By Liana Jacob
MEET mum-of-two who made extreme changes to her lifestyle and dropped down three dress sizes after suffering from low self-esteem and post-natal depression.
Stay-at-home mum, Jennifer Denson Black (38), from San Antonio, Texas, USA, was brought up in a sporty environment, coaching gymnastics for eight years from the start of high school until she graduated from University in 2002 and being a gymnast herself for eight years.
Following her graduation and working as a bartender, Jennifer went on a downward spiral of binge drinking, not eating a balanced meal for years and then she became pregnant with her two daughters 17-months apart, ages three and five.
After realising the extra two stone two pounds wasn’t going to disappear, her insecurities holding her back from socialising and suffering from postnatal anxiety, she decided to make a change.
Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workout programme caught Jennifer’s attention and after following it religiously she lost one stone 13 pounds while gaining muscle and losing fat.
Her weight transformed from 11 stone one pound and a UK dress size 16 to nine stone two pounds and UK dress size 10.
From consuming a high amount of starchy carbohydrates, fatty foods and her failed attempts at exercising, Jennifer now exercises five to six days a week incorporating the high intensity interval training (HIIT) and BBG routine to beat her postpartum anxiety, as postnatal depression is also known.
“I did deal with postpartum anxiety pretty badly after both kids. I knew getting myself healthy again would help with that as well, and it did,” Jennifer said.
“I felt awful. Not only about the way I looked, but the way I felt. I had no energy and no strength. I had been so very fit and strong for so much of my life and it killed me mentally knowing how weak I was.
“As far as how I looked, I could barely look at myself. If I had to get dressed to go out and see people, it would make me break down and cry. I’d buy the baggiest clothes to hide my body.
“I started in January 2015 with a three-week cleanse, then I pretty much took that entire year to teach myself to eat balanced and clean again.
“Slowly, I would take away an unhealthy food I was eating regularly, and replace it with a healthy one. By 2016 I had lost about one stone six pounds through eating healthy.”
Postpartum depression (PPD), also known as postnatal depression, is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth which can affect both men and women.
Symptoms of the disorder include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, crying episodes and irritability.
It is often treated with psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or mental health counselling, medication, or both.
Jennifer began slowly doing only seven-minute workouts at a time, which she did about a month, and then felt strong enough to take on a 30-day challenge.
“I had to do this every single day for about 15 mins and I made it through every day. This gave me the strength I needed to begin BBG,” Jennifer said.
“BBG is incredibly hard, but I’ve been doing it now for 59 weeks straight and feel incredible and continuing with my balanced diet.
“I haven’t gone to a gym this entire time. Every workout has been in my living room and using my phone for the BBG app (Sweat With Kayla), and other HIIT workouts. You can get in shape with small kids, and no gym time.”
Making that commitment and sticking to it has been tough for Jennifer.
“In 2014 I made several half-attempts that failed. It was getting my body and mind prepared to commit to eating healthily and exercising as part of my everyday life,” she said.
“It’s not a quick programme or diet. It had to be a complete lifestyle change and that’s a hard commitment – but I did it.
“My girls also exercise and are vegetarian so I’ve already set them up for this lifestyle and that is so rewarding.
“My family and friends compliment me a lot and ask me for advice, which I happily give and encourage them on their journeys.
“I’ll have to say the most support I’ve gotten has been from the BBG Instagram community. I’ve connected with so many amazing women all around the world doing BBG or just into fitness.
“We lift each other daily with our posts of positivity; encouraging and empowering each other. That community has taught me so much about accepting myself and inspiring other women.”
Jennifer says that her remarkable body transformation has changed her attitude towards her life and being a parent.
“I am strong physically and mentally and I’m confident. I love getting dressed up to go out now. I have so much energy to play with my kids and take them out for adventures,” she said.
“I’ve made so many new friends because I love to go out and do things again. I’m just happy, which has made me a better mother, wife and person.
“I would say start slowly like I did. You cannot overwhelm your mind and body, or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Change your eating habits slowly.
“Don’t do away with everything you eat, and try to change your diet all at once. Replace foods slowly and introduce healthy ones.
“Same with exercise; start slowly. You can’t expect too much from yourself from the start, but if you stick to it you will get the results.
“It might be slow progress but progress is progress and you will get there if you stick it out.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/jblack_bbg.motivated/