My Journey to Wellness


By Jeni Funderburk

In 2015 I was at my worst. I was tired, depressed and I wanted to stay in bed all the time. I remember having my mother visit for Thanksgiving and I didn’t even want to get up and cook the meal I typically would have happily and proudly prepared and served. I could barely muster up the energy to push through that day. I had never felt that low and I was just not myself.

I believe the more weight you put on, the more and more out of reach health seems, so you give up, believing a lie that you can never turn it around. This just perpetuates the cycle of gaining. You stuff unhealthy, hyper-palatable, processed food in, then feel guilty, so you indulge again.

I had tried so hard to count calories and exercise, but I could never stay on the bandwagon. I yo-yo dieted.

In July 2016, I watched a film called Forks Over Knives and I said to myself, that’s it! I am going to change the way I eat. Overnight I began a whole foods plant-based diet with no oil. I immersed myself in everything I could find online about the plant-based diet, sought recipe ideas and planned my meals around this new lifestyle. Since then, I have learned about processed food addiction and I eat whole foods from plants with no added oil, sugar, salt, flour or alcohol. Your taste buds adapt if you give them enough time.

After I watched the documentary and started to change my eating habits, I decided to start going to the JCC for group exercise classes. I had been a member for a few years, but never went consistently. I started going to morning classes at the JCC about five times per week.

I remember being so overweight that I tried to hide in the back of a dark spin class. I was so out of shape, but I was inspired by an instructor, Larisa Unger. Larisa didn’t ignore me or make me feel invisible – she made me feel like I was there for a reason and I could do more than I gave myself credit for. I kept going to any classes that fit my schedule: barre, spin, BODY PUMP, BODYSTEP, BODYATTACK, and BODYCOMBAT.

The key to weight loss is caloric density. I only eat foods that are 600 calories per pound or less. This includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. I don’t count, measure, weigh or restrict these plant-based, whole foods. I can eat as much as I want. The body does the work to heal. Exercise helps most with self-esteem, energy, and anxiety/depression.

I found motivation from being in the JCC group fitness classes because the people are so friendly. So many people have supported and encouraged me all along my journey to lose weight.

On December 2, I ran the JCC Chanukah Hot Chocolate Race 5K, my first 5K ever. I’ve never been a runner, but this is my latest endeavor.

To date, I have lost 90 pounds, my cholesterol has dropped from 208 to 138, my blood pressure is down 40 points, I have gone from a size 18 to a size 4, and I am off all prescription medications.

The JCC has been a wonderful place to grow.

Join Our Community

Take a small step to make a big impact