Editor’s note: We plan on featuring a monthly column titled “Coach’s Corner” wherein we put the spotlight on our coaches so that you, dear reader, can get a better idea of who they are and why they do what they do. Check back next month to see which of our coaches we talk to next!
Wife, mother, and grandmother.
When asked how she would describe herself, Jessyca Reynolds responded with the relationships that are most important to her and have become the focus of her life. Thus, it’s no real surprise that she talks about her new career and her clients in relational terms. “I feel like I have a connection with each of my clients. There is an openess that is usually only shared between friends.”
As one of our newest Keto Coaches, Jessyca has a real heart for those who are hurting. At forty-two she has lived through some very dramatic ups and downs- a dramatic and sudden change of career, deep depression, drastic medical intervention, and a second complete lifestyle change to combat weight gain and health complications- and come out on the other side healthy, happy, and whole once again.
Long before Jessyca was an invaluable member of the Ketovangelist Team, she was a career woman. “I was a district manager for David’s Bridal for nine years. I oversaw NC, VA, and part of TN.” When I asked what she thought about that period she replied, “I loved it!”
Much as she enjoyed her job, there were major drawbacks that made Jessyca rethink what she was doing and the effects it had on her family. Her position required quite a bit of travel. She practically lived in a hotel for several days out of every week week and spent a lot of time away from her family. “On average I drove about 1,000 miles a week,” she told me. Her husband at one point became a stay-at-home dad so that their youngest daughter had one parent consistently available.
Between the stress of consistently being away from loved ones and the privacy and anonymity a life on the road can bring, Jessyca, who had battled with depression from the age of sixteen, struggled with eating disorders. “Being alone in hotels with room service did not serve me well as a bulimic and compulsive overeater,” she said. “A lot of what makes that addiction so miserable is the secrecy that comes with it. I was in a position where I was free to indulge in it without having to explain to anyone.” Consequently, her weight fluctuated quite a bit, and being away from her family took its toll in other ways. She told me she felt like she missed her daughter’s first four years due to the constant work travel, and so she came to quite the crossroads in her attempts to balance her job and her home life.
At the age of thirty-seven Jessyca, the consummate career woman, decided to trade in her work boots for apron strings. She became a stay-at-home mother because she “wanted to focus on family and making memories [instead of] collecting stuff.” However, instead of bringing happiness and fulfillment, her change of vocation was a source of mental anguish while her weight and health truly began to get away from her.
“I was deeply depressed. While I appreciated getting to spend time with my daughter…. I suddenly felt lost. It was unchartered territory. I had always had a career, a title, a paycheck, things that to me, equaled success.”
Without the routine and achievement that came with her career outside the home, Jessyca had a very difficult time adjusting to life as a full-time home maker. “I sunk into a place of isolation,” she told me. “I did the mom functions that I needed to do, but other than that, there was no focus for me. I remember at one point when Mike (her husband) and I discussed it, we estimated that it had been five months since I had been outside. I don’t mean out shopping, hanging with friends, etc. I mean not a foot outside of the door to feel the sunlight on my face.”
Feeling more lost every day, and finding no relief in her prescribed antidepressant medication, Jessyca made another life-altering decision: to undergo electro shock therapy. To this day, she considers it one of the worst decisions she’s ever made. “It changed me forever,” she said. When we spoke about these experiences, she told me of severe and irreversible