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Where are they now? Jennifer’s Paleo Weight Loss

Jennifer before and after Paleo 2

Let me tell you about the girl who always put everyone else first.

One year ago, Jennifer blew me away with her story. Married at 18, she and her husband have built a beautiful life together. At 27, with three great kids and a very supportive husband, she lost 70 pounds on Paleo. She told me, “I was a mom at 19. It’s been about everyone else my whole life. This time, it’s about me.”

Jump forward a full calendar year, and it’s so great to see where that mentality has taken her. Going Paleo was probably the first thing she’s done for herself, and herself alone, in a decade. Now she’s found a healthy balance with the occasional indulgence, she goes on double-digit mile runs on the weekends, and she just finished school.

Keep reading to see where Jennifer is now.

For more on Jennifer, be sure to follower her on Instagram and check out her YouTube channel.

Jennifer 2014 to 2016

 Read our original interview with Jennifer here!


It’s been over a year since we last talked! What’s happened since then?

Honestly, it’s been amazing. So many people reached out to me after that article came out—from my high school choir director, to people I’ve never met. My network has grown so much. It’s been such a positive experience to connect with people and help them.

People ask me for recipes, and my usual response is, “I don’t know how I made this…I just threw stuff in a pan!” My husband helped me create a YouTube channel to share different tips. I record different tutorials, like a how-to video for mayo. I try to post to Instagram as much as I can, but recently school has taken over my life.

I know many people who have lost weight on Paleo—I’m just not sure how many have stuck with it. Sometimes someone will message me and say, “Hey, I’m just looking to lose ten pounds,” and my only response is, “Ok you don’t really get what this is about. This is not a quick fix.”

Jennifer's Paleo weight loss

I have been at the same weight for an entire year. I have reached my goal weight, and this is where my body wants to be. I put jeans on this winter and thought, “OMG! I can wear the same clothes throughout the whole year!” If this had been another diet—if it was not Paleo—I would have thought, “Well, I won’t fit into any of these clothes next year.”

The last time we talked, you would make two meals for your family—Paleo for you, and non-Paleo for everyone else. Is that still the case?

My husband wants to do Paleo, but it’s so hard getting him to eat vegetables. I tell him all the time, “You can’t eat just nuts and meat! You have to have fruits and vegetables!” He did Paleo for awhile and lost 30 pounds. Honestly, he did great. I didn’t know he could control himself! Slowly, it crept up on him because he didn’t mentally prepare himself for the pressures of the holidays.

Jennifer before and after paleo 3

One year ago, you never cheated. You had nightmares about cheating! Have you been able to find a balance?

I’m hard on myself with everything, and I’ve had to loosen the reins on myself. This summer, my husband and I “went out for pizza.” Meaning, I sat there and drank water. My husband said, “Are you telling me that never again will you have pizza with your family?”

Jennifer before and after Paleo

I’ve learned to loosen the reins and trust myself. Before, I thought, “If you eat one piece of pizza, you’re done. You’ll go back to the way you were.” But that’s not who I am anymore! It’s been great getting to know this side of me. It’s such a part of my life now, I don’t even think about it. It’s just there.

I don’t have cheat days. I have cheat items. Part of me is disappointed, because it felt so good to say I never cheated. However, it’s been a new kind of victory, to be confident knowing I won’t fall back into old habits. For example, the other night my husband and I went out to dinner together. I ordered a chicken salad, and when it arrived it had beans on it. In the past, I would have picked off every single bean. Instead, I thought, “I never go out to eat. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

What made you want to find that balance? What made you want to ‘loosen the reins’?

Honestly, I started feeling a little guilty, because so many memories involve food. My grandma is getting older, and she makes the most amazing banana cream pie. One time when I was visiting her I thought, “You know, there’s probably only so many banana cream pies I will probably have in my life.” Once in awhile I will deviate from Paleo, and almost always it’s for the memories.

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I never think to myself, “I’m giving in.” It’s more, “Ok. You are going to visit your gram, and she will probably have pie. Do you want it, or do you not want it?” Before I would have had a piece of pie, then another piece of pie, followed by yet another piece of pie. I still feel horrible afterward. Yet sometimes, I just want to sit with my gram and share her pie with her.

What about, shall we say, celebratory beverages? If I recall, you had one glass of wine total last year.

I’ve never been a drinker, but I do drink red wine on occasion. It doesn’t make me sick anymore.

To me, this is not a fad or diet. This is how I choose to live. The day I wake up and I’m not Paleo anymore—well, I just don’t see that happening. Each morning I wake up and I eat my eggs or Paleo English muffins. I‘ve learned my past habits don’t exist anymore.

Jennifer before and after Paleo 4

What else has have you been up to since we last talked?

I’ve really picked up running. I didn’t know I could ever love running, for the sake of running! I started running last year, ran all through the winter, and ultimately reached goals I never thought I could reach.

Jennifer running

I got into the habit when I took my son to soccer practice, which is two hours long. There is a mile-long track circling the field, and I thought, “Well, I can just sit here for two hours…or I can go run around that track.” I would run for an hour just to see how far I could go. I worked my way up to ten miles during those practices. Whenever there was eight minutes left I’d think, “Ok! Let’s see if I can finish this last mile.” At one point, I never thought I could run a 10k. Now, a 10k is a normal Tuesday!

