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Health Team

Mental shift started Hope Mills woman on weight loss journey

Posted February 9, 2018 10:28 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:07 p.m. EDT

— The gym is not a place where Jennifer Taft would have been found three years ago.

The Hope Mills woman weighed almost 325 pounds. She said she was tired of the way she looked and felt. She was mentally defeated.

But then she got her mind right.

Now, getting to the gym is "like therapy," Taft said.

Taft started with her diet. She said she began eating lean protein and something green for every meal. Then, she slowly developed a voracious appetite for working out.

Even though she has dropped 163 pounds, it's still a mental battle.

"(It's) 110 percent — it's still mental every day," Taft said. "I really still struggle with looking in the mirror and still seeing the person I was 150 pounds ago.

"Your mind has to catch up with your body."

Catching up, though, took a while.

When Taft first began losing the weight, she said she couldn't move around the house without being out of breath.

"I couldn't get off the couch," she said. "Walking up the stairs left me winded. Walking around the house left me winded."

Now, her wind carries her through the finish line of races she never thought would be possible. Next month, Taft will tackl her second half marathon.

"I'm proud of it. I'm proud of myself," she said. "It's a huge accomplishment, and I think that's part of it, too, you need to be proud of yourself and celebrate your accomplishments."

Her transformation is, by her own words, "astonishing": She lost the weight and dropped from a size 22 to a size 6.

How a Hope Mills woman lost more than 160 pounds

The journey didn't come without setbacks, but Taft credits her mental toughness for getting through it.

"We all have bad days, we get stressed out, we're tired, we want some chocolate, we want some cake, we want some pizza," Taft said. "I can't allow that to be every day of my life."

Taft said she doesn't measure progress by the scale, though. She said she is now sleeping better, her new wardrobe fits well, she's in a better mood each day and has more energy — that's how you measure happiness, she said.

Even now, though, Taft is still amazed at her journey.

Sometimes, when she finishes a race, she will break down in tears of joy.