134: Taking Control, Dropping Weight Despite A Knee Injury | Jess Loeb (F/27)

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“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.”
-Disney’s Mulan

Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors

Jess says she was always a bit heavy growing up, but that didn’t impact her ability to keep up with activities and making friends.

At the age of 15 Jess suffered a major knee dislocation. This injury prevented her for participating in as many activities as she was accustomed to, and Jess says that since she didn’t change her eating habits to compensate, she went from a size 10 to “at least” a size 14/16.

Jess acknowledges that at this time she simply didn’t want to think about her weight. At 18 Jess was told that her knee’s ligament was permanently loose, and so she “basically gave up” on her physical activities.

How Being Overweight Impacted Jess’s Life

Jess was dealing with depression and she had a stressful home life in high school, which she felt unable to talk about with her friends. Jess shares that she was ready to go to college so she could escape from that stressful situation. In college Jess feels that she didn’t have much sense of proper nutrition, and says

“I was yo-yo-ing pretty heavily throughout college.”

Jess thinks that being a bookworm helped save her, since it gave her something to focus on, and she put her energy into her studies. After college Jess says that she joined in the party lifestyle of the Bay area and the programming work culture she was a part of, and was drinking and eating out a lot.

unknown_weight_2010Jess feels that the hardest part of being the size she was in her early 20s was not being able to do all the things she wanted to do physically, even though she continued to make friends and socialize.

Jess’s family was bugging her for many years to get her knee examined, but she was always skeptical there was anything that could be done about it. As she started to travel for work and cut back on drinking, Jess stepped on the scale for the first time in 4 years.

220 pounds (100 kg) was the weight Jess had remembered from her last doctor visit, and since she physically felt the same, she was shocked to see she now weighed 250. (113.6 kg)

Motivated to lose some weight, Jess began to add activity back into her life, and worked on obstacle course challenge races, and 5Ks with her friends. Jess’s knee would often dislocate, and that would leave her unable to walk for 2-3 weeks after each injury.

“Basically I just didn’t realize how dumb I was being.”

Her fiance finally confronted Jess with how her injury was not just impacting herself but also all those who cared about her.

The Turning Point

When Jess finally went to the doctor, she found out that her kneecap was in two pieces and had been for many years.

After a second opinion Jess finally decided to have an operation for her knee. After speaking openly with her doctor, Jess says that her recovery was forecast to be more difficult because of her weight, and she also learned that she would be more likely to re-injure herself down the road if she was carrying extra weight on her knee.

Starting The Weight Loss Journey

zombie5k_2011Jess decided she needed to do some research into what diet and lifestyle changes might work for her. Her fiance introduced her to the LoseIt subreddit on Reddit.com, the FAQ of which she credits for many of her weight loss strategies.

For Jess, the journey started by reading and researching. After trying keto and intermittent fasting in high school, Jess moved to a more traditional calorie counting approach for weight loss. The numeric logic involved in calorie counting appealed to Jess and her approach to solving programming problems at work.

Three months after her surgery Jess took her starting weight on January 6, 2014, and that was day 1 of calorie counting for her. Jess has been mostly private about her weight loss journey throughout this year, and says:

“It’s very personal to me…this isn’t something that I talk about a lot.”

Initially Jess calculated her calorie intake at 1300 each day while she recovered from surgery. She says that the toughest change for her has been integrating achieving her calorie goals with socializing around food. Figuring out how to go out to eat with her friends was challenging in the beginning.

Jess says she is now a light drinker, and is aware of just how many calories she was drinking before. Jess visualizes her daily calorie deficit as an analogy for paying off her student loan, or just another form of budgeting.

What Jess Learned About Food, Exercise, and Herself

Jess feels that it was very empowering for her to be aware of how many calories she was consuming, and figuring out ways to not feel deprived with her allotted calories. She liked learning that she herself was in fact in control of her caloric consumption.

250 pounds was her highest documented weight, and Jess now weighs 175. (79.5 kg) While Jess recalls that she had a lot of confidence at her higher weight, she thinks a lot now about how much more weight her knee needed to support even when it was broken.

Jess shares that how differently people treat her at her new weight is “kind of mind-blowing” to her. For this reason, Jess also says that is glad that she was already in a relationship when she began her weight loss journey because she doesn’t feel able to gauge the different reception she is given now in social situations at her smaller weight.

Jess shares that her journey, knee issues and weight loss included, have definitely influenced her strong character.

Jess’s Advice For Your Journey

There are two “secret” ingredients for weight loss success, according to Jess: information and prioritization. She thinks that what might work for one person is very individual, so she advises experimenting and finding what is applicable TO YOU personally, and then to prioritize it.

Jess says that she is currently shifting her sights away from the scale, although there are 10-20 additional pounds she could lose. More importantly, Jess’s priority now is building muscle and working on strength exercises to aid her knee in recovery. She is already the right size to fit into her wedding dress, three months ahead of her wedding.

Resources Discussed In This Podcast

On Jess’s Workout Playlist

Contact Jess


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