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Anyone who follows Jelayne Sheltonon social media quickly becomes enamored with her warmth and energy. The fitness enthusiast and mother of three based in Hawaii embodies the exuberant enthusiasm of a seasoned athlete. However, it took her a long time to arrive at this place, and Shelton’s journey of self-discovery and struggle is well-storied.
Shelton’s aha moment came in February 2018 shortly after the birth of her second child: She weighed more than 300 pounds and her doctor warned that her life was in jeopardy. Determined to see her kids grow up, Shelton set a lofty goal to lose 100 pounds and laughingly agreed to run the Honolulu Marathon in December at the urging of a friend.
Her work began immediately. She adopted a ketogenic diet and began taking daily 30-minute walks. After a few months, she added 30 minutes of strength training to her schedule three to four days a week, targeting a different bodypart each day. By December, she had lost 25 pounds, and even though she had only a basic foundation of strength and limited physical endurance, Shelton decided to run the marathon she had vowed to do 10 months earlier. To her surprise and delight, she finished. “I proved to myself that if I fully committed to anything in my life, I could make it happen,” she says.
Buoyed by her success, Shelton went full steam ahead toward improving her health. She continued doing her daily walks and at-home workouts and, as she gained confidence, transitioned to a gym and incorporated group exercise classes into her routine. She also made it a point to boost her confidence and sense of worth with positive self-talk and prayer. “I knew I had to be my own cheerleader,” she says.
Kicking the Addiction
Even though Shelton was inspired by having completed the marathon, she had not adequately addressed her issues with food. “Food was a coping mechanism [I used to compensate] for being bullied and teased by my peers and family members,” she says. “The more I ate, the more weight I gained. It became a sort of barrier or shield for me, even though that shield was the very thing that was causing the bullying.”
The further she got into her ketogenic lifestyle, the more apparent her nutrition issues became. Cutting back even more on carbs and sweets triggered mood swings and headaches for Shelton, but it also opened her eyes to the severity of her addiction and made it easier to commit to change.
Naturally, the healthier she ate, the better she felt and the more motivated she was to continue. “I had more energy to play with my kids without feeling winded or tired,” she says. “My children are also happier now because mommy is happier. That is one of the biggest rewards from this entire journey.”
In February 2019, one year after pronouncing it, Shelton met her 100-pound weight-loss goal. She is now a successful social media influencer who motivates others to pursue their health and fitness goals, and her next aim is to become a personal trainer and nutritionist. “Losing weight and getting healthy won’t save your marriage or make people like you more,” she says. “But making yourself the No. 1 priority is a game changer, and you will come out happier in the end.”
Location: Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Weight before: 306
Weight after: 155
Occupation: Social media influencer and owner of Evolve360
Go-to mantra: “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” – Brene Brown
Favorite bodypart to train: Legs
Preferred cardio: Walking
Most inspirational hiking spot: The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail on Oahu
Did you lose a ton of weight? Overcome insurmountable obstacles and come out the other side fit and healthy? Then we want to hear from you! The Oxygen Transform section is dedicated to giving women a chance to share their journeys with others who may also be struggling with weight loss, and give them the hope and motivation to continue forward and succeed as well. Apply here.