Artificially Balanced: A True Inspiration

Hello!

Are you ready to be inspired?

Ready for an amazing transformation story?

I thought so.

I discovered Jen’s blog last winter when I was tracking my eats through My Fitness Pal, and I remember picking my jaw off of the floor when I saw her amazing before and after pictures. I don’t want to give too much away, but all I have to say is wow. You’ll see what I mean below.

I totally fell in love with this adorable gal through following her on Instagram and reading her blog and asked her to write a guest post for me, because I want all of you to know her too! And when I read through her post below, I was just floored. She’s so honest, and her story is so real- one that I’m sure many of you can identify with.

Enough build up already… here’s Jen!

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Hi guys! I’m Jen from Artificially Balanced and I am so excited to write a guest post for Lauren. Her blog is one of my top favorites because, well, have you seen the amazing recipes she creates?! Girl’s got a gift. Besides her drool-worthy creations, Lauren and I have bonded over the struggles we face in our weight loss journey that so many of you reading also face. Lauren asked me to write about my personal journey about losing 110 pounds and how I have gotten healthy and pursued my life long dream of moving to NYC!

I can’t lie when I say I spent the first almost 22 years of my life overweight. I was a chubby baby, a chubby kid, and a chubby teenager. I lost weight one time in high school (about 17 pounds) and felt great! However, it didn’t stay off long as I entered my senior year of high school and my daily Weight Watchers meals turned into french fries, beer, and pizza. Along with my unhealthy eating habits, there was also the fact that I smoked cigarettes since I was about 15 years old. I knew I was overweight, but I had always had boyfriends, tons of friends, and no health problems so I never had much motivation to get “healthy”. I figured I must already be semi-healthy! Evidently being winded just walking or climbing a flight of stairs at 18 years old wasn’t motivation enough. I never felt comfortable in my own skin however and by prom I felt huge.

Prom (with WILD hair?!) with one of my friends

After high school, I stayed in the same town I grew up in, went to college, and started working my first full-time job. It was a lot to juggle, so I ended up taking some time off from college and working tons of hours as a manager at a tanning salon. I moved in with my boyfriend and that’s when the weight really started to pile on. We were happy and in love and we went out to eat almost every single night of the week.

I wasn’t happy that I had stayed in Binghamton, NY (where I grew up) and felt like I wasn’t in control of my life. I had no energy, which led me to constantly eat way too much and especially way too much in the carb department. My breakfasts on the way to work came in the form of McDonald’s every day and when I tell you my order you will think I’m lying. 1 bacon, egg & cheese McGriddle, 1 bacon, egg & cheese bagel, 2 hash browns, 1 large Coke, 1 coffee with extra cream & extra sugar, and an order of cinnamon melts. A little while after getting to work, I would order another bacon, egg and cheese bagel and a muffin with butter from a local cafe. Lunch was usually Chinese food from the plaza I worked in, and I would order sesame chicken with lo mein and an egg roll. If it wasn’t Chinese food, it would be chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard. Dinner was almost always out and I would eat burgers, fries, or chicken fingers again. The amount of fat I was taking in actually scares me now that I am aware.

By my 21st birthday, I was the heaviest I had ever been. I had lost my job, wasn’t going to school, and went into a really deep depression. This picture of my birthday was probably the last time I saw friends for quite awhile. I’m in the purple dress below, just with blonde hair instead of my natural dark!

That was in March 2009. I spent most of that summer with the worst case of anxiety I ever could have imagined. There were days that I could not get out of bed because I had a fear that doing so would kill me. I know I gained more weight as well and finally in August of 2009 I decided I needed to make a change. I was honestly so convinced that I c0uld never change how I ate, so I decided to start small and add in walking every day. I was unemployed for almost 6 months. I finally had found a job and a few months later a second job. I was working in a fashion boutique and fashion has always been a huge part of my life. I felt like I had worth again and slowly my eating habits shifted. I was still getting fast food every day, but it was nowhere near the large order I had. Within a month I had lost almost 2 pant sizes. I imagine my calorie intake was near 4,000-5,000 a day before I got healthy and even with the small changes I had dropped it down by at least half. I also quit smoking which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, thankfully!

7 months later, I was down almost 60 pounds.

To lose the rest of the weight, I started tracking my calorie intake on the app MyFitnessPal. I still continued to walk every day and since it was the summer, I was walking up to 10 miles per day! By October 2010, exactly 14 months after I started my weight loss journey, I had lost 100 pounds.

My reward to myself was packing my bags and moving to NYC. It has been the best decision, next to getting healthy, that I have ever made. I moved in March 2011 and fell in love with the fitness world. I began running, lifting weights, and spinning. I went a tad overboard and went through a little period of not eating nearly enough and working out a little too much.

My subway stop!
Central Park

A month after starting to lift weights:

My thinnest, and while it may not look it- a little too thin for my body type:

I became too consumed with eating so little and working out for hours per day. I lost my period for a little while and had too many people worried about me. In an effort to gain a little back and become less rigid, I gained about 20 pounds. While it isn’t an awful amount, it’s just enough to make losing a little of it tougher than I expected ;-)

My 1st race!
One of my best friends in the city
Outside work- at Chanel :)

Even though I have gained a little more weight than I wanted to, I am still so thankful for the life I have now. I work for one of the top fashion brands in the world, live in the city I have always wanted to, and have amazing friends. I know that I am still very healthy, I just lost some of the toning I worked so hard to achieve. My passion for health and fitness transpires into everything I do and I find myself talking about it way more than I do fashion these days! Even though I was recently featured in the NY Times fashion section…

That’s me with the bright pink Marc Jacobs bag!

