Name: Jessica Whitehead
Job: Director of sales for a technology company
Weight before: 156kg
Weight after: 65kg
Jessica Whitehead was never one to pass up a good time – especially if food was involved.
For years she met friends every night for dinner, ordering the largest sizes and add-ons: extra cheese on her pizza, extra mayo on her overstuffed sandwiches and a side of chips with her meal.
“Eating big and trying everything was symbolic of success and living my life fully,” Whitehead says. But if someone asked her to play volleyball or go skiing, she always opted out because she feared her weight – which peaked at 156kg – would prevent her from participating.
“I was embarrassed,” she says. I felt I couldn’t do those things.”
In July 2005, Whitehead’s luggage was lost on a trip to France.
For two days, she shopped for clothes to wear on the holiday, but it quickly became clear that none of the stores carried her size [at the time, it was 36].
“An entire country doesn’t even acknowledge people like me; they don’t believe people my size exist,” she remembers thinking. Finally comprehending her unhealthy condition, Whitehead resolved to lose weight when she returned home.
Whitehead traded her excessive eating habits for a high-protein diet, and began reading food labels and learning portion control.
She eventually joined a gym and hired a personal trainer, who created a program that blended cardio and circuit training.
Six days a week, she walked or ran the 2.5km from home to the gym, did her workout and hoofed it back.
In just two weeks she dropped 11kg.
Motivated by her results, Whitehead began tweaking her gym routine every six weeks to bust through plateaus, and began spreading her energy intake out over six small meals a day.
With the scales down to 86kg by February 2007, Whitehead began experimenting more in the kitchen, finding new ways to add vegies to her favourite chicken and fish dinners. She kept her TV off so she wouldn’t watch while she ate.
“I wanted to sit down and actually enjoy what I was eating,” she says. By May 2008, she was a toned 65kg.
Today, “living large” to Whitehead means hiking, rock climbing and running 5km fun runs. “I’m making up for lost time. I’m not going to waste a minute of my new life,” she says. And now she’s 90kg lighter, nothing seems impossible.
“I’ve accomplished the one thing I thought I could never do – lose weight and be fit and active and truly healthy – so now I know I can do anything.”