Some people have a wedding dress to fit into, many see unflattering photos, while others hear the warnings of their doctor. But for 52-year-old chef Jennifer, the lightbulb moment that gave her the motivation to begin 12WBT came to her in a dream.
“My daughter had been telling me about Michelle Bridges’ 12WBT and, as usual when it came to doing something about my weight, I was hesitating and making excuses,” she recalls.
Jennifer the chef, before 12WBT.
“But when I went to bed that night, I had a vivid dream: I saw myself slim. I saw it so clearly. I got up the next morning, went straight to the computer, signed up – and I’ve never looked back. I know it sounds wacky, but that’s how it happened!”
Almost three rounds and eight months later, Jennifer now sees her dream in the mirror every day, having dropped from a size 14 to a size 8.
“I feel like I’m the person I was always meant to be,” she says. “The outer layer has been unzipped and the real me has stepped out – the healthy, happy, strong and vibrant me.”
A Food-centered life
Yet before her fateful dream, Jennifer was far from that way. While the busy grandmother of eight knew all about proper nutrition, her hectic schedule and a food-centred job running her own catering business had got the better of her over the years.
Jennifer’s creation: a food-centered life.
“I love food, but my downfall was that I couldn’t keep it under control. At work, I was constantly eating, tasting and grazing. I’d try to lose weight, and a bit would come off but I’d just regain it,” she says.
“Food was all I thought about – I wasn’t thinking about health and exercise and balancing it all.”
Gaining the Mindset
Finding the right mindset was Jennifer’s turning point.
From the minute she signed up for her first 12WBT round, Jennifer felt the pieces of the puzzle coming together – starting with what she calls the “biggest thing”: the right mindset.
“I’d been thinking, ‘Oh I’ll just get to a certain point and that will be it – I won’t have to try anymore’ and that was just wrong. Now I know this is for forever. It’s not just until next week or next month, it’s for the rest of your life. Once I realised it was permanent, that took the pressure off. I just knew this was the way it was going to be every day.”
“This is forever.”
Not that it’s all been easy, particularly at the beginning. “I had down moments – around week two I remember realising I was going to be really tested – but every time I started feeling I couldn’t do it, I’d receive a video from Michelle that was just so timely,” Jennifer says. “It was as if she could read my mind.”
Jennifer’s ’50 and Fabulous’ group at Jacob’s Ladder in Perth.
As well as the eagerly awaited videos, Jennifer found support in a local ‘50 and Fabulous’ group, which was full of people dealing with similar issues and supporting each other through the tough times.
“I even started running with them. Before, I would get puffed walking to the letterbox and make excuses to go easy every time I made it to the gym. But I started doing a Park Run every Saturday morning with these fantastic people, and they’ve been the biggest inspiration of all.”
And bigger than the fitness goals she’s kicked, Jennifer points to her new-found faith in her own abilities as the best thing that’s resulted from her major lifestyle change.
“I realise now that I can do anything I put my mind to,” she says. “If I want to do something, I don’t hesitate anymore. I don’t go over and over it in my head, I don’t question it. Recently I was on a cruise for our wedding anniversary to Fiji and there was an opportunity to abseil off a 15-metre waterfall, and I put my hand straight up.
“I went, I did it and it was the most exhilarating experience I’ve had. I was the oldest there, but it didn’t enter my mind that I couldn’t do it. Eight months ago, that never would have happened.”
A NEW SET OF GOALS
Now Jennifer is training to be a BodyPump instructor.
Neither, she adds, would she have imagined she’d be training to become a BodyPump instructor. “Eight months ago, I was struggling to get to a Pump class!” she says with a laugh.
“Now, though, I’d really like to work in the fitness industry and make some changes to my catering business. Healthy food has become such a part of my life that my dream is to open a coffee shop that serves clean, healthy food. I’m more focused now than I’ve ever been.”
And with one amazing achievement already under her belt, it’s clear Jennifer will stop at nothing to literally make her dreams come true.
Jennifer at Round 4 of 12WBT.
Jennifer’s Secrets to 12WBT Success
1. Put yourself first. I have my hands full, but I used to put everyone else before myself. It’s not like that anymore. My health and wellbeing come first, and everyone around me has paid the dividends, because I’m so much happier and easier going, and I’m not so tired. Even my daughter says I’m glowing.
2. You can still love food. It’s about finding the balance – it’s still hard to work with food and it’s where my willpower is tested the most. But I have a few tricks – I keep a bottle of water with me while I’m prepping so instead of tasting all the time, I have a drink instead. And I’ll chew gum if I’m really tempted. And I just taste things now, instead of eating the whole lot. I still love food, but it has the right place in my life.
3. Have faith in the program. Be consistent, and don’t stop. If you have a bad day, just pull it back. And remember that the hard moments and the sacrifices are all worth it when you get on the scales and see the weight coming off. The reward far outweighs the sacrifice.
4. Don’t let age be an excuse. It’s so difficult to control your weight when you go through menopause and become a grandmother and you don’t have youth on your side. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible and I’m proof of that.