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Name: Rosemarie Hernandez Jeanpierre
Before Weight: 220 pounds
How I Gained It: I've been overweight most of my life. I was 9 years old when I started gaining weight. In the Philippines, where I grew up, it is very uncommon for kids to be overweight. I stood out because I was the "fat girl." Naturally, I was the center of ridicule. School was really traumatizing for me. Every day was a nightmare. My classmates bullied me and made fun of me. Kids can be so cruel. I remembered when the boys would poke me with a safety pin thinking that I would deflate like a balloon. They would also pull out the chair I was sitting on so I'd drop to the floor. They were always trying to humiliate me. I developed an inferiority complex. I didn't have any confidence to speak up. I was suppressing my emotions, which probably led to the intense migraines I was having.
This went on from elementary through high school. I felt so alone and isolated because of the way I looked. Food was the only comfort I had. I wouldn't stop eating. I loved food too much -- the way it made me feel was not something I was willing to give up. Even though I hated myself for it, I still tried to fill that emotional gap through food. Even my parents couldn't stop me. I was sickened with what I saw in the mirror, but I felt like it was who I was, and I couldn't do anything about it. I'd fallen in the pit of depression. I was so ashamed of myself. I wasn't living up to my true potential. I knew that there's got to be something more in life than my endless shame of being overweight.
My first attempt to lose weight was at the age of 20, but it was very unhealthy. I starved myself and exercised too much. I lost around 50 pounds. Then I got married and moved to the United States. I was longing for my family back home, and I used food to fill the days when I was homesick. I gained all the weight that I had lost and started to get heavier and heavier to the point of being morbidly obese. It was like I was always hungry. I would crave hamburgers and fries, shakes, ice cream and chocolates.
Breaking Point: Heart disease and diabetes run in my family. My father passed away from a heart attack. My weight problem had been bothering me so much that I started suffering from joint pain, fatigue and severe migraines. At the age of 39, I made up my mind to do something about my health. One trip to the doctor confirmed one of my greatest fears: I was diagnosed with hypertension, pre-diabetes and high cholesterol levels. I was high risk for heart disease. I knew my unhealthy lifestyle was not without consequences. It was at that moment that I realized that I had to choose to be healthy and change the way I lived.
How I Lost it: At first, it was really hard to step out of my comfort zone and face this challenge. But I was determined. I researched all about fitness and nutrition to educate myself about the right way to gain a healthy lifestyle. I believed in the Maya Angelou quote, "When you know better you do better." Knowledge is power.
I started going to the gym and doing cardio and weights and eating healthy. My food consumption before was approximately 6,000 to 7,000 calories of greasy fried food, sweets, bread and rice a day. Now my food intake is approximately 1,500 to 1,800 calories. My diet is high in protein and low in fat and carbs. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, baked chicken or tuna, wheat bread, and no-added-sugar ice cream.
Even though there were some people who thought that I couldn't do it, I persevered. When I lost half of my weight and began running marathons, I was in the best shape of my life! I never dreamed I was capable of doing it. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was really good at it. So, I started competing and winning medals. Who could've known I would become an athlete?
All my life I've been searching for something to ignite the passion in me. I've finally found it in running. It has become my way of life. It has unleashed my true potential. The emotional hurt that I suffered in my childhood has become a scar in my heart that I'm proud to show everyone. I've finally gained the confidence to share my success story with others.
This past year, I set a goal to participate in 52 marathons in 52 weeks and amazingly enough I completed 62 marathons or ultra-marathons. Embarking on this journey was very challenging, but through God's mercy, dedication and hard work, I finally fulfilled this goal. I want to help people who are going through what I went through to realize that life is what we make of it. We're all capable of improving ourselves and achieving our goals in life, with perseverance, determination, faith and support from family and friends.
After Weight: 115 pounds
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