Meet our first healthy nail tech of 2016, Jill Clark. Over the past two years, Clark has cleaned up her diet, started exercising, and shed more than 100 pounds. Read on to find out her heart-smart strategies and to be inspired to begin your own healthy lifestyle.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
I have had a passion for nails since I was 10 years old. I’ve been licensed since 1994. I rent space in Salon Elan in Rochester Hills, Mich.
What are your health challenges and goals?
I used to weigh 321 lbs. I didn’t have any immediate health concerns, but my mother is a type 2 diabetic and I knew that it would eventually be my fate if I didn’t make some changes. I also knew I needed to get the weight off and get healthier for my family. I have two kids who are 7 and 9, and I couldn’t even walk down to the bus stop without being out of breath, let alone trying to play with them or walk around the zoo. I didn’t want to spend another second living like that! I want to be a good example for them starting now.
What was/is your plan of action?
Before (left). After (right).
I have been doing Weight Watchers since February 2013 and focusing on clean eating. I love Weight Watchers because it’s easy to follow and I’m never hungry. I also did a round of Whole30
in January 2014, which really helped me to get rid of the sugar cravings and clean up my system. I felt amazing after that, so I adopted the Paleo Diet, eliminating all grains, dairy, sugar/sweeteners, soy, and legumes. I hardly eat anything processed anymore. So far, I’ve lost 100 lbs. My goal is to lose another 70 lbs by continuing to eat clean and exercising 4-5 days a week.
I really hate exercise, but I knew I needed to find something I could get excited about. About six months ago my husband and I joined a gym, and I started doing cardio and strength training classes, which I really like. I prefer classes because it gives me direction. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it! I recently mixed it up a bit and joined Jazzercise too. I love the energy and variety of the classes.
How does your job as a nail tech affect your plan?
I am big on preparation. We all know that it can be tough to get a meal in between clients, so I really had to focus on foods that are quick and easy to prepare. I bring my lunch every day and pack lots of healthy snacks like veggies that will keep me fuller longer. My ultimate favorites are sugar snap peas and mini sweet peppers.
What has been the greatest challenge of your new healthy lifestyle?
At 321 pounds, it was physically difficult to start exercising but after losing about 70 lbs just by changing my diet, I found it much easier. Eliminating sugar has definitely been the hardest thing to do. I have to remind myself how addicting it is and look at it like poison. Once I start eating it, I can’t stop. Whole30 definitely helped with that. I stay motivated by all the people following my journey. I started a blog (www.healthymichiganmama.com) in April to help keep me accountable and share my experiences. It’s hard to be discouraged when I have so much support and people tell ng me how much I have inspired them to do something about their own health.
What’s your advice for other nail techs who are embarking on a healthy lifestyle?
Be consistent and plan, plan, plan! “If you fail to plan, plan to fail” is one of my favorite quotes. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a bad moment, either. Just turn it around and make a better choice the next time. Otherwise you’ll wind up eating the “what’s the use” cake and really getting yourself in trouble.
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