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How One Woman Lost 140 lbs and Became a Wellness Role Model

“It’s never too late to turn your life around.”

A weight loss journey is a very personal one. It’s more than just diet and exercise—it’s about making healthy lifestyle changes that you can stick to.

For some people, finding a weight loss strategy that works is easy. But for most, losing weight is one of the hardest challenges they’ll ever have to face. For 13 years, that was the case for Jenna Leveille.

Leveille struggled with her weight after having her first daughter. She gained 40 pounds during her pregnancy, and then 15 more after, until her weight eventually creeped up to 269 pounds.

To lose the weight, Jenna tried every diet in the book. “The diets worked, but I would just gain the weight right back. It wasn’t sustainable,” she says. After 13 years of yo-yo dieting and trying more than 50 diets, she was starting to lose hope.

It wasn’t until she landed a job working with “great-minded, healthy people” that her life began to change. She told her boss she wanted to lose weight, so he referred her to a trainer. “I was exactly where I needed to be,” she says.

Along with working with her trainer and moving regularly, she cut out sugar and followed a “no cheat” diet mentality. She says during her year-and-a-half-long weight loss journey, she only cheated about five to seven times.

A “no cheat” mentality may seem extreme, but Jenna knew herself—she knew even the slightest indulgence would send her spiraling downward. “I consider myself a food addict,” she says. She loves sugar, and knows that even one bite is dangerous territory. “One bite would lead to more, and then I’d binge later in the night,” she says.

When she did indulge, she had a weight loss reset plan for the next day. Still, her goal was to stay strict so she could finally achieve the weight loss she so longingly wanted. “Cheat less and get to your goal first. Then real life can happen,” she says.

Exercise program—check. A diet that works—check. But for Jenna, there were other aspects to her journey that were pivotal to her weight loss success. She tracked all of her progress, practiced regular self-care, and found motivation and inspiration from the support of her family and friends. To her surprise, she also found support from another source she didn’t expect: An ever-growing Instagram following.

She was posting about her weight loss journey regularly on Instagram—on both her personal account and her wellness account, Getting Closer Everyday. “Telling people, ‘this is what I ate today, this is what I’m doing every day’ helped,” she says.

As her Instagram following and support continued to grow, she realized she was inspiring others to live her healthiest as well. “It wasn’t about me anymore ... I wanted to help other people get started.” Jenna then launched a social support group called Getting Closer Everyday which helps people achieve their weight loss goals and stay accountable.

The weight was coming off, and she was feeling great—until she had an unexpected health scare. During her weight loss journey, Jenna had a hysterectomy procedure. In post-op, she needed CPR—and almost didn’t make it. “I truly believe if I was my heavier self I wouldn’t have survived that,” she says.

This near-death experience motivated her more than ever. “It gave me more momentum. You need to be your healthiest self and be ready for life’s unexpected challenges,” she says.

In a year and a half, Jenna lost a total of 140 pounds and is still working towards getting healthier and fitter every day. “Take it 10 pounds at a time. Don’t focus on the big number,” she says.

She says whether you’ve struggled with your weight for two years or 20: “It’s never too late to turn your life around.”

Duration: 1:59. Last Updated On: Oct. 19, 2018, 4:44 p.m.
Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: Oct. 19, 2018
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