Welcome to the How They Did It series, where we spotlight one individual and their body transformation. Learn what they did, and how they did it to succeed at their weight loss journey. Today we are featuring Jackie Chilard.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I’m 55 but feel 35, which is a little crazy since my son is approaching his 35th birthday! I work out most days of the week as I’m still trying to lose the last few pounds. I work in accounts so am desk bound during the day, and as the time for the gym approaches I feel happier and more motivated! I see a personal trainer once a week, although I would prefer twice a week. I go to classes and work out in the gym, depending on what mood I’m in, and the time classes are available. I’ve taken up swimming recently and want to build up my stamina. I go indoor rock climbing which is a blast. There is something very satisfying about overcoming your phobias! I’m single and my mother lives with me, she has been an absolute rock and super support for me, from cooking me turkey breast to washing my gym clothes while I’m at work.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
Two years ago I was literally waiting to die. I smoked 25 a day, weighed 20 stone and did nothing but watch television. My blood pressure was too high, even on all the medication I was taking. I used to be fit, but that was before my thyroid started to fail. I had given up, I had thrown my life in the cupboard under the stairs and then threw old shoes and junk on top. When my feet started swelling and even wearing flat shoes was becoming painful, I had to make a change. I started out walking every day and cutting down on food – I no longer eat an evening meal because my body just can’t take it. My under-active thyroid means I have to work incredibly hard to lose one pound and keep it off.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
I believe in eating as clean as possible for as long as possible, but also believe in not beating myself up if I have the odd treat. I am not a food nazi but I am aware when I’m putting chemicals and other crap in my body that are going to reduce my chances of reaching my goals. I have to be honest about it otherwise it could all slip away, like it did before. I eat a breakfast of either scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast, or porridge oats with yoghurt and a banana. It sets me up for the day. I avoid processed meats and anything full of chemicals and preservatives.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
Exercise is NOT a punishment! It’s the reward you give yourself for taking your life back. If my trainer wants me to try something, and tells me I can do it, I’m not going to whine, I’m going to kick its ass and rock it! I love the challenge, I love the changing shape of my body, my muscles, and the way I look in clothes. That’s the pay off for sweat and hard work! When I began, I found it really tough to find workout clothes that were big enough – I was a size 22 at that point, having come down from a size 24. Now I love buying attractive workout clothes that fit my size 12 body and show off my shape. In the beginning I knew I looked ridiculous, but I also knew it would change, and in fact, it was irrelevant to what I wanted to do. I suppose you could say I just Zenned it all out of my thoughts, and got on with it!
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
Be positive, don’t whine, don’t kid yourself. I gave up smoking at the same time as beginning this transformation, which for most people seems an impossible thing. I knew I couldn’t work out if my lungs were useless from all the cigarettes, and I knew I couldn’t lose weight if I gave up smoking…so I used every trick in the book: hypnotism which gave me the courage to try, patches during the day, a suck on a nicotine sweet or gum at lunchtime, and a big treat of a couple of puffs on an inhalator at night, which made me feel I was being rewarded. Every lunchtime for the first couple of months, I would just have a protein diet shake for lunch, and immediately get up and walk 3 miles so I was breaking all those habit smokes. It worked.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
Feeling sorry for themselves, feeling embarrassed about how they look in the gym, and wanting to achieve too much too soon. I have lost count of the people who have asked me “what diet did you use” as if there is a magic bullet out there that gives you a sweat-and-hunger free route to weight loss. Don’t be lazy, and don’t give up. Just like with cigarettes, when it gets hard, don’t pick a fight with someone just so you can rush off and indulge again. Be honest about the tricks you are playing to avoid success.
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster. For a lot of us who gained weight despite knowing about nutrition and health, a lot of that extra weight is a form of protection, like an emotional wall, it’s there to protect us from taking a chance on life and risking hurt and failure. When you lose the weight, you lose some of that protection, so take your courage and move forward. Don’t listen to people who tell you “don’t go too far!” They are usually just skin and gristle themselves! Some people will be supportive and enthusiastic for you, and encourage you all the way, and some will try to sabotage you.
Stay true to your goal, envisage how you want to look – and how you want to feel – and ignore everyone who is not an expert in nutrition and exercise! Hold your stomach in and walk like you mean it!