When Jen Frazier suddenly lost two loved ones, she was faced with a "huge wake-up call." She knew she had to change her lifestyle if she wanted to live a long, healthy life and be there for her friends and family. She went from battling high blood pressure to running half-marathons and doing a triathlon. Her journey was anything but easy, but she made some incredible accomplishments along the way, like her bike tour through Tuscany, Italy! Read on for her full story.
POPSUGAR: When did you start your weight-loss journey? What made you decide to?
Jen Frazier: I started my weight-loss journey in January of 2011. I had recently experienced the loss of two very dear family members, one to cancer at age 24 and the other at 37 in a tragic car accident. It was a huge wake-up call for me that these two had lost their lives to factors completely beyond their control, while I was actively eating myself into a similarly early grave. At that time I was battling high blood pressure and side effects that made me fear for what kind of future I would have. I knew that in order to live the life I wanted, the life I deserved, I had to make a drastic change, and quickly!
PS: What was your starting weight?
JF: I avoided scales when I was at my heaviest, but the last number I remember was 325 pounds. I'll never forget the nurse moving the weight across the scale as I tried to suck everything in, as if that would help. I ate through my embarrassment in the Burger King drive-through after my appointment.
PS: How much weight have you lost so far?
JF: I have successfully lost and kept off over 100 pounds — and still counting!
PS: How did you do it?
JF: I initially started by making little changes to my diet. I eliminated empty calories from drinks like soda and juices, and replaced everything with water — except my coffee, of course. This change coupled with reducing portion sizes helped me drop 20 pounds within the first two months. Once the weight started coming off I knew I had to get myself into the gym.
From the moment I walked into Anytime Fitness in West Hartford, CT I knew that I was in the right place. I started working with a personal trainer, which not only helped kick my butt twice a week, but also gave me the accountability I needed. In terms of eating, I think the real change that happened for me, and why I have been able to keep off the weight all this time, is that I accepted that this is a lifestyle change, not a diet. I now understand that food is fuel, and although I can indulge in my favorites like pizza and all things cheese, I know what my body needs to be effective. I read food labels and make conscious decisions about the food I eat.
PS: Did you do a specific workout type or schedule?
JF: I do a little bit of everything and I think that's important. From strength training sessions in the gym with my Anytime Fitness personal trainer, who was able to push me and motivate me to reach goals I never thought were possible, to outdoor sand volleyball, I like to keep my workouts fun and full of variety. I typically strength train two times a week, take a cardio class three times a week and throw in a spin class or yoga on the weekends. Finding a place you love to workout will ensure you get your butt there!
PS: What are some non-scale victories you've experienced?
JF: It's so important to celebrate the non-scale victories. When my initial weight loss started to plateau I found myself so frustrated with the number on the scale. I've come to realize that scales can't measure some of the most amazing parts of a weight-loss transformation. I have become a runner and have run half marathons, a triathlon, marathon relays, and more! Because of the weight loss I was able to stop taking my high-blood pressure medication, which was a huge non-scale victory.
Last Summer I went on a bike tour through the hills of Tuscany and at one point I had tears in my eyes because the old Jen would not have lasted a mile. I climbed over 400 steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence and felt incredibly accomplished. My favorite non-scale victory occurred when I sat in an airplane seat comfortably without needing a seat belt extender!
PS: How do you stay motivated?
JF: Staying motivated can be the hardest part, especially once you've hit the maintenance phase. I find my motivation from the tribe I've built up around me. They're the ones who help keep me accountable and celebrate the good days and support me through the rough days.
PS: What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
JF: I love food! I'm the girl who finishes breakfast thinking about what's for lunch! Because of this I think meal planning and prepping has been a huge part of my success. I typically plan out my week of meals on Sundays and spend a couple hours prepping for the week. When I'm tired after a long day of teaching third graders I come home to a delicious, healthy meal instead of a quick, not-so-healthy drive-through option. A typical day looks something like this:
Breakfast: I usually make egg scrambles in muffin tins and throw them in the freezer for a quick meal in the morning. They're packed with protein and veggies and are a great way to get the day started!
Morning snack: Almonds or Greek yogurt
Lunch: Turkey and cheese roll-ups with avocado and sometimes a piece of turkey bacon. I'll add a side salad for some added veggies or some homemade sweet potato fries.
Afternoon or pre-workout snack: My favorite go-to is an apple with almond butter.
Dinner: Taco salad! Using ground turkey helps cut back on fat and salads are always a great way to load up on veggies. I sub plain Greek yogurt for sour cream and top my salad with grilled peppers and onion, fresh tomatoes, black beans, and a cilantro dressing.
Dessert: Every once in a while I indulge my sweet tooth with a few bites of Halo Top ice cream.
PS: Any advice or tips for people on their own journey?
JF: You're worth the blood, sweat, and tears that you will inevitably encounter along your journey. From my experience, I know that there will be great days and terrible days. There will be days where you feel unstoppable and strong, and days where you feel defeated and exhausted. My first trainer said to me, "Down, but not out". This became my mantra and my healthy dose of reality. Find a place like Anytime Fitness where you can build your tribe much like I did. Find your people who make you feel like you're worth it.