Ambassador Leader Jennifer is sharing her journey with us!
Back in April 2016 I felt awful, I had been struggling with chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression for so many years. I knew I needed to do something, I needed to make a change. I had tried “diets” and programs. I was at the point where I was calling cosmetic surgery clinics in Mexico to book a gastric bypass or a lap band because I couldn’t afford it here. I was 245lbs but have always felt like I was carrying around an extra 200lbs of emotional weight. Each step I took felt heavy and it hurt. With every pound I gained it caused more pain, emotional and physical.
I reached out to my friend Sandi at the local YMCA in my small town of Chatham, Ontario. I felt like everyone would judge me and look at the “fat girl”. That didn’t happen, something amazing happened. Something I never thought was possible. I tried it on my own for a while with the support of my friend and a program they designed but I didn’t push myself or got “bored”. I remember staring at YMCA posters and the website, I worked but have never had a lot of money I felt I should spend on myself. I am a mom, the kids should come first right?!? Well, one day I met this trainer, and I did it, something crazy, I signed up for a personal training package. Patti entered my life, Patti kicked my butt, Patti watched me struggle, and Patti got me to do things I never thought was possible. When I started running around the track I thought I was going to die, but I started to love it. It didn’t happen overnight and we had some hurdles but the weight started coming off. I felt better about myself, I felt pride.
November 2016 I was down 45lbs, the YMCA followed me around with a camera (with my permission of course) and did a story about it. How having a trainer really sparked a fire under my butt. This video went viral within the YMCA community and I was just amazed how one story could inspire so many people. I had to keep going. I started running and exercising on my own and loved it. I joined a local run group and did a couch to 5k, I remember seeing people stare at us run down the street. I would think they thought “look at those crazy people” but I now realize they really thought “I wish that was me, I wish I could do that”. I ran my fist full 5k without stopping with the support of the run group (and this amazing guy named Doug, who even when injured would follow us on a bicycle with a megaphone pushing us to keep moving while we ran). It felt AMAZING! After that I was addicted, I signed up for anything I could find and found a special interest in obstacle course racing which came from some kind of version of running (lol) in a foam fest the previous year.
November 2017, I was suddenly down 100lbs. I never expected to lose this much weight. I made small goals along the way, I just kept beating them! The YMCA did a follow up video and a group of people congratulated me and gave me flowers, I cried and I cried. I signed up for every race in 2018 that I could find. I got some first places, I even qualified to go to England to compete in the Obstacle Course racing world championship. My community gave back to me and sent me there and I raced my heart out and came home battered and bruised but with 4 medals.
People ask me what diet I was on this whole time, now down 110lbs. I didn’t “diet”. I ate better food, smaller amounts, made better choices and became accountable for what I put in my body. I wrote everything I ate down and found a love for good for you food. MMMMM chickpeas!
Now this pain, fatigued, anxiety and depression didn’t go away. It’s a full time job to keep my body moving, physiotherapy, stretching ++++, massage, tens machine, nerve blocks (lots of big needles injected in multiple areas of my body, every other week to every week), and lidocaine infusions. Everything I would be doing even if I didn’t run minus all the multiple medications (that didn’t’ work for me) that I used to take. I was finally diagnosed throughout my journey and it found a name. Fibromyalgia. I thought it would go away after losing now 110lbs, it didn’t but it got better. It hurts to run, it hurts not to run. The pride and sense of accomplishment I get from running makes the pain of running better than the pain of not running (hope this makes sense). I have started doing some speaking and did a “speech” of sorts recently at the YMCA and it went pretty well. I think I will keep moving. Somewhere along the line I found my fire. Now I am always encouraging people to find that spark, motivation and desire within. How? Everyone has that toolbox within themselves, they just need to open it and start digging and use it! YOU are worth it, YOU matter, and YOU can do anything you set your mind to. LOVE yourself. I am proud to say it has been well over a year now and I have kept all the weight off. There’s so much more to my story but I will save some for another day……