Jennifer's Resolution Started from the Inside Out*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Today we share our final success story from our 2013 New Year’s Resolution Keepers.  Jennifer decided to deal with her depression by committing to a complete health makeover. Learn how she changed her outlook and her life by trying new things, setting mini goals and pushing herself beyond what she thought she was capable.
Name: Jennifer Speelman
SparkPeople username: dvokm5
Hometown: Kinston, NC
Occupation: wife, mother, teacher’s aide
Age: 41
Starting weight: 207
Current weight: 129
What was your New Year’s resolution? My New Year’s resolution was a complete health makeover: to lose weight and get in shape.

Why did you set a New Year’s resolution? I set a New Year’s resolution because I was tired of looking and feeling the way I did. I was tired all the time and felt much older than my actual age. Even worse than that was the emotional toll my lifestyle was taking. I was struggling terribly with depression. As a Christian, I knew that this life of depression, defeat, and despair was not what God wanted for me. Something had to change.  I got started on New Year’s day. Besides tracking calories, drinking lots of water, and exercising, I decided to educate myself. I started reading books that addressed health and fitness from a biblical perspective. That helped me to understand why I was where I was and how to get where I needed to be. Also, I started researching what a healthy lifestyle was all about, which is where came in.

What did you do to stay motivated? Staying motivated is every "dieter’s" struggle. I have several motivators. I pray every day that God will help me to do that right things for my body. Knowing he’s helping me along this journey is my greatest motivation. I have an awesome family. They motivate me to maintain a healthy lifestyle so that I can keep up with them and be a good role model for my children to help them avoid the struggles I’ve experienced. Also, I started an accountability/support/encouragement group on Facebook. Between my current church family and the church family where I attended before moving to North Carolina, I had so many friends who were struggling to lose weight and/or get in shape. God was teaching me so much that I just felt I had to share it with my friends. It’s easy to feel alone in this struggle. Knowing there are others fighting the same fight and seeing others experience victory gives a feeling of confidence and encouragement.

Why do you think you stuck with your resolution when so many people give up? I’ve had so many failed New Year’s resolutions, but this faith-based approach was different from my previous attempts to lose weight. Instead of focusing on the outside, I started on the inside—nourishing my soul through prayer and Bible study. This has made a huge difference. It’s not just a body change. It’s a heart, mind, soul, and body change. Accountability has also made a huge difference. This is such a big deal. Wise King Solomon knew this when he wrote, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” When you stand alone, you’re more vulnerable. With a support system, you’re stronger.

What tools, routines, habits, and motivators did you find most helpful in sticking with your resolution?
Habits: I know a lot of people make a habit of asking the blessing or saying grace over their food. Beyond that, I ask God to guide my food choices and give me wisdom in what and how much to eat. It’s kind of like inviting God to the table.  
Tools: Technology! My husband asked me a few months back, “How did people lose weight before smartphones?” I have no idea! If I had a dime for every time I said, “I have this app…” I could hire a personal chef. My phone and iPad are healthy lifestyle central for me. I have my calorie tracker, workouts, stopwatches, and SparkRecipes apps, not to mention SparkPeople resources on social media and e-mail at my fingertips.
Routines: I like to set monthly mini goals. My goal for January was to stay within my calorie budget every day. February’s goal was no sodas. March’s was to exercise five days per week. Some months a mini goal involves giving something up, and sometimes it involves adding something. I know I can’t go the rest of my life without sweets or sodas, but I can change my habits one month at a time. As I learn, I can make healthier choices for my sweets and sodas. These mini goals are just stepping stones to a healthier lifestyle.
Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? Absolutely! I think everyone slips up. It’s important to not let it completely derail you. That’s where I went wrong for so many years. I’d be off to a good start and then mess up… and give up. This is where praying daily for wisdom and guidance comes in. One bad choice doesn’t have to snowball into days, weeks, or months of bad choices. Now when I mess up, I feel like I can quickly put it behind me and get back on track.

What was the hardest part about committing to your New Year’s resolution? The hardest part about this New Year’s resolution is the fact that I love food. I just enjoy eating. Unfortunately, food became my addiction. Food addiction is such a hard one to break, because it’s not like you can just stop eating. I’ve had to make it a matter of daily surrender in prayer to exercise discipline in my eating habits.

Did you experience any other benefits (improved relationships, reach other goals, improved self-image/confidence, etc.) while sticking with your resolution? Losing weight and getting in shape has not only given me a great sense of accomplishment, it has given me more energy to be the wife, mom, and employee I need to be. On a more personal note (my mom would be appalled if she knew what I was about to say!) after five kids, I struggled terribly with stress incontinence and assumed it was just something I’d have to deal with. Well, apparently it had more to do with the extra weight I was carrying than with the pregnancies/deliveries, because after losing weight, that problem went away.

