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Published September 06, 2012, 11:35 PM

Holt: Kickboxing, diet help woman reach goals

FARGO – Jessica Sell got a letter from her doctor in November telling her she was in the early stages of weight-related pre-diabetes. “That was a lot to take,” the 33-year-old Wheatland woman says. “I knew at that point I needed to lose the extra weight – and fast.”

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – Jessica Sell got a letter from her doctor in November telling her she was in the early stages of weight-related pre-diabetes.

“That was a lot to take,” the 33-year-old Wheatland woman says. “I knew at that point I needed to lose the extra weight – and fast.”

Jess had reached 285 pounds after having two children and working a sedentary desk job. Even in her new photography business, she spent hours behind her computer editing.

“I knew I needed to change my lifestyle. Not just what I ate, but exercising to help get rid of the extra 125 pounds I had packed on,” she says.

Jess and her husband, Rob, follow the low-carb, high-fat keto diet, typically comprised of 60 percent fat, 30 percent protein and 10 percent carbs.

“I saw immediate results, but it was slow-going,” she says.

Her diet staples include eggs, bacon, summer sausage, chicken, cheese and protein shakes.

“I love eggs. I could eat eggs at every meal,” she says with a smile.

She and her family have experimented with keto bread, pancakes, brownies and energy bars, and they use cauliflower in place of potatoes.

The keto cheesecake didn’t turn out so well, however. “I think the dog ended up eating it,” Jess says.

Her blood sugars have since normalized so that she’s no longer pre-diabetic, but she plans to continue on the keto diet.

“For me, for the next five years, this is my way of life,” she says. “I can re-evaluate it then, but I’ll tell you, the things that I learned about some of the foods will probably still keep me from eating them.”

In fact, she’s gotten so accustomed to her new way of eating that she rarely breaks from it. She’s only had one cheat day, when she allowed herself to eat whatever she wanted, including her favorite candy (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups).

“Could I do that every so often? Yeah. Do I want to? No. It’s not worth it anymore to me,” she says.

Soon after changing her diet, Jess decided to kick up her exercise routine. She started with Zumba but was interested in women’s kickboxing at the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo.

Jess had worked with the school as a mixed martial arts photographer but hesitated to give it a try herself, claiming she needed a couple months to get in shape first.

The owner, Dylan Spicer, convinced her not to wait and that they could help her get there.

“My first couple classes I had no idea what I was doing. I was so sweaty and so out of breath, but it was so fun,” she says.

Jess credits her coach, Joe Trottier, with much of her success.

“He helps you with your technical form, your endurance, and honestly, he makes you laugh,” she says.

Jess is enjoying the new skills, friendships and empowerment she’s gained from her ACA workouts.

“I like walking out of there knowing that I just went through a workout that a lot of people maybe couldn’t do,” she says.

Jess’ dedication to both her diet and her four-day-a-week kickboxing classes has paid off – she’s lost over 80 pounds, and she’s still dropping weight and building muscle consistently.

“I now work my life around going to class. I have determined it’s how I need to do it, or I could easily go back to sitting on the couch every day, just wishing I could lose weight,” she says.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.com


Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.

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