I never thought running would be something I pursued. Now when I run, that’s my time. That’s when I get my music bumpin’. Being a mom is a 24 hour gig, but I can take away one hour and focus on me. When I didn’t take time for me in the past, that’s when I lost myself. That me time is too important to give up, both mentally and physically. My kids love seeing me come home sweaty and out of breath. They’re so impressed by it.

Jennifer's Paleo weight loss

You just feel really good when you run. I love being able to escape for a bit—away from schoolwork, away from my to-do list, kids and worries—I just pound my music and time my breathing. It’s just what I need, and I find it so rewarding.

Jennifer running

That’s awesome, I’m so happy for you! Have you picked up any activities besides running?

My New Year’s resolution was to try yoga. I’ve tried it on the Wii! I keep being reassured that everyone has to start somewhere. Next time you interview me, I promise—I’ll be totally into it!

 

I know you’ve dealt with naysayers in the past. Have you experienced anything like this recently?

To be honest with you, I’ve received a lot of criticism. When I was running, my weight hadn’t gone down, but I did look different. I received a lot of negativity because people thought I wasn’t eating. My husband said, “You obviously haven’t eaten with her, because she eats more than I do.”

Jennifer's Paleo weight loss

I’ve looked like this for a year, and it’s so nice. Before, I got attention because I lost weight. Now I receive attention because I’ve kept the weight off. People see it’s not a fad diet.

How has this experience impacted other areas of your life—your career, long term goals, et cetera?

During your first interview with me, I said I was the biggest one in my first occupational therapy class. My professor has seen me at my largest, and now he’s seen me at my smallest. He’s a runner too, and one time I asked him for advice on running shoes. He asked me, “Well, how much do you run? Two-three times a week?” It felt so good to respond with, “I run thirty miles a week.”

Jennifer's Paleo weight loss

A few years ago, I would have had a panic attack to move in front of people. I got emotional in my last class, because I could move patients without any hesitation. I was so energetic and happy because I knew I could do it! It was such a rewarding feeling.

You’ve just finished school for occupational therapy, so clearly you’re going into the health and wellness field. What are your plans going forward?

I would love to add a nutritional element to my education, or work with people with eating disorders. I would love that.

I have a fear of being judged—it’s an insecurity of mine. The more you grow, the more you learn the negative and positive qualities you possess. I know I’m outgoing, passionate, and love talking to people. People don’t think you can lose weight without restricting what you eat. I’ve never counted a calorie (which amazes me). I would love to get that out there. Being hungry is no way to live.

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What advice would you like to leave people with?

My biggest piece of advice is to make healthy eating a habit. People aren’t giving up taste with Paleo—they’re giving up convenience. When people slip up, it’s due to a lack of being prepared, or trying to diet. When you’re detoxifying from bad food, your body will naturally say, “I want carbs. I want sugar.”

You need to recognize what you struggle with, and address those triggers:

  • If you struggle with time constraints, prep your food. Take Sunday to chop vegetables and cut up fruit.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, allow yourself one mug cake per week.
  • If you can’t find a breakfast-on-the-go option, then don’t make breakfast on the go. Wake up early, and make yourself a good breakfast!

I know it’s hard. It just comes down to discovering yourself, one habit at a time. There is so much room for growth. Food is something I have conquered and moved on from. And I never thought that would happen.

Jennifer's Paleo weight loss


Want more Paleo Success Stories?

Here are more inspiring people who have changed their lives with Paleo:

  Jamison BandA Jody before after  Doug's Extreme Paleo Weight Loss


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    COMMENTS

    1. itsjess
      March 28, 2016

      Jennifer,

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for your openness and honesty! You remind me a lot of myself and that’s encouraging. I finished a Whole30 a couple years ago and felt great, planning to never go back to my old habits, but I did. I was struggling with motherhood challenges and still had a sweet tooth and I planned to eat my old foods for a week to see how I felt with certain foods then go to an 80/20 approach, but never did. I got pregnant with my second that fall and gained so much weight and now my daughter is almost 8 months and I’m at the largest I’ve ever been (except when pregnant) and I still look about 7 months pregnant. I spent 6 hours looking for something that could look a little cute on me for Easter and literally found nothing that quite fit that didn’t make me look bigger. It was so embarrassing. I don’t recognize myself. I saw a picture someone had taken of me a couple weeks ago and then while I was shopping I was practically in tears. I used to be a dancer and I have a small frame, and the weight looks especially bad on me since a lot of it still looks like pregnancy weight. People have asked me if I’m pregnant. Not fun!! I can feel the weight affecting my knees, back, and joints too.

      This story came at the perfect time for me. I love what you say about just making that choice not to cheat (or have the one chocolate mug cake – maybe after I get my habits under control) and to take one day at a time. I think I will take one of the little notebooks I got for Christmas and start journaling like you mentioned. I can put in my meals, cravings, and exercise. My biggest thing has been feeling tired and unprepared because of having two little ones, but this needs to be for me. If I can make time to be on social media or watch a show on Netflix, I can certainly make the time to meal prep and make the best decisions. Maybe someday I’ll be a success story on here! Thank you again! I subscribed to your YouTube channel and will add you on instagram for inspiration.

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