What advice do you have for others who might set a similar resolution for this year?
Pray: Daily ask God for wisdom, guidance, and strength.
Plan: Plan your grocery trips so that you’ll have plenty of good choices.  Plan to exercise. Plan what you’re going to order before you get to the restaurant. Plan how you’re going to stay on track in social situations. Sometimes those plans don’t work out, but most of the time they will.
Push: Don’t be limited by what you think you can’t do or by what you’ve not been able to do in the past. Push yourself. Set an ambitious goal. I never thought I could run a 5K (seriously, on day 1 of my couch to 5K app, I thought I was going to die.) Try something new. Set a goal. Push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of.
Persevere: Don’t give up!
Now that you’ve succeeded with this resolution, have you/will you set any other goals? I’ll continue to set monthly mini goals. My main goals for 2014 are to learn to maintain my weight, incorporate more fresh veggies into my diet, and train for a 10K.

How did SparkPeople help you achieve success? SparkPeople was an invaluable resource for me on this journey. The motivational stories, articles about health and nutrition, and challenges have helped me get to this point. SparkRecipes is one of my favorite apps. Every recipe I’ve tried from this app has been delicious. Thank you, Spark People, for your commitment to helping people achieve greater health.

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Are you ready to begin using the success tips our 2013 New Year’s Resolution Keepers have offered to help you spark your way to a new you in 2014?

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Great article! Report
THANK YOU Jennifer for sharing your faith-based journey and your book recommendations. I also appreciate your 4 "P's." Blessings! Report
Hi Jennifer, Thanks for your awesome accomplishment and story. I live in Goldsboro and alone except for my loving pets. I am starting again as I have many times on sparkpeople. I tried the sparkteams but I found not much going on the threads. I am also a Christian and read 2 daily weight loss devotions and 2 Christian inspirational devotions and my Bible daily. I like the idea of just starting with one goal for a month. I hope to reach my goal by Jan 2016 or sooner. I use a treadmill daily but not all at one time, hoping to get in over 40 minutes a day and not as fast and not without holding I know I have to get better at it to get more results. I live in Goldsboro and work full time in an office by myself and that is an advantage all by itself when it comes to less stress on the job. I don't really have any support except Jesus but have to believe that is enough. I only go on Spark to read all the success stories and be encouraged. My goal is to get on Spark daily. When I eat sandwiches now, I only eat an open faced with one slice and that is cutting back some. Well just wanted to share my beginning journey and pray you are still in great health and doing well. God Bless you and your family. Off to church I go..... Report
Jennifer, thank you for sharing your tips. You are right, God is our main source of inspiration, if we will just use Him and the example He set with His Son, who died for our sins. I like the idea of setting the mini-goals. I, too, have found that if I schedule my exercise, plan my food, and not beat up on myself, but remember that I am God's Girl, I do a lot better. Keep up the good work. P.S. I am a North Carolinian myself....Rocky Mount area, so we are neighbors! ;-) GaiLight Report
Can you share what biblically-based books you read? Report
Wonderful & very inspiring!! Thank You for your story! Report
thank you so much for your inspiring story and how you lost your weight. You look great !!!! Report
Your journey is truly an inspiration to me. I know I can reach my goal with the help of the Lord. I am determine to make healthy choices and keep exercise in my life. I want to live long and be strong in my latter years. Thanks again and I know you are still blessing others by the resolution you made. God really does make the difference. Report
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your inspirational story. To those who asked about the books you read. I too found Made to Crave very helpful. I would add the book My True Reflection by Leigh-Ann Brisbin. In the first half she shares her 19 year struggle with anorexia. In the second half she tells how she turned to her faith to recover from this near death obsession and to deal with ongoing health issues. Report
You inspired me tonight! It has been a rough two years and i am just getting back to taking care of myself through clean eating and exercise. I had an ah-ha moment a few weeks back when i realized that i wasn't asking God to help me make good choices when it came to food. You reminded me of that tonight and i thank you! You look fabulous! Report
What an excellent message. As 2015 is just 3 days away I will remember this and use it as a guide for myself. I know in my mind all of the things to loose weight, but have difficulty putting in into action.. I also know that God is with me if I will only let him in. Report
Amen! Thank you for sharing your testimony. Very inspiring and encouraging. Be blessed. Report
I would like to be able to get to Jennifer's spark page, or at least have her tell me the names of some of the books that addressed health and fitness from a biblical perspective. Is there a w ay to do that? Report
This is exactly what I needed to hear today! Thank you, and may God continue to bless you and keep you! Report
Well done!! You are an inspiration!!! Congrats!!! Report
Great work - congratulations Report
What a beautiful witness to the power of God.
Congratulations!!! Report
Thank you so much for sharing this inspirational and motivating story! God reminded me that gluttony is a sin and HE and I embarked on this journey...I am so thankful for the Lord and thank you for sharing this and reminding me that HE is with me every step of the way! Report
I am also a 59 year old grandmother and God has strengthened me as I invited him to the table on Thanksgiving 2013. I have always prayed and been a strong believer but I struggled for years because I love food. I live alone so I was eating out too much so as I prayed on Thanksgiving I began to get revelation about my choices and with the help of God and Spark people I have lost 42 lbs in 4 mths. Praise God and thank you SparkPeople for sparking my life. Report
It kind of feels like it's been a plateau for over a year. The diabetes makes it a slower process but bit is nice to be under 150.... Report
Thanks so much for your inspirational story. I am a 59 year grandmother of four, and I have struggled with my weight since age 40. Eighteen months ago, I was 14 pounds away from my goal weight. My husband had a near death experience and was very ill off and on until about three months ago. I did a lot of emotional eating. Prior to that I did reach by Weight Watcher goal weight; however, I gained it all back. It has been a real struggle. I have all of the tools, and I now see that I need to invite God to the table. Thanks again for your message. Report
Very inspirational! I like the monthly mini goal idea and asking God about food guidance. Thank you for sharing! Report
Thank you so much!! You are an inspiration! Report
You look great. Thanks for sharing your story. Report
This is exactly the success story that I needed to read today! I have been praying for God's guidance during my journey. Inviting Him to the table at every meal is a great idea. God has blessed my life so richly and I know that He is with me every step and every bit of the way! I'm so happy to see the work that He had done in your life!!! Report
thank you so much for sharing.. you look great. :-) Report
Thanks for telling your inspirational story. Very relatable and practical. Report
Thank you, you are an inspiration! I especially loved reading about your a giggle when you said you thought you would die on the first day of your C25K...I am working on a C25K and it is slow going but I am pushing myself and making it happen, one day at a time! Report
Well said!! Thank you! Report
Your story was so inspiring to read. I love how you put the focus on God and prayer. It was a reminder for me to do the same instead of just doing what I want. I want to become the person God wants me to be. Congratulations on becoming a new you! Report
Thank you all for your responses. Nancyanne1956, the books I referenced were Made to Crave and Craving God, both by Lysa TerKeurst, and Uncommon Vessels and Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits, both by Elyse Fitzpatrick. The first two overlap a bit and the last two overlap a bit. Report
Like Rawcookie, I almost didn't read all of this because of the Christian aspect, but I ended up finding your story very inspiring nonetheless. For those that believe, prayer and faith can be wonderful and powerful tools for success that shouldn't be dismissed by those that don't share that faith. For those of us that don't pray, I think there is still a valuable take-away in Jennifer's story. In place of prayer, I think daily meditation and contemplation on our goals could be extremely beneficial in helping us achieve them by making us more mindful of what we put in our mouths and how much we are moving. Support groups, planning, and challenging yourself are definitely keys to succeeding on this heath and fitness journey!

