Americans struggle with body image issues more than people from any other country in the world. Obesity, anorexia, bulimia, self-esteem issues, self-harming behaviors, are all issues that seem to be at a near epidemic proportion in this country. This week, we’re tackling the topic of body image. And we’re starting by talking with someone who took the problem of obesity and the accompanying low self-esteem and kicked them in the butt. Read how she did it, why she did it, and how she has changed as a result.
You at one time considered yourself very overweight. What made you decide it was time to lose weight?
I decided it was time to lose weight when my husband approached me and told me he was worried I’d die prematurely based on my weight, and family history of heart disease etc.
Had anyone else ever suggested that you needed to lose weight?
Friends had suggested weight loss, family too.
How did you react to their comments? Did you feel like you needed to lose?
I was very defensive. I wouldn’t even wear a swimsuit. Ever. I would become angry when my family mentioned my obesity. I knew I was overweight but not really the extent. The mirror seemed to lie. I saw myself in a photo and realized “holy crap, I’m huge!”
So what made you decide it was time to lose? What finally motivated you?
To be healthy for my family. My four kids and husband. I got to a point where I couldn’t walk up the steps in my own house. As a result of lifelong obesity I currently battle severe arthritis just to run. But I see an active release doctor and my personal trainer works with me to strengthen my glutes, hamstrings and quads so I can keep running.
So what methods did you use to try to lose?
I’d tried every diet from grapefruit cleanse to Atkins and back again, never with any success.
How much weight did you lose?
I lost about 40 pounds on my own and then joined Jenny Craig where I lost 70.
Wow. That is great! Congratulations on that!
Why do think Jenny Craig was what finally worked for you?
JC worked for me because it took all the guess work out of eating healthy. I bought the food I knew I loved, and no matter what I chose to eat, I knew I loved it. Problem solved. Pick a box, heat, eat, enjoy, and lose weight!
Was it hard to stick to a program like that?
In the beginning it was hard to have the willpower to stick to the plan but as I began losing, it was easier and easier. Now, I know HOW to eat, WHAT to eat, quantity etc.
You’ve incorporated exercise into your life as well. What has that been like? Had you been at all active in the past?
Exercise has never come easy for me. I’ve always been the fat one. I started running about two years ago. It’s been brutal and I love it. It’s the sport I love to hate, and hate to love.
So, how do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated because having spent my entire life obese, I CANNOT GO BACK. There’s no option to get fat again. No option.
You have 4 kids. How do you make time?
Having four kids and a husband who travels definitely makes for a challenging exercise schedule. I run at 4:00 before my kids wake up for school. I find any time I can and make zero excuses. I get up and get it done. No exceptions.
You have a distinguished honor that sets you apart a little from some other Jenny Craig users. What is it?
Last summer I was approached by Jenny Craig and asked to speak at their national convention. What a huge honor. After speaking to their c-level employees as well as center directors, etc, I was asked to be part of their 2015 North American marketing campaign as a brand ambassador. I appear in their commercials, on their website, ads, etc.
That is amazing! Good for you!
Body image in young girls today is so skewed. What would you say to a girl who might be overweight and dealing with the same kind of self-doubt and self-esteem issues that many people with weight issues struggle with?
To any struggling young girl, I would say HOLD ON and be true to yourself. Everyone has different body types. Don’t try to be what you’re not. Accept yourself for who you are and put health above all else.
You can read Melissa’s weight loss success story here.