“Counting calories and a stationary bike helped me lose 140 pounds.”

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My name is Jenni Gayden (@ cupcakesrolls2weightlossgoals) and I am 33 years old. I live in DeKalb, Illinois and I am a marketing coordinator. After struggling with my weight for most of my life, I took my husband on a weight loss challenge at work with my husband, started counting calories with the MyFitnesPal app, and started cycling daily to lose 140 pounds.


I have been overweight since finishing elementary school, but most of my excessive weight gain came after I graduated from college. I stopped exercising and exercising every day. This led me on my first weight loss journey, which I embarked on in 2011 and 2012. My mom and I decided we would start WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). I had lost about 40 pounds over the course of a few months. But from 2012 to 2017 I won back all the weight that I lost at WW plus another 50 pounds or so. I also had PCOS and my weight was 317 pounds.

On January 4, 2018, my husband mentioned that his job was starting a weight loss challenge and wanted to know if I would like to join him. I thought to myself, “Weight loss is easier when you do it with a partner, so why not?” At this point, I began my second (and current) weight loss journey.

What started out as a labor competition for my husband and his colleagues helped me lose 140 pounds in just over 2 years.

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Although technically I couldn’t take part in the competition because I didn’t work there, we still did it together. His job only had competition for a few months, but when I realized that calorie counting was working for me, I just kept going.

For the challenge, we downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and just counted calories and tracked food, and I’ve been doing that ever since. It worked for me because I realized that I didn’t need to cut anything out of my diet – I just needed to become more aware of how much of something I was eating. The app and the calorie counting really opened my eyes to my habits. I also think I’ve been successful because I don’t eat the same things over and over – I just find different foods / snacks / treats to fit into my daily calorie intake.

In the first 11 months of my trip, I lost 70 pounds by just focusing on my diet and counting calories.

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I’ll eat that in one day now.

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    • Snacks: Popcorn, Veggie straws, Good things or peatos.
    • Dinner: I try to reserve 800-1,000 calories for dinner and a treat after dinner. Dinner usually includes a protein, a side dish (rice, couscous, pasta, or potatoes), and a frozen vegetable.

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        I started training in December 2018 after my husband gave me an ergometer for Christmas.

        I try to get up at 4:30 a.m. every weekday so I can ride my bike for at least an hour each morning before work. If my work schedule and the weather permit, I run around three kilometers on my lunch break. I also play softball one night a week, and my husband and I try to play golf as much as possible on the weekends from April to September.

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        I also walk a lot on the weekends (and try to run as best I can). I also did 10 virtual 5Ks during the pandemic.

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        These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight loss results.

        1. I’ve adopted a Wonder Woman mindset. I had to change my mindset from somber Eeyore to tough, unstoppable Wonder Woman. Your mindset is your most important tool for successful weight loss. If you believe you can, you can. And it goes the other way too; If you don’t believe you can be successful, you won’t. Losing weight is a mind game: change your mind, change your body. That’s where everything starts.
        2. I got rid of excuses. I had a stranger who contacted me on Instagram and asked me how I was so successful at losing weight. I went over a few things and whatever I mentioned, she had an excuse why she couldn’t do that. Finally I said to her, “You know, I’ve got to the point where I just said to myself, ‘How much do you want it?’ and since then I haven’t let anything get in my way. ”Letting go of the excuses I had for myself was a big step.
        3. I stopped caring about what other people think. Sometimes I skip the bun on a sandwich because I want cheese. Sometimes I skip the booze because I want fries. I skip the free bagels at the office because I know what I’m going to eat for the rest of the day and it’ll burn away my calories. People can judge your food choices. One of the things that kept me going is leaving other people’s thoughts behind me when it comes to these things. You really don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.

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          I lost 140 pounds in two years.

          The first 70 pounds of my weight loss came from watching what I was eating, counting calories, and actually paying attention to portion sizes. It is completely overwhelming to me how much an actual serving size is compared to the amount I would normally eat. I learned that while I am counting the calories I eat, it is really important to make sure you are getting enough nutrients and protein to keep you eating a balanced diet. I learned that 90 calorie carrots are much more filling and filling than a 90 calorie Fiber One brownie.

          I also learned that food no longer has to be my crutch and that I was stronger than those binge eating and eating fast food several times a week. I’ve learned that I have strength and confidence. I finally learned to take care of myself. I used to worry about everyone else and never give myself the care I needed. Most importantly, I was learning to love myself again – something I hadn’t done in years.

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