When Jacki Roberts’ nephew, Kolton, was born eight years ago, she started thinking about how amazing the human body is. But then she felt a little sad. At 510 pounds, she was too unhealthy to have a child. In fact, she worried her weight would prevent her from even playing with Kolton as he got older.
“That’s when it really clicked for me. I thought life is so precious and I’m wasting mine just moping around instead of doing something,” Roberts, 38, of Taylor, Michigan, told TODAY. “He was one of the things that really brought joy back into my life and gave me a reason to want to live. So that was when I really started to make changes because it was important to me to be around for him.”
Roberts knew she needed to lose a lot of weight, but that felt overwhelming. She decided to start with modifying her eating habits. She became a vegetarian and skipped pizzas, muffins and grab and go foods and relied mostly on vegetables. It worked. Over three years, she shed 100 to 125 pounds. But then she became less vigilant and relied more on cheese pizzas than vegetables. Her weight started to yo-yo.
“I would start to get discouraged about something, and I would revert right back to my old ways. I would overeat and go back to eating sugar,” she said.
While she tried to be stricter with her eating, she struggled to lose more weight. Then she joined Life Time Fitness in March 2019 as an employee and started focusing on portion size and drinking more water while adding exercise into her routine. This helped her lose about 80 more pounds to lose 215 pounds in total. More importantly, her overall health changed and her A1C went from 12 to 6, for example.
“Being in a healthy place and seeing people that made their health a priority … it just put things into perspective,” Roberts said.
She went from skipping anything to that involved running to using the elliptical and weight training four times a week.
“I didn’t have the confidence and the self-esteem to stick with exercise really until I came here,” she said. “It was just a very positive place and everybody was very supportive.”
While she feels better than ever, she still isn’t at her goal weight. She’d like to lose another 100 pounds.
“Being able to do more things has really been a big accomplishment. And I really think of it more in those terms. I want to see my cholesterol and my A1C go down and down,” she said. “It’s not just the way you look. I feel like I focused on that for so long, but it's really about so much more, being healthy.”
Roberts, who tracks her weight loss on Instagram, learned that thinking positively has helped her succeed.
“If you convince yourself that you can’t do something then you’re not going to do it,” she said. “But if you believe that you can and you keep making those steps towards that goal you will. It’s all about your mindset.”
She shares tips that helped her lose weight and keeps her motivated.
1. Mistakes happen
If Roberts has a day where she overindulges in food or skips exercising, she doesn’t let that derail her goals. She understands that mistakes happen.
“If you mess up, it’s OK. Tomorrow is another day,” she said. “You just got to keep your eyes on the prize.”
One slip up shouldn’t lead someone to quitting.
“If I do mess up I don’t just throw away everything that I worked for just because I’ve had a bad week or a bad day,” she said.
2. Weight loss takes time
While Roberts was always a heavier than her friends growing up, she didn’t truly gain weight until she started working. And, she didn’t gain it all at once. Roberts understands that losing it takes as much time.
“Don’t look at those before and after pictures and think that it’s going to happen fast,” she said. “It took a long time to put that weight on and it’s going to take a while to take it off.”
3. ‘What do I want more?’
When faced with something like pizza or junk food, Roberts pauses and asks herself, “What do I want more?”
“I say, ‘Do I want to eat this that’s probably really good but not great for me?’ or ‘Do I want to feel amazing?’ or ‘Do I want to get to my goal weight?’” she said. “How is my life going to change? Is it this one choice? You just say, ‘Oh, it's just one cupcake.’ But one cupcake adds up to 500 pounds eventually.”
CORRECTION (November 30, 2020, 9:09 a.m.): An earlier version of the story said Roberts weighed 550 pounds.