On a warm, sunny spring day, the city of Boston is a beautiful sight to behold, especially in the area known as the Back Bay. Here, the Boston Public Garden is adorned with colorful flowers and a sparkling pond welcomes visitors cruising in a swan-shaped boat.
Charlotte Jensen soaked up these sights on her 2013 trip to metropolitan New England, wandering through the gardens before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Wearing a polyester jersey in preparation for the game, she started to sweat a little – and then it got worse.
“I was in the middle of all these glorious flowers, and all I could think about was how hot and uncomfortable I felt, even though it was only 65 degrees,” She recalled. At the time, Jensen weighed 310 pounds, and the experience was a wake-up call for the 6-foot-1-inch tall Virginia resident. The final straw occurred the next day at the airport.
“When I got on the plane, I kind of hid my seatbelt extender because I’m always embarrassed to need one,” she said.” I just had a moment where I thought, ‘I’m not going to do this again. I don’t want to be this person anymore.’ By the time I got home, I was finally ready to make a huge change.”
She said Jensen has actually been trim since she was a child. Her family has always been very health and nutrition conscious, so meals have always consisted of lean proteins and vegetables. However, after graduating from college and getting married, she got a job in human resources that required plenty of time to sit at a desk.
As a result of her busy schedule, she and her husband began to rely on restaurant meals more often than before, and their weight began to creep up.
“I was never in a yo-yo spot,” she says.” It was more like a big bell curve; it just steadily increased over a number of years. And the higher it got, the less satisfied I was with myself. But for some reason, I never found the motivation I needed. I knew what I had to do to lose weight, I just didn’t want to do it.”
During a checkup, Jensen discussed the situation with her doctor, especially since she was on blood pressure medication, and asked him why he wasn’t having a hard time with her weight. He told her she had to prepare herself emotionally and psychologically, and she didn’t seem to be ready for it at all.
“Then I realized how true his words were,” she says.” Once I made the decision, it actually became very easy.” She searched for calorie counters online, found MyFitnessPal, and decided to try it for a few days. Fortunately, those few days turned into a habit and she’s been tracking nutrition for 2,297 days (and counting!) .
Sixteen months later, she achieved her goal of losing 150 pounds. More than three years later, she’s still tracking every day, and she calls her daily log-in a “badge of honor.”
“MyFitnessPal is as much a part of me as it is my friends and family, and I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have reached – and maintained – my goals without it,” says Jensen.” I’m in maintenance mode, so it’s a little easier, but I still use it to stay on track.”
Because she travels for work, has her “cheat days” on the weekends, and just loves good food, she says MyFitnessPal helps her balance it all out.
“I’ll never be the epitome of healthy eating habits; skipping indulgent foods doesn’t work for me,” says Jensen.” On the other hand, my body has become accustomed to better, healthier food, and I crave it even more now. I really look forward to eating a big bowl of broccoli and chicken.”
Losing weight has also brought other realizations, she adds, making her more aware of the type of emotional issues that caused her to gain weight in the first place.
“Somewhere along the way, you realize that reaching your weight goal isn’t the end, it’s just a milestone in the process,” she said. In terms of advice for others starting from where she did, Jensen has one piece of advice. Book a vacation.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s happening to you when you’re in the middle of your daily stresses and habits,” she says.” Once you’re away from your routine, you may become clearer. And that can make all the difference.”