The Amazing Adventures of Jilanna – Part I

As someone who's been "maintenance challenged" I love to pick the brains of folk who are keeping the pounds off without going batty. Today I've pounced on the lovely Jilanna from Canada for my next The Amazing Adventures of… interview. Jilanna talked to me about her 70 pound weight loss, her healthy living tactics, and how the sudden death of her beloved uncle inspired her to become a runner.


Jilanna – Then & Now


1. Name, age, location?

My name is Jilanna. I’m thirty five and I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

2. Can you remember how/when you started reading Dietgirl?

I don’t remember exactly when or how, but I know it was quite soon after the big move to Scotland and I've been a regular reader ever since. Your blog and book gave me hope that someday I would get my act together.

3. To set the scene for the statistics lovers out there, can you tell us your before and current weight?

 In March 2010, I set out to lose 60 pounds. I had been holding steady at the same weight for three or four years (about twenty pounds below my all-time highest weight), confident and relatively content, but it was time to make a change.  When I reached -60 lbs, I realized I wanted to go a little further. I have been maintaining a total loss of 70 pounds since January 2011. I now weigh myself every four weeks and my weight fluctuates by about a pound up or down each month.

4. What prompted you to decide to lose weight? Had there been previous attempts?

 Over the years, I made a few half-hearted attempts to lose weight.  I tried different things, like Weight Watchers or going to the gym, but I never took more than a single baby step in the right direction.

Until March 2010, I lived on beige food, believed life was too short to eat vegetables and preferred to eat my favourite, decadent treats at every opportunity. I was on continuous feed, eating while working, celebrating, grieving, cooking and watching TV or reading. I couldn’t see my way free of my habits and although I knew what should be done, I couldn’t wrap my head around actually doing it.

When I started on The Plan (as I like to call it; in my mind, diets have deadlines, plans have a timeline and focus) in 2010, I was ready to change. I had what I would now describe as a clear sense of motivation and I had identified tangible goals. I recognized that although I was self-confident, secure in my relationships and not experiencing any health issues, I would not have the long and healthy life I wanted if I continued to eat in the same way. I was newly married and hoping to be a mother someday. I did not want to teach anyone else to eat the way I did. And I was going to be thirty five before we even thought about babies. I couldn’t do anything about the risks that came with age, but I could do something about my weight.

5. What tools/methods did you use for your weight loss? How did you decide on the particular method?

 A couple of colleagues had tried Simply for Life, a program that teaches clients the basics, provided detailed meal plans and recipes for real food, one-on-one support and strategies for coping with change. I asked them a lot of questions and eventually made an appointment with a consultant. I talked to Jillian about my fears and my hopes for the future. We discussed the number of pounds I hoped to lose, but she never once suggested a number. We agreed to meet weekly and work together to reach my goals and adjust our focus as needed.

It was a big adjustment but I felt better almost immediately. Before long, I was sure I had made one of the best decisions of my life. My energy was up, I was better able to handle stress and my moods didn’t change with the ebb and flow of sugar in my system. I could feel myself getting stronger and healthier. I was shocked by the improvements and I felt empowered by the changes I was making.

Now that I’ve reached my goal, I still meet with Jillian once a month to check-in and confirm my plan. I’m doing the work on my own, choosing everything I eat and building on what I have learned.  We’ve made some adjustments in the past year, particularly as I have taken up running, to ensure I continue to get the right kind of fuel when I need it. My appointments with Jillian help keep me accountable and ensure that I celebrate my progress.

6. How did you get started with exercise?  Have you always been into fitness or has this developed during your weight loss journey?

As a kid, I played outside, swam, rode my bike and walked all over the village. Exercise was a torment reserved for gym class and I was never particularly happy to participate (big understatement). When I was a teenager, I lived with my uncle and his family for a couple of summers.  Uncle Brian was a lifelong runner and taught physical fitness in the air force.  I did cardio and strength training while I lived with them and I got a lot out of it.  I just didn’t keep it up when I came home. In my twenties and very early thirties I tried going to the gym on my own at different points and I did Pilates with friends… but, much like my plans to lose weight, it didn’t take.

When I started on The Plan in 2010, I focused only on improving my nutrition. Exercise was part of the long-term plan, but I wanted to be sure I understood and built a healthy life with food first. My theory was that no matter what, I would always need to eat.  Illness might interrupt exercise, but food was essential. So I focused on food and experienced great results.  Because my energy went up, I felt better and got out and moved more. I walked more, got more fresh air and I was less likely to hesitate if an activity was suggested. There was no routine, but my fitness improved through a kind of osmosis.

Stay turned for Part II tomorrow, where Jilanna shares how running help her cope with bereavement, plus her tips for staying in a healthy groove.

6 thoughts on “The Amazing Adventures of Jilanna – Part I

  1. Very interesting story! My own maintenance (since April 15, 2011), has not been as successful as Jilanna’s. Although I’m still technically 10 lbs. below that 160 lbs. goal weight–realistically I’ve put on 10 lbs. since hitting my lowest weight on 10/30/11. And now I’m thinking, “How can I stop this march upward on the scale RIGHT NOW?” I know I just need to get stricter with myself, start tracking my food and counting calories again, and get back to consistently walking (my chosen exercise), but that is easier SAID than DONE.
    I need to re-find that determination I had while I was on my journey. I need to realize that journey was FOR LIFE, and although I have not returned to my pre-weight loss habits (which were much like Jilana’s–eating anything I wanted for any reason at all), I evidently am eating too much to maintain that lowest weight I hit. I liked it there, and this morning, for instance my size 8 (American) slacks are a little too tight around my waist. That should be a sign to me to RE-start. I hope I can do it. I don’t want that scale to get any higher before I start seeing it reverse direction! Can’t wait to read Part II of Jilanna’s success story.

    Like Jilanna–I’m a long-time fan of yours Shauna. My only complaint is that I wish you would write more often!

  2. Thank you for this. Shauna.. your questions are wonderful. And Jilanna.. your answers even better. I think I might reframe it as The Plan myself. I love this. I have been struggling with the start/stop of losing weight. And the idea of approaching it as The Plan makes such great sense. Thank you. Just what I needed today.

  3. Hi Sarah J – Changing the way I thought and talked about it made all the difference for me. Good luck with your Plan! I have confidence in you! BIG HUG.

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