Facebook Twitter

Transformation 4

< Back to List

Jennie Schwartz: Parent Transformation

As people begin to entering middle age many of them question their health, relationships, and what their life has amounted to thus far.  I, too, am getting close to my forties.  I have spent the majority of my thirties overweight, and not the “you need to lose 10 pounds” kind but the kind where the doctor tells you “you are obese”.  This is mortifying to hear when you are 34 years old and believe me, there is no kind way a person can tell you that.  I kept telling myself before I turn 40 I will lose weight, I will go to my 20 year class reunion looking good.  I even told a few of my friends.  I went to the gym but then I stopped and I justified by saying I am busy with the kids or I still have 5 years.  Well, I am now 37 and I still have not lost the weight. 

Where did “the weight” come from?  I would love to say it is baby weight .  But, my youngest are seven, a person can use that excuse for just so long.  The reality is “the weight” came from bad eating habits, low self-esteem, being a stressed out mom and wife, and experiencing marriage difficulties.  All those excuses made me feel justified in driving through a fast food restaurant every day, sometimes more than once; and I knew how terrible it was, that I had high cholesterol that my grandma had to have an angioplasty, her sister had by-pass surgery, my grandpa has diabetes but I was feeling bad and wanted to feel better.

I needed to be in the right place to lose “the weight”; I needed something different than my usual try at a diet.  I considered being a contestant on The Biggest Loser but I could not be away from home like that.  The something different came to me in December 2009, my daughter brought home a flyer about a fitness program for parents at her school.  She said, “Mom, you should do this.”  I immediately e-mailed to get more information, put the meeting date on my calendar, and attended the informational meeting.  This program was a challenge, I could win prizes.  I have always said I am not competitive but looking back on my life I realized I am competitive and this was my something different.  I also realized I have never set a goal for myself and achieved it.  I decided this is my time to achieve a goal so I have a story to share.  I shared what I was going to undertake with very few people.  But, I knew I was on the hook when I told my Aunt Sandy.  She is very active in outdoor sports and stays fit and watches what she eats.  I knew telling her I would feel accountable more than to my husband or my parents.

At the first weigh-in there were so many people and I got nervous; how could I win competing against all these people.  But, I got on the scale, something I had not done in at least six months, and was shocked by the number 222.  I thought it would be 215.  Clearly, I had let my eating get out of control.  We set some goals for ourselves.  My goals were geared toward my family and what I thought was reasonable to accomplish in twelve weeks.  They were:

• Feel comfortable in a swimsuit
• Go skiing with my kids in February
• Lose 25 pounds
• Walk three times a week

So, that week I tried to cut fast food but went to a drive thru; I was busy.  Then, we had our first boot camp.  Okay, that was a rude awakening.  I could barely do the exercises because I was so out of shape.  I needed to get serious.  So, there was no more drive thru, no more soda, no more excuses. I wanted to win!  I began using ground turkey rather than beef, brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat pasta substituted for white, enriched pasta, and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.  Overall, my family did not complain too much. 

Not only did I want better health for myself but I also wanted my husband and children to improve their eating habits.  My children’s pediatrician had already warned me about my twin’s weight getting close to overweight on the chart.  We all needed to adjust our portion sizes and learn to eat less.  In order to achieve this I began talking about serving size, showing my kids how you read the label and making sure they ate only one serving.  Today, they will check the label when they are getting a snack and discuss what the correct serving is.  I also started weighing our food to ensure I was serving correct portions.  Their awareness about their food is a small battle that I have won. 

I have always been concerned about people watching me and looking dumb in front of them.  Because of this fear I would never exercise while waiting for my kids sports practices to end.  Instead, I would sit in my chair for an hour and justify my laziness as “I deserve a break”.  The boot camps helped me overcome this by getting me outside and teaching me what I can do to exercise my entire body while outside.  I enjoyed being outside, feeling the fresh air, and I found the time flew by.  My kids sports resumed in March and I pushed myself to exercise in front of the other parents.  I was out of my comfort zone but I did it!  The first time I was far away on a track but I walked and ran and then did lunges.  I felt great.  The next time I ran through a park in a foot race with my youngest daughter; she won the race but I won, too!  Hearing her laugh as I chased her and seeing the delight on her face when she beat her mom was my prize. 

The most recent experience was jogging around the park while my daughters played soccer.  The other parents commented, “I should do that.”  And “You are so good.” I felt great and not at all awkward as I ran around the park, did sit-ups, and pushups, I felt even better when Brooklyn called over to me and waved with a big smile.  I realized they are proud to see me exercising while they are running around and working hard. I am going to continue to exercise at their practices and in fact, when we drive to South Carolina this summer I plan to have us do exercises at the rest stops. 

I am happy to say that I accomplished the goal of skiing with my kids in February.  Thanks to the boot camps and exercise I felt confident getting on skis after an eleven year absence.  I am not a great skier but we had such a great time skiing as a family.  My husband was so patient and encouraging while I fussed about skiing through fresh powder.  I had never done that and it is tough if you don’t know how to do it.  The kids loved showing me their tricks and how fast they could ski.  I was so happy to share two beautiful days on the slopes with them rather than sitting at the picnic tables waiting for them to come and have lunch.  This was just the beginning of many more family ski trips.

I have also lost 25 pounds.  I set my goal to lose 25 pounds and I did it! It was difficult and I looked for help anywhere I could find it.  I read books by Jillian Michaels, visited many websites, sent e-mails to our trainers, visited Max Muscle stores, bought a Bodybugg, and joined 24Hour Fitness.  At first, I fell into the trap of believing “the weight” should come off easily.  I should lose at least 5 pounds a week but I soon learned that is not typical.  I then thought if I eat less “the weight” will come off. That, too, is not entirely accurate.  I stopped analyzing everything I did and just followed a sensible, high protein diet, with exercise and my body began to change.  I lost inches, dropped two clothing sizes, the scale showed smaller numbers, and I gained confidence.  I finally felt like I could do this and I did!

What started out as another diet has turned into something bigger.  It has become a change in how I live my life, how I think about our food, and what I do with my time.  If it was just a diet the weight would come back but changing the habits in my life will keep the weight away and allow me to continue to lose weight and change my body and future.   With my future changing my children’s and husband’s futures will also change.  We will gain so much more than just a smaller number on the scale. 

These changes would not be possible if I had not signed up for this challenge.  I am so fortunate I was given the opportunity and my kids and I are already planning how we can incorporate exercise into our daily lives.  One plan is to ride our bikes to softball practice at the local school.  We will be exercising but we will also be having fun. So, thank you Maria and Emily for the time and energy you have put into this program.  I plan to share what I have learned with my mom’s family and encourage them to make healthier choices and exercise more.

 Jennie Schwartz