Jennifer's Resolution Started from the Inside Out*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Today we share our final success story from our 2013 New Year’s Resolution Keepers.  Jennifer decided to deal with her depression by committing to a complete health makeover. Learn how she changed her outlook and her life by trying new things, setting mini goals and pushing herself beyond what she thought she was capable.
Name: Jennifer Speelman
SparkPeople username: dvokm5
Hometown: Kinston, NC
Occupation: wife, mother, teacher’s aide
Age: 41
Starting weight: 207
Current weight: 129
What was your New Year’s resolution? My New Year’s resolution was a complete health makeover: to lose weight and get in shape.

Why did you set a New Year’s resolution? I set a New Year’s resolution because I was tired of looking and feeling the way I did. I was tired all the time and felt much older than my actual age. Even worse than that was the emotional toll my lifestyle was taking. I was struggling terribly with depression. As a Christian, I knew that this life of depression, defeat, and despair was not what God wanted for me. Something had to change.  I got started on New Year’s day. Besides tracking calories, drinking lots of water, and exercising, I decided to educate myself. I started reading books that addressed health and fitness from a biblical perspective. That helped me to understand why I was where I was and how to get where I needed to be. Also, I started researching what a healthy lifestyle was all about, which is where came in.

What did you do to stay motivated? Staying motivated is every "dieter’s" struggle. I have several motivators. I pray every day that God will help me to do that right things for my body. Knowing he’s helping me along this journey is my greatest motivation. I have an awesome family. They motivate me to maintain a healthy lifestyle so that I can keep up with them and be a good role model for my children to help them avoid the struggles I’ve experienced. Also, I started an accountability/support/encouragement group on Facebook. Between my current church family and the church family where I attended before moving to North Carolina, I had so many friends who were struggling to lose weight and/or get in shape. God was teaching me so much that I just felt I had to share it with my friends. It’s easy to feel alone in this struggle. Knowing there are others fighting the same fight and seeing others experience victory gives a feeling of confidence and encouragement.

Why do you think you stuck with your resolution when so many people give up? I’ve had so many failed New Year’s resolutions, but this faith-based approach was different from my previous attempts to lose weight. Instead of focusing on the outside, I started on the inside—nourishing my soul through prayer and Bible study. This has made a huge difference. It’s not just a body change. It’s a heart, mind, soul, and body change. Accountability has also made a huge difference. This is such a big deal. Wise King Solomon knew this when he wrote, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” When you stand alone, you’re more vulnerable. With a support system, you’re stronger.

What tools, routines, habits, and motivators did you find most helpful in sticking with your resolution?
Habits: I know a lot of people make a habit of asking the blessing or saying grace over their food. Beyond that, I ask God to guide my food choices and give me wisdom in what and how much to eat. It’s kind of like inviting God to the table.  
Tools: Technology! My husband asked me a few months back, “How did people lose weight before smartphones?” I have no idea! If I had a dime for every time I said, “I have this app…” I could hire a personal chef. My phone and iPad are healthy lifestyle central for me. I have my calorie tracker, workouts, stopwatches, and SparkRecipes apps, not to mention SparkPeople resources on social media and e-mail at my fingertips.
Routines: I like to set monthly mini goals. My goal for January was to stay within my calorie budget every day. February’s goal was no sodas. March’s was to exercise five days per week. Some months a mini goal involves giving something up, and sometimes it involves adding something. I know I can’t go the rest of my life without sweets or sodas, but I can change my habits one month at a time. As I learn, I can make healthier choices for my sweets and sodas. These mini goals are just stepping stones to a healthier lifestyle.
Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? Absolutely! I think everyone slips up. It’s important to not let it completely derail you. That’s where I went wrong for so many years. I’d be off to a good start and then mess up… and give up. This is where praying daily for wisdom and guidance comes in. One bad choice doesn’t have to snowball into days, weeks, or months of bad choices. Now when I mess up, I feel like I can quickly put it behind me and get back on track.

What was the hardest part about committing to your New Year’s resolution? The hardest part about this New Year’s resolution is the fact that I love food. I just enjoy eating. Unfortunately, food became my addiction. Food addiction is such a hard one to break, because it’s not like you can just stop eating. I’ve had to make it a matter of daily surrender in prayer to exercise discipline in my eating habits.

Did you experience any other benefits (improved relationships, reach other goals, improved self-image/confidence, etc.) while sticking with your resolution? Losing weight and getting in shape has not only given me a great sense of accomplishment, it has given me more energy to be the wife, mom, and employee I need to be. On a more personal note (my mom would be appalled if she knew what I was about to say!) after five kids, I struggled terribly with stress incontinence and assumed it was just something I’d have to deal with. Well, apparently it had more to do with the extra weight I was carrying than with the pregnancies/deliveries, because after losing weight, that problem went away.

What advice do you have for others who might set a similar resolution for this year?
Pray: Daily ask God for wisdom, guidance, and strength.
Plan: Plan your grocery trips so that you’ll have plenty of good choices.  Plan to exercise. Plan what you’re going to order before you get to the restaurant. Plan how you’re going to stay on track in social situations. Sometimes those plans don’t work out, but most of the time they will.
Push: Don’t be limited by what you think you can’t do or by what you’ve not been able to do in the past. Push yourself. Set an ambitious goal. I never thought I could run a 5K (seriously, on day 1 of my couch to 5K app, I thought I was going to die.) Try something new. Set a goal. Push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of.
Persevere: Don’t give up!
Now that you’ve succeeded with this resolution, have you/will you set any other goals? I’ll continue to set monthly mini goals. My main goals for 2014 are to learn to maintain my weight, incorporate more fresh veggies into my diet, and train for a 10K.

How did SparkPeople help you achieve success? SparkPeople was an invaluable resource for me on this journey. The motivational stories, articles about health and nutrition, and challenges have helped me get to this point. SparkRecipes is one of my favorite apps. Every recipe I’ve tried from this app has been delicious. Thank you, Spark People, for your commitment to helping people achieve greater health.

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Are you ready to begin using the success tips our 2013 New Year’s Resolution Keepers have offered to help you spark your way to a new you in 2014?