Congratulations on your weight loss and fitness successes, Jennifer, keep up the awesome job, and thank you for sharing your inspiring story! You're amazing! Report
I almost didn't read this once I saw that it was based on a Christian belief in God.............. but I did, and I'm glad I did. Your determination to use your faith to support your journey was great - and I have a non-Christian faith which I tend not to use for my own health & fitness goals - but I like what you said about praying every day to make wise and healthy choices. Thank you x Report
Your blog inspired me, I now believe I'm on the right track. I am struggling with depression, lack of self-worth. Since losing my husband to Cancer, I just don't know where to go next and what purpose my life serves. Last year I was guided to a local church, and have found the community there very helpful.

I wish the blog contained a link or list to guide me to the books she referenced as being helpful to her.

Thank you for your encouragement. Report
Your blog really inspired me! God bless you! I will start inviting God to show me what to eat! Pray, Plan. Push and Persevere! I need to add this to my vocabulary. Report
Great blog. Thanks so much for sharing. And I LOVE that God was/so integral to your success. Report
What an inspirational story! I can see how faith can be such a huge aspect of the weight loss journey, and your story has reminded me how important it is to do everything with an attitude of prayer. Report
Congrats, Jennifer! I loved your story and I am hoping mine with take a similar path(started 1/1/14). Just this morning, while I was running on the treadmill(for 1 min-walked the rest), I kept repeating the prayers, "Hail Mary" & the "Our Father". Good luck on maintaining & your new goals~ Report
Way to go, Jennifer! and Way to go, Sparkpeople for not hindering her from speaking honestly about her faith! This is an awesome story of the benefits that come from persevering and reaching your health goals. Yay for no more depression! Report
This woman is confirms God's loving kindness...and my journey is spurred on by His constant attention and love. We are flawed people but He is consumed with us even with our flaws. Congrats on learning to lean on Him to shed the weight. Also, I will take on my friends as accountability and not burdens since reading this article.

Thank you for your candid responses it truly encouraged me. Report
Excellent! Congrats to you! You look fabulous! Report
Great blog. Thanks Report