Meet Jen

Today I want to introduce you to Jen as the person I’d like to highlight in the series “Stronger Together“.

Jen has been a regular friend at the FB page for awhile now and when she made a post recently that she had just hit a 100 lbs lost milestone, I knew I had to get her to share her journey with you all.

Who wouldn’t be inspired by her amazing success? I know I am! :)

I think you will be too when you read her story below and check out the amazing pictures. This picture of her to the left is of holding the weight of the 100 lbs that she has lost. Go Jen!

Jen has responded to a series of questions that more or less correspond to the steps I’ve taken in my own journey as outlined in the “How to Lose 100 Pounds” book series.

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1. YOUR Journey and Plan for Weight Loss Success: Please tell us a little bit about your own journey with weight loss and getting healthy?

My weight loss journey has been a life-long trek. I have joined groups, bought books, and tried many “diets”. I have lost weight on most and gained weight back on all of them. I have been overweight for most of my life, childhood and adulthood.

As an adult, I have never weighed less than 220 lbs. Several years ago I reached my all-time high of “about” 310 lbs. and I again tried once again to diet. I starved myself with a low fat, low calorie diet and did lose about 40 lbs. but once again I gained back up to 288.

I was in pain all the time from arthritis, I couldn’t walk up 6 steps without my heart racing and I was exhausted all the time trying to keep up with a toddler grandson.

I am not even sure how it happened but I made up my mind to do something about it, and I did!

After a bit of research I decided to try Atkins. Feeling hungry and weak all of the time was a big disadvantage of the usual low calorie, low fat diets and I was already weak. Atkins success stories talk about not feeling hungry and losing stomach weight fast so that really interested me.

I also read Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD. not only did I embrace Atkins, I rid my body and pantry of wheat products. My quest for a healthier and happier life began mid-April 2011 and I haven’t regretted it, or looked back. My husband finally joined me after I had lost 40 lbs. and that really made a big difference in both our lives.

To date I am 105 pounds lighter than my highest weight and 83 pounds have been lost eating the LCHF lifestyle. My husband, who had previously lost and re-gained close to 100 lbs. with low calorie, low fat diets has now lost almost 90 lbs.

This is the longest time that either one of us has ever stuck with an eating plan. We understand that this is a life-time way of eating and are so comfortable with this lifestyle that we both feel we can continue with this for life! We now eat to live and no longer live to eat!

2. Finding the Motivation: What is your big WHY for losing weight and getting healthy? How do you stay motivated?

I started losing weight because I was missing out on so much. I watch people do things I could never do because of my weight and I was just sick of it. I love nature and outdoors and we moved from Ohio to Georgia where the summers are so hot and humid and I couldn’t even enjoy it because I couldn’t walk anywhere in this heat.

A big motivation for me has just been the natural reinforcement that I have been getting from my personal achievements. One of the first things that really made me feel great was flying in an airplane and easily fastening the seatbelt – with room to spare! Here I was trapped on an airplane with no one to share this with but I was happy as could be.

3. Goals and Planning: Are you setting goals for yourself? Please share with us where you are at with your own goal setting and any tips that you might have for this planning process.

In the beginning I set very small goals. My main goals were marked in 10 pound increments. I still haven’t set a “goal” weight!

I had other small goals like getting down to the next pants size. At my heaviest weight I was wearing a size 26 pants and a 4 x top. It took me a long time to even try smaller clothes. I was all the way down to a size 22 before I actually bought any new clothes!

Recently one of my daughters bought me a size 16/18 top and I never would have imagined it would fit and was shocked that it did! Now, I look forward to that next size smaller. Right now I am wearing a 16W pants. Who knows what I’ll be in the next time I go shopping. My point is that it was better for me to aim small and be encouraged more frequently.

My next weight loss goal is to be at 199, not really for the number, but because it will mean that I will not be “classified” as obese for the first time in my adult life. Why skip the chance to celebrate that?

4. Eating for Weight Loss: Are you following a specific diet or food plan? Any tips for how you deal with challenges in this area?

I follow the Atkins program, which is a low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein diet. I try to keep my carb count between 20-25 grams all of the time. I have had great success and my physician is very supportive and helpful.

I have lots of family that gave me lots of advise about how my cholesterol was going to sky rocket and how I could get kidney damage among other horror stories. I recommend before starting LC that you see a doctor and establish a baseline cholesterol among other blood work and a general physical.

My first follow-up visit showed improvements in my total cholesterol (which was actually good before) and my blood pressure was doing great – so great that I have reduced my BP meds by half.

