BetterU Challenge Update: Meet Jennifer
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image by Pamela Hernandez

Today I want to let one of the BetterU challengers tell her story. Meet Jennifer.

The moment I knew that my weight was in trouble was when I went to try to Jazzercise.  When I was younger, I loved to dance.  I did everything: ballet, jazz, Pointe, and tap.  Since elementary school, I could dance to anything or do any combination of eight counts without any problem.  At the age of 30 and extremely overweight, this was no longer the case.

After 15 minutes of increasing dance intensity, I had to walk out of the class.  I sat in my car crying realizing the impact of my inactivity caused on my quality of life.  I could not walk long periods of time without pain; I could not stop eating fast food; I could not go into plus size stores anymore to find clothes; and now…I could not dance.

This was just one of the final experiences which pushed to me realize that my obesity was slowly killing me and my quality of life.  Here I was entering my 30’s with a loving family, wonderful partner, great job, but a weight pushing 400 pounds.  While I was facing no significant health problems, I knew that was not going to be the case for long.  The only way a change was going to happen was if I completely dedicated myself.  I knew to get back to this Jazzercise class, that change was necessary.

So I started with slow changes: stopping eating out and starting to eat well balanced meals at home,  stopping drinking soda and replacing it with water, replacing TV time with dog walking, I started to see the changes happen.  Then it became where my meals were enhanced with my veggies, daily water goals were met, and dog walking got a little longer.  My quality of life started to improve and my weight started to decrease.

Then, I got serious and organized Team Jennifer.  I got a nutritionist who talked to me about protein, good/bad carbs and tracking food.  I had an exercise consultation which provided me advice on sneaking exercise in during my day.  My final step was getting a personal trainer.  With the help of Pamela, I embraced different forms of exercise.  Now I love kettlebells, stability balls, and my yoga bands.  When I want to work out and strength train, I know how to make it happen.

Even after all the changes I made and the support I had from my loved ones, sometimes it was challenging to find those who could relate to me in the journey.  This is why the American Heart Association’s Go Red Better U challenge came at the perfect time.  All of a sudden, I was able to find the support which I needed with other ladies pushing themselves for a healthy lifestyle.

Women are powerful forces and with the information we are receiving from the American Heart Association and Thrive Personal Fitness, we are already seeing changes.  My fellow ladies are starting to work out, going to the famer’s market, and improving their personal health numbers.  In addition, these changes are starting to impact our families and friends as they track our journeys.

For me, having the support of these ladies has been critical.  For the first time in my journey, I found myself on the sidelines with a couple of injuries.  Surprisingly, my frustration increased as I was unable to bike ride or do yoga at the square.  These ladies have been providing encouragement and support when I came to realize that rest is important.

As we are over halfway through our journey, I know that the changes we are making as a group will remain as well as the friendships that I have already developed.  My new goal: When I go back to Jazzercise, I will take the ladies with me!

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