As regular readers of this blog can attest, I’ve sometimes used this platform to vent about my dieting triumphs and tribulations. Because I feel that dieting is such a quintessential part of my blog (and my life), I’ve created a special page for it: On Diets & Other Disasters which lists all dieting-related posts.
I spent over a year shaking off 8kg of pregnancy and post-pregnancy pig-outs, followed by a further 4-6kg of post-married travel indulgences which I’d been carrying around for four years before falling pregnant. It was a long, hard slog, filled with cheating, going off the rails, getting back on the bike, trying new diets, taking up running again, personal training, you name it… I tried most things. Unfortunately, before I fell pregnant for the second time, I was still around 4 – 7kg and plenty of toning away from my goal weight and my dream body. I sometimes look wistfully at the bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the back of the drinks cupboard that I have vowed to myself I won’t touch until I reach my ultimate goal weight one day… and wonder if I should just pop the damn thing already…
But in December last year I saw a picture of an acquaintance and Facebook friend, on Facebook, that completely blew my mind. Jennilynn Barnard announced proudly to her friends that since April 2012, she had shed 20kg. When I saw a picture of Jen sporting her new, smoking hot body, I changed my goal: I will not crack open that bottle of Veuve until I look like Jennilynn. Here’s what Jen looked like before her transformation at 76kg (she is 1.62m tall):
And here’s what she looks like now:
Pretty impressive, huh? And this is a REAL person whom I actually know.
I’ve always been a sucker for a good, inspirational weight loss story, but to see someone that I know make such a transformation got me so excited that I asked Jen if I could “interview” her for my blog. This is her story in a nutshell:
I met Jen in Stellenbosch in November 2010 when we were both bridesmaids at a mutual friend’s wedding. At the time, she probably weighed somewhere between 65kg and 67kg and she looked pretty good. As the talk between four bridesmaids and a bride invariably would, it turned to the topic of weight. Over the few days I spent in Jen’s company, she often referred to times when she was much skinnier and I could sense that although she did not look particularly overweight, her weight really bothered her. She also told us that she had gained around 10kg in recent years, mostly the result of losing her beloved dog, Holly, and also as a result of hormone treatment she needed to take whilst she was an egg donor (which she hastens to add was an incredibly rewarding experience despite the negative aspect of weight gain).
But when I interviewed Jen this year, she told me that she has struggled with her weight since she was 18 (she turns 31 this month), she’s always been an emotional eater, she has tried every quick-fix diet known to man, she has lost weight, picked it all up again and then some more when going off the diet… and has just generally had an unhealthy relationship with food. After Jen got married in 2011, she gained a fair amount of weight (eventually getting her to 76kg in 2012) through her and her husband’s love affair with take aways – they’d apparently work hard all day and get take-aways at least five times a week.
One morning, Jen and her husband, Ashley, were watching SABC 3’s magazine show, Expresso. The show was calling for entrants into the USN Body Makeover Challenge. Ashley turned to her and said what no man in his right mind should EVER say to the love of his life:
“You should try that, honey!”
Jen was understandably livid, wanting to know if he thought she was fat, if he thought her body needed a makeover, etc, etc. Still fuming a few days later, she relayed this experience to a friend. I can only assume that this friend of Jen’s is either practically a sister or had recently experienced a severe blow to the head, because, instead of making Jen feel better about her body, she proceeded to show her a recent photograph, declaring:
“See how much weight you’ve put on since you got married, my friend?”
Fortunately, this didn’t cause Jen to knock her friend to the floor. Instead, she bravely absorbed this girl’s words and decided to go straight to USN’s web-site to download their twelve week diet and exercise plan. Over a five month period from April to September 2012, Jen lost around 10kg – a great, steady, but intense weight loss achievement, if you ask me. She says there were times when she wasn’t all that strict, particularly during a two-week overseas trip near the beginning of her diet when she went off the rails and regained most of the starting weight that she had lost. But when she returned home to Somerset West, she got back on track and achieved her 10kg weight loss. During this time, Jen mostly followed the eating plan on USN’s site. She also religiously followed their gym programme – going from someone who loathed doing resistance training to absolutely loving it – and she finally had the confidence to take up dancing again which she’d given up at the age of 20. (She now does weight training three to four times a week and cardio three times a week.)
Then came Expresso and USN’s call for Cape Town entrants for their annual challenge. From September to November, Jen went into competition mode, not drinking one drop of alcohol, as one example and she lost an incredible 10.5kg in only three months – the greatest loss of all the Cape Town contestants.
That was when Jen started mentioning her amazing transformation on Facebook and posting pictures of her shoot as one of the competition finalists, looking absolutely fabulous in a bikini on Camps Bay Beach. Despite being married to Ashley, a total beach junkie, Jen hated the beach because she never wanted to be seen in a bikini. Only eight months later, she was being interviewed in her bikini on national TV! And she looked phenomenal. In the lead-up to the announcement of the winner, I followed all Jen’s posts on Facebook, watched all her interviews on You Tube, voted for her and eagerly awaited the announcement of the winner on the Expresso show one Friday morning in December. I was so excited when she won, I was practically in tears. Of course I was biased because I know her, but I really felt like she had made the most impressive transformation and therefore wholly deserved to win.
Well done on your win, Jen, and, most importantly, on your amazing new body! And thank you for sharing your story with me… Here is a video clip of Jen describing (in her bikini, of course) how she and her dog, Seba, both trimmed down: