Monday, December 30, 2013

How I Kept My New Year's Resolution & Lost 70 lbs!

BEFORE: Jenna Em at 215 lbs
The year I turned 40, I felt like I was having a health crisis. After having had 5 babies back-to-back, I was at my heaviest weight ever--and the most unhealthy self I had ever been. When ascending a flight of stairs caused knee pain due to my excessive weight, I knew that I had to do something or my health would continue to decline. I was also embarrassed: strangers would ask me when I was due with my "baby", and my family was also on eternal pregnancy watch with me. I had no one to blame but myself.

On December 31st 2012, I made a New Year's resolution to myself and my family. I resolved that we would do our best to eat healthful foods, smaller portions, cut out prepared foods, fast food, and junkfood--and to increase the family's activity level.

What pushed me to make this health and fitness resolution, was that my kids were beginning to emulate my poor eating habits and low activity levels. I was too heavy to be properly active with the kids, and they in turn were becoming sedentary creatures.

I took damage control on that night: 5'8", 215 lbs, and a size 14 clothing. I was one step away from not fitting into clothes sold in conventional stores. I was a chocoholic, fast-food- and junkfood-lover, with aversions to fruits, veggies, and most healthful foods. This was not going to be easy, but there was too much at stake to fail.

I purged the entire house of all junkfood, as at the time I could not eat moderately. I did a big shopping with lots of fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, fish and chicken that I could cook into nutritious, home-made meals. I started to implement a strategy of adding at least one fruit and one veggie to each of the family's meals for better nutrition. I started reading food labels and cutting out salt.

The next day, I pondered how to increase my activity level with 5 kids (ages 2 to 7) at home, in the dead of a frigid Canadian winter. I decided to take the kids tobogganing, as the sidewalks were icy and snow-covered. For the next six weeks I took the kids sledding every single day for one hour, and I lost 15 lbs! Believe it or not, you burn 476 calories per hour just by tobogganing! Of course, the kids and I had lots of fun together too.

When the sidewalks had thawed, I walked every single day for one hour--and pushed my toddlers in a double baby stroller. I bundled up the kids very well, and we all had a great time. If the weather was too cold, we would walk indoors at the local mall and do the full circuit. Weight continued to fall off me, and my body was feeling lighter and more limber.

Two months after having made my New Year's resolution, I decided to get a family membership at the local YMCA. I decided to work out 3 times per week, for 1 hour at a time, in order to tone up and slim down. I made my routine simple: 30 minutes of elliptical and 30 minutes on the treadmill. It was not difficult at all, as I went at my own pace and did my best.

Eventually, I added other machines to my repertoire at the YMCA, took exercise classes, and swam on occasion. I continued to take daily walks on my non-gym days. In the meantime, the kids were signed up for weekly swimming lessons at the "Y" and staying active.

Six months later we moved houses and had to leave the YMCA, but by that time, I was able to self-regulate my daily exercise and food intake. I continued on with daily exercise outdoors with my kids, who were also eating nutritiously and looking fit and healthy. The whole family, including my husband, was feeling much better.
AFTER: Jenna Em at 145 lbs(70 lbs Lost)!
A year has passed since I first made a New Year's resolution to myself and my family to eat better and stay active, and I have succeeded! In these 12 months, I have lost 70 lbs, 4 clothing sizes and I am looking and feeling much better. I am now lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight 9 years ago! True to my word, my family now eats in a healthy fashion and we are regularly active as a family!

It has been a big boost to my self-confidence to have shed so many pounds due to a simple New Year's resolution. People who have not seen me in one year's time cannot believe how drastically different I look; some say I look like an entirely different person--I know I feel like one. I had to purchase a whole new wardrobe to fit my new body size, as my former clothing was swimming on me. A stranger in a grocery store remarked how good I look, (considering I have 5 kids). I just laughed that one off.

My New Year's resolution for 2014 is simple: to continue eating well and staying active as a family. I hope to find a new gym and tone up in the new year, which would equate to losing an additional 5-10 lbs.

Here's a message of encouragement for anyone looking to make the same New Year's resolution:
If this mother of 5 could make a major lifestyle change at age 40-years old, you can surely do it too! The first week is the most difficult, but each week only gets easier and easier! You will be glad that you made this lifestyle change and never regret it. Even greater, you will look and feel much better and gain confidence in yourself!

Before & After! 70 lbs & 4 Sizes Lost!
BEFORE Size: Size 14
AFTER Size: Size 6
Sizes Lost: 4

BEFORE Weight: 215 lbs
AFTER Weight: 145 lbs
Pounds Lost: 70 lbs

Did you make a New Year's resolution this year? Are you trying to get fit and eat better?

Are you starting from the beginning with healthier eating and exercise?  Check out Multi-Testing Mommy's blog as she strives to eat healthier and become more active!  Want to motivate yourself?  Visit Big Daddy Kreativ as see how Craig has lost 8 lbs and 4" off his waist! 

43 comments:

  1. What an incredible transformation! Way to go for sticking to your goal. You should be very proud of yourself!
    Thanks for your inspiration.

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  2. You look fantastic! I am so glad that you stuck with this, not only for yourself but for you family too! Now that I am back at work I am going to start my lunch time workouts again in the new year.

