Finding Balance: Interview with Jenn M
Jennifer Moore, 33, Registered Nurse/Consultant
33 lbs lost to date
Being active for as long as I can remember and goal oriented, I had registered for a Sprint Triathlon Training program. At the same time, I had reached my highest weight of nearly 265 lbs for the second time. I knew I needed the diet support as I had tried multiple weight loss programs in the past with none of them showing significant results over the last 6 years. I was eating the “healthy foods” and counting my calories/points, and the results were defeating.
In the first two months of hiring Nadine back in 2014 and seeing a 25 lb loss, a death in the family occurred, and I “fell off the wagon”. I can finally say it now, I was too embarrassed to admit this to Nadine and slowly reverted back to my old habits.
Fast-forward to Summer 2015, I was reaching that 250+ lb mark. My knees started hurting just going up and down in my house. I felt sluggish, tired, moody, and depressed. I actually saw my family Dr. and she ran a number of tests to rule out lymphoma, hypothyroid, sleep apnea, and cardiac disease. Fortunately, everything came back normal, except the diagnosis of a mild sleep apnea. This had really bothered me. Although I was continuing to be active at 250+ lbs, between the knee pain, sleep apnea diagnosis, and a family history of heart attacks, stroke, and non-insulin diabetes, I knew that my time for any one of those wasn’t too far off… even at 33! I spoke with my Dr. and shared that I want to make some lifestyle changes before I proceeded to a CPAP machine.
Knowing Nadine had another challenge coming up, I decided this was my time to make a difference for me. I have watched a number of her challenges and seeing the success in participants, including many I have known, I have envied their transformation success, but never felt I could succeed for 12 weeks. Though, 2015 was my year for me, to be just like the past participants and achieve the success I have observed.
4 months later, challenge is complete, and I am 33 lbs lighter! Surgery (removal of my gallbladder) went off without a hitch, and I am proud to say I stayed on plan! Actually, that first week I had a 5 lb weight loss! Historically, a surgery or other “stressful life event” would have sent me down the path where I had begun back at 250+lbs.
During the challenge, how did you manage to fit in eating healthy and training with everything that you do?
During the challenge I had to make both a priority, and I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t be as successful as I was. If it meant going out with friends, I made sure I fit the gym/meal in first. I learned to say no, if I knew it would impede on my training, or I would head out after. Also, when going out to eat, choosing a restaurant a head of time in order research what options fit in my meal plan.
What was the one most important thing you learned from the challenge?
Planning is key. It takes a bit of effort, but it is WAY easier to stay on track if you have a plan to follow.
What is your motto?
“Fail to plan, plan to fail”- I have seen many of the past challenge participants state this, and I now have a greater appreciation for it.
What were your eating habits like before the challenge?
I would eat my 3 main meals and have a snack between each. Although, the options weren’t always clean and portion sizes were slowly getting larger.
What was your training like before the challenge (if at all)?
For the past 13 years I have been a cardio person. A year ago I finally tried something different and attended Orange Theory Fitness (OTF), which I loved. The trainers and energy of their classes are awesome, although combined with diet I was not getting the results I had wanted. Now I include OTF into my weeks training so I don’t miss out on the fun of, as well as see the results I am looking for.
What is your go to for indulging?
Something crunchy and salty- pretty much chips. I also love chocolate, so I keep a bag of dark chocolate chips in my pantry and when I get the craving I have tablespoon and that curbs the cravings- and yes, I make sure it track it too.
What is your favorite clean eating meal that you go to now?
My favorite is my apple and natural peanut butter
What is next for you?
I want to continue to lose more weight so I can achieve a significant personal best in a sprint triathlon… I am in the early stages of thinking about an Olympic distance tri.
Have you tried other diets in the past? What worked, what didn’t work, why do you think they didn’t work?
I have tried a few different diets- WW, Clean Eating, calorie counting, etc. In university I tried WW and lost 100 lbs. The majority of that weight slowly crept back on in the last 10 years despite many different “diet plans”. I just couldn’t understand why I was not seeing results that matched my efforts. I was seeing the successes of high school friends, and it motivated me hire Nadine. I think why the “diets” never stuck was even though I was eating the healthy & clean foods (fruits & veggies), my carbohydrate intake was too high, and my protein and fats were low resulting in being hungry all the time. Also, I didn’t have the support that I needed to be successful.
