Today’s success story had me in tears. Literally. Jennifer is here to share with you her story of abuse and pain. She suffered abuse and turned to food to comfort herself. It was her only friend.
Those actions led her to her highest weight of 420 pounds. Now, she has lost a whopping 220 pounds. Check out her transformation:
Welcome, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your story with us!
My name is Jennifer Nice and I have a husband and two daughters. My story begins as a young child; I went through some extreme sexual abuse. Satanic ritual abuse; it’s sickening to think about, but there are people so sick in the head that they do it. Other sexual abuse continued to happen through grade school and middle school. When high school came along the abuse started to happen from my own hand; I allowed it to continue to happen, by allowing boys and men to use me as an object. At home, there was verbal and physical abuse; I had no self-worth.
As a child, I remember being told that I was fat by many people, even my own family. My cousin, who is very dear to me, would grab my stomach and say, “there’s more than an inch.” Back then it really hurt my feelings; today I know he was trying to help me understand how important my weight was. My Grandmother would put me on a diet almost every time I went to visit. When I was 16, I put myself on a starvation diet and lost about 50 pounds.
When I was 18, I got pregnant and put on some major weight. I gained 100 pounds while pregnant with my son, Jonathan. I lost a lot of the weight after I had him. At 2 ½ months old, Jonathan died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: this is when my weight started to really spiral out of control. Life no longer mattered, and at the time, the only thing that seemed to fill the void of death, was food.
Through the years, I have been pregnant 11 times; with only 2 living children. Jonathan is in a grave, out in the boon docks. Walter is buried with his Great Grandmother. Six pregnancies were flushed down a toilet; one pushed off to the side of a snowy bank, somewhere on an Oregon mountain pass.
I was unable to share my feelings with my at the time husband, Wade. When I would start to cry, he would tell me, “Get over it.” When I wanted to share with him how I was feeling, he would tell me, “Just get over it.”
As you can imagine the depression of death and loss was a great influence on my weight gain. I got to the point of giving up. Because of what seemed to be unanswered prayers, I had even just about given up on God; I thought that my prayers bounced off the ceiling. The food, bed, and my sewing machine were my greatest “friends”.
My two living children kind of disappeared into the fog of depression. I still took them to dance and other events; my mind was not with them, just my body. Homeschooling came to a screeching halt. Everything I did with my girls just became a blurry spot in the fog.
I was the living dead, functioning, but only in body. I had become numb to society. I believed there wasn’t a soul on earth who cared about my pain. Something had to change… Either I was going to kill myself, or I had to change.
Tell us a little about yourself, your family, your job, etc…
I have a wonderful husband, Jack, who supports me in everything I do. He has taught me that life is worth living.
Marietta Rose, my 10 year old daughter; she has been the breath of fresh smelling roses for me. She has taught me how to be a child once again.
Tessa, my 17 year old, has taught me that there will always be pain in my life. Lessons learned, and that we must keep moving forward.
At this time I do not have a job, but I enjoy helping people. I like preparing meals for people who are sick or just need a boost in their food budget. Helping people move or giving them a hand cleaning their yards, homes, etc. I enjoy creating gifts from fabric; right now I am working on a quilt. Marietta has asked me to help her with a gift for her Padre’ (Jack).
I help with prop design and stage set up for Connie’s School of Dance every Christmas and spring. The entertainment industry is one that I enjoy fully. I plan to one day attend The Heller Academy in Las Angeles; it will be quite an endeavor to learn from a professional actor, David White.
Last year I was able to help with an outreach program for low income families. This year my friend, Ammie, and I are putting together a Christmas Gala for several low income children in our neighborhood. What a joy it will be as the children receive a gift of supplemental school supplies, pajamas, and books.
What was your motivation to lose weight?
My health was my motivation to lose weight. At the rate that my health was deteriorating I knew I wouldn’t be around to see my youngest graduate. I didn’t do it for my children or my husband, I did it for myself. If you do it for someone else, the weight will always come back: It must be for yourself.
Another motivator was my friend, Jack; who is now my husband. He has been thin and in great health his whole life. So what was hard for me was easy for him. When I would lose motivation, he became the motivation. When I would lose heart, he became the heart. He’s had such gentle words of encouragement through the whole process. The way he explains things makes sense to me. During my lowest times it seemed that he carried me through the process.
What made you decide to start your weight loss journey?
I was sick of being fat: unable to stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. I had to sit on a stool to fix meals. I couldn’t keep up with my children. The embarrassment of going into public: school events, church, etc. I dreaded shopping because I had to use an electric cart; sometimes the cart wouldn’t have enough power to carry my weight.
Getting up from a chair was a chore. Walking across the house was a workout. Every step I took felt like a mile.
Going to the bathroom was another thing that had gotten really tough. Something people don’t like to talk about; I couldn’t reach, so I had to use a wooden spoon to wipe with. Taking showers and getting clean in the cracks and crevices was an almost impossible feat.
How long did it take you to get to your ideal weight? Are you there now?
