How did this all start you ask? On December 2, 2011, I attended the MAC Championship game in Detroit to support my then boyfriend as he got his first ever start in a post-season game. In my usual outfit, a 3XL football jersey (#76), I made sure to get my usual seat in the front row, and happened to seat myself above the ESPN Banner. This ensured that I was on TV.
The next day, I decided to watch the game since I had recorded it. And there in full color in my pixelated glory, I was shown screaming my head off at the camera. And I was shocked. I looked so large filling out that 3XL jersey. I immediately felt embarrassed. Is that really how I was portraying myself? When I saw that girl on TV, she didn't look like me. She looked sad and unhappy, and that wasn't just due to losing the game. I stepped on the scale and was shocked that I was 275 pounds. At that moment, I got out my laptop and searched "free weight loss plan" and my life was changed forever.
I joined Sparkpeople.com that day, December 3, 2011 and I wrote the following blog:
"So here goes another start to another diet.
I often wonder if I will ever have the will power to lose all the weight I need to lose. I have never been a skinny kid. Growing up, both my parents were overweight, and still are. We ate too much fast food and always had bad food in the house. I was bigger than most of my friends, but I was also athletic and active in school and extracurriculars so I didn't focus on it much. Now that I'm a graduate student set to graduate in June 2013, I've really started thinking hard about my future. I want to get married and I want to live a long and healthy life. And there's no reason not to start now.
And no one really wants to look fat in a wedding dress right? I'm not engaged, but I'm not crazy. Just a girl who can dream. "
And dream I did. I dreamed of shopping in the normal women's department instead of the plus size section. I dreamed of being able to run a mile, a 5k, a half-marathon. I dreamed of playing soccer again, and being happy with what I saw in the mirror. I dreamed of this time, finally being the time I actually succeeded.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I wasn't alone. When people responded to my blogs, I was shocked to know that other people were facing similar struggles as me. I started to write blogs asking questions and for advice on certain topics. And every comment I received back pushed me that much more. I wanted to succeed, not only for myself, but for all these people who were supporting me on my journey.
And so that day I started tracking my food. I vowed to walk to places to which I had formerly taken the bus. I also started taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. I was still in college, so I also decided that alcohol wasn't worth all the calories it cost. And that just because my friends wanted to eat at 1 a.m. didn't meant I was actually hungry at that time.
In the beginning, every pound I lost was a small victory, but also a reminder of the many times I'd attempted to lose weight before. When I hit 250, a common stopping point during my past attempts, I kept pushing. I lost 30 pounds in my first 50 days, It was exhilarating and scary at the same time. I continued to track my food, and gradually added in exercise. Running was still painful, but I started walking longer and longer distances on the bike path after class.
Over the course of my first year, I lost 91 pounds, and eventually ended up losing over 100 pounds. In the 170s, I was wearing size 6 jeans, running faster than I'd ever run, and feeling wonderful. But complacency is a dangerous beast. I never quite reached my goal of getting into the 150s, but I was able to maintain in the 180-190s for almost 3 additional years.
Then I somehow lost my drive. I lost my focus and my desire to eat well and exercise as much as I needed to and the pounds slowly began to creep back on. They got all the way back up to 215, when I decided that enough was enough. I will not be just another statistic and one of the people who has a huge weight loss just to gain it all back. I want to be healthy for my husband, my future kids, but most of all for myself. Because sometimes, you just have to make it about you.
So with this blog, I intend to follow my journey back to a healthy and happy weight, sharing stories, recipes, exercises and everything else that comes along. I thank you in advance for your support. And for all of my SparkFriends reading this, please know how grateful I am for your continued support. You are such a huge part of why I continued to push when I felt like giving up. I knew you all were watching and reading, and I didn't want to let you down. In doing this, I also refused to let myself down.
Jan-Marie was born in Dayton, Ohio, and went to the greatest school in the state, The Ohio University in Athens. While in college she gained some of her greatest friends, along with about 70 pounds on top of her already overweight frame. Through tracking her calories, increasing her exercise and blogging, she was able to reclaim her life and now spends her extra time trying to help others on their own journeys.
All photos on this site were taken by Jan-Marie (or someone who loves her) so please forgive the phone pics and selfies. Maybe one day she will graduate to a real camera. Until then, enjoy the filters.