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In this video, Mrs. New York America 2015, Jessica Lahr shares her very inspirational and motivating story about her journey to health. She also shares about how she got into modeling, and about her journey to competing in and winning the Mrs. New York America pageant. Learn about her 70 pound weight loss and how she did it. While dietary lifestyle changes and exercise played a big part in her success, even more important was was attitude about taking control of her health and her BELIEF that she was worth it and could do it! This is a great story of success. I'm honored to call her a friend. She inspires me greatly!
SHF: Sterling Health and Fitness
JL: Jessica Lahr, Mrs. New York America 2015
SHF: Hey folks, it’s Karl at Sterling Health and Fitness and thanks for watching. So, today we’re bringing you a story of success. A story about a journey to health and here to speak with us today is my friend who also happens to be Mrs. New York America, my friend Jessica Lahr. Thank you so much.
JL: Thank you, Karl!
SHF: Always good to see you.
JL: You too.
SHF: So, you went through a transformation over the past few years.
JL: I did.
SHF: And, to me this is a very inspiring story and I appreciate you taking the time to share with people because you know, first of all, one thing I find as a trainer is that whether people are working with me or not, a lot of people have this sense of hopelessness. Or, ‘it’s too late,’ or ‘it’s not worth it,’ or, ‘I can’t do it,’ ‘I don’t believe in myself,’ ‘It’s not possible for me to attain the physique I want, or the level of health I want and fitness.’ And so, the reason I want to talk to you is because you went through this just, amazing transformation.
JL: Thank you.
SHF: And this kind of message can really affect a lot of people. I know you inspire me.
JL: Awe, thank you, and you me.
SHF: Well thank you.
JL: You’re welcome.
SHF: Going back, I’m wondering if you could tell us, where did you start? A few years ago, what was your situation?
JL: Oh my goodness.
SHF: What was going on?
JL: A few years ago I had my first child. My son, Colby, and through that pregnancy I gained so much weight and I was already a little heavier than I had normally been before I got pregnant. I remember stepping on the scale after I had him, and I don’t remember the exact number, but it was close to 200 pounds, within a few pounds. And I just remember going, “Oh my gosh!” and stepping off the scale in shock.
SHF: And I’m interjecting, you’re not like 6’4” or anything, right?
JL: No, I’m 5’6”! Just 5’6”.
SHF: Right, so, 5’6”, 200 pounds, that would be on the heavier side. And, you weren’t feeling the best?
JL: No, and so like you had said I was just in this place, I very much related to what you just said. My hormones were crazy, I was battling a very private and secret depression that no one knew about because I was ashamed. I mean I had this brand new, amazing, little baby boy and he was the light of my life, but I really struggled with this new identity. It was the first time I stopped working and bringing in anything, financially, to our home. And so, I kind of lost who I was and I was unrecognizable when I looked in the mirror. So you know, I felt insignificant and I didn’t know how to come out of that. I’d never experienced that before.
SHF: Well I appreciate you sharing that and I know there are a lot of people that get into those “funks.” They’re sad, they’re depressed, sometimes they hide it, sometimes they don’t. So what was the catalyst for you that caused you to really take some action whether it be eating differently or exercising more. How did you get started? Was there a cause, a factor that caused you to do that?
JL: Well people always ask me, “what was the moment for you?” “What happened?” i don’t remember there being one pivotal moment that made me want to transform, I remember all these little things eating away at me and just, I remember crying in dressing rooms. I remember just going to buy clothes and I didn’t know which size to pick so I picked, you know, the biggest I could find and it wouldn’t fit, and you know just all these little things ended up getting me this this point where I just, I can’t remember what it was but I remember I was like, I’m going to start applying healthier eating habits, I’m going to try to start exercising again. I was always an athlete growing up. And so, I did. I started applying smaller portions, even with the bad food, I didn’t change the food I ate I just had smaller portions. And, I started exercising. I remember getting on our elliptical machine and doing 10 minutes and being exhausted. And, I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is sad.” So, each day I would say, or every couple days that I’m going to add one minute, so i would add a minute and do 11 minutes and then the next day I would either do 11 minutes or 12 minutes to kind of see where I was at. So, I would try to push myself that way and that’s really where I started.
