One afternoon my husband and I were having lunch together, as we so often did. During lunch we began discussing plans for a possible trip to an amusement park for the upcoming summer. As we talked, I found myself unexcited about going. I immediately began thinking of all of the negatives—it would be too hot and there would be way too much walking involved. I knew I would be way too tired on a trip like that to be able to fully enjoy it with my family. At the time I was about 125 lbs overweight and completely out of shape. Just the thought of doing something physical—even walking—did not appeal to me. I remember thinking, what has happened to me, who is this person who has invaded my body? I even wondered if there was any hope for me.
When I was in my early twenties and single, I worked out, paid attention to my health and was in decent shape. But then, I got married, had two kids, worked a full-time job outside the home and struggled financially. My life was stressful (whose isn't, by the way), and I had allowed the stresses of life and my busy schedule to get the best of me. I was no longer in control of me; my circumstances were. I was too stressed to care about it. Until one day a friend of ours announced that he had reached 26 years of sobriety. That announcement slapped me across the face! I thought to myself, if he can find the strength to be successful in his sobriety, I sure as heck can find the strength to begin my journey to health … to a better me. That day a fire was lit under me and I decided that my health had to become priority number one.
I walked into a Jenny Craig centre to reclaim my physical health. On that first day I weighed in at 251 lbs, the heaviest I had ever been. Seeing that number reinforced to me that I had made the right decision, but I knew I had a long way to go. Focusing on just how much weight I needed to lose had the potential to discourage me, so I decided to focus on one day at a time. I would wake up every day and tell myself that I would make good decisions for that day, knowing that approach would get me to my goal.
I was paired with the most wonderful Jenny Craig Consultant! Christina helped me look at things realistically and strategically. She equipped me with a good, solid "attack" plan and encouraged me all along the way. The accountability and encouragement that I received from our weekly meetings definitely set me up for the success that I have experienced.
Suddenly my life changed drastically. My husband and I had run in our first 5K race together in Atlanta. I finished it in 27:28, which I'm told is really good for a girl who's never been a runner! The very next morning, I received news that my husband had been tragically killed in a motorcycle accident coming home from work. It took the wind out of me as I received that news and then when I had to tell the news to our two children. At the time of my husband's death, I was so close to my goal weight and was sad that he didn't get to be with me when I reached it. He had been so proud of me all along the way and was my biggest cheerleader and supporter through it all. On the day of his memorial service, I reached my goal weight!* Even through my grief, I could feel him cheering for me and giving me a huge fist pump for reaching the goal that I worked so hard to get to. He may not have been with me physically, but he was definitely with me in spirit.
I have discovered that being healthy physically has directly affected my mental health, my confidence level and the way I view myself. Little did I know that being this healthy would help me cope with such a tremendous loss. I am determined now more than ever to maintain my new and improved self and to continue doing so through the encouragement I receive from Jenny Craig, my friends and family, and the wonderful legacy my husband left behind. So as I continue to enjoy my new way of healthy living, I decided to challenge myself with some new goals. I am now training for a half-marathon. I want to be lean and mean on that day, and I've found that at my height, losing just a few more pounds would get me there. It would also put me at the remarkable milestone of shedding half of my body weight. If I can do this, anyone can do it!
Leah F. is an exclusive "Half My Size" achiever.
† Rock CL, Flatt SW, Karanja N, et al. Effect of a Free Prepared Meal and Incentivized Weight Loss Program on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance in Obese and Overweight Women—A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2010;304(16): 1803-1811.
*Clients following our program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs per week.