I have a special treat for you today. Below is an inspirational success story from one of my "Zumba sisters." I first noticed Janell when I went to one of Lindsay's 8 p.m. classes. I was getting a kick out of her class because to me it looked like Lindsay had started her own little group of Zumba groupies that reminded me of the small group of girls that I gotten to know when I first started going to Zumba. Janell and her friends were all excited to see each other at the beginning of class and they had their own favorite songs that they would give "woo hoos" to and it was just so refreshing to see this new generation of Zumba girls so excited about this exercise class. Their enthusiasm and positive spirit was contagious and inspirational.
Janell definitely got my attention. I could see it in her face how much she loved Zumba. And I could definitely hear it in her voice :) She's not shy about being loud in class! I became friends with Janell on Facebook and we would chat in between songs at class and I got to know her a little better. I knew she had lost a significant amount of weight and I knew she was motivated to do whatever it took to reach her goals. Her enthusiasm for Zumba reminded me so much of myself when I first started and so I've always been curious about her story - so I asked her to share it with me and all of you on my blog. I'm so happy she agreed. Here's Janell's story ...
Janell - before and after
One year ago I was at my cousin’s house for our yearly Indy 500 Race Party. Her husband went around taking pictures of everyone hanging out. I tried all evening to stay out of his sight. Well, he got me in a picture after all. I didn’t think much of it. Then he sent out an e-mail to all my family … cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts … so on. When I opened the pictures that was when I saw me. And I mean actually SAW myself. I broke down in tears. I cried so hard that night. I just kept thinking that is not me; I don’t want to be that person anymore. I had had it. I knew I needed help, and I had already tried Weight Watchers. That program just didn’t work for me. So I decided to call Jenny Craig. That was the day my life changed forever.
I was ready. I talked to my consultant, ordered my food, made a workout plan for myself, and said … "this is it; it’s time to put me first and to stick with it." And I did. I followed the weekly program faithfully. It wasn’t easy. I was hungry all the time. It was like I was feigning for food like an ex-smoker feigning for a cigarette. To keep from cheating, I would call my mom and talk to her. She was my rock. I had to make myself start working out every day, which wasn’t easy. I literally had fights in my head with myself. It was just such a struggle. In my mind, I just didn’t think I was going to lose weight. The doubts were so heavy on my mind.
My workout plan was to walk a fast pace, and then gradually start running. I just would laugh at myself thinking … "me, run, not likely." But I put on my favorite music and started walking. Thirty minutes was all I could stand. I hated that too. I didn’t like feeling winded, short of breath and tired. However, that is also what kept pushing me; to overcome that.
When that first week was up and I had to weigh in, I was so nervous and scared. I got on my scale first thing in the morning. When I looked down, I was in shock. I lost 3 pounds. I even got off the scale and got back on just to make sure it was right. And it was. When I saw those results, that’s what pushed me to keep going. I was so happy. I called my husband, my mom and my best friend. Those were the only people who knew at that time what I was doing. They were all so proud of me, cheering me on. I felt so good that day.
So I continued on my journey of losing weight. I kept strictly to my menu plan and my workout plan. Before I knew it, I was jogging on my treadmill. I wasn’t going very fast, but it was for me. Another accomplishment was reached. A small one, but I was happy. The following months the weight just kept coming off. I just couldn’t believe it.
But then everyday life was still happening. Friends wanted to meet for lunch or dinners, or family wanted to get together. I had to start telling people what I was doing. I was embarrassed at first to admit that I was on Jenny Craig. I thought it was bad to admit I needed help. But when I got positive feedback from everyone, it wasn’t so bad. I did have my problems with others saying “its ok to cheat every now and then” and “oh come on, one bite won’t hurt you.” Dealing with that was so hard. They have no idea what it’s like to be overweight and trying to lose. But I was determined to stay strong; I did not cheat once when tempted by others.
That was and still is the hardest thing to deal with. I honestly have no idea where my determination comes from. I guess I had it set in my mind that nothing was going to stop me from reaching my goal. That and the fact that Jenny Craig was so expensive and I was paying for it, I wasn’t about to lose money on it. There also were people who made comments that they’ve heard others try things and they didn’t succeed. I’m a pretty competitive person, so I took that as a challenge. I wanted to show those people, yes it can work, as long as you’re committed, and I was.
When I started to really lose some weight to the point people could tell, I decided I needed to change things up a bit with my workout. I started talking to one of my friends and we both wanted to try this new class called Zumba, but neither of us wanted to go alone. So we decided to go together and try it out. We fell in love with it. Not only was the class fun, the people there were fun. Nobody judged anyone, everyone there was there for the same reason, to get a great work out and have fun doing it. I was hooked.
So at this point, I was running in the morning, and doing Zumba two times a week. And yes I said I was running. I was now running and fast walking 3 to 4 miles every morning. So the weight just kept coming off. After a while, I started going 4 an 5 times a week. I started to become a regular. Then I met one of the instructor, her name is Geraldine. She was and is the sweetest person I’ve ever meet. She truly cares so much about her class and their health. Once I started talking to her and telling her my story, she offered to meet with me and go over some ways to eat healthy. That was the beginning of an awesome friendship. I meet with her, told her my story in more detail and how I wanted to go out on my own but was so scared of eating “normal food” and not gaining any weight. She was amazing. We talked for over two hours. She had so much faith in me then, before she even really got to know me, it was unbelievable.
The next time I talked to my Jenny Craig consultant, I told her I was ready to go on my own. She was really excited for me, and she too thought I would be ok. At that point I still had 40 pounds to go. My goal was to lose 100 pounds. I was so nervous to venture out on my own with every day food. I started trying new work out programs on top of running at home. I started counting my calories, writing down everything I ate, what I did for a workout, and I talked to Geraldine and my friends often when I had doubts or questions. There was so much I didn’t know about food and how what I ate and when I ate it could really make a difference, and I’m still learning to this day.
I’m now 10 pounds away from reaching my goal. I’m not going to lie; these past 30 pounds have been the hardest. I’m losing slower, which I know is good, yet frustrating too. I’m such an impatient person, I want results, and I want them now. Part of me wants to be content with just losing the 90 pounds, and the other part of me knows I won’t be satisfied till I lose all 100 pounds. This is where I have to keep strong and keep pushing.
Every day is a struggle, even now. I know I’m happiest after I exercise, but I still argue with myself to go exercise. I think I will always have that struggle with myself too.
When I look back on this past year, I’m still amazed at what I have already accomplished. I use that as my motivation to keep going, that and talking to all my friends and family. They are my greatest support system. When I’m feeling down, mad, sad, or even happy, they are always there for me. If I didn’t have that, I’m not sure if I would be as successful as I am. When you have people you can relate to it helps to stay motivated. They give me the inspiration I need to keep going, and I am truly blessed to have them in my life.