So as you know, I’m Jena. I’m currently 23 years old, and I live in Buffalo, NY, USA.
There are pictures from when I was a baby until the age of, I dunno, 12 that I appear to be a normal weight. I’ve always been tall (i’m 5’11”) so I always kind of “blamed” my height for my seemingly excessive weight.
I can remember being 14, somewhat overweight, and having doctors tell me I could lose some weight. As a kid that is so hard to hear, and I chose to be in denial of it. I never took ownership of my weight, and instead let it get completely out of hand. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been at least a jean size of 16 (20 at my highest weight).
Generally, I was always pretty sedentary. I did some sports in high school, I had a brief stint in both soccer and throwing shotput. But I was never very athletic and I definitely always loved food. I have always found food a comfort, something fun to do. I medicated my problems with food.
I was really late to get my period (14 y/o) and when I did occasionally have them (every year-6 months) they were ridiculously heavy. At the age of 18 I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) by my gynocologist, which explains my messed up periods, and partially, my obesity. PCOS means that there are growths known as cysts on my ovaries. He attempted to treat this with birth control, hoping the cysts on my ovaries would go away, and they did not.
So in January of 2008, I was away at college when my mother frantically called me and told me my gyno wanted me to go get bloodwork done due to something on my ovaries that looked suspicious. I had a CA-125 test done, which tests for a cancer-indicating substance. My test came back really bad, and I was scheduled for surgery.
I had a laproscopy done, meaning the doctors made small incisions where my ovaries are and used a camera to explore and then remove growths from my ovaries. I had a very large one removed from my right side, it was tested for cancer, and came back negative, yay. :)
I was then advised to see an endocrinologist to manage my PCOS. I started seeing a doctor who confirmed my PCOS and also diagnosed me with hypothyroidism, a condition that all of the women in my family have. It means I have an under-productive thryroid that doesnt produce necessary hormones. This has caused weight gain, coldness, brittle hair and nails, crankiness. But its manageable and I take a pill for it everyday.
What was not so manageable to me, was the PCOS. A common side effect of PCOS is that my body not only craves carbs intensely, but once I eat them, my body is insulin resistant and cannot break down carbs and sugar properly. So it stores them. PCOS women are commonly obese and apple shaped. All my fat is in my tummy!
I was put on metformin, a diabetic medication to control this. I hated it, it made me sick. I had horrible stomach aches, burped up tastes constantly, had awful diarrhea. Yuck. I cried to my endocrinologist about the fact that if i did not change anything I would be on this medicine forever. This defeated attitude went on for some time.
So in the summer of 2011 I went on month long trip to Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming with my university. The trip involved several miles of [not so hard] hiking everyday. I was unable to do it, and frequently found myself holding up my group. I felt trapped in my body.
I came back from that trip, and little things began to bother me.
A customer at my work asked me if I was pregnant.
I found my boyfriend checking out a thin girl.
I was lazy and overeating and feeling terrible. I had all of these grown up health problems, I was letting my PCOS cause me to be pre-diabetic. I was told my chances of having a healthy pregnancy someday would be better if i were healthy myself.
And I just felt like I was out of control of my life. And in August 2011, I decided to take it back.
I literally woke up one day and decided I was not going to live like this. That I was going to change, commit myself to something, and take control back. I was going to stay the course of something, until I saw results. I read a Jillian Michaels quote that pretty much summarized how I felt about weight loss; that it’s something other people can attain, but I cannot. And that’s just not true.
You can have whatever you are willing to struggle for.
And I decided to start struggling. Making small changes, changes that I could tolerate for a lifetime, because it truly is about lifestyle changes. I started eating healthier. I added salads to my meals, and cut my portions a little. I used common sense when making food choices.
I started working out. I live very close to a 1/4 mile high school track. I would go there with my two girlfriends, and we would run as far as we could. It wasn’t far, I started not being able to go a complete lap. So I would do half a lap, then walk a half, then run another, then walk another. And I would continue that. Eventually I could run a lap. Then I ran a mile. Then I ran a 5k. I cried after I did this.
After I would run at the track, I would do crunches, plyometrics, stuff I learned while on the track team throwing shotput. Lots of lunges, high knees, toy soldiers, grapevine, side steps.
I would work so hard at the track, that I could not fathom going home and eating poorly.
And this spurred me on to make healthy choices. I just kept running, I would run around my neighborhood. The loop of my neighborhood is about .8 miles, I would do this a few times.
I told myself that if I stuck with it until it got cold, I could join a gym. In October, I signed up for an inexpensive one near my house. It has become my favorite place! I love the classes, the options, the mood.
My goal was to weigh under 200 by New Years Eve. I did, just a day shy of it. I then vowed that 2012, and every year after, I will always weigh in the 100’s.
When I saw that I was capable of that, I decided to set my sights a little higher. I decided I wanted to lose one hundred pounds. I wanted to run a marathon someday. And I want to be able to wear a bikini.
The biggest things for me have been consistency, not depriving myself, and believing in myself. Setting realistic goals with realistic deadlines.
I’ve proven to myself that I can do anything in the world.