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My name is Antoinette Jensen (@netjfitness), and I am 34 years old. I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and I am the owner and operator of NetJFitness. I decided to lose weight as a New Year’s resolution and began with WW. Then, I transitioned to my own low-carb, high-protein way of eating and workouts, and I’ve kept over 60 pounds off.

Before I began my weight-loss journey, alli fda aproved diet drug I lacked confidence, motivation, and self-esteem. I hid in my house to avoid being seen by anyone who had known me before I gained weight. My self-isolation and lack of confidence was starting to affect my marriage and friendships. At 26, I hit my heaviest weight of 200 pounds.

While it might sound cliché, beginning my journey was a New Year’s resolution.

I had reflected on the past year and realized that it had consisted of going to work, then immediately coming home to just sit in the house with my husband and kids. I decided that night that I had had enough. I was going to start working on making myself feel and look better. It was 2012, and I was 26 at the time.

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Initially, I had signed up for Weight Watchers (now called WW). I had shared my desire to lose weight with one of my co-workers, and she invited me to join a WW group at our workplace. During our weekly lunch meetings, I learned how to ensure my meals were nutritious and portioned correctly, I was able to get healthy recipes and make healthy food substitutions, and was able to track my weight to see what impacts these changes made to my body.

I’m extremely grateful for the WW point system—it was easy to follow, and I learned about the basics of eating in a calorie deficit without obsessing over counting calories.

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I no longer follow WW. Instead, I just stick to a low-carb, high-protein diet.

I also focus on portion control, and I log all my foods in the MyFitnessPal app to keep track of calorie and nutrient intake.

Here’s what I eat in a day:

  • Breakfast: Eggs with turkey sausage
  • Lunch: Turkey meatballs with sweet potato hash
  • Snacks: Fresh fruit
  • Dinner: Salmon paired with asparagus
  • Dessert: Cookies and Crème Premier Protein shake

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After the initial weight loss that I experienced from the WW program, I knew adding exercise would only increase the results I was seeing.

Initially, I attended Zumba class at a local fitness center. I’m thankful for my supportive husband who attended the classes with me for months until I felt comfortable. Once I became comfortable, I then sought the help of a personal trainer who showed me new exercises.

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Currently, I work out six days a week for at least 90 minutes each day. I begin my workouts with a three-mile run. I alternate each day between working upper body and lower body, utilizing high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

I also enjoy strength training. After researching and trying different workouts programs and exercises, I found that I loved how my body reacted to lifting and targeted body sculpting.

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It took me two years to get to my overall goal of losing 61 pounds, and I have successfully kept the weight off for 8 years.

During the two years I was actively working to lose weight, there were stretches of time where I did not lose any weight for weeks, or I gained weight. There were times where I indulged for days and weeks at a time. However, I never lost sight of my goal and the reasons why I wanted to lose weight and get healthier.

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To maintain my weight, I set goals each month. This helped me stay focused. A few examples of my goals:

  • Lowering my mile time
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Doing one outdoor workout per week
  • Trying new group fitness classes

I also take *a lot* of pictures. Doing so has helped me identify my body composition changes, and it’s a great reminder that change is happening even if the scale isn’t moving.

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These three behavior changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

  • I created a routine. This was necessary for me to be successful. Out of convenience, I began going to the gym first thing in the morning. I would be at the gym at 5:00 a.m., so I could start my day off with a workout and still be home in time to help get my three children ready for school. Also, prioritizing the beginning of my day to my workouts reduces the likelihood that I will find an excuse not to go to the gym.
  • I set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Each month I set out to create a goal for myself that was S.M.A.R.T.—that means they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and had a timeline. For example, when I decided to train for a half marathon, I had given myself 12 weeks to prepare for the race. I set a goal to run a set number of miles each week, I tracked my pace and time for each run. This allowed me to measure my progress and make sure that I was on track to be successful in reaching my goal of running a half marathon. I did complete my first half in 2019, in one hour and 57 minutes.
  • I made healthy food swaps. I completely cut out zero-nutrition foods, like sodas, cookies, etc. My family and I also made other substitutes, such as switching hamburgers to turkey burgers, switching from 2 percent milk to skim milk, and making sure that there is at least one serving of vegetables with lunches and dinners.

My life has changed in ways far beyond just losing weight.

My weight loss allowed me to understand that I am important, that it is okay to give myself permission to take care of me. Creating a routine to take care of myself is not being selfish—it’s self-care, and I need it.

I have regained my confidence and discovered a new passion for fitness. However, the upsides do not come all at once. I found that you have to take the time to celebrate the little wins and changes. The goal is progress, not perfection.

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