How This Nurse, Who Works in a COVID-19 ICU, Changed Her Diet and Ran Off 105 Pounds


 
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By Lindsay Jendrek As Told To Andrew Dawson

Name: Lindsay Jendrek

Age: 38

Occupation: Nurse

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Start Weight: 227 pounds

End Weight: 122 pounds

Time Running: 15 months

I’ve been overweight since childhood, and my weight progressed to actual morbid obesity after I had my son, Harrison, in March 2018. I struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum during my pregnancy, and when I got my appetite back, I started eating everything in sight. I also suffered from postpartum depression, and I was dedicated to breastfeeding; I kept telling myself that a brownie smothered in peanut butter, along with half a Papa Johns pizza, would help my milk supply.

It wasn’t until I saw professional pictures we had taken for my son’s birthday in March 2019 that I thought, Wow, this has gotten bad. You’re tired. You’re inactive. You’re cranky. Do you want Harrison to struggle with his weight the way you did?

I signed up for Weight Watchers the next day.

This wasn’t my first time with the program. Nearly 10 years before, I had massive success with it. I’m a nurse, so I know the dangers and ineffectual results of what I consider to be fad diets and restrictive eating. I wasn’t interested in fasting, keto, or meal replacement shakes.

My diet was pathetic. Lots of refined carbs. Lots of fast food (I’m looking at you, McDonalds), ice cream, pizza, and eating out at restaurants. I ate until I hurt. I ate even after I was full. I ignored my cues. I ate “for my milk supply.” I ate because it made me feel warm and content. I ate because I thought it made me happy.

That needed to change, but I needed to do it my way. I didn’t want to eliminate carbs or dairy. I needed portion control and balance. I also didn’t need a quick fix, because I would simply gain the weight back.

The first couple of weeks on Weight Watchers were difficult, but I liked the point system and followed it. My stomach was so used to being stretched full of food that it was constantly letting me know, “Hey girl, we could do with some chicken McNuggets right about now!”

What I learned through that was balance. I still have peanut butter, but not an entire jar. I occasionally have Vanilla Cokes, but not every day. I enjoy Sonic Blasts weekly. I had Chick-fil-A for lunch the other day. I splurge when I want to.

I’m a creature of habit, so I eat lots of the same things now: Big salads with salmon, ground turkey quesadillas, scrambled eggs and turkey bacon, peanut butter protein bars, or hard-boiled eggs and banana. We keep a Tupperware of grilled chicken nuggets in the fridge, and I’m constantly snacking on those. I’m satisfied when I eat now, and I stop eating when I’m full, regardless of what’s left on the plate.

My eating habits weren’t the only thing that helped me. My husband, KJ, who has been a runner for more than a decade, convinced me to try running. He used to be overweight, and I would mock him: “How boring. How tedious. Your poor knees.”

I started walking with the stroller in the park when Harrison was a baby. In April 2019, when I started my weight-loss journey, I ramped up the walking. I hit the hills. I went faster. I got an Apple watch because, again, I like numbers.

I’m not one for group workout classes; I prefer my own pace, literally. Running can be as social or as solitary as you want. Me. The baby. And our walks which were slowly but steadily speeding up. Over the next few months, it turned into running.

I remember the early attempts to run at the park, pushing a 40-pound stroller. I could barely run five-hundredths of a mile without my lungs screaming for mercy. I was discouraged and embarrassed. The friend I was walking with was barely flushed, while I was sweating buckets.

But five-hundredths turned into one-tenth. One-tenth turned into two-tenths. Then one day I knocked out half a mile without stopping, and I never looked back.

Since then, I’ve progressed significantly. Those brisk walks in 2019 turned into countless 5Ks and 10Ks. I even hit a distance PR in October of 11.15 miles. I did it with KJ, both of us at our new weights—him 60 pounds down and me at 105 pounds down to 122.

Running is so cathartic for me. I’m a nurse in the COVID ICU at my hospital, and I can be having the worst day, but a run will turn my mood around; four steps into the run, I will start smiling because I know I will feel amazing when I finish.

I lost pretty much half my body weight, and I feel like a new person. Doctors who haven’t rotated in the ICU in a while don’t recognize me. I also try to look at the future I have now. KJ is a pilot for a major airline, and when he would suggest trips, I so often said no. This is my life now, and I don’t want to waste it.

To anyone who wants to go on a similar journey, there is no quick fix. When people have ask me how I lost weight, I say diet and exercise. There’s no magic pill. There’s no secret eating formula. It took work, effort, and sweat, and I love my life now.



 
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Articles in this issue:

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    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
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    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
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    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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