140-pound weight loss goal achieved with determination, discipline


August 28, 2012 – I first met Jennifer Manley when I was interviewing her for a position at the YMCA.   She is a 25-year-old woman who has a very inspirational story to share with others.  She struggled her whole life with her weight and grew up often eating a lot of fast food and being sedentary.  By high school, her weight had gotten up to 270 pounds.  Jennifer got married young, at the age of 22, and was divorced in September of 2009 at the age of 23.  During that time she gained 30 pounds, bringing her highest weight to 300 pounds.

A friend inspired her to lose weight; he talked to her about his training and encouraged her along the way.  His name was Jacob and he lived in Maryland.  He gave her the advice to visualize her “ideal body” and work toward that.  What SHE could achieve, not what someone else looked like, but what was a realistic body type for her to strive toward.  They had a deal that they would celebrate when she reached her goal.  Tragically, Jacob died in December of 2010 from health issues that he dealt with for many years.  Still his spirit lived on to help Jennifer to reach her goal.

Along the way Jennifer became a nursery worker at a gym.  She met a lady named Christie Meister from the gym, who was also a great inspiration to her.  Christie had lost a lot of weight on her own and she helped Jennifer learn how to train in the gym and mentored her along the way.  For three years, every day Jennifer and Christie trained.

When she first stepped into the gym, she was embarrassed.  Jennifer says, “It was hard coming to the gym where everyone looks good.”  Christie told her, “If you really want it, come back.”  Throughout her journey Jennifer got frustrated, but she never gave up.

At the beginning she didn’t change her eating.  She lost a little weight and maintained her loss.  She got stronger but was still big. Finally, she changed her diet and started losing 7 pounds a month consistently on average.

Jennifer gained confidence, and got rid of the anxiety that she dealt with in her daily life previously. She says she wants to, “inspire, motivate, educate, and to help people understand it’s about inner strength. When you want something bad enough you’ll do what it takes.”

In May of 2011 – Jennifer reached her goal.

Jennifer said her real goal is to, “Be the best me that I can be.” She says that she saw Christie often in the weight room instead of in the cardio room, like so many women seem to be drawn to.  She learned that the only real way to shape the body is through clean eating, weight training, and moderate cardio.  Lifestyle change is truly the only way to change your life.   To quote Gordie Echtenkamp, the CEO of the Metropolitan YMCA, in an article discussing leadership “Real learning doesn’t occur until you change your behavior,” the same applies to any positive change in your life.

Jennifer is a great example of determination and discipline.  I’m proud to know her and look forward to helping her continue to reach her goals and inspire others.

Liz Jones is the Membership and Wellness Director at the Rockwall County YMCA.

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Liz Jones is the Membership & Wellness Director at Rockwall Family YMCA, located at 1210 N Goliad in Rockwall.  She is a writer, certified yoga instructor, and wellness coach.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and Strategic Management, with a graduate certificate in Ethics and Leadership.  Her undergraduate studies included communication, business, writing, art, fitness, and dance.  

Liz is trained in Reiki, Guided Imagery, and various healing methods. She has also trained in Shotokan karate and other forms of martial arts and self-defense.  Her background includes non-profit management and working with various at-risk populations, women’s empowerment workshops, and mentoring programs. 

Connect with Liz at  or 972-772-9622.