I started my weight loss journey at 420 pounds on April 21, 2006, when I walked in for weight loss surgery. I thought weight loss surgery was going to be the miracle I was looking for. With the surgery I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about my weight for the rest of my life… Boy was I wrong! By 2008 I weighed 260 pounds. Feeling great, looking good. However, due to lack of self-control in my diet and lifestyle, along with depression, I started gaining the weight again. November 2011, I weighed 320 pounds and wanted to kill myself. With the loss of yet another child and the end of a 10 year marriage; something had to change… It was me.
Now, November 2013, I weigh 200 pounds. In October 2013, I underwent plastic surgery on my abdomen; Dr. Marin removed 12 pounds of hanging skin. It is a surgery that has changed the way I do several things; it has been life changing for me.
I am hopeful that one day the battle against obesity will be won. It is a sad thing to see our children growing heavier and heavier. Many of our children don’t even know what it is like to be an active healthy child. Obesity rules in their lives, and the food reigns their minds.
I still have 20 pounds until I reach my goal weight of 180 pounds. I am very hopeful of reaching that goal. I still have extra skin on my thighs, arms, and my breasts that need to be removed: one day I will be able to have that removed also.
What kept you on track losing weight?
I was born with bad knees. When I found out that every additional pound you carry equals 3 extra pounds of pressure on your hip joint, 4 extra pounds on your knee joint, and about 9 extra pounds on your patella femoral joint (which you use going up and down stairs, standing up, and getting off the toilet). That’s a LOT of extra weight on the knees!
When I thought I was eating too many calories during a day, I kept a food diary. What I ate, how much I ate, how many calories, how much protein. Protein played a big part in my weight loss; 100 mg of protein per day is what I ate.
Tell us about a typical day in terms of eating and exercise.
When I was aggressively trying to lose weight, I ate a strict diet of 1,200 calories. I ate foods that were negative calorie foods: broccoli, celery, kale, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit, etc. High protein food: fish, chicken, beef, pork. I forced myself to drink a 16 ounce bottle of water every couple of hours. If we went out to eat, I would pull bread off of sandwiches; breading off of fried foods; crust off of pizza; bun off of hot-dogs and hamburgers. I did not indulge in deserts, sweets, or candy.
I would go for intense walks every day. Twice a week I went to cardio Kung Fu: 200 sit-ups, 150 push-ups, leg kicks, punching, etc., per night. I used the “Can You 24” workout video, from Advocare, 3 times a week. When I sat down; I would do stomach tightening exercises. When standing in line, I would do buttocks tightening and squats. Regular household items became arm toning weights.
Now, I generally eat one egg, one small patty of sausage, and a palm full of hash browns (loaded with veggies), or oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch is my heaviest meal of the day: meat, a starch, vegetables, and fruit. Dinner is a light meal, and generally before 6:30 PM; soup and salad. It’s not good to have a heavy meal sit in your stomach overnight. I still pull a lot of extra bread off of food; it’s become habit.
I drink plenty of water. If I don’t get enough water throughout the day, I can tell: I don’t feel as energetic and my skin feels dry. Rarely do I drink soda pop; maybe once or twice a year.
I try to go for a walk every single day. I get up and move around a lot. I still do stomach tightening while sitting, and buttocks while standing.
What is the biggest difference you have noticed because of your weight loss?
The biggest difference I notice is my walk. I have times when I feel like I am l literally walking on air. My arms don’t project from my body; they actually lay to my sides. My legs don’t rub together when walking. I don’t have the quack, quack, waddle, waddle walk anymore. Instead of pointing outward, I can point my toes in front of me while walking. I can breathe!
The spring of 2013, I did my first marathon.
I entered into the walking portion of the race. I came in 75th out of 1,100 other people, and 4th in my division. Sweet victory! Never had I ever finished any kind of marathon before.
What advice can you give to others struggling to lose weight?
Find a good support person; one that will support you fully and almost carries you when you have lost heart. Go to a counselor, generally there are deep rooted reasons for overeating. Find a support group; you need people to talk to. Surround yourself with positive people (even if you think they are annoying)… people who understand what you’re going through… people with healthy lifestyle habits.
How do you keep the weight off in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
By the grace of God my weight stays off, I don’t really think about keeping the weight off now. I’m sure a lot of the maintained lifestyle is due to the fact that it’s habit. It’s just that; a LIFESTYLE. One that is normal to me.
I still weigh myself on a regular basis. I have a safe zone in numbers. If I go out of that zone, then I know it’s time to go back to a stricter diet and workout plan. Also, we do not keep unhealthy foods in the house: they are poison, period!
Give us a quote or a motto that you have used to keep you focused.
While listening to my husband, Jack, explain to our daughter about how candy affects the body; “Do you know how it feels when you cut yourself? When you eat a piece of candy it’s like cutting the inside of your body. Your tongue is two and a half inches long, to satisfy those taste buds could sacrifice the health of the rest of your body.” I grasped a hold of those words and applied it to all unhealthy foods.
WOW Jennifer. What a story. There is so much to be learned from all that you have gone through. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate you sharing your story with us today! I just know, someone, somewhere is feeling the way you were 200 pounds ago and NEEDED to hear this story today! So, thank you!