Manchester resident Helen Jones was no stranger to yo-yo dieting – lose a few pounds only to regain them.

At one point she reached 355 pounds. Now as she nears her weight goal of 200 pounds, Jones has found success to be a journey toward healthy choices rather than any quick fix.

“I feel great. I feel like a million dollars. You can’t put a price on me. My quality of life has come back,” Jones said.

At the age of 32, Jones lost the ability to do basic tasks, like washing her feet in the shower or being active with her children.

 Jones said that her mother, who had gotten to be over 400 pounds, had two knee replacement surgeries, among other all the health issues that devastated her quality of life.

“Her weight wore her body out. I grew up thinking, that’s going to be my life,” Jones said. 

The moment of clarity came with the realization that Jones’ kids would soon have to care for her like she had for her mother. 

“In 2014, my family was having to take care of me. My husband was helping bathe me at 32 years old,” she said.

“Everything that I’d dreaded came to life,” she said.

Jones started trying to lose weight in earnest. She lost six pounds walking and a little exercise and the movement took away her pain caused by feet and back problems.

Jones chose to have bariatric weight loss surgery and thought it would be an easy fix. She quickly learned it was still going to be a lot of work.

 “You’re still going to struggle. People think it’s a quick fix. You still have to follow a diet, you still have to exercise. You still have to put in the work to be successful,” Jones said.  

Jones has changed her eating habits to make better food choices as well as limit portion size. “We do eat carbs every once in a while. I’ll still eat a cookie and if the kid’s want macaroni and cheese, I’ll buy one box. I used to buy like six boxes.”

Jones skips the bread aisle now at the grocery. Pasta is now zucchini swirls or butter nut squash swirls.

Throughout, Jones has had the support of the whole family in her journey, along with Rec. Department Wellness Director Cindy Weber, her voice of conscious, who has been there all along to help give those little pushes she sometimes needs.  

Jones explained Weber has been become her safe place and loves her and her health unconditionally. Her husband, Stacey, is also her number one supporter.

 “I have this picture of me at 200 pounds. I looked very healthy; this was when I was 21 years old. That was the best I’ve ever looked in my life. I’ve kept that picture…my whole journey,” Jones said.  

“I have come a long way. I still have to look at before and after pictures to remind me,” she said.

 

 

 

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“Those non-scale victories are more important than the scale victories in my journey,”

-Helen Jones

 

<<POSSIBLE PULL QUOTE>>>

 

Manchester resident Helen Jones was no stranger to yo-yo dieting – loose a few pounds only to regain them and more.

At one point she reached 355 pounds. Now as she nears her goal weight of 200 pounds, Helen has found success to be a journey toward healthy choices rather than any quick fix.

“I feel great. I feel like a million dollars. You can’t put a price on me. My quality of life has come back,” Helen said.

At the age of 32, Jones had lost the ability to do basic tasks, like washing her feet in the shower or being active with her children.

 “I’ve always struggled with weight. I started struggling in the fourth grade,” she said.

In her teens, Jones was active with band and basketball. It helped control major gains, yet when she moved here in 1998, she didn’t get involved in much of anything and the pounds began to pile on. As she got older her weight began to affect her health.

“At 32, I had an episode with my back. It was bad. The disk was smashing my sciatic nerve for like two weeks. You’d think that’d change me. I tried (to lose weight). Tried many, many different things,” she said. 

She would do well for a while, then fall off the wagon and gain more back.

“It was a viscous yo-yo cycle.”

Helen chose to have bariatric weight loss surgery after seeing what obesity did to her mother.

Helen said that her mother, who had gotten to over 400 pounds, had previously had two knee replacement surgeries, among other all the health issues that devastated the woman’s quality of life.

“Her weight wore her body out. I grew up thinking, that’s going to be my life,” Helen said. 

The moment of clarity came with the realization that Jones’ kids would soon have to care for her like she had for her mother. 

“In 2014, my family was having to take care of me. My husband was helping bathe me at 32 years old,” she said.

“Everything that I’d dreaded came to life.”

Jones started trying to lose weight in earnest. Walking, a little exercise, even doing the Rec. Department’s Winning Today Tomorrow program, only dropped her six pounds, but the activity took away the pain.

“Exercise is important. I was at 300 pounds, and just walking, but it took my pain away. The feet issues, the back issues, they would disappear,” she recalled. 

 “I have this picture of me at 200 pounds. I looked very healthy; this was when I was 21 years old. That was the best I’ve ever looked in my life. I’ve kept that picture…my whole journey,” Helen said.  

Her mother’s weight loss surgery had provided results, so Helen decided to follow with the huge step to surgery. She thought it would be an easy fix.

She learned, however, that it was still going to be a lot of work.

“I’m glad I have this tool (the surgery). It was something that I needed to save me from a life of destruction,” she said.

“You’re still going to struggle. People think it’s a quick fix. You still have to follow a diet, you still have to exercise. You still have to put in the work to be successful,” Helen said. 

In her pre-surgery support group Helen realized she is an emotional eater. It’s an addiction like smoking or drug abuse.  When stress, heartache or problems arise, her first response is resort to food, and while an alcoholic or drug addict can avoid the temptation, those with food addictions will still have to eat.

Helen had to relearn her approach to food.    

 “It’s my comfort. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in my childhood…and I went through mental and emotional stuff after surgery. I’m still an emotional eater.

“I still turn to food, but now I have this tool to remind me that that’s not my life anymore,” she said. 

Helen has changed her eating habits to make better food choices as well as limit portion size. “We do eat carbs every once in a while. I’ll still eat a cookie and if the kid’s want macaroni and cheese, I’ll buy one box. I used to buy like six boxes.”

Helen skips the bread aisle now at the grocery. Pasta is now zucchini swirls or butter nut squash swirls.

Throughout, Helen has had the support of the whole family in her journey, along with Rec. Department Wellness Director Cindy Weber, her voice of conscious, who has been there all along to help give those little pushes she sometimes needs.  

“Through the years, she has become my safe place. She loves me and loves my health unconditionally.  My husband, Stacey, he has been my number one support,” Helen said.  She admits though, she still struggles with exercise.

“I’m learning to love exercise. My husband and I love the Aqua Zumba and this Saturday (tried) the Aqua Cycle class,” Helen said.      

“I have come a long way. I still have to look at before and after pictures to remind me,” she said.

John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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