My only challenge has been with my arthritis. I have had to reduce my protein intake to reduce my uric acid levels. I compensated for this by beginning to replace a meal with a Whey Protein shake, which is filling and actually really good.

5. Exercise for Weight Loss: Do you have an exercise plan currently? Please share your own exercise plan and any tips that you think could be useful for others.

I began taking a water aerobics class on September 1st and have really stuck to it. I have only missed a couple of classes and I enjoy it so much I hate missing. Water is a wonderful way to work-out if you are heavy or like me, heavy and arthritic! The resistance of the water provides a great workout and you can work as hard as you can by moving faster in the water. I work out as hard as I can to reap the best benefit. I go 3 times a week for an hour each time.

At home I have started walking on the treadmill (or outside in good weather) and also lifting dumbbell weights.

One fun thing I do now also is I set a timer for 15 minutes and turn on some really great music and do housework as fast as I can! It sounds silly but I can work up sweat every time.

6. Getting Back on Track (after a gain or just starting out): What words of advice do you have for others who may be struggling to forgive past attempts at weight loss or for those who are just trying to get started? Is there anything else you would like to share?

My best advice is to forget about the past. I have lost weight and regained it at least a half-dozen times in my life. I really believe I have found what works for me and you will find what works for you eventually. I think I finally just had the proverbial light bulb switch on for me.

Overeating was not making me happier! Feeling better and being smaller has made me a happier person. I recently had someone say to me “when you were heavy…” And it made me choke up. I had never had anyone imply that I wasn’t heavy now. Little things like that really keep me going.

Ultimately, you will be ready to lose weight when you are doing it for yourself. You can’t lose weight to please your family. It has to be for you! If you give in and eat poorly for a day don’t let that ruin months of hard work. Tomorrow is a new day with a new food log.

The internet is an awesome source of useful information. There are all kinds of people out there with great information.

Facebook is a great place to start. That’s how I found Paula’s page, How to Lose 100 Pounds. From there I downloaded her book Creating Your Plan for Weight loss Success which really helped me in the beginning.

The points she made were a direct reflection of my life. She had and is going through the same things I am going through. She is feeling the same pain. It was very real for me.

There are tons of sites that will support you in any “diet” you choose. There are sites that will support you no matter what diet you are on. I do low carb, most of the sites that I actively participate in really are based on low fat, counting calories. I don’t do either but I still feel welcome and encouraged, especially on How to Lose 100 lbs.  Surrounding yourself with non-judgemental people is one of the keys.


Jen

P. S. I started a blog that highlights some of the food I have made, mostly from other low-carb sites. I love making new recipes and testing them out and sharing them with my friends. I have just started with this and you can find it here:

http://grannyreconfigured.wordpress.com/

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A note from Paula…

A BIG thank you to Jen for taking the time to share so much with us all.

I’m so happy she is a part of the Facebook page/community and I’m SO happy you are too. (You are, yes?) ;)

I also thank Jen for the kind words and enthusiasm about the Facebook page and my book.

I SO want my story, Jen’s story and the story of everyone of you reading the post to be real for one another. We are going through such similar things and there are points of connection to be made with one another that can make the journey easier for us all.

My hope is that you would comment below with words of encouragement for Jen and also share a bit of your own “story” with us all.

Much love,

~ Paula

P.S. Please join us at the Facebook page – I’d love to “meet” you! :)

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Comments

  1. kimberly says:

    Jen you truely have a amazing story and have come such a long way. Its women like you who encourage me to keep pushing and do nothing but my best and work as hard as i can to succed in my weight loss. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story with us. Keep up the great work.

  2. Dart says:

    Jen, you are amazing! You look great! Let us know when we can all celebrate your “199 and under” accomplishment. Keep up the good work, Dart

  3. Nita says:

    Jen – This is an amazing story. I love following your posts on your blog and on FB. You inspire me every day! I’m learning so much from you. Thank you for being willing to share your journey!

  4. Paula says:

    @Kimberly, @Dart and @Nita – thanks so much for your comments and I am going to be sure that Jen see them. :)

  5. Jen Houck says:

    Kimberly, it took years of ups and downs before I found what works well for me. Just remember that each day is an opportunity for a new start if you have an off day. Thanks for the kind words.

    Nita, you have been my biggest inspiration! Your dedication to better your health really uplifted me.

    Dart, your story is amazing! I will definately post WHEN I reach 199! You keep at it also.

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