SHF: Well, actually that’s really interesting because we have a couple different personality types. out there. Some people can go radical and just change everything. You know, they can just stop everything and start, let’s say, a whole new dietary lifestyle and exercise routine. Other people need to go into a different mode that we call, baby steps. So, I think whatever works for people is the most important thing, that they’re able to do something. So it sounds like, you started on the elliptical and you were adding a minute or two.
JL: Yeah, yeah. It was a process.
SHF: I love that. I mean that’s a great way to take an approach to exercise where you’re thinking, well they say exercise for 30 minutes or an hour, but you’re thinking, I just can’t do that. So, that doesn’t mean you can’t do ten minutes and at least get started. I think for a lot of us, just getting started is the key. So, what did you feel like when you started exercising? I mean, you did ten minutes and you were exhausted, but was there anything that happened afterward? Were you feeling good that you did it? Did you want to do more.
JL: I mean, immediately I was happy that I just did it. You’re doing it and you don’t want to be doing it, but then you feel good that you did it. But, then you don’t want to do it the next day and the next day, but I thought, if I don’t just do it then I’m never going to do it. I just forced myself, and I would say it took about two weeks of forcing myself before I started loving it and really craving that exercise. And then I started applying healthier food options and integrating healthier food options into my daily meals and snacks and I didn’t really know how to, I had never really had to watch what I ate before, but that was important. So, when I started eating healthier foods, I started feeling better mentally, physicall, emotionally.
SHF: So, that brings me to another question that I would like to ask. If you don’t mind sharing with us, how much weight did you lose?
JL: I’ve lost 70 pounds, but I know that you have too, right?
SHF: Actually it’s the same, exact number.
JL: That’s kind of neat, that we both did!
SHF: It’s been a process. So, I didn’t get 70 pounds heavier overnight, or in a week, or in a year, so I didn’t lose it in a year. I mean this was a process for you too right?
JL: Oh yeah. It took me between my two pregnancies which were two years apart, and I lost 35 pounds after my first son was born was born and then I got pregnant again. And so, it was after that pregnancy that I lost and got back to where I am now. And that took me close to three years. I mean it was over two years where I was feeling good and wasn’t sure if I would lose anymore, like 15 more pounds after that. So I lost a total of 70 pounds, but it took me three years basically to do that. It was a slow process, it wasn’t instant.
SHF: So, this process, did it involve continual changes in you diet and exercise? Like what were some progressions you were doing in each of those areas?
JL: Well I started doing at home workouts and then I started doing classes. One of my girl friends teaches classes. I started doing different things like cardio kickboxing and different things. Tabata, is one that we did.
SHF: That’ll really spike the heart rate.
JL: Oh yeah! And I really liked that because then you have camaraderie among the other people and you build those relationships among other people that are also attaining the same goals as far as health and fitness go and my eating habits. And then I met you, and I’m on this amazing journey and I just needed to be pushed and I think your approach is different than anything I’ve ever done. I really like the way that you work out and the types of exercises and things that you do.
SHF: Well, it’s powerful stuff and I appreciate working with you.
JL: Thank you.
SHF: She puts a lot of work into these workouts. She doesn’t skimp on anything. She puts in a lot, so she also gets a lot out of them. Which, you know, I’m really proud of what you’ve done in your workouts. So, we’re talking about gradual progress and changing up your routine, exercising, doing different things, modalities, and then continual changes in diet. You’re dialing in on what works for you?
JL: Yeah, even now, more recently, I’ve changed my diet. Just trying to, like stop eating at night and I mean I’m someone who loves sweet and savory, so I want popcorn and ice cream, french fries and chocolate. That is, talk about a double whammy, it’s not good. It’s really hard for me to stop eating and snacking in front of the tv at 10:30 at night.
SHF: What did you do to control that?
JL: I would go to bed earlier!
SHF: Hey, whatever works.
JL: I had to, yeah. So then I stopped doing that and then just adding more vegetables into my diet, more protein, less refined carbs, sugars.
