12/31/2013 08:57 EST | Updated 03/02/2014 05:59 EST

How I Kept My New Year's Resolution and Lost 70 Pounds


The year I turned 40, I felt like I was having a health crisis. After having had five babies back-to-back, I was at my heaviest weight ever -- and the most unhealthy self I had ever been. When ascending a flight of stairs caused knee pain due to my excessive weight, I knew that I had to do something or my health would continue to decline. I was also embarrassed: strangers would ask me when I was due with my "baby," and my family was also on eternal pregnancy watch with me. I had no one to blame but myself.

On December 31 2012, I made a New Year's resolution to myself and my family. I resolved that we would do our best to eat healthy foods, smaller portions, cut out prepared foods, fast food and junkfood -- and to increase the family's activity level.

What pushed me to make this health and fitness resolution, was that my kids were beginning to emulate my poor eating habits and low activity levels. I was too heavy to be properly active with the kids, and they in turn were becoming sedentary creatures.

I took damage control on that night: 5'8", 215 lbs, and a size 14 clothing. I was one step away from not fitting into clothes sold in conventional stores. I was a chocoholic, fast food- and junkfood-lover, with aversions to fruits, veggies, and most healthy foods. This was not going to be easy, but there was too much at stake to fail.

I purged the entire house of all junkfood, as at the time I could not eat moderately. I did a big shop with lots of fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, fish and chicken that I could cook into nutritious, home-made meals. I started to implement a strategy of adding at least one fruit and one veggie to each of the family's meals for better nutrition. I started reading food labels and cutting out salt.

The next day, I pondered how to increase my activity level with five kids (ages two to seven) at home, in the dead of a frigid Canadian winter. I decided to take the kids tobogganing, as the sidewalks were icy and snow-covered. For the next six weeks I took the kids sledding every single day for one hour, and I lost 15 lbs! Believe it or not, you burn 476 calories per hour just by tobogganing! Of course, the kids and I had lots of fun together too.

When the sidewalks had thawed, I walked every single day for one hour -- and pushed my toddlers in a double baby stroller. I bundled up the kids very well, and we all had a great time. If the weather was too cold, we would walk indoors at the local mall and do the full circuit. Weight continued to fall off me, and my body was feeling lighter and more limber.

Two months after having made my New Year's resolution, I decided to get a family membership at the local YMCA. I decided to work out three times per week, for one hour at a time, in order to tone up and slim down. I made my routine simple: 30 minutes of elliptical and 30 minutes on the treadmill. It was not difficult at all, as I went at my own pace and did my best.

Eventually, I added other machines to my repertoire at the YMCA, took exercise classes, and swam on occasion. I continued to take daily walks on my non-gym days. In the meantime, the kids were signed up for weekly swimming lessons at the "Y" and staying active.

Six months later we moved houses and had to leave the YMCA, but by that time, I was able to self-regulate my daily exercise and food intake. I continued on with daily exercise outdoors with my kids, who were also eating nutritiously and looking fit and healthy. The whole family, including my husband, was feeling much better.

AFTER Jenna Em

A year has passed since I first made a New Year's resolution to myself and my family to eat better and stay active, and I have succeeded! In these 12 months, I have lost 70 lbs, four clothing sizes and I am looking and feeling much better. I am now lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight nine years ago! True to my word, my family now eats in a healthy fashion and we are regularly active as a family!

It has been a big boost to my self-confidence to have shed so many pounds due to a simple New Year's resolution. People who have not seen me in one year's time cannot believe how drastically different I look; some say I look like an entirely different person -- I know I feel like one. I had to purchase a whole new wardrobe to fit my new body size, as my former clothing was swimming on me. A stranger in a grocery store remarked how good I look, (considering I have five kids). I just laughed that one off.

My New Year's resolution for 2014 is simple: to continue eating well and staying active as a family. I hope to find a new gym and tone up in the new year, which would equate to losing an additional five to 10 lbs.

Here's a message of encouragement for anyone looking to make the same New Year's resolution: If this mother of five could make a major lifestyle change at age 40-years old, you can surely do it too! The first week is the most difficult, but each week only gets easier and easier! You will be glad that you made this lifestyle change and never regret it. Even greater, you will look and feel much better and gain confidence in yourself!

BEFORE Size: Size 14

AFTER Size: Size 6

Sizes Lost: 4

BEFORE Weight: 215 lbs

AFTER Weight: 145 lbs

Pounds Lost: 70 lbs

Did you make a New Year's resolution this year? Are you trying to get fit and eat better?


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