Jennifer Smith is a mother of 3 kids, now 11, 10, and 9 years old. “I think it’s every typical mother’s issue, where they put everyone before yourself and then by time you have time to get to yourself, you are too tired and value sleep and sanity over taking care of yourself.” She says that after the birth of her 3rd child she had lost all of the baby weight, but with the stress of having 3 young kids, a husband working many jobs, plus working full time as an engineer, the stress just amounted to weight gain. “Before I knew it, within a year I gained 85 pounds and the scale tipped at a whopping 210 pounds. It was when a friend of mine posted a picture of me from a local mom’s club event online and I was like, “Holy crap, I am fat!” I couldn’t believe what I let happen to myself. It was that moment that I decided to make a change.”
This is Jennifer’s story.
How did you reach your heaviest weight? At what point did you decide enough was enough?
My body does not like stress and between having 3 kids in 3 years, my husband losing his job, and almost losing our home, I depended on caffeine to keep me sane. I was drinking 1.5 to 2L bottles of soda a day, so essentially I was drinking my daily calories on top of eating them. It wasn’t until this famed picture of me feeding my child was posted on Facebook that I realized how far I had let my body go. I had gained 85 pounds POST pregnancy, and worse, I couldn’t even blame it on the baby weight!
What steps did you take to begin your transformation and what goals did you set for yourself?
Well we didn’t have any money so a gym membership was out of the question. So I decided to just start running. Once I put the kids all to bed at night, I would run around my block for as long as I could. In the beginning, I was horrendous! I ran the mailbox lengths but then would walk the next few, and eventually I got the hang of it. I decided I was going to run a 5K as my goal and it was only 3 months away. I had never run 3 miles in my life, so it was feat by itself! I wasn’t going for a specific time, I just wanted to be able to run the entire race. From there I was hooked and I started running area 5Ks every weekend to help keep me on track with my weight loss goal. As I started losing the weight I wanted even bigger goals and running local 5Ks was not cutting it anymore, so I eventually moved to mud obstacle races and eventually I found myself in the sport of fitness competing.
That’s awesome! Why fitness competitions and not something else?
Competing was a whole new level that I wanted to try to bring my body to the next level. I never had abs growing up, not even in my early 20’s, but I was sure going to make this mom with 3 kids have them! I started out as a bikini competitor, but eventually moved my way up to Physique and in June 2016, after 4 years, I finally became a World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) Professional!! Since then I have decided that I need to find a balance. As we know, competing can be a very selfish sport and when it comes to family, it takes a lot of sacrifice. This past year I am trying to find my balance. I am enjoying all the things that I didn’t have time for, like road races and mud races, and now I am able to take the time to watch my kids grow in their areas of sports. I am trying new things like kick boxing and martial arts and enjoying the balance between food, workout, and life. I will still always see the fat girl in the mirror and in a way I kind of hope it never goes away. While it can bring you down, it also reminds me of how far I have come and how putting myself up there with everyone else only helps everyone around me as well, not only myself.
What kept you motivated?
Definitely my kids. I wanted to be able to run around with my kids, who at that time were only 1, 2, and 4 years old, without getting out of breath. I couldn’t even walk up the steps in my house holding the kids without getting winded.
What does your diet look like?
From off season to competition season it varies, but what does remain the same are the types of foods I eat. I try to eat every couple of hours. I stick to lean meats, green veggies, nut butters for fats and can’t forget those complex carbs. While in competition season I am very strict as far as my diet, in the off season it’s more like 80% clean, allowing myself to enjoy that treat with my family, especially in the summertime.
How has your transformation helped you grow?
I learned that even as a mom, I needed to make myself a priority in my own life. I can’t keep putting people ahead of me and keep leaving myself on the back burner. If I didn’t make myself happy, how was I expecting someone else to?
What are some suggestions you have for aspiring transformers?
Don’t give up on yourself. It’s okay to put yourself first, even if that means before your kids and spouse. Make small goals that are not weight loss specific, more fitness specific, that will help you achieve your weight loss goal so you are not focused on the number on the scale.