SHF: Good point and I’m glad you brought that up. I’ll just interject one more second. One thing we know, and there are studies out there on this and it’s proven, if you eat real food, for example, real fruit or real vegetables you’re going to get fuller sooner than if you ate something that probably came from the center of the grocery store because it’s preserved and it’ll last forever which means you are ingesting that stuff.
JL: Yeah, it’s scary.
SHF: And a lot of times those foods are designed to trick our leptin hormones, which are the ones that tell our brain that our stomach’s full, and they’re actually scientifically designed to short circuit that so we keep eating more and then buying more. And it’s really led to a serious crisis in our country, with overweight, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type two diabetes and a lot of other things. So, that’s great you stick mostly with fruits and vegetables which will make you fuller, faster. Plus they have fiber.
JL: And they are so many ways to cook them.
SHF: And they help on the other end too. I know that’s “TMI” but it’s true. I mean, you do need to be eliminating also. I mean, colon cancer is at a very high rate right now, so we’re not trying to be funny here, it’s very serious. Those are great changes you made.
JL: I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t eat food that probably isn’t the best for me, everything is in moderation and that’s the difference. I love ice cream, I’m not going to stop eating ice cream for the rest of my life, I’m sorry. You have to have a balance, you know.
SHF: It’s when you’re eating that stuff all the time and you have an occasional good meal. Like one good meal isn’t going to make you healthy. But, if you’re eating healthy all the time, one bad meal isn’t going to make you unhealthy.
JL: Exactly, that’s perfect.
SHF: Well I’m curious now, you’re Mrs. New York America, congratulations.
JL: Yes! Thank you!
SHF: And you are leaving very soon, September 24th for Las Vegas for Mrs. America.
SHF: Okay, well seven years ago was this a thought in your head that you might be doing this? And, how did this come about? Modeling, Mrs. New York America, pagaents?
JL: I’m gonna get emotional about it because I could’ve never imagined in my wildest dreams that this could’ve happened since being in that place. I remember crying in a dressing room and thinking that my childhood dreams of modeling or acting would never come true. And I had never even seen a pagaent before competing in the Mrs. New York America pagaent. So, I started modeling, I had a friend who i was volunteering coaching a cheerleading team and she was the stylist and she pretty much forced me to go to a casting call for a fashion show three and a half years ago in Buffalo and I did it and I got in and I couldn’t believe it. It was just a little “rinky dink” fashion show, but it gave me that little ounce of belief that I needed to pursue my dream of modeling. And since, I’ve been modeling and commercial acting.
SHF: So, you’re in the top ten booked models.
JL: Last year I was in the top ten booked models for my agency out of Syracuse. And yeah, it’s been an amazing journey. And I met someone at a charity fashion show who did pagaents and she told the director about me and the director gave me a call and I thought it was a scam at first. But, I was like ‘No! I don’t wanna do a pagaent! I’m not a pagaent girl.’ And she said, ‘just meet me for coffee,’ so I did and she answered all my questions and I really didn’t know. So, I thought about it for about three months and went to the seminar and there was one woman who spoke and she just touched my heart and I just felt this inner pull, like I just needed to do this and step outside my comfort zone. So, I did, and I won.
SHF: Here we are.
JL: Which is crazy and it was so much fun. I have all these new pagaent sister, friends. Now I’m going to Mrs. America and I cannot believe it.
SHF: That is amazing and it brings me to another question I have for you. So, looking back at where you’ve been and how far you’ve come and where you’re going, what advice do you have for anyone out there who is overweight? What advice do you have/
JL: I would say believe in yourself. I think that so many of us believe in other people more than they can believe in themselves. It took someone else believing in me before I could believe in myself. But, believe in yourself and know that you are worth it, you are enough, to be happy, healthy, for you and your family and the people that love you. Believe in yourself and don’t put limits on yourself. You will never know what your full potential is if you don’t step out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to do something different.
SHF: Yeah, so that brings up a thought for me, do you feel that you’ve grown as a person as a result of stepping outside your comfort zone? You probably have several times now, right?
JL: Oh yeah.
