A Better Body at 33 Than at 20

As we age, it gets harder to keep weight off and stop once-perky parts from heading south. But sinking into the couch with a big bowl of gelato isn't the solution. Jennifer Wagner is one of five women we featured in the July/August 2012 issue who reshaped her body and life—at 33, she traded abuse for strength training. Now she can help you do the same

by Shelley Levitt
beautiful woman image
Wagner today (above); Wagner in her mid-twenties in a shirt she recalls as size 3x (right)
Photograph: by Melanie Acevedo

MY BODY IN MY TWENTIES At 29, I was the mother of three young girls, 283 pounds and trapped in an abusive marriage. “Who would ever want you?” my then-husband taunted me. After my third daughter was born, my self-esteem was so low, I stopped trying to lose my pregnancy weight. Instead, I’d gorge myself, pushing down my emotions as I ate.

THE TURNING POINT In June 2010, I decided to leave my husband and move in with my parents. Shortly thereafter, sitting in a lawn chair in my parents’ backyard watching my daughters play soccer, I realized I’d become so morbidly obese, I couldn’t run around with my girls. I knew then it was time to get healthy, and I resolved to join Weight Watchers.

THE MAKEOVER Changing my eating habits was a slow process. But I lost about 10 pounds a month, and I got a scholarship to the local YMCA, where I walked on the treadmill whilemy girls took a dance class.

I gradually moved from walking to jogging to running—and on New Year’sEve I did my first 5K race. I wanted to start the year living my resolution to get healthier, so there I was, running at the stroke of midnight. Four months later I did my first half-marathon, crossing the finish line arm in arm with a friend. I kept trying things that I never would have done before: a church softball league, tennis, kickball, kayaking. When the Y announced a bench-pressing competition, I signed up even though I was afraid people would laugh at me with my little girly weights. Instead, they applauded, and I surprised myself, when I pressed 115 pounds to win the women’s division. (Never mind that I was the only woman competing—I still won!) I also regularly walked around a track holding two 55-pound dumbbells to remind myself of the extra pounds I’d carried every day. I’d shrunk from a size 28 to a size 8.

MY BODY TODAY I’m not the thinnest, most beautiful woman in the world, but when I walk into a room, people notice me because I enter with confidence. I’m never going to be super thin; my body is stocky and muscular. But I like being strong. A tank top I sometimes wear when I work out says it all: “Strong is the new skinny.”

Next: A Better Body at 36 Than 20

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First Published Mon, 2012-07-09 13:48

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