Fitness Fridays: After Two Pregnancies And Two Bouts With Preeclampsia Weight Gain, Janelle Carter Lost 100 Pounds
Janelle Carter may have worked in the heath field doing nursing, but she admits that health and wellness were nowhere near the top of her list of priorities for herself before she had two children. “I was active, but I wasn’t really focused on eating right or being healthy,” the 30-year-old said. “I liked to dance so I would do stuff like that and that kept me busy. But I didn’t have a real focus of, Ok, I want to go and run at the gym or I want to lift some weights or let me go eat this salad. I wasn’t like that before.” However, after watching her body change and landing at nearly 300 pounds after dealing with two bouts of preeclampsia that caused rapid weight gain and put her on bed rest during both pregnancies, Carter knew something had to change. And boy did she change.
Now more than 100 pounds lighter and covered in muscle, the Rochester, New York native is teaching others how to take charge of their health. She’s doing so both through classes and via her popular Instagram page (with her more than 20k followers). We talked to her about her fitness journey, if she would have anymore kids after two tough pregnancies and why she’s ditched the scale–and you should too.
MadameNoire: At your biggest weight, how big would you say you were?
Janelle Carter: The weight I put on my Instagram is the weight from after I had my children, after I got done with labor, delivery and I was trying to lose weight. But at my biggest? I’ve never put that. It was probably around 280.
So was carrying children the main reason you had this much weight on you or was weight an issue throughout your life?
I ended up getting preclampsia for both pregnancies and had to have two C-sections. With preeclampsia, your blood pressure is extremely high and your body doesn’t function properly. Another word for preeclamspia is toxemia, which means your blood is toxic to your body. My lungs weren’t functioning properly. So yeah, I want to say that during my pregnancy, I just blew up and didn’t know what to do with it. I was pretty active before getting pregnant. I tried to stay active before getting put on bed rest for both pregnancies. Then there was nothing I could do right without gaining weight and gaining weight. I wasn’t in a good place, even just mentally.
What prompted taking that first step to change things and what year did your fitness journey start?
So the change started right after I had my children. My daughter is 11 and my son is six. So right after I dropped the babies, as soon as the doctor Ok’d me to be active because of the C-sections, I got right to it. I just didn’t feel comfortable in the skin I was in and I knew I couldn’t function properly. I knew I couldn’t be the best mom for the kids, so I had to get it together. My own self-esteem, my own mental health, I had to get it together, and it wasn’t easy.
How did you go about changing your diet as someone who didn’t care about healthy eating before?
I did a lot of reading when I had my children. What I learned was that eating lean food and eating a lot of greens, pretty much things grown from the ground, could help me. I literally ate the same thing every day for a couple of months until I could get a hold of my diet. I did the same thing. I was so repetitive. I got up. I went walking. I would eat the same thing. I would keep doing the same same thing until I got a hold of it, and then I would implement different things. But you have to get your diet on lock first. You have to make proper habits first before you can go and do something different and that’s what I knew I needed to do for myself because I had that type of personality.
Did you stumble a lot or did you feel like the repetitive eating habits kept you on track?
I was completely done with anything that I’d loved before. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza, I love chips, I love salty foods, and I realized it was because I was dehydrated that I loved that salt. I felt like I needed it. But once I decided that this was what I was going to do for me, I cut all of that out.
On your page you’ve talked about moving past paying attention to numbers on the scale. That messes people up. Numbers are good for keeping you abreast of your progress, but they can also cause you to give up when you don’t see what you want. Why was it important for you to get away from that?
People like to weigh themselves and some people get addicted to weighing themselves. I’ve done it. That’s why I talk about it. When I was losing weight I would get on the scale, and if I didn’t see that number drop, I would start feeling bad about myself and get depressed and sad. And I thought about it like, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing, so why does the number matter so much? If I’m eating right and I’m active, why does that number matter so much?” It’s about being healthy. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle and living longer. It’s really not about what the number says. And that’s what I had to learn. It’s not about looks or what is on the outside, it’s really about me living longer for the people I love.
How often would you say you get on the scale now? Or are you in a place where you’re like, I’m not messing with it?
Now? I mean, I haven’t gotten on the scale in a while. I do it about twice a month. There was a point where I was getting on the scale in the morning time. I would eat and work out and want to get on the scale to see how much I lost by the evening. It was so huge to me: “Let me see where I’m at!” And say you just ate something great, like sprouted whole grains with fruit and you feel great. But because that stuff is heavy, you get on the scale and even though you feel great, you look at the number and it makes you feel bad about yourself. That’s not ok.
As someone who has already had two children and lost over 100 pounds, do you want any more children? If you do, are you nervous about the toll that could take on your body?
This time around, if I did have another child, I don’t know if I could do anything different from what I did, but I would want to document it so that it would be on my page. I would show everybody my story and probably start a blog too, let everybody know where I’m at. There are so many people who just need to be motivated and sometimes they just need to hear that someone else is in their shoes and that they’re not alone. I would be afraid, but I would definitely do it. I would definitely do everything I know now, but I don’t know if that would really matter in my case only because I became sick both times. With my last child, I was in nursing school. I was in clinicals pregnant with preeclampsia and trying to make things happen and gaining that weight. There was nothing I could have done differently because when I tell you I was active? I was up from 5 a.m. going to nursing school and taking care of the kids and running around making sure they were fed and everything I was doing. I couldn’t see myself doing anything different because I wasn’t sedentary. So it’s something I would be afraid of, 100 percent, but it’s also something I would want people to see — this is real, but you can get through it.
Who and what motivates you at this point?
I love Serena. I love athletes. Athletes motivate me. LeBron, Serena Williams and the people who are at the top of their game motivate me. Down to earth, the people I love motivate me as well. My mom and my kids, they are the people who kind of help push me and make me want more and want to be better.
What advice would you give to others who have faltered or don’t feel motivated enough to start their journey but want to live healthier? You’ve done it. You’ve lost 100 pounds after having two children and are in your best shape. So what words would you share?
The main thing I tell people is just take baby steps. Just change one thing. Change your diet, something in your diet. Something you love that you know isn’t good for you, just take it out. Just take that one thing out. The one thing I tell people is to take pop out. And oh my God, they drop so much weight. Just one thing. Make baby steps because I wouldn’t want to overwhelm anybody. And another thing, get out and walk. Instead of sitting down on your lunch break, get out and go do a couple of laps. Get up and move. That’s one thing you can do differently as well. So on the physical side, get up and move, and on the health and diet side, take one thing out that you love that you know isn’t good for you. Change whatever you’re drinking to water. It will help. You might think, “Oh, this won’t matter. This won’t make a difference.” Everything matters. When it comes to what you’re putting into your body, everything matters.