‘I Did A Workplace Weight Loss Challenge To Jumpstart My 140-Pound Weight Loss’

My name is Jenni Gayden (@cupcakesrolls2weightlossgoals), and I’m 33 years old. I live in DeKalb, Illinois, and I’m a marketing coordinator. After struggling with my weight for most of my life, I started a workplace weight-loss challenge with my husband, began counting calories with the MyFitnesPal app, and started cycling daily to lose 140 pounds.

I had been overweight since the end of grade school, but the majority of my excessive weight gain came after I graduated college. I was no longer working out and playing sports every day. This led me to my first weight loss journey that I embarked on in 2011 and 2012. My mom and I decided that we were going to start WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). Over the course of a few months, I had dropped about 40 pounds. But from 2012 to 2017, I gained back all the weight that I had lost at WW, plus another 50 pounds or so. I was also dealing with PCOS, and my weight topped out at 317 pounds.

On January 4, 2018, my husband mentioned that his work was starting a weight loss challenge and wanted to know if I wanted to join him.I figured, “Weight loss is easier when you do it with a partner, so why not?” That’s when I started on my second (and current) weight loss journey.

What started as a work competition for my husband and his co-workers helped me lose 140 pounds in just over 2 years.


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While I couldn’t technically be part of the competition because I didn’t work there, we still did it together.His work only had the competition for a few months, but when I realized that calorie counting was working for me, I just kept going.

For the challenge, we downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and simplycounted calories and tracked food, and I’ve been doing it ever since. It works for me because I realized that I didn’t need to cut anything out of my diet–I just needed to be more aware of how much of something I was eating. The app and counting calories really opened my eyes to my habits. I also think I’ve been successful because I don’t eat the same things over and over–I just find different foods/snacks/treats that fit into my daily calorie allotment.

For the first 11 months of my journey, I lost 70 pounds by just focusing on my nutrition and counting calories.


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Here’s what I eat in a day now.

  • Breakfast: Fairlife Protein Shake mixed with iced coffee or sometimes oatmeal.
  • Lunch: Soup, sandwich, Annie’s Mac n Cheese or Rice-A-Roni (about 150-220 calories) plus petite carrots, Babybel cheese, Greek yogurt, an apple, or a banana.


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  • Snacks: Popcorn, Veggie Straws, Good Thins or Peatos.
  • Dinner: I try to reserve 800-1,000 calories for dinner and an after-dinner treat. Dinner normally includes a protein, a side dish (rice, couscous, pasta, or potato) and a frozen veggie.


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  • Dessert: Popsicles Fruit Twisters, Skinny Cow ice cream, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or Oreos.


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I started working out in December 2018 after my husband got me a stationary bike for Christmas.

I try to get up at 4:30 a.m. every weekday so that I can bike at least one hour every morning before work. If my work schedule and the weather allows, I walk around two miles on my lunch breaks. I also play softball one night a week, and my husband and I try to golf as often as possible on the weekends from April-September.


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I also walk a lot on the weekends (and try to run to the best of my ability).During the pandemic, I also ended up completing 10 virtual 5Ks.


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These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.


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I have lost 140 pounds in two years.

The first 70 pounds of my weight loss came from watching what I was eating, counting calories and actually paying attention to serving sizes. It is completely mind blowing to me how much an actual serving size is compared to how much I would normally eat. I learned that even though I’m counting the calories that I’m eating, it’s really important to make sure you get enough nutrients and protein so you’re eating a balanced diet. I learned that 90 calories of carrots is way more filling and satisfying than a 90-calorie Fiber One brownie.

I also learned that food didn’t have to be my crutch anymore, and that I was stronger than those binge sessions and eating fast food multiple times a week. I learned that I had strength and confidence. I finally learned to take care of myself.I used to worry about everyone else and never give myself the care I needed.And most importantly, I learned to love myself again–something I hadn’t done in years.

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