Rachel Staggs-Jannise thinks of her three children whenever her motivation to exercise or eat right starts to slip. It took a dangerous and painful health condition for Rachel to decide to get on the straight and narrow. Since then, she’s been unstoppable. This super-organized mom finds the time to exercise before work every day and shop each Sunday for the week’s meals. So far, she’s lost 85 pounds and feels great – and the entire family is living a healthier lifestyle.
What was the traumatic event that prompted you to get healthy?
A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, which causes a lot of serious symptoms, including increased intracranial pressure and bad migraines. I lost vision in one eye. They thought it was multiple sclerosis and did lots of tests, including a lumbar puncture. I also had high blood pressure and cholesterol. I was only 29! Ultimately, they decided I had to lose weight to get better.
Were there other reasons?
My father’s entire family is overweight. My father had a heart attack and triple bypass when I was in high school. I have three kids and don’t want them to go through the fear and stress that I did growing up. I want to be able to chase after my 5-year-old. Finally, I decided it was time -- not just for me, but for my kids.
How did you get to that point?
With each child, I gained a little weight. I said it was baby fat, but I didn’t lose it. It’s easy to ignore when you wear scrubs every day. But when you try to put on jeans, and you can’t get into them, it’s a real eye-opener.
What’s the picture now?
In eight months, I lost 85 pounds. I’m off all medication and my blood pressure is 116/88. My cholesterol is 168 and I have a lot more energy.
What were your first steps?
I joined Weight Watchers and a friend introduced me to Beach Body, a home DVD workout program. I know others who have done it and I’ve never seen a person it didn’t work for.
What’s your exercise routine?
I get up at 4:30 every morning and exercise for 30 minutes. I do cardio, weights and resistance bands. On Saturdays, I throw in some yoga.
Have you changed your diet?
I’ve tried diets before and they always failed. I’d lose 10 to 15 pounds, then put it all back on. Now our whole family lifestyle has changed. Carbs no longer exist in our house, except for occasional healthy ones, like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or sweet potatoes. We cut out pork, and salads are made with spinach instead of iceberg lettuce.
How about your kids?
I don’t cook separate meals for them, so they don’t have other options. I want them to have healthy eating habits and know how to make good choices.
You’re really organized.
On Sunday, I go to the grocery store. I buy fruits and vegetables, then I wash and cut them and stick them in fridge. That way, we can reach in and grab snacks any time. It’s a challenge, but I try to set aside time on Sunday to meal prep for the week.
It’s hard work to lose weight and takes time, but you didn’t gain it overnight. Sometimes you’re going to fall off or lose your motivation. But remember, no one is perfect. That’s life and tomorrow is a new day.