Like most new moms, 31-year-old Jean struggled to adjust to the newest chapter in her life, with less sleep and more to-dos. After getting used to a different routine and reflecting on the difficulties she faced when she was pregnant, she was eager to feel healthy and confident again.
Jean is one of seven siblings, her mom is one of eight, and her dad is one of ten -- so she always longed to have her own large family. During her pregnancy, she was living alone in Toronto teaching and finishing her master's degree while her husband worked in New York. To cope with the stress, she found herself eating more -- snacking on granola bars in bed and eating anything and everything in the meal hall.
Before pregnancy, Jean never struggled with her weight, however while pregnant she found herself mindless eating, which led to a pre-diabetes screening in her last trimester. Once she finally joined her husband in New York, she was over 200 pounds -- 218 to be exact. At that point, her doctors expressed concern with her weight and advised that she not gain any more.
We sat down with Jean to learn more about her experience and how the 8fit app helped her get back on track. If Jean’s story sounds familiar, read on and consider signing up for the 8fit to regain a sense of health and agency.
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New city, new struggles
What happened once you moved to New York in your third trimester? I was in a new country by myself and I didn’t know how to eat well and be myself. I was the person that hosted everybody and cooked fried chicken. I was the person who, if you put something in front of me, would eat it. I made the most delicious food, which for me meant fried, covered in butter; this was really hard [eating this way] and became a health issue and a concern for my son.
After I had him in August, I lost a lot of weight immediately. I came down to about 180 pounds and that was motivating. Of course, right after the birth, I was in a lot of pain and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym. Nothing fit me and I struggled because I didn’t want to throw out my clothes. All that and I was by myself, isolated in a new city. I couldn’t work and my husband was working long hours while I took care of my son.
I was very lonely and I didn’t feel like I had access to all the things that made me Jean -- a community of academics, a community of activists, professionals who were trying to change things, and also Caribbean food and people around me who were family back in Toronto. For a long time, work was what defined me as well, and since I didn’t have a clear direction of where I was going with that once I left Toronto, that was hard too.
How did you discover 8fit? [My husband] was trying to convince me to join a gym nearby and I didn’t want to go because I didn’t have an outfit that fit well. Then he said, “Well, I use this app. It’s really great.” He told me to download the 8fit app so I did.
I really could do those exercises from home and I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like. The recipes were great because they showed me “this is how you would make a healthy version of a pizza” or “this is how you would make a healthy version of chicken and rice." I used them more as a guideline because I already love to cook. I could just search “banana” within the 8fit app and it’d come up with like 75 options of what to do with bananas that were healthy.
When did things start to change for you? Once I downloaded the app and I actually started doing the exercises every day. At that point, I started to feel like I enjoyed sweating. You were a part of the 8fit Challenge. How was it at first? At first, I didn’t lose any weight and that was really hard. I mean, it was almost three weeks in and I wasn’t losing weight. Then, all the sudden, I checked the scale and I had lost eight pounds and I was like, “How did this happen in a week?!” But, more importantly, I felt so much stronger. I was so much more mobile, so much more agile. It really did transform my life. When I say I’m grateful, I really mean it. It gave me back my life. Tell us more about how motherhood has changed you and your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s really hard to explain how much being a mom changes you. When you have this baby that you love more than you ever thought is even possible, it forces you to assess who you are and what your purpose is in life. And, all of the big questions become urgent and essential in a way that they never were before.
I thought, “Well, if I’m [feeling] unhappy and unfulfilled and I can’t even do a yoga class or get out to meet strangers because it’s intimidating, how can I [be a] model [for] my son?” I wanted to be the type of mom that doesn’t tell you what to do but rather shows you what to do.
The thing is, before I had my son, I was always the friend that was really confident wearing the tight dress or going into an advocacy law [meeting]. If there was an issue, I could solve it quickly. If they needed an advocate for something they’d send me and I would take care of it.
Transforming from the inside out
How did the 8fit app help you? The app, for me, is an opportunity to connect your body to your mind. When that happens, I think you can figure out who you are. That’s what happened to me. I started paying attention to, “What does my body need?” And, as a result, I started to understand what my spirit and mind really needed. For me, a success story is loving yourself. What physical transformation have you noticed? I’ve lost close to 30 pounds. Before beginning the 8fit Challenge, I already lost some weight just using the app. In total, from giving birth to now, I’ve lost almost 60 pounds.
From the physical standpoint, when I started the challenge I could do maybe one push-up and would immediately have to take a break. Now I can do 20 push-ups with no breaks and my big thing that I’m most proud of is I can actually do a pull-up. That was a big deal for me. Being able to lift my son [into the air] and not break a sweat was really important for me too.
I feel amazing. It’s amazing to me how, even now, if I’m low energy because of nursing my son or just because I have so many different things on my plate, an 8-minute workout can really clear my mind. Those endorphins, they’re like magic. Were you surprised by anything about 8fit? I think the biggest stand-out for me was how much the community actually cares about you. Also, I really felt like [I was getting a] whole wellness package. You see it with the recipes -- there’s cheese for snacks. I mean, that’s realistic. There are other apps and other programs where eating is very restrictive and we know that those kinds of diets aren’t effective, whereas with the 8fit app it was. You could see it delivers a holistic transformation.
Inspired by Jean’s story? Download the 8fit app today. Sign up for 8fit Pro and you’ll get customized workouts and meal plans. You’ll also get access to a recipe book packed with over 700 healthy, nutritious recipes to follow or use as inspiration.