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Queing Jones: Transformation Starts From Within
Chubby. Big-boned. Thick. These are the adjectives Queing Jones used to describe herself growing up, finally settling on “obese” as her ultimate physical descriptor as she entered her 30s and 40s. A steady diet of fast food and disappointment meant the slow creep of the scale, until Jones maxed out at 246 pounds.
“Eating was a way of coping for me, and I used food as a balm,” says Jones in retrospect. “I was trying to soothe the feelings of hopelessness because of the transitions that constantly plagued me — loss of a job, moving, my grandmother’s death, financial pressure and the elusive quest to lose weight.”
The final straw was a bad breakup. “I was so heartbroken, but as cliché as it sounds, I wanted to be better, not bitter,” she says. “I vowed to give myself the love that I had been longing to get from someone else and started by practicing compassion toward myself. I knew I needed that more than anything else because if my body was going to change, my thinking and feelings about myself had to change first.”
This is a typical cycle for many women, building up their friends and loved ones but then tearing themselves down. “I’d never tell my bestie, ‘You are so fat I can’t stand to look at you,’” Jones says. “Therefore, I could no longer tell myself things like that, either.”
Jones took a hard look at her diet — and didn’t like what she saw. A quick Google search of “clean eating” brought up endless info on nutrition, meal planning and food prep, all of which Jones absorbed as fast as she could scroll. She ditched her fast-food habit and began to track her macros. “The hardest part was developing discipline around eating every three hours,” Jones says. “I was so used to eating what I wanted when I wanted.”
Of course, the transition wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. “Sometimes I’d sabotage my efforts and a cheat meal would turn into a cheat day,” she says. “That would lead to feelings of defeat, which would lead to emotional eating and so on. It was a roller-coaster ride at times, but every new day I tried again.”
Jones’ first exercise goal was simply to walk for an hour a day four days a week. She cruised around the lakefront of Chicago and spent some time on self-reflection, meditation and prayer, and she began to slowly drop some weight. She hired a personal trainer for a bit but did not resonate with the trainer’s drill-sergeant style and looked elsewhere for her ideal exercise outlet. Soon enough, she found her people: a fitness boutique specializing in strength training and boot camps.
“This was a culture of sisterhood and empowerment — exactly the type of motivation that I was missing — and I thrived on it,” Jones says.
Jones lost 13 pounds her first month at the studio and went on to lose 60 more, which shuttled her to her 100-pound weight-loss goal in the summer of 2016. She still trains there today with the intention of adding some lean muscle and lifting heavier weights, as well as getting her group fitness certification and possibly entering a figure competition.
It took Jones about two years to lose the weight, but she’d argue it was time well-spent. “My advice: Let go of the deadline of when you want to lose the weight,” she says. “Be aggressively compassionate with yourself, and celebrate your victories not by what the scale says but by whether or not you kept your word to yourself each week. Transformation starts from within. It’s absolutely a spiritual endeavor first.”
Old weight: 246
Current weight: 146
Occupation: Kindergarten teacher
Favorite mantra: “Commitment is not always convenient.” — Dr. Bill Winston
Favorite bodypart to train: “I love shoulders! My favorite move is upright rows with a straight bar.”
Weekly Training Split
Monday: Chest, Biceps
Tuesday: Cardio, Calves
Wednesday: Hamstrings, Abs
Thursday: Shoulders, Triceps
Friday: Cardio, Calves
Sarah Wallace: From Rock Bottom to Rock Star
The callousness of two unknown men at first plummeted Sarah Wallace to a critical low — but ultimately buoyed her to an all-time high.
rewind a year and a half: Sarah Wallace was in Europe for the trip of a lifetime, and although she had many amazing experiences, one dark time overshadowed them all. “I was walking down the street in Brussels when two men behind me started oinking and making cruel comments,” says Wallace, who at the time weighed 347 pounds. “This continued for two whole city blocks, and with every oink, more and more tears welled up in my eyes. Normally, I would have turned around and let them have it, since I am usually forward and outspoken, but in that moment, I was at my lowest. My emotional tank was officially empty.”
Wallace had always been overweight, and though she masked her unhappiness with a bubbly, goofy personality, inside she was hurting. “Like Fat Bastard in Austin Powers says, ‘I eat because I’m unhappy and I’m unhappy because I eat,’” she says. “I was slowly killing myself with food and I didn’t care.”
On the Upswing
But despite the malicious intent of those anonymous men, something in Wallace turned that day for the better. She decided to change her lifestyle and approach to eating, though in a rather unconventional way: She refused to count calories, weigh her food, track points or keep a food diary. “I knew that the habits I developed had to last a lifetime, so I kept it simple and only ate healthy, nutritious, unprocessed foods, and I ate only until I was satisfied — not full or stuffed,” she says. “Do not get me wrong, there were days when I would literally break down and cry over a Jujube! But no matter what, I refused to give in to my temptations.”
There’s an App for That
Next, she tackled exercise, beginning at first by walking 10,000 steps a day and tracking her progress with a Fitbit. As she dropped weight, Wallace was able to walk longer distances and worked up to a daily 5K. “I was also big on having dance parties in my living room either by myself or with my stepdaughter,” she says.
Wallace downloaded several workout apps for variety rather than joining a gym, and she created a fitness kit to keep in her car and take to various parks. “All I need is my kit, a little creativity and an app and I can work out anywhere,” she says. “I also use items in the park, and on any given day, you can find me hugging a big rock or using a children’s jungle gym for various bodyweight exercises.”
Sexy in Her Skin
Fast-forward to present day and Wallace is down 135 pounds — and counting. “The scale isn’t moving much lately because I increased my weight training — but I am still losing inches!” she says. Wallace has also taken up running and plans to do several 5Ks in 2017.
“I was at my lowest a year ago, and today I couldn’t be happier,” she says. “Coming from a place of morbid obesity to finally feeling confident, comfortable and even a little sexy in my skin is completely new to me. I hope this is a feeling that I will never take for granted.”
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Old weight: 347
Current weight: 212 (and counting!)
Goal weight: 180-190
Occupation: Training coordinator/analyst
Sarah’s Fitness Kit:
- Jump rope
- Resistance bands
- Pilates ball
- Yoga mat
- Ankle/wrist weights
Wallace’s Wise Words:
- Strike that horrible word “diet” from your vocabulary because it implies that this change is only temporary.
- You are not a dog. Do not reward yourself with food.
- Remove all toxicity from your life — food, alcohol and people who don’t respect your choices.
- Losing weight is hard. Being fat is harder. Choose your hard.