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    1. Katie, thank you! That sounds like a great idea to have work outs during lunch hour. Work can be a long time sitting and that will break it up.

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  3. You are an amazing women! Congrats! You are an inspiration!! What type of meals do you cook?? When I try to eat healthy I get bored easily. How did you over come that?? Did you follow any books/websites for recipes ideas?

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    1. Jennifer, thank you! I try to find recipes online that I would like to try, with ingredients that sound good to me (and are healthy). We make soups, chicken, fish, lamb, etc at home...but we try to bake, broil or boil and keep sauces and seasoning moderate. The key is to eat what you enjoy the most, but make a healthier version of it and you won't feel deprived then.

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  4. Jenna! WOW! You look absolutely amazing! Congratulations! I love how you really didn't go on a "diet"...you made lifestyle AND food changes in your life. That was the key to your success and that will be the key to maintaining your new weight. You have taught your kids a valuable lesson and given them a much healthier start to life than you were with the path you were previously on. Way to go, Mama!

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    1. Thank you, Sandy! This is really a case of "do as I do", not "do as I say" for the kids. In most cases, the kids gravitate for healthier foods.

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  5. You look fantastic Jenna!! I love that you've gotten the entire family involved in a healthier lifestyle and you will all benefit greatly from it :) You're fabulous!! Keep up the great work!

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  6. I am so blown away by your commitment. At first I was like tobogganing? Really? And then I started seeing your pictures and was stunned. Really, I still am stunned, Then this past year I saw you at a couple of events and did one of those Holy crap who is that double takes where I was like um can that be Jenna? You are frigging amazing for doing this with five kids. Kudos!!!

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    1. Paula, thank you so much for your words of encouragement! I am beginning to feel like my old self, and it's a good feeling. Sledding, walking, rollerskating, snowshoeing, trampolining, etc...I think the activity doesn't matter as long as it's sustained and regular.

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  7. You look great and you got yourself and family making right choices from food to exercise.
    Keep it up :)
    My resolution is to always lose weight. I had lost 10 pounds in the summer and gained it all back. I find it very hard. The walks became less and I need to get back to getting some weight off.

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    1. silverneon2000, thank you very much. In order to keep up with daily exercise, it's easier to incorporate it your daily schedule and let it be a means to an end (ie: walking the kids to school and back).

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  8. WOW - amazing what a change in lifestyle can do. Good for you for making a positive change for you and your family! I have also started adding in more fruits/veggies and fiber to our family diet as well - while I don't like to be active, my boys do so it keeps me going!

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    1. mamawee, the change you are making to your family diet can go very far.

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  9. Congratulations! You look AMAZING! It's surprising what a difference a simple lifestyle change can do for your health. Your family will thank you later.

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    1. Thank you, Tabitha! The changes are easy to implement, and it's well worth it for the family.

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  10. Well done, Jenna ! I'm so happy for you. You look like a professional model ( such a "poser" !). (Jan Dempsey)

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    1. Thanks Jan, I'll have to tell my (7-year old) daughter what you said! While I was posing, she was laughing so hard and told me that my pose was awful!

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  11. You look amazing Jenna :) It's wonderful too that your entire family is on board.

    I am going to take a page from your book and make healthier choices with every meal in the New Year and exercise more <- or at least get back on my exercise routine.

    Melinda L.

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    1. Thank you, Melinda! Every change you make to the food you eat or your activity level will help.

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  12. you look amazing Jenna! Ive kinda fell off my healthy eating wagon, but luckily havent gained the weight back as of yet. I will be making more of a effort in the new year.

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    1. Thanks Amy! The good news about falling off the wagon, is that you can get back on at any time.

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  13. That is amazing! So proud of you! You've inspired me!

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    1. Thank you, Christine! Now if I could cook the beautiful meals that you do!

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  14. What an inspiration you are Jenna! Your new body looks fabulous on you! I weigh about the same as you (well closer to 150 now) but at 5'3", I definitely do not look as great as you. It's not fun being short! LOL! I would love to lose about 15 lbs. I really need to find the motivation to one day get to my goal weight.

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    1. Thanks so much, Brandy! We have to work with the body we're given and do the best with it. You're lucky that your goal is only 15 lbs; the first 2 weeks you could lose 1/7th of that.

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  15. I must say, your post is very inspirational!! I am taking notes!! :-)

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  16. Thank you for being such an inspiration - you have done SO well - keep it up, girl!

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    1. Thanks so much, MTM! I'm excited to cheer you on on your own journey!

      Jenna

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  17. i'm going to look into getting one of those activity trackers for this year

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  18. You are one amazing lady Jenna! Very inspirational. Such hard work and it paid off! Awesome!!!

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  19. What an amazing inspiration! Congratulations!!!

    Michelle F>

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  20. Love that you did this WITH your family and that everyone was involved. It's so much easier than going it alone, and it's so wonderful for your children to see such determination, hard work, and success from you.

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  21. Wow, and with five kids. Its amazing...I guess I don't have an excuse.

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  22. You're one amazing lady! Holy Smokes! Good for you! I am so proud of you. You have really proven to everyone that there's really no excuse for anyone to put off getting healthier, especially since you have 5 kids running around. Awesome!

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  23. Reading these posts about your journey gives me hope for mine

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