3 inspiring tips that helped this woman lose 215 pounds

Meghan Holohan

When Jacki Roberts’ nephew, Kolton, was born eight years ago, she started thinking about how amazing the human body is. But then she felt a little sad. At 510 pounds, she was too unhealthy to have a child. In fact, she worried her weight would prevent her from even playing with Kolton as he got older.

“That’s when it really clicked for me. I thought life is so precious and I’m wasting mine just moping around instead of doing something,” Roberts, 38, of Taylor, Michigan, told TODAY. “He was one of the things that really brought joy back into my life and gave me a reason to want to live. So that was when I really started to make changes because it was important to me to be around for him.”

At 550 pounds, Jacki Roberts realized that her weight was holding her back from enjoying life.  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
At 550 pounds, Jacki Roberts realized that her weight was holding her back from enjoying life. (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

Roberts knew she needed to lose a lot of weight, but that felt overwhelming. She decided to start with modifying her eating habits. She became a vegetarian and skipped pizzas, muffins and grab and go foods and relied mostly on vegetables. It worked. Over three years, she shed 100 to 125 pounds. But then she became less vigilant and relied more on cheese pizzas than vegetables. Her weight started to yo-yo.

“I would start to get discouraged about something, and I would revert right back to my old ways. I would overeat and go back to eating sugar,” she said.

When Jacki Roberts' nephew was born eight years ago, she realized she wanted to be healthier so she could be a part of his life.  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
When Jacki Roberts' nephew was born eight years ago, she realized she wanted to be healthier so she could be a part of his life. (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

While she tried to be stricter with her eating, she struggled to lose more weight. Then she joined Life Time Fitness in March 2019 as an employee and started focusing on portion size and drinking more water while adding exercise into her routine. This helped her lose about 80 more pounds to lose 215 pounds in total. More importantly, her overall health changed and her A1C went from 12 to 6, for example.

“Being in a healthy place and seeing people that made their health a priority … it just put things into perspective,” Roberts said.

Jacki Roberts learned she needed to be kind with herself as she lost 215 pounds.  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
Jacki Roberts learned she needed to be kind with herself as she lost 215 pounds. (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

She went from skipping anything to that involved running to using the elliptical and weight training four times a week.

“I didn’t have the confidence and the self-esteem to stick with exercise really until I came here,” she said. “It was just a very positive place and everybody was very supportive.”

While she feels better than ever, she still isn’t at her goal weight. She’d like to lose another 100 pounds.

“Being able to do more things has really been a big accomplishment. And I really think of it more in those terms. I want to see my cholesterol and my A1C go down and down,” she said. “It’s not just the way you look. I feel like I focused on that for so long, but it's really about so much more, being healthy.”

Jacki Roberts has noticed since losing 215 pounds that weight loss is not just about how one looks. Her overall health has improved dramatically and she feels better.  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
Jacki Roberts has noticed since losing 215 pounds that weight loss is not just about how one looks. Her overall health has improved dramatically and she feels better. (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

Roberts, who tracks her weight loss on Instagram, learned that thinking positively has helped her succeed.

“If you convince yourself that you can’t do something then you’re not going to do it,” she said. “But if you believe that you can and you keep making those steps towards that goal you will. It’s all about your mindset.”

She shares tips that helped her lose weight and keeps her motivated.

1. Mistakes happen

If Roberts has a day where she overindulges in food or skips exercising, she doesn’t let that derail her goals. She understands that mistakes happen.

“If you mess up, it’s OK. Tomorrow is another day,” she said. “You just got to keep your eyes on the prize.”

When Jacki Roberts is faced with the choice of snacking, for example, she asks herself what she wants more: Does she want a cupcake or to reach her goal weight?  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
When Jacki Roberts is faced with the choice of snacking, for example, she asks herself what she wants more: Does she want a cupcake or to reach her goal weight? (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

One slip up shouldn’t lead someone to quitting.

“If I do mess up I don’t just throw away everything that I worked for just because I’ve had a bad week or a bad day,” she said.

2. Weight loss takes time

While Roberts was always a heavier than her friends growing up, she didn’t truly gain weight until she started working. And, she didn’t gain it all at once. Roberts understands that losing it takes as much time.

Jacki Roberts felt nervous to exercise until she went to Life Time Fitness. Now she has loads of confidence to lift weights and use an elliptical machine four times a week.  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
Jacki Roberts felt nervous to exercise until she went to Life Time Fitness. Now she has loads of confidence to lift weights and use an elliptical machine four times a week. (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

“Don’t look at those before and after pictures and think that it’s going to happen fast,” she said. “It took a long time to put that weight on and it’s going to take a while to take it off.”

Related: "We made all these little changes here and there and we kept each other accountable and it’s been working."

3. ‘What do I want more?’

When faced with something like pizza or junk food, Roberts pauses and asks herself, “What do I want more?”

Being healthy keeps Jacki Roberts motivated when the thought of losing another 100 pounds seems too daunting.  (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)
Being healthy keeps Jacki Roberts motivated when the thought of losing another 100 pounds seems too daunting. (Courtesy Jacki Roberts)

“I say, ‘Do I want to eat this that’s probably really good but not great for me?’ or ‘Do I want to feel amazing?’ or ‘Do I want to get to my goal weight?’” she said. “How is my life going to change? Is it this one choice? You just say, ‘Oh, it's just one cupcake.’ But one cupcake adds up to 500 pounds eventually.”

CORRECTION (November 30, 2020, 9:09 a.m.): An earlier version of the story said Roberts weighed 550 pounds.