SHF: You’re stepping out of you comfort zone again in four weeks when you go on the stage in Vegas.
JL: Oh, yeah, major, major, major.
SHF: What’s this done for you in your personal growth?
JL: I’m constantly in this period of growing and learning and I think that if you stay there you just never know what can come. And, I’ve gone from this place where I was and now, because of the people that have helped me along the way and I’ve been willing to listen and really look inward and pray and really stay in faith and know that there is a plan for my life that’s already laid out. The growth has been immense. I am so grateful to all the people that have supported me and my journey over the past three and a half years and seven years really the people that were there before any of this amazing stuff has been happening.
SHF: That’s a really good message, I mean, you’re right when you say it’s easier to believe in other people than in yourself a lot of times. I mean, I was there for decades. I have people now who say, wow look what you’re doing. And I’m the last one to toot my own horn, but it’s been an amazing journey these past few years. I would’ve never seen this in me twenty, thirty years ago. I couldn’t see it. So, I think that’s really good adivce. Why not you?
SHF: I look at it now when I’m starting to question things, well why not me? I mean there are people, let’s say, who aren’t as smart, and I’m not that smart, but they might have other things that would make them more likely, but why not me? And why not you? And you’re proving that, so that’s really cool.
JL: It’s a constant process, I constantly have to remind myself of that.
SHF: Yeah. Same here. And I also like what you say about staying in that growing zone. I sure as heck hope that I never actually arrive and I’m like, okay, well, I can do everything now, Mr. Comfortable, there’s nothing that can shake my world. I certainly don’t want to get there, but I’m sure that’s never going to happen.
JL: I can’t either. That’s the second, you will never reach your full potential. That’s the second it all stops.
SHF: Well, this is a great, great, story. I appreciate you taking the time to share. I know you’ve already touched a lot of people’s lives, you’re always putting out there to the community, giving to the community. You’re one of the busiest people I know.
JL: It’s all good things though. It’s been such an amazing year I can say I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many amazing organizations, especially in central New York and upstate and downstate too. It’s just been such an amazing year and Mrs. New York America. And no matter what the results of Mrs. America are, I just hope to make all of you proud and represent New York. And, i just wanted to say thank you to you for getting me in the best shape I could possibly be.
SHF: My pleasure! Working with you is just great, it’s just great for me.
JL: Physically and mentally.
SHF: We have fun, she works hard, but we have fun.
JL: We have so much fun. My kids have so much fun watching us boxing.
SHF: We’re going to be boxing in a few minutes.
JL: Oh boy!
SHF: Well you’re doing a lot for people, you’re always helping people. You have a huge heart, you’re very generous, very giving, and you’re going to dominate in Mrs. America. So, there’s been a lot of discussion on Facebook about is it going to be televised? Now we know there is going to be a stream somewhere so I will be putting up a link.
JL: Oh, thank you Karl!
SHF: So, thank you again for being her.
JL: Thank you so much!
SHF: And just remember, believe in yourself, she hit the nail on the head, get yourself outside of that comfort zone. It could be baby steps, just little things you’re not comfortable with and just do them. It could be you get out of bed in the morning and you don’t want to exercise and maybe it’s because you never have. And maybe you want to but you don’t know what to do, but just do ten squats and ten push ups then go shower and get on with your day, that’s a baby step. Have a good breakfast, just eat one healthy meal, that’s a baby step. Step outside the comfort zone. Find ways to do it. And remember, if you’re not doing it for yourself, some of us, I know I had trouble doing things for myself, think about who loves you and who cares about you, and at least do it for them. They want you to be healthy and happy and they want you to be around for a while. There’s a lot more at stake here than we realize a lot of the time. A lot of times we can really affect so many lives, either negatively or positively and those baby steps, even if they’re not for you, they can be about the people who care about you. It’s a snowball effect.
JL: Think about the people you care about, your children, those people in your life.
SHF: Absolutely, well thank you again.
JL: Thank you Karl.
SHF: Thank you for watching Sterling Health and Fitness go to www.sterlinghealthandfitness.com - check it out. We have lots of information there to help you with you health and your life. Have a great day.