From Chickenballs To Dumbells
Jade had no idea that her new job was about to change her life...
Mouth watering, I lifted the lid off the takeaway box nestled in my hand.
Sweet-and-sour curry and chips, with a side portion of fried chicken balls, all washed down with a bottle of full-fat cola. It was my favourite snack, and I had it almost every day.
Little wonder my pals had nicknamed me Ôchickenballs’. Or that I hid my flabby frame under size-22/24 clothes. I’d always been chubby. I never let it bother me, though, and nobody gave me any stick.
After leaving a beauty therapy course at 20, I did a few odd jobs.
But mostly unemployed, living with my parents, I’d sleep in until early afternoon, then snack on chicken sarnies and toast, before heading to the takeaway with my mates. I was bored, and I ate to pass the time.
In October 2013, I went to the doctor with a chest infection. He said he needed to weigh me.
My cheeks burned with shame as I got on the scales –20st! And I’m only 5ft 5in tall! ‘You need to lose weight,’ the doctor frowned. ‘Or you’ ll end up with type 2 diabetes.’
That scared me, but the lure of those fried chicken balls was just too strong. I needed a push…
In December that year, a pal told me about a cleaning job going at a local gym, Fit Studios. I applied, and got the job.
‘Only way you’d get me in a gym!’ I joked.
Walking in on my first day, I felt so awkward.
Everyone was so fit and toned, and I felt like a huge blob.
‘I can’t go back there,’ I said to my mum, Angela, 49.
I thought everyone would be laughing at me, thinking I should be working out in the gym, not cleaning it.
‘You can’t quit yet, love,’ Mum said. ‘It’ll get better.’ And it did… A month on, I got chatting to one of the trainers during my lunch break.
‘What’s that?’ I asked, pointing at his plate of food.
‘It’s sweet potato,’ he told me. ‘It’s a good carbohydrate.’
As he talked about his daily diet, it got me thinking – Could I eat like that, too? But I was so clueless about nutrition.
‘I’d like to lose weight,’ I admitted to him. ‘I’ll draw you up an eating plan,’ he said.
He wasn’t laughing at me – he was willing to help me.
Looking over what he’d written, it seemed simple. I’d just need to replace things like chips with sweet potato, eat more protein and swap bad fats for good ones, like avocados and nuts.
I asked Mum to buy what was on the list. That evening, I tucked into chicken and broccoli.
It was delicious – even though it wasn’t deep-fried!
Every day, the trainers would ask me how I was getting on with my
Everyone was so fit and toned, and I felt like a huge blob
plan – which meant no cheating, even though I missed my takeaways and craved them.
When I felt hungry, I’d snack on rice cakes with peanut butter or fruit. I swapped cola for juices and coconut water.
A month on, I stepped on the scales… I’d lost a stone! Wow!
But just dieting wasn’t enough. I wanted to exercise, too.
So, taking it slowly, I did a few minutes on the treadmill every day.
It was hard going, but it soon got easier.
‘You should come and try a beginner’s class,’ suggested Brian, the gym’s owner.
The gym did TRX classes, where you work out using suspension ropes.
‘There’s no way I’ll be able to do
Soon, I was doing two classes a week, then three
that – the ropes won’t hold me up!’ I laughed.
But he talked me into it, so the next day, I enrolled.
It was tough, but I did it – even though I was in pain for three days afterwards!
Soon, I was doing two classes a week, then three… Then I started moving up the levels.
I later started a Facebook page: Jade’s Fitness Journey.
In two days, I had an incredible 5,000 followers, who read my updates and healthy recipes.
Getting messages of support from strangers kept me going.
And I loved giving advice to others about how to eat well on a budget.
Sounds odd, but it was seven months before I got on the scales for the next time.
In August 2014, out clothes shopping for a family holiday in Greece, I found I could comfortably fit into a size 14!
Weighing myself at the gym that evening, the scales read 12st.
‘I can’t believe this!’ I smiled happily to Brian.
Now, though I don’t know my exact weight, I wear a size 12!
I left my job at Fit Studios last September to study fitness and leisure at college.
I’ve finally found my passion. Turns out it was fitness – not chicken balls – all along! ● Follow Jade at www.facebook.com/jadesfitnessjourney
I ditched the deep-fried grub
SIZE 24, THEN I HIT THE GYM NOW I’M A SIZE 12!