Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jen's story

Over the next few months, I'd like to introduce you to each member of our Ragnar Relay team. Everybody has an inspiring story of weight loss and running, and I hope that you will enjoy reading these as much as I did. 

Last week, I introduced Meredith. Here is Jen R.'s story (we have two members named Jen):
I have struggled with weight my whole life. I have an identical twin and even as a kid I remember being referred to as "the chubby twin - that's how to tell 'em apart." Throughout grammar school and high school I was continually insecure about my weight. Looking back now, I wasn't really a heavy teen, I just had very skinny friends, so my size 10/12 figure seemed huge to me next to my sized 2 and 4 friends.

I first joined Weight Watchers when I was 18 years old and  throughout the next 2 decades would go on and off the program dozens of times.

In my mid-20's I lost 60 pounds and reached goal. It was the best 10 minutes of my life! I became an expert at losing the weight but had no clue how to maintain it and began to pile it back on.

Throughout my adulthood I'd face down and kick bad habits - smoking, comfort eating, drinking too much. I continued to struggle with weight throughout most of my 30's and pretty much held around 185 - 190 pounds - about a size 16 or so on me. I was unhappy at that weight but not miserable. I'd dabble at Weight Watchers, kinda try, kinda hope to lose it but I was stuck (mainly because of my choices). 
When I got pregnant I decided that I was going to eat whatever the hell I wanted, I was pregnant! Food party time! What a mistake that turned out to be. Not sure what kind of reward I thought gaining 70 pounds on top of my already overweight body would be but I ate with gusto and paid for it.

Jen "before"
A week before my son Ben was born, I stepped on the scale and peered over my ballooned body - it read 255 pounds. Because of all those ridiculous choice I had developed gestational diabetes and I was so big and uncomfortable that I felt horrible all the time.

After Ben was born, I was miserable - everything hurt. My knees and ankles felt the pressure of the extra weight. It was hard to get in and out of my car. Chairs tightly hugged my hips and flying on an airplane (which I was doing for business) was torture for me and probably for the poor guy stuck next to me. 
Three months later and with only 15 pounds of "baby weight" gone, I decided to give Weight Watchers one last shot. I vowed to myself that no matter what,   good week, bad week, ugly week - I was going to that meeting every single week. I would not leave that meeting if it took me the rest of my life to get to goal.

It wasn't easy.

The first year I lost 40 pounds - Less than a pound a week but in the right direction.

The second year? I'd only lose 7 pounds the whole year. THE WHOLE YEAR! I played the 'up a pound' and 'down a pound' the whole year.  Part of this plateau was my fault because I didn't want to make the changes needed to keep losing. I also didn't want to really exercise - I fought it tooth and nail.

Finally, something took a turn for me. I read a book about making goals and somehow and for some weird reason, "run a marathon" made the list. It was an absurd thing to put on the list. I didn't even like running and had never even run for a second in my life. I'm pretty sure I just stuck it there to fill the list up (the book suggested 100 life goals) and half way through I began grasping at straws. Whatever works.

Jen "after"
The book further recommended that you pick a few life goals and make action steps to get there.  Well, somehow I decided on that goal and I googled half marathons and New Jersey (my home state) and found one 6 months out. 

In a blink of an eye and without realizing it, I changed my life forever. I took the plunge and I signed up - if those ten minutes of insanity hadn't happened, well my life wouldn't be what I've come to know of it today.

It was utterly ridiculous. But it was done and being cheap and broke I would not let that $125 race fee go unused.

I began to train. On day one I ran for one minute and hated every second. I cried. How would I ever run 13 minutes never mind 13 miles? I started a little blog about my journey on day one. Knowing I had a few followers (in those days probably only 10 folks or so) cheering me on and looking for updates kept me going.

I kept going back for my training and kept working at it. I ran/jogged/crawled and walked through those training sessions.... And I eventually ran/jogged/crawled and walked my first half marathon!  it was the proudest day of my life.

Running helped me finally reach my goal of a 96 pound weight loss and has truly changed my life. I have maintained my weight loss since December 2010.

I am honored, humbled and excited to be running the Ragnar Race with Katie and the rest of the team. I am sure it will be a lifetime highlight in my overall journey of running, weight loss, friends and experiences.

Jen writes a blog also, which you can find at From Fat to Finish Line.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story Jen! I'm a follower of your blog as well as Katie's! You look amazing and show everyone it is possible.

  2. I feel your pain Jen, as I'm stuck fiddling with the last 15. I know exactly what I have to do, but fighting it tooth and nail! LOVE your story! LOVE the auburn hair!

  3. I was looking at your pics before reading and thought - gosh it is like she is standing next to an old mirror in her after. A twin! Such a wonderful, inspiring and oh so oft told and relatable story! Good luck in the race ladies. Come so far, go so far so fast! Shedding and shredding! Hey that could be your name! Or not. LOL

  4. What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing Jen (and Katie!) I follow Jen's blog too. So great to have such inspiring women to learn from! Can't wait to "meet" the rest of the team!

  5. Thanks very much for posting my story Katie and thank you for the warm comments I appreciate it very much. :)

  6. Hi Jen! You're very inspiring!

  7. Jen, so inspiring--thank you for sharing your story!

  8. Thank so for sharing your story. I just watched from fat to finish line on Netflix and I really enjoyed watching your leg of the race. Your struggle was so human and so relatable I felt like I'm not alone in my journey. Feeling not alone helps me get through, so thank you.


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