Running is my #1 favorite activity these days and even though it’s been quite a struggle to stay injury-free (I have IT band, knee, and shin issues!), I cannot believe that I am the girl who used to weigh over 250 pounds and now can run 8 miles straight. I continue to track what I eat on MyFitnessPal (I use the iPhone app still) and focus on eating clean whole foods 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time you can definitely find me indulging in pizza, sweet potato fries, and 16 Handles frozen yogurt :-)

Comments

  1. What am amazing story. You are an inspiration to so many people!! Great, great job!
    Most of the time, I make my own pizza’s and my own baked sweet potato fries since I could never give up either. Life is too short, but I still get the goods in a clean way and without any guilt!! It’s a win win for me.

    • Thank you so much Meghan! I definitely love to make my own healthier versions of things that are heavier in calories, but I definitely love to order what I really want at restaurants since I try to only eat out once per week. Sweet potatoes are the best no matter how we eat them! :-)

  2. I love, love, love your story! You’re an amazing woman and you inspire many!!!! Thank you for motivating me to keep pushing!

  3. Amazing post. Inspirational to hear about find the balance in the end! That’s what is most important! :)

  4. Wow, awesome story!

  5. Jen, I’m so happy for you!!! Nobody knows what people go thru on the inside even thinner healthy peoe have struggles, thx for being so open and honest and sharing your journey, I ALWAYS look forward to reading your blogs, Hugs!!!!!

  6. This post was a pleasure to read.
    Unfortunately I find that sometimes people’s weight loss struggles don’t translate well in to words, but your definitely did, as did your success!
    Great to hear about someone figuring out what they want and going after it. Keep it up!

  7. Wow! 100 lbs in 14 months is crazy! I need to amp it up! Way to go, Jen!

    • Jenny, 100 pounds in 14 months was done in a super healthy manner and honestly I think it’s totally achievable for anyone willing to put in the work. Taking into account my height and structure (I am very muscular to begin with), of course. Especially since I really only walked as my form of exercise to lose that much weight; I didn’t start to run, spin or lift weights until after that milestone! Thank you so much for reading :-)

  8. This is awesome!

  9. Adrienne M. says:

    Your story is ever-inspiring to me, Jen!
    Oxox

  10. Jen, I LOVE you story. You should be so proud of all you’ve accomplished. You look fabulous!!

  11. Jess Gale says:

    Awesome job Jen! You look absolutely amazing, and I’m so glad you have found the perfect balance. You are beautiful inside and out and you should be so proud of yourself!

  12. What an amazing story! It takes a lot for someone to lose that much weight and keep it off as you sure have. Way to go!

  13. An amazing story! Thank you for sharing with us!

  14. I love that this is a story of taking control of your whole life! It also makes me miss living in NYC :-)

  15. Wow. What an awesome story. I can’t believe that you used to eat that much crap! I seriously wish that some people would wake up the way you did. Such a simple change — eating real food and walking — lead to a HUGE huge huge change.

    I’m with you on the overexercising, under-eating … and I think Lauren’s been there too. I’m currently not able to exercise and I’m kind of freaking out over here. I gained 15 lbs last year and I didn’t NEED to gain it (was at a healthy weight) and it’s taken me nearly a YEAR to lose 10 of it. I finally got down to my first goal weight last week (10 of the 15 gone) and that same day I sprained my ankle. FUCK. Seriously. (Lauren, you can say fuck on my blog, so I’m saying it on yours :)

    I wasn’t even doing anything stupid. I’d dialed back my exercise and was eating more than I had all year. I started doing more cardio and BAM. Back at square 1. Ugh.

    Thanks for sharing your transformation! My BF is currently giving up fast food/processed food for 6 months in conjunction with doing WW and I think this time he’s going to have a greater success than before because he’s eating whole foods.

    • Ha, I can’t believe I used to eat that much crap too! I mean don’t get me wrong, I can still put it down like a champ but it’s much cleaner healthier eats and NOTHING that comes from a drive-thru or involves the ingredients “pink slime!” I am so sorry to hear about your ankle! And I give you permission to say fuck, only because it was on my guest post, hehe. Also because I have a mouth like a sailor. Oopsies. I hope your BF is successful! I have no doubt since he will feel a world of difference from not eating fast food! :)

  16. Wow, what’s story!!! Congrats on your transformations, such an amazing story. And now I want to shop for a big pink bag haha.

  17. Haha. i love the pink bag too. What an amazing story!!!! And the pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Wow! Quite the story, thank you so much for sharing everything!

  19. Love your story!! What an inspiration! Congrats girl!

  20. AWESOME! I love this story–sooo inspiring!

  21. Thank you so much Michelle! You are so right; the balance, which also the biggest struggle, is what’s important. I may not have perfected it, but it’s about trying to enjoy the journey :-)

  22. Congratulations Jen on getting healthy! I had a similar story except I gained a lot more than 20lbs (which I’m working on losing). I’m glad that you’re doing better and I’m slightly googly eyed about your job in fashion…le sigh…my dream.

    And I’m glad to have a new blog to read :)

    • Thank you! I feel you on the gaining weight back, no matter what the amount it feels harder than the first time around. But, we’re in it together! Don’t be too jealous of working in fashion, the stress alone is enough to kill you! :-)

  23. You’re such an inspiration! Great job. I hope you’ve found a love and respect for your body. You deserve it!!!

  24. What an amazing story!! You are such an inspiration. Congrats on all your achievements!!

  25. Amazing story and such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing.

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