Something that I always strive for through my social media outlets is to inspire, motive, challenge, empower, and uplift people. And so, I wanted to dedicate a special post to someone who has not only inspired and really touched me, but who I know will inspire, motivate, and help sooo many others!
I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Ballet to this amazing women, Jenny, for about 3 years and I’ve witnessed her complete transformation not only with her physical body, but also with the person within. She lost nearly half her body weight and gained a whole lot of confidence and joy!
Jenny, I’m so proud of you and so happy you reached a place in your life where you feel incredible and you’re able to let your light really shine through. Your happiness and glow is contagious. Keep up the amazing work and keep spreading your positivity.
Show Jenny some love on her Instagram page! @jennymrueda
Have you always struggled with your weight?
For the most part, yes. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 21. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women, which causes an imbalance in hormones and makes it difficult to lose weight.
Was there a turning point in your life that caused you to make your initial decision to make changes?
I was morbidly obese weighing at 275lbs and 5’3.” My doctors kept pushing for me to get gastric bypass surgery. They said that surgery was my only hope and I could never lose weight on my own. I decided to prove them wrong. At the same time, I was unhappily married & I lost sight of who I was. I wanted to do something for myself to make myself happy; I wanted to dance.
Ten years prior I was a dance major in college, where I took various dance forms and focused mainly on Modern and African dance. I waited until my last semester to take Intro to Ballet, as my classmates kept reiterating how hard ballet was. I remember being amazed by its precision and wanting to engage in it more after I graduated. Instead, I allowed 10 years to pass without taking a single dance class. So when I decided to return to dance, I turned to ballet as I knew that it was the foundation to all forms of dance. My plan was to take ballet for a few months in order to regain the fundamentals, then switch over to another dance form. Instead, I fell in love with it! October 24th, 2016 was my first day back to taking an introductory ballet class and I totally flopped. I was the heaviest person in class, it felt like I had two left feet, my ballet shoes were uncomfortable and I could not do many of the steps, nonetheless keep up with any of the choreography. However, I was able to laugh at myself after class for messing up so badly. I also felt a void in my heart being filled and a happiness like no other; I knew I couldn’t turn back!
What kept you motivated?
After about 6 months of dancing twice a week, I started noticing changes in my body. My muscles began to look leaner and I started gaining more strength and flexibility. I also started to gain confidence. Seeing this kept me motivated.
My ballet teachers also helped to inspire and encourage me. I never felt judged by my teachers for my weight. As soon as I walked into class, I was a dancer and the focus was on technique. This was around the time that I met Desiree (@dansiquefitness) at the Joffrey Dance Center. Desiree taught me many of the fundamentals that I needed to learn, in order to have a foundation to build upon. With her sharp eye for technique and precision, she made sure that I learned proper positioning and that I corrected my mistakes through repetition.
The fact that ballet can never be perfected also motivates me. I know that I can always train hard but there will always be more to learn and improve upon; it’s never boring!
What dietary changes did you make?
Avoiding starchy carbohydrates like bread and pasta, helped a great deal. I also laid off the sweets and began to eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours. I increased the amounts of fruits and veggies that I ate as well.
What was the most unexpected challenge in your fitness journey?
Prioritizing myself and my happiness. I had to make huge sacrifices to be truly happy. I had to learn to love myself, be kind to myself and aim to be the best version of myself in order to achieve this.
What advice would you give to anyone who’s either in the middle of their fitness journey or who is just starting?
Get your hormones checked by an endocrinologist to make sure that there aren’t any hormonal imbalances preventing you from losing weight. Then find something you love to do and consistently stick to it. Self-love is self-discipline. Be disciplined with yourself. Don’t expect to see huge results overnight. Celebrate the small successes. I am constantly celebrating my small victories in ballet, from being able to balance on one leg, to accidentally doing a double pirouette!
Were there any foods you refused to give up? If so, how did you incorporate it into your plan?
I still have a sweet tooth, and I do have baked goods on occasion, especially when I’m menstruating. When I do give in, I try to eat small amounts of whatever it is that I’m craving. I know that if I deprive myself of it, then I will crave it even more later on.
What is a new favorite food that you didn’t have before?
I love egg whites and the protein that they provide! I cook them every day for breakfast!
What are some non-scale victories you’ve had in this process?
Starting ballet was the beginning of me having confidence, finding myself and feeling beautiful. It has helped me with my attention span and memory, and led me to realize that I can achieve my goals in all areas of my life.
What are some new goals for yourself now that you’ve achieved this?
Today I weigh a healthy 143 lbs. My goals are to continue working on my technique in order to advance to higher level classes and to start pointe work within the near future. I am currently taking ballet classes 3 times a week and I’m working to gain more strength and flexibility to prepare myself.
Would you do anything in this process differently if you could go back and do it again?
If I could do it again, I would have started earlier. I hesitated for a while before starting ballet because I thought I was too heavy to dance. I then saw a YouTube video of a girl who was of a similar weight doing pirouettes. I thought, “if she could do it, then so could I!”