simply making healthier choices. Then, when I hit a plateau at 40 pounds lost, I started using the MyFitnessPal app to track my calories. It made a big difference in my weight loss and helped me get through the plateau!
I started working out regularly when I joined a local gym called Phases Fitness. It’s a unique setting where your monthly membership buys you a certain number of appointments each week. You make your appointments, and if you don’t show up – they call you! It’s the first time in my life I can say I haven’t skipped a gym day in a year! Phases also provides me with a new workout plan every 8 weeks, and they take my measurements and track my weight. They limit the number of people who can be in the gym at one time so you always get personalized attention. Plus, the owners Mindy and Brian, are encouraging, Christian people who I just adore!
Jessica, before and after!
What is your workout routine and eating plan?
Right now I’m training with a team from my gym for the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in NYC at the end of this month. It’s an obstacle course type race, so my training is all over the place! With this training, I’m doing 1-2 days of running, 1-2 days of strength training, and 1-2 days of stair/hill climb work. Typically, though, I go to the gym and do my workout plan 3 times a week. The plan includes core, upper, and lower body strength exercises mixed with cardio bursts of 3-5 minutes on the treadmill. It takes about an hour. I also try to run 2-3 miles once or twice during the week, and I like to take a yoga or BodyFlow class once during the week to help maintain flexibility.
With my diet, I’ve found it’s easiest to just stick with consistent things. Every single morning I make a “Green Monster” (1 cup unsweetened SoDelicious coconut milk, a big handful of spinach, a tbsp of natural PB, a tbsp of cacao powder, a few drops of Stevia, and 1/2 scoop 100 calorie protein powder) – it is really filling and gives me a lot of nutrition. I snack a few hours later on a piece of fruit or some carrots, along with almonds or a string cheese. For lunch, I typically make something on the weekend that is easy to pack – like a soup – and have a cup of that with some Greek yogurt and berries, and baby carrots. Dinners are a lean protein (I love the single servings of frozen fish) along with plenty of steamed veggies and a whole grain (quinoa and farro are my faves!). I wrote a blog post this summer with a day of my foods outlined! Check it out here.
What are your top 3 favorite resources that helped you along the way?
1. Books – I already mentioned “Made to Crave” and “Reshaping It All” – if you haven’t read those yet, go get them! I still go back to those 2 all the time.
3. Bible – It never occurred to me that this book, and prayer, would be my most valuable resources in this journey. There’s encouragement and inspiration everywhere in God’s Word, and when you look at it through the lens of “health and weight loss” – it’s amazing all of the gems you can find! Inviting God into my weight loss has been huge. I pray daily for strength to concur cravings and carry me through tough workouts, and God absolutely always supplies.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is sitting on the sidelines and waiting?
Get up and get started! Even if it’s to walk around your block, or start cleaning the crummy food out of the pantry – just make one change and then get up and do it. And pray about! Ask God to help you, invite Him along on the journey. Don’t assume that your struggles with eating and exercising are outside the realm of God – He cares about these things! Romans 12 tells us that taking care of our bodies is an act of worship! Oh, and go read “Made to Crave” or “Reshaping It All”. If I haven’t said that enough already, those books changed my life.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is in the process but is feeling discouraged?
Find something to challenge yourself. I bounced back and forth between the same 3 pounds for four months. FOUR MONTHS. But I kept going. Then I found the Urbanathlon training. It’s totally different from the workouts I’d been doing, and in the first week, my body finally broke the plateau! In one week I lost 4 pounds, and haven’t put any of it back on. Whatever you do – don’t stop. Don’t quit exercising or stop at the drive thru on the way home. Think about the extra things you’ll have to undo!! I promise, it’s not worth it. You will get through it!
If you are a parent, how have you balanced everything?
I’m not a parent, but I am busy with school and volunteering at my church. The biggest thing that made the difference for me was scheduling appointments at the gym. If your gym doesn’t offer that, or you don’t belong to a gym, find a friend and make appointments together. Text each other when you’ve completed your workouts. Meet up at a local park to complete things together. Finding some way to hold myself accountable was the game changer for me!
Anything else you would like to share?
If you’re someone who is thinking about starting the weight loss journey, or if you’re already on it, just remember this: you are worth it. You are a child of God, and He wants what’s best for His kids! God has to be a part of your journey. Don’t leave Him out. He loves you, and He wants to walk this path with you!
Jessica, thank you so much for opening up and sharing with us your story! I think we can all walk away with some wise words from you!
If you have a shed story that you would like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!