By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN piled on the pounds after she sought comfort in food because eating made her feel happy following the unexpected death of her father but has now shed almost SIX-STONE in just EIGHTEEN-MONTHS after not recognising herself in her holiday snaps.
Medical biller and makeup enthusiast, Jennifer Buckingham (27) from Lindenwold, New Jersey, USA, was always a healthy weight growing up and throughout her teens and never had to think about what she was eating. But Jennifer’s life was turned upside-down in 2013 when her father, Peter, tragically and unexpectedly passed away.
Having never experienced death before, Jennifer became deeply depressed as she tried to navigate life without her father and found that the only thing that allowed her to escape her pain was eating. Jennifer would enjoy takeaways from McDonald’s, Taco Bell and the Chinese and would eat as much as she could as often as she could to make herself happy, often consuming up to 3,500-calories a day.
In a year, Jennifer had gained just over 5st to reach 14st 4lb and a UK size 18. When Jennifer returned from a holiday to Disney World in September, 2017, she saw pictures of herself and was appalled by the fact that she didn’t recognise herself in them as she hadn’t realised how much weight she had gained and was shocked into action, knowing that being overweight wasn’t good for her health.
She started tracking her calories, sticking to 1,200-calories a day, cutting out fast food, fizzy drinks, desserts, alcohol and red meat whilst working out five to seven times a week by walking on the treadmill, doing the stairs or cross trainer.
Jennifer says she is now in the shape of her life and feels more confident than ever at 8st 5lb and a UK size six.
“Growing up I was always a normal healthy weight. I didn’t think much about my weight or what I was eating but that all changed in 2013, when I was just 20 years old. My father unexpectedly, tragically passed away,” said Jennifer.
“I had never experienced death before and this sent me into a state of serious, deep, dark depression. I noticed when I was eating yummy food, I was happy. So, I started bingeing and stuffing my face with as much junk as I could, as often as I could, because when I was eating I was happy and it made me forget about the pain and the demons in my head.
“Food was a crutch for me, and I gained over 80 pounds in less than a year and was obese. I tried gimmicky yo-yo diets to try to lose the weight, but nothing ever worked. I tried herbal life once but didn’t follow it correctly or stick with it and I tried the Special K cereal diet but gave up on that quite quickly as well.
“I was super self-conscious when I was at my heaviest. I knew I had to make a change, but I feared how people would look at me or treat me in the gym and was scared to give up and look like a failure again.
“When I saw our Disney vacation photos I was absolutely appalled. I almost didn’t even recognise myself, that was the first time I realised how big I had actually become. I decided immediately to make a change.
“When I saw those photos I knew at that point that it wasn’t just a matter of my size or physical appearance anymore, but I knew my health was in jeopardy as well.”
Before her weight loss, Jennifer ate a lot of convenience foods and would typically have a breakfast of pop tarts or bagels with cream cheese or chocolate chip pancakes; a lunch of McDonald’s and for dinner would have something from Taco Bell, a takeaway pizza or Chinese followed by cake, ice cream or cookies for dessert all washed down with soda.
Now, Jennifer starts her day with either a rice cake with banana, oatmeal or protein shake; a salad for lunch with an apple and protein bar and a dinner of chicken and vegetables with lots of water throughout the day.
“I still follow the same diet for the most part as I did when I first got serious about losing weight. I still limit alcohol intake, I don’t eat red meat, and I don’t consume junk food or fast food,” said Jennifer.
“I still exercise regularly as well but usually three to five times a week versus the five to seven times I was doing at the beginning of my weight loss journey.
“Now that I’ve lost weight, I’m definitely more confident. Especially in the gym. When I go out with friends, I’m able to focus on having a good time and not fearful that someone is judging my size or going to ask me to be in a picture. I love taking pictures now.
“When friends, family, co-workers, or neighbours see me now and see how much weight I’ve lost they definitely praise me and tell me what a great job I’ve done. They’ll also usually ask me what my secret is and if I have any advice that I could give them.”
Losing weight has given Jennifer a new lease of life and she loves staying active and has run her first 5K race this year and keeps moving by hiking, rafting, climbing and being in nature.
She shared her words of advice to others.
“Definitely start small and stay consistent. Don’t overwhelm yourself at first because that will lead to the desire to give up,” she said.
“Make small changes every day and they will add up. And the most important thing is to stay consistent. If you get off track, don’t beat yourself up. Just get right back on track with what you were doing and progress will come.
“Hitting plateaus were super discouraging. But I stayed consistent and kept going and sure enough, each time I was able to break through them and keep losing weight.
“While being heavy didn’t change who I was inside as a person, I knew it was bad for my physical health. Now that I’ve lost the weight I truly am living again and thoroughly enjoying my life and living it to the fullest.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/becoming_better_with_jenni/