Were other coworkers inspired by what you were doing? Anyone else change their ways after seeing what you were doing?
I have coworkers who have been inspired, although, I am not aware if they have made changes for them. I am a firm believer in needing to be ready for change. We all have spent a lot of time in that “pre-contemplative stage” talking about change, doing the research, and admiring others but it’s not until you are actually ready to give it your all, people are willing to be successful at making the change.
For all the working women out there, what advice do you have to them, ones that work shift work or not?
A lot of woman are nurturing and excellent at taking care of others- i.e. kids, spouse, family, etc. One piece of advice I was given and adopted by a family member recently was “take care of your self first. If you are not happy, you cannot be the best possible parent, girlfriend, wife, friend, etc. This is something I encourage others to do.
What have you learned from all of this from a mental standpoint?
I have learned to not be a “superwoman”. I have been through many diets/training programs and educated myself on clean eating, macros, etc. In the past I would be hard on myself for not staying on track, or having moments of weakness because I had the knowledge. But, during the challenge I had days where I relied heavily on my supporters and coach, and couldn’t have been as successful without them.
What was the difference between what you were doing previously vs. the challenge?
I am holding myself accountable.
During the challenge you had to have surgery, how did that impact you physically and more important mentally in the challenge?
I was super nervous about falling off plan during the weeks I was post-op because in the past, I would “spoil” myself and have the unhealthy options. Although during the challenge, I ensured I had clean foods in the house so it wasn’t easy to revert told habits. To be honest, I think being in the challenge helped with my recovery by developing good habits and being as active as I was. Within a week post-op, I was ready to get back to the gym for a workout.
What would you say to others that are interested in joining the challenge?
DO IT!!! This 12-week challenge has helped me understand how I got where I am today, and for the first time in a long time (or ever) I am happy to look in a mirror and love my body.
How did others react around you to you being in the challenge and on a meal and training program?
I felt everyone was supportive. Even going to social outings/parties where I typically would engage in the drinking and eating non-clean options, people (even those I didn’t know) were incredibly respectful and supportive of my choice to bring my own foods.
What did you do at social events to stay on track with your diet and training and not derail?
I had to learn to plan for those events. I reached out to my coach on a number of occasions, and made sure to whip up some protein pancakes and have chicken in my bag to take with me. It’s amazing how if you have the foods readily available, how easy it is to resist the temptation to indulge.
Have you always had a passion for living a healthy lifestyle?
Over the last 15-ish years I have strived to “be healthy”, in various capacities. I remember the first time I decided to make a change I was 19 and on Katimavik (a 7 month program for youth to volunteer/travel across Canada with 10 others) and started trying to run. The running was short lived, although, it was just the beginning to the accomplishment of where I am today.
What is your favorite non-fitness thing to do?
It sounds kind of lame, but I do jigsaw puzzles on my iPad and I love it! After a long day of work and training, it’s a mindless activity where I can feel relaxed but still be doing something productive.
What do you think got you to where you were? I know you said it was a lot of fad diets but how did it happen? Over the years? emotional? emotional eating? Nursing and your job? Just becoming comfortable in a relationship?
I come from a family of emotional eaters and have adopted those habits at a young age. Either being in high stress situations or very low stress situations, it has been a tool to making me comfortable, or the opposite, and feeling very comfortable to eat/drink what I want without the judgment.
You said you learned in this challenge that you are in fact an emotional eater and it wasn’t from a sad standpoint but more so a happy and celebratory standpoint. What is one word of advice to those that may be in the same position and how would you advise someone that might be in the same situation?
- Be aware and understand your feelings/emotions- positive & negative!
- It’s funny because this happens so often where I want to celebrate accomplishments- big & small. Things like career successes, down to the beginning of a weekend. For example, for as long as I can remember Friday nights were always, and still are, a celebration of completing the week. As a youth it was usually “junk food”, and as an adult it typically included drinks. For the past 12 weeks in the challenge, and ongoing, I have to work to change this 30+ years of habit to be a night of training and clean eating.
Although my “What it Takes Challenge” is over, I know that my day- to-day struggles are not over. 12 weeks does not change 30+ years of habits, though it has given me the tools and accomplishments to continue on my journey to learn and identify where I am content with my level of health.
**To apply for the next What It Takes! 12 week transformation challenge, click here