From 133KG to marathon queen
When Jan Taylor weighed 133kg, even a walk to the mailbox was a task that left her puffing and exhausted.The Invercargill kindergarten teacher’s first big life-changing achievement was shedding 64kg, which earned her the title of Weight Watchers Slimmer of the Year for 2008.
Now Jan, who also appeared in New Zealand Woman’s Weekly when she first lost weight, has two more successes under her much-reduced belt. Not only has she kept the weight off, she has also just completed her first marathon.
Jan (45) travelled all the way to Paris to take part in the event in April and can hardly believe how much her life has changed since she ditched all those kilos.
“Exercise was an area I avoided for most of my life,” she readily admits. “I was never really sporty and I definitely didn’t like running.” Knowing that regular exercise is always an important factor in losing weight, shetook it day-by-day during her weight-loss programme.
“At first, I was just running between two lamp posts at a time, then I gradually increased the distance. Eventually I was comfortable running longer distances,” she says.
It was Kiwi media personality Kerre Woodham’s book Short Fat Chick to oarathon Runner that put the idea ofrunning the marathon into Jan’s mind. She also wanted to travel overseas – something she’d avoided when she was bigger – and when she heard Kerre was planning to run the Paris marathon, she decided to combine two firsts into one fantastic trip.
“Due to my size, I’d always put off going away because I was so worried I wouldn’t fit in the plane seat,” she confesses. “I’d also be concerned about who might sit beside me and if they’d mind about me taking up so much room. Even now, when I fly on a plane I feel anxious, even though I know I don’t need to worry about these issues any more.”
The mum-of-two trained hard for many months to take part in the marathon and was amazed when she finished the 42km course in just over five hours.
With husband Andrew accompanying her to Paris, Jan says it was the perfect way to see one of the world’s mostromantic cities.
“Paris was somewhere I had always wanted to visit since our fifth form French teacher had talked to us aboutFrance so vividly,” she says. As she looks at her photos of the big day and the medal she received, Jan smiles. “This certainly is a dream come true for me.”
oy body makeover
It took just a dash of lipstick and a splash of mascara to show Wendy Jackson that beneath the extra, unhealthy kilos she was carrying, she was beautiful.
Weighing a dangerous 160kg and wearing size 30 clothes, the 43-year-old Aucklander had always avoided cosmetics because every time she looked in the mirror she was reminded how big she was.
“I had no pride in my appearance and I was ashamed of my size,” the health worker confesses. “I never wore makeup and the kind of clothes I had to wear didn’t help. I had no confidence at all.”
Then, three years ago, she was treated to a makeover with Auckland makeup artist Phoenix Renata. Andwhen Wendy looked in the mirror, she suddenly saw how gorgeous she truly was and knew what she had to do.
“Not only did I feel confident for the first time in my life, I was taught how to put on my own makeup so I could do this at home. It was the big first step that I needed,” she explains.
Wendy decided it was time to change her life for the better and, because she was suffering from obesity- related diseases such as diabetes and breathing difficulties, she was eligible for a publicly funded gastric bypass operation.
The surgery was performed in 2007 and the journey to her new body – and a new lease of life – began. As the months ticked by, the kilos came off and Wendy also learned to eat healthily for the first time.
“Having this surgery, you have to stick to strict guidelines. It’s not a magic cure or an easy option,” she says.”For me, it was a last-ditch measure. I had tried every diet out there. I was capable of losing 30kg but I wasn’t able to keep it off, which was disheartening.”
She ended up losing 90kg in weight – and gaining the confidence and good health she had always dreamed of.
“Now I’m finally learning to love myself, I can make the most of my good points and celebrate who I am,” she smiles.