Working out and eating right is one thing – but actually loving the exercise is the golden ticket. Jessica found that through running. This is her story:
I was in a pretty dark spot in 2003: suffering from OCD and severe anxiety, I was on daily medication that turned me into a person I knew wasn’t truly me. But when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I realized that the only way to beat the odds and pull through my issues was to listen to my body and treat it with the respect it deserves.
I began to work out and eat right.
I try to stick to an “everything in moderation” rule. Breakfast is usually a smoothie with protein powder, kale or spinach, banana, almond milk, and frozen fruit. Lunch is the usual stuff: a sandwich or salad, but I try to stay away from refined sugars, white bread, bagels, etc. My snack between lunch and dinner is usually a Quest bar or some almonds or fruit depending on what I’m craving. Dinner is a protein like chicken or turkey burgers (without the bun) with salsa or fish. For starches I’ll have whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. I’ve also recently discovered roasted veggies and can’t stop making them. Broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts — you name it, I’ll toss it in salt and pepper and olive oil and roast it. One thing they probably won’t say in the diet books: I don’t skip dessert! I always have a little something like a Hershey’s kiss or a sugar-free pudding cup because once I feel like I’m “dieting” and depriving myself, I totally crash and go the opposite way into binge territory.
Within the first 4 months I dropped my first 40 lbs and was hooked. After that, I started taking classes at the gym and tried everything from yoga to kickboxing and dancing, shedding the weight slowly but steadily. Then I found running and that’s when I found my passion!
Where I used to hate running, I uncovered a new love for the sport, and dropped the majority of the rest of my weight that way. I ran my first 5K race in 2010 and haven’t looked back, even after tearing my ACL at mile 12 of the Atlantic City Half Marathon in 2012! I was crushed to have to take almost 8 months off while I recovered from reconstructive surgery. Re-learning how to run – and how to train smart – was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In the nearly 3 years since my surgery, I’ve run 5 more half marathons and countless other races, including my first sprint triathlon this summer. But more importantly, I’ve learned that doing what matters to me is the best thing I can do for myself. And what I want to do is RUN!
I am by no means the fastest (my current half marathon PR is 2:50), but I always run with a smile, and I’m always looking for new ways to share my story with others!