IKSOKAPI PROFILE: Jackie Pierson
“First and foremost start moving right now! Then realize that you are worth the time and effort.” – J.Pierson
IKSOKAPI PROFILE: Jackie Pierson, 36, from Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) rose to fame when she competed against nineteen other former athletes, including National Football League (NFL) players and Olympic gold medalists for $250,000.00 and a once in a lifetime opportunity to change their lives on the 16th season of NBC’s hit television show “The Biggest Loser: Glory Days.”
She was eliminated from the competition in Week 10 after losing the weigh-in against fellow contestant Damien Woody, 36, a two-time Super Bowl Champion from Mendham, New Jersey however her 66 pound weight loss and transformation gave her the much needed kickstart to regain control of her life and inspire others to do the same including her two young daughters who have been a big part of the motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She has since overcome Type 2 diabetes and lost another 10 pounds since leaving the show. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Q & A with Jackie Pierson:
Have you always suffered from weight issues or was this a more recent problem?
Jackie: “I never had weight issues growing up, I was always fairly in shape as I was an athlete who did many sports including basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, rugby and I threw the javelin.
I grew up in poverty and with that experience I learned from a very young age unhealthy eating habits. When food was there you ate it and you ate it all because you didn’t know when you would get it next; and what was there was often processed and junk. I started developing weight issues during my college years when my focus shifted to getting an education to get out of that poverty and away from being the physical athlete that I was.
The real unhealthy turning point with my weight gain happened when my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was the one who helped support him during that time and I turned to eating to deal with my emotions. After he passed away a year later I continued that downward spiral and gained 60lbs on top of the weight that I had already been slowly gaining.”
Did you try to lose weight before? What happened?
J: “I think I must have almost tried every single silly “diet” out there at some point. It’s funny though, you slowly see yourself getting bigger but you don’t quite realize just how unhealthy you are getting until one day you see a picture of yourself or you see the reaction from someone who hasn’t seen you in a long time. The face that they unintentionally make says it all!
I think with everyone when you go on a diet you have an all or nothing attitude. If you slip for one single second you feel like a failure and give up.”
What was your starting weight? What weight are you at now?
J: “My starting weight was 291lbs and I am currently at 215lbs. My goal is to get down to a strong and fit 175lbs.”
What moment or event started your weight loss journey?
J: “There were two defining moments for me. The first was the morning that I was being wheeled into the OR for gall bladder removal surgery. As the DR is sitting there telling me about the possible risks, all I could think about were my two little girls at home and what if something did go wrong and they were left with no mommy because of a surgery that was brought on by poor eating choices. It was a crushing thought.
The second and most profound moment for me was when my oldest daughter (5 at the time) innocently called me “inside mommy.” I asked her what she meant and she said that I was inside mommy because I never went outside with her and her sister. That I always stayed in the house and took care of her inside but never outside. That truly broke my heart to hear the honesty of my baby and to know that she was 100% right. I was hiding inside from the world and from enjoying life with my girls. From that moment on I knew that I had to do something about it.”
How has this experience changed your life?
J: “I’m not sure that I could possibly put into words all of things that this experience has done to change my life for the better. I am the happiest that I have ever been, my relationship with food is slowly but surely being healed, I am no longer a type II diabetic, I have found the love for exercise and moving again, I no longer hide from life and feel like I fully participate, I have met some incredible people from my Biggest Loser family to fans who have shared their own inspiring stories, I no longer fear failure but embrace it, learn from it and move forward. Most of all….I HAVE BECOME OUTSIDE MOMMY!”
What was it like to go on TV and share your journey with ‘the world’?
J: “At the beginning I was frightened at the thought of being so exposed. I had spent a lot of years hiding from the world but mostly from myself. In fact I had gotten really good at it! I had nowhere to hide and had no choice but to look inward. As scary as it was, it was the best decision that I have ever made. I also realized that my journey may help someone else out there who had been struggling like I was and that gave me a lot of courage.
The being on tv (well besides being in a sports bra on tv…yikes) was the easy part, facing myself and the change was the hard part. I really learned to embrace the new, happy and changing for the better me every single week that I was on the ranch. I also knew that I was fortunate to have been 1 of the 20 contestants picked out of 26,000 applicants and I wasn’t going to waste a second of the opportunity.” ☺
Which were the best or most successful techniques you used and why?
J: “The biggest battle for me is in the kitchen. Being a former athlete has made the exercise the easy part to stick with. Undoing a lifelong unhealthy relationship with food has been my biggest struggle. I tend to get overwhelmed quickly with all of the responsibilities in my life such as being a mother, working full time and being as part of the community.
What works for me is keeping it simple and how I do this is I control what I can which is eating well most of the time and making sure that I move every single day, even if it is just walking or dancing with my girls.”
What’s your favourite exercise?
J: “I love circuit and cross fit type training. Both are high intensity, challenging and you never have time to get bored.”
What are 3 of your best eating and fitness tips you would like to share?
- Always eat a piece of protein with your snacks. My favourite is sliced apples with almond butter. It keeps you more full for much longer!
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Start small but always look to keep challenging yourself. If it starts getting too easy, it won’t change you.
- DO NOT expect perfection from yourself. That is a guaranteed way to feel like a failure and therefore stopping. Be ok with knowing that living a healthy lifestyle is a journey full of ups and downs, but that as long as you make the decision to never give up on yourself, you WILL ride the lows and STILL be successful ☺
What advice would you give to other women who are struggling and want to reach the same goals?
J: “First and foremost start moving right now! Then realize that you are worth the time and effort and that you are not being selfish for wanting to be a healthier and happier you. We as women and mothers think that everyone else in our lives has to always come before us or we are not doing our jobs. I’ve learned that by also making myself a priority that I am giving my children and family the best me that I can.
Start small and slow and DO NOT get stuck in the false perception that if you aren’t doing it perfectly, that you are failing. You’re going to fall, you’re going to struggle but as long as you don’t give up on yourself, you WILL get there. You WILL have a bad eating day, you WILL miss making it to the gym, but you WILL get to where you want to go eventually.
My motto is now slow and steady because I am not in a race and I now know that this is my lifestyle and that I will in fact get there at my own pace. Build a support system with the realization that not everyone is going to be that type of support and that it’s ok. Most importantly give yourself the permission to succeed!”
(Photos provided by J.Pierson)