Most people who struggle with their weight have fought the number on the scale their entire lives. But it wasn’t so for Jennifer Andersen who was 20 years old and pregnant with her first child before weight ever became an issue.
Weighing 250 pounds on the day of her labor, Jennifer was convinced she’d never get her pre-baby body back. After her baby was born she saw a minor weight loss of about 30 pounds, but the weight started slowly creeping on until she eventually weighed more than 300 pounds.
While most people in her situation would struggle with self confidence and even depression, Jennifer was quite the opposite. “I was fat and happy,” she said. “I wasn’t a depressed person. And I was like that right up until 2009, when I got married.”
Sometime after her wedding day on November, 19, 2009, Jennifer looked through the photos that were taken and was shocked at what she saw. “I was mortified. I couldn’t believe that I looked that way. I didn’t see that person in the mirror,” she said. “I saw the girl who was 16 and thin, so I decided to do something about it.”
Jennifer started by restricting her calorie intake to right around 1,000, and also took up tennis. At her heaviest weight of 324 pounds, Jennifer had to force herself out on the court. And though it wasn’t easy, the weight started coming off fast.
Along with tennis, Jennifer also added in aerobics five days a week and watched her diet closely – which, she admits, was hard. “I was used to eating 3,000-5,000 calories a day, but you don’t realize that until you start actually counting.”
While the pounds started to come off, Jennifer began feeling like she was swimming upstream without a paddle as she wasn’t an expert on health. But thankfully, when Jennifer reached out to her brother Carl – a health enthusiast and avid runner – he agreed to become her personal coach and support system.
Carl recommended running as the best form of exercise. And although she fought the idea at first, she trusted his advice and the pair took to the pavement the very next week.
“He told me if you start off slow, you’ll work yourself up to it. And that’s what we did every single day for the next two weeks.”
Using the smartphone app Runtastic, Jennifer and Carl did run-walk intervals early every morning, starting with 40-second runs followed by 20-second walks. They did this for three to four days before upping the time, and just two weeks later Jennifer was jogging a mile no problem.
The pair started running several miles together, and after she’d made enough progress, Carl let Jennifer continue the habit on her own.
Jennifer now runs six days a week by herself, somedays running a 5K, others running a 10K. “I’m completely addicted to it. I never run less than 5K,” she said. “And I never ever thought I’d be a runner.”
Jennifer was pleased with her 100-pound weight loss right up until 2011, when she found out she was pregnant with her second child. Although she wasn’t able to lose weight during her pregnancy, she maintained her weight with yoga, a smart diet, and the smartphone app MyFitnessPal, which tracked her daily intake. And once she got cleared for exercise after giving birth, she ended up losing another 54 pounds.
To date, Jennifer’s lost an amazing 154 pounds. And while her goal weight is 145, she’s very pleased with where she currently rests at 172. “I feel better and look better than I ever did in my 20s,” she said. ” It’s so surprising when I glance in the mirror to see a flat stomach and a nice figure and muscle tone. I’m thinner than I was when I was 17! But because I’m not used to it, that’s what gives me the confidence to say ‘hey, I do look good.'”
Jennifer credits much of her success to the support of her family and friends, and especially her husband who is a truck driver by profession. “Every time he comes home, I’m thinner!” she said. “He’s still a little shocked but he’s very happy for me and is incredibly supportive of my eating habits.”
For those who may be struggling with their weight, Jennifer says it’s a simple yet sometimes difficult solution. “I think that first you have to realize you’re heavy, and you have to realize that you need a change,” she said. “And then you have to really want that change and make it happen.”
Jennifer also points out you don’t have to enroll in a program or spend tons to money to lose weight. She did it without spending any more on her grocery bill or signing up for any expensive fitness programs. “What I did, everybody can do,” she said. “All it is is a change.”
As for future goals, Jennifer plans to continue running and keeping up her healthy eating regimen, and may even participate in a few races. But her ultimate goal is to to never be as heavy as she was again, and to just stay healthy and be fit.
We hope you found Jennifer’s story inspiring as we certainly did. If you have a true weight loss story of your own, please email it to us firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share your story in hopes of inspiring others toward healthy changes as well.