jacqui

Life doesn't make it easy for you to maintain a killer body. Whether it's raising a family, facing a constant time crunch at work or having to deal with all that delicious food, there are more than a few roadblocks to keeping off weight. Jaqui Andra knows this all too well.

For Jacqui, a Virginian mother of two working in the insurance industry, her basic exercise routine helped to keep her average size for a long time. However, her struggles with emotional eating and her sugary/salty vices inevitably caught up with her in 2009.

After finally reaching a weight where she couldn't take anymore, Jacqui decided to transform her life and take it back. 6 Pack Fitness recently sat down with Jacqui and talked about the changes she made that helped her lose weight and prepare for a budding career in bodybuilding.

How much did you weigh before you started on your road to transformation?

My weight at the starting point was 237, and at my highest it was 242 pounds. I was a size 24.

What made you want to start changing your life?

I took my life back in October 2009, just a couple of months after I turned 40. I got tired of looking in the mirror, not liking what I was seeing and changing five to six times before I went to work. So I developed a motto, “You do you and the rest will fall into place." I was always a gym rat, but my problem was food. I started doing a lot of reading, and I kind of always knew what I had to do, but I finally started doing it.

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What was your weight loss process like?

The weight just started to come off. In six months, I lost 72 pounds. I progressed and I progressed until I got all the weight off, but I wasn't seeing the definition that I wanted. That's when I hired nutrition coach. I wanted someone to take over my diet for me. So we did that and they tweaked my workout. Two months later we are looking at pictures and he says, “You got the physique, you should do bodybuilding."

What was your reaction to that suggestion?

I was like, “What?!" Nothing had ever entered my mind about it before. So I was like, “Why not?" and I did it.

What has that transition process been like from just regular workouts to become fit to a new plan that makes you super buff?

I started prep about 25 weeks out from my event, that was May 2012 and I stepped out on the stage October 2012 at 138 and a half pounds at age 43. It was just about three years to the day from when I decided to take my life back.

What was your diet like prior to taking your life back?

It was the typical American diet. I'd go out for pizza and eat four or five slices without thinking, no big deal. I enjoyed my beer, I wasn't a heavy drinker, but I enjoyed it. I went out to eat a lot. My husband was gone a lot, so I was a big of an emotional eater, so there was a lot cakes, ice cream, a lot of the salty and the sweet. My weight was just yo-yoing, up and down all the time. Then I decided, I'm just not going back there anymore.

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What kind of lessons did your nutrition coach teach you?

He basically taught me how much to eat and when to eat. I was eating six times a day already, but I was missing something and I didn't know what it was. It was the type of carbs, when to eat those carbs, high days and low days, that type of thing. It pretty much came down to being able to eat what we want, as long as it's as clean as possible and fits within our numbers. I only lost 11 more pounds, but I went down another three sizes.

What clean foods did you adopt into your diet?

I love chicken, I can't get tired of chicken. I keep it basic, use a lot of seasonings and spices. I love broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I roast green beans until they are crunchy and then I eat them with low-sugar ketchup like they are fries. It's kind of a mind game because they were my weakness. I don't even crave fries anymore.

Did you meal prep process change at all?

I had already started, making sure that I had everything packed for the day. I still found myself going out to lunch once or twice a week and trying to be as good as possible. Then when I got with my nutrition coach, I said, “There has got to be a better way." I have no idea where I found 6 Pack Bags, I don't know where I saw it. I found one, I bought one and I've been using it ever since. People call it my suitcase.

In part two of our Fitness Feature on Jacqui Andra, this bodybuilding mother talks about helping others face their weight issues, using her kids to help her exercise and the mantra that gets her through the long days.