Shift to healthy lifestyle leads to dramatic transformation
Her aha moment came on a shopping trip to the mall, 80 pounds into what would become a 140-pound weight loss.
Tiffany Janssen-McTaggart stepped out of the Gap dressing room in a pair of navy walking shorts and a pastel yellow polo shirt, looked at her then-boyfriend, who shook his head and said, “Nope.” And off he went to find something in her actual size.
She was there grudgingly, she recalls. Still trying to pull off a size 18 when she was actually a size 8/10, she refused to spend money on clothing she knew wouldn’t fit in a few months. But her boyfriend insisted. And when she balked at wearing pieces that actually fit her new shape, feeling selfconscious about material that fell close to her body, he insisted she take a real look at herself in the mirror. And that’s when she finally saw it.
“It sounds kind of silly but it was like, oh wow,” says the 35year-old who works for the federal Department of Natural Resources in non-destructive testing certification. “Because I would always, always wear baggy clothing because I was trying to hide myself. I wasn’t very confident …
and after that we went to a couple of other stores and I bought some more clothes and, $300 later, I was like, this is going to get really expensive.”
It wasn’t always this way. In her teens and early twenties growing up in Stoney Creek, back when she weighed 120 pounds, she would hit up Value Village for funky polyester grandma pants and ’70s-style blouses. Always experimenting with fashion, she was attracted to the quirky and unique — outfits that matched her huge personality.
But at some point in college and university, when she was studying to become a social worker, she began to gain weight. Over a little more than a decade, she watched herself grow to approximately 280 pounds, developing health problems like high blood pressure and sleep apnea, with diabetes on the horizon.
She wanted to become healthy again — not just for herself, but also for her daughter Olivia, now six. So in early 2015 she underwent gastric bypass surgery and a massive lifestyle change. Cautioned by doctors that, if she didn’t change her lifestyle, she was at risk of regaining the weight a few years down the road, she threw herself into healthy eating and exercise.
“I went to the gym, I started cycling 20 kilometres a day, I got back into roller derby,” says Janssen-McTaggart, who competes with the Hamilton Area Roller Derby. “I would run, I would walk … we would go on these three-hour hikes. We would go on epic bike rides ...”
These days, Janssen-McTaggart is getting reacquainted with her former, quirky-style self. She oscillates between professional-looking shift dresses and funky unicorn print tights, depending on her mood. She’s always on the hunt for unconventional finds with a bit of an edge — like the distressed skinny jeans from Old Navy she wears here with the origami crane print blouse she bought at Reitmans. Her black moto-style boots are from Steps in Eastgate Square, and she accessorizes with a tiny pendant necklace that she bought from Fossil, as a treat, after losing her first 50 pounds.
“When my girlfriends and I go out either to the outlets or to the mall or something like that and we go into these stores, it’s like, oh I want to try this on and oh I want to try that on,” says Janssen-McTaggart, who also loves the hunt at Value Village. “My phone is full of screen shots of different things from Pinterest, and it’s really become a lot of fun trying to see what I can come up with.” Most eye-catching piece: Shoes. Because when I’m putting an outfit together … I base a lot of outfits around my shoes, as well as my mood. So if I’m in the mood for my Fergalicious black heels, then I’ll base my outfit around (them). Quirkiest wardrobe item: My Pac-Man tights. They’re black and they basically look like somebody took the old school original Pac-Man game screen and printed it on a pair of tights. Complete with the fruit and the ghosts and everything. Wardrobe must-have: I absolutely love skinny jeans. Even when I was bigger, I really liked skinny jeans. And I think it was just because you can wear them with anything. Best purchase: My Danier leather jacket. I bought it last fall and it still had the tags on it. The girl I bought it from had never worn it. She showed me the receipts and everything and it was like a $500 jacket and I bought it for $50 on one of the Facebook groups. Regrets buying: I bought a couple of those really chunky sweaters that people often wear with tights ... and I think I wore the one once and the other one I never wore. I think those are the only two items I have ever regretted buying. Loves to shop at: Marshalls ... Facebook or Kijiji or Value Village. I find I buy a lot of pants from (Value Village) because they’re already pre-shrunk and they don’t look brand new and they don’t have that weird chemical smell to them. Ridding her closet of: Anything that doesn’t fit. If I can’t sell it or give it away, I’ll hang on to it, just in case I gain weight back ... I was told that it is possible, after five to 10 years, to gain weight back if you don’t change your lifestyle. Splurges on: If it’s something that really catches my eye, I’ll splurge on it. ’Cause I don’t generally get to buy a lot of stuff for myself as a single parent.
Beauty product she can’t live without:
NYX Pore Filler Primer. And I don’t have to wear anything else, generally … I could walk out of the house with just the primer and the mascara.
“I always had the biggest personality out of my friends,” says Tiffany JanssenMcTaggart. “When I started to gain weight, I started to become more of a wallflower and trying to blend in … and trying to hide myself.” Here she wears distressed skinny jeans from Old Navy with a print blouse from Reitmans featuring origami cranes, black moto boots from Steps in Eastgate Mall, and a pendant necklace from Fossil.
JanssenMcTaggart wanted to become healthy again — not just for herself, but also for her daughter Olivia, now six.
The black moto boots she bought from Steps in Eastgate Mall was a “gotta have it!” purchase.