Jade Socoby was only in her early 20s when she realized she weighed about 320 pounds. After leaving an abusive relationship, Jade said she was determined to finally make her long-held dream of being a police officer a reality. But considering her weight, she knew deep down there was no way she could pass the physical fitness standards for the Maine Police Academy.
So, she asked her older brother to meet her at a local gym and help her out — and he agreed without question. That session with him was "brutal" for her, as she ended up running outside and getting sick after doing basic body weight movements. But, as she told WomansWorld.com, something changed for her that day.
"That's exactly when I would typically walk away and was expected not to come back," Jade said. "But as I was leaned up against the building after getting sick, I told myself that I was done quitting and walked back in the finish the workout and I haven’t turned back since."
Jade, who is now 29 years old, had made many attempts to lose weight in the past that were unsuccessful. Her parents bought her gym memberships that she never used, and she tried "quick-fix" diets that didn't work for her in the long run. But instead of opting for yet another quick fix after her workout with her brother, Jade decided that this time, she would start with baby steps.
In terms of her diet, she started with cutting soda and replacing it with diet, along with cutting out a fast food trip for a week. And for exercise, she started slow with basic weight training. But she didn't start seeing the results she really wanted until she found a health and fitness plan that worked for her in the long term.
"Just shy of three years ago, I found Renaissance Periodization and realized how amazing the results have been across the board," Jade said.
Renaissance Periodization (RP) — a training and nutrition company with a mission to help people lose fat and build muscle — offers diet "templates" for purchase to guide people on what to eat based on their specific goals. Jade noticed that RP featured "real people" with real stories and that strong athletes were using this diet, so she decided to get herself a birthday gift and purchase her own template.
"Ever since then, my entire relationship with food changed, and I learned that this was so easy — there is no counting or tracking," she said. "The templates actually tell you what to eat, how much, and when. RP guided me through not just losing weight and setting PR's (personal records) in powerlifting, but it saved my life."
As she followed along with her diet template, Jade continued to find strength along her journey with exercise. Her basic weight training led to powerlifting, and in a few years' time, she was dabbling in everything from CrossFit to bodybuilding.
"I started out wanting to be skinny so guys would like me, but then I decided to be strong and love myself," Jade said. "I used to get so fixated on numbers, but now I don’t even weigh myself. I remember around this time last year I hit my huge goal weight I had always had in my mind, and it didn’t phase me at all."
Although Jade's "end weight" was about 170 pounds, she says these days her weight can fluctuate from 175 to 185 pounds depending on her diet and training regimen at the time. But even though these numbers are a far cry from her 320-pound days, Jade emphasizes that she doesn't keep that close of an eye on her exact weight now — because she's learned that it doesn't define her.
That said, Jade still works hard to maintain her best health by eating whole foods and working out about four or five times per week. Even when she's "off" her RP plan, she still tends to eat the same way because it's easier for her and she's learned that certain foods fuel her the best. Furthermore, this is a diet that's sustainable enough for her to become a lifestyle — and also fit her current career as a certified personal trainer.
"It still hits me sometimes that I’m not that 320-pound girl anymore, because sometimes I still see her and feel like her," Jade said. "But knowing that powerlifting saved my life in more ways than one is really cool. When people tell me they’re proud of me or can’t believe I was that old girl and lost about the weight of an average adult human, I’m just taken back because even I need to remember where I came from sometimes, just to really appreciate how far I’ve come."
At the end of the day, Jade said she would not be where she is right now without the unwavering support of her brother throughout her weight-loss transformation and beyond.
"My brother, hands down, has always been my biggest fan," Jade said. "He believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself, and that still stands today. Nobody expected me to succeed, because all I have ever done is quit. Even now when things get hard, I’m training for a meet, or I’ve been handed a huge opportunity, he’s right there next to me making sure I know that I can and will succeed."
Jade admits that it hasn't been an easy journey, and that sometimes she still gets frustrated and wishes she could be as "carefree" as she was back when she was 320 pounds. But deep down, she knows that emotional feeling will pass eventually, because every bump in the road was worth it.
Her biggest tip for other women who want to lose weight? Start when you are ready, not when other people think you are — and choose a diet that can fit into your lifestyle.
"I’m just happy being healthy, fit, and strong," Jade said. "My goal is to get more women to think that way."