Found on RunnersWorld.com
NAME Jennifer Piacenti
OCCUPATION Investment Analyst
HOMETOWN Oviedo, Florida
FAMILY Husband, Peter; 4-year-old son, Peter, 18-month-old daughter Amelia, and our Goldendoodle Charlotte
What prompted you to start working out? I met my “rock bottom” in September 2002 looking at pictures from a vacation. I was disgusted at what I saw. At 20 years old, 5’1” and about 204 pounds, I decided enough was enough. I had been overweight most of my life. It seemed like I always battled it but nothing really every worked, so I went through a long period of time where I just accepted it and thought, “This is how I’m supposed to be.” So this was my meeting with reality.
How did you start? It wasn’t easy—not at all. I was working and going to school full time but realized those could no longer be excuses. Once I realized that being healthy had to be a combination of diet and exercise, I started Weight Watchers and committed myself to getting outside and moving. The street I lived on was basically a square, so at first I just aimed for the end of the street, then the end of the next, then the one after that, and then I’d almost be done. That seemed doable. I started off “jogging” which was more of a shuffle. Once I made it to the end, I’d walk to the next end and pick up again, and repeat. I committed myself to it five times a week for 45 minutes. After a while, it got easier and I was actually losing weight and feeling fantastic.
Describe your regular workout routine. I like to cross-train. The variety keeps me from getting bored and I feel that all the parts of my body (upper, core, lower) all need the same amount of lovin’. I love step aerobics. It never feels like a true workout, so in that respect I feel like I’m cheating, but I don’t sweat as hard in any other exercise. I also use the elliptical, run, strength train, take Spinning classes, and use the StairMaster. I would like to get into swimming and yoga eventually, too.
What was the biggest hurdle to working out and how did you get over it? It was my pride and the fear of what people thought of me. At first, I would only run outside at night…in the dark, out of sight. After awhile, that went away. I got to a point where I would plateau and not sweat as much doing whatever exercise I was doing. That would prompt me to try something new and challenge my body to a new activity. It’s all about listening to your body.
What’s the most rewarding part of your running life? I love races. Not because I want to win but because I always take that time to think back to my 2002 self. I remember how I could barely make it down the street without throwing up and I see how far I’ve come, that now I’m running races, making PRs, and becoming an inspiration to friends, family, strangers, and even making friends with like-minded people with similar health-related interests. Running continues to test my body, my strength, and my attitude to achieve what I never once thought possible.
Did you have a weight-loss goal? When I first started running (jogging, shuffling, throwing up, walking—which is how I remember it at first), I was 204 and a size 20. I don’t remember having a specific goal, but my weight seemed to plateau around 135 at a size 6, which I was completely happy with. That was 2002–2003. Since then, I got married, had two children, and am currently in the 125 to 130 range. I’m happy here.
What’s the secret to your weight-loss success? Persistence. It’s so easy to give up and “accept” this is how it should be, which is what I did for the majority of my life. Once I started seeing, and more important, feeling the results, I wanted to see and feel more, so I persisted. I’m glad I did. And I’m glad I still do. My secret is realizing that being healthy is a lifelong commitment we have to make to ourselves.
What kinds of changes did you make to what and how you ate? I honestly don’t remember what I ate before, but I know I didn’t care at the time either, which probably meant a lot of calories. I knew I had to be more selective of the types of foods I was eating. After doing this for a while, I just got into the habit of eating “right.” I’ve come to realize I will always have a struggle with food because I love it, but not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about calories and the foods I’m putting into my body. Some days don’t matter so much (holidays) but for the most part, they do. I don’t like the guilt I feel when I eat “badly,” so I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like to. Some of us just can’t do that, and I’m finally at peace with that.
What advice would you give to a beginner or someone just starting out? Just do it and don’t give up because it does get easier the more you persist, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the beginning. Some people are self-starters and don’t need others to motivate them to get up and get going, but for people who are not like this, it may be beneficial to find a buddy to “walk/run” the journey together.
What are your favorite motivational quotes? “Pain is temporary, pride is forever!” I find myself reciting this in just about every race I run.
What is your long-term goal? My long-term goal is to keep running as a part of my life and in my family. I’ve inspired my husband to get into running. I don’t think I’ll ever want to do an ultramarathon (marathon distance is quite enough for me), but now that I know my body can be pushed certain distances, for me it’s going to be about how fast I can carry myself there and stay injury-free. I want to continue to improve my times, meet more like-minded people, and just be well.