How she did it: Running to lose weight

How she did it: Running to lose weight

Photography by John Hryniuk Image by: Photography by John Hryniuk Author: Canadian Living


How she did it: Running to lose weight

Jackie Gibb
Age: 39
Lost: 100 pounds
Occupation: Stay-at-home in Sarnia, ON.
Time period: September 2009-December 2012
Height: 5'3½"
Weight loss: 266 to 166 pounds
Pant size: From size 26 to 10

Where she started
Jackie Gibb was always "the chubby kid." Growing up on a farm, Jackie was active (she even showed horses), but she ate unconsciously and none of the weight-loss programs her loving mom enrolled her in worked. As an adult, it was the same story. Her doctors warned her about the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (she'd had gestational diabetes during both of her pregnancies), but she remained around 266 pounds.

Jackie also worried about setting a bad example for her two small children. "Growing up, I was self-conscious," she says. "I didn't want my little girl to have those feelings in relation to weight, or to feel like she was being held back from anything. I didn't want her to experience the hurt that I did."

How she did it
When her daughter was two, Jackie started going for walks at night. She lost 30 pounds in four months, but when she hit a plateau, she took a deep breath and walked into her local GoodLife Fitness gym. She settled on a three-day-per-week schedule.

"It took away a lot of stress," says Jackie, "because I was like, ‘OK, I can do three days. It's not even half the week.' For a year, that is what I did." She lost another 50 pounds, made gym friends, and, with their encouragement, began working out every day and even hired a personal trainer.

She started a food diary to understand her habits, cut out regular bread and processed foods and started eating five to six smaller meals per day, combining lean protein and complex carbs. After three years at the gym, a friend gave Jackie a pretty black cocktail dress. "I just couldn't get that last zip done up!" She threw herself into her workouts and super-clean eating. She had eight weeks until her husband's office Christmas party. "And it fit! My first ever LBD, size 12!"

Where is she now
Jackie still goes to the gym five days per week, doing either an hour of cardio or an hour of strength training. On weekends, the family gets active together: cycling, swimming or tobogganing.

Jackie participates in charity runs and in October she even began training to become a gym instructor.

Best of all, Jackie feels like a role model for her daughter. "It's the most amazing feeling to be able to go into a store and not have to go into the plus-sizes."

Lessons she learned
"It's not about the number on the scale," says Jackie. "It's about how your clothes fit, and how you feel."

She plans ahead now—she'll pack a cooler for road trips and stock the fridge with healthful foods. Yet treats aren't off the menu. "Don't tell yourself you're going to eat salad at Christmas dinner," she says. "It's OK to allow for extra indulgences—we're human! If you try to go way beyond the scope of what you can do, the feeling of failure comes in."

Pro tips
Jackie set herself up for success by starting with daily walks. Changing things up when she hit a plateau was also a good move, and her gym commitment was realistic.

I caution Jackie not to overtrain: Forty-five-minute workouts are effective without causing excessive stress on the body. Moving forward, I would recommend Jackie try Pilates or yoga to balance out the cardio.

Becoming a fitness instructor is a great way to stay motivated and help motivate others, especially since Jackie is proof that hard work pays off. I would recommend certification through a reputable governing body, such as Can-FitPro, and trying classes by different instructors at different gyms so that she can develop her own personal style.

-Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg, athletic therapist and personal trainer.

For more weight loss inspiration, learn about how one woman lost the weight one push-up at a time.
This story was originally titled "Working It Out" in the January 2014 issue.
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How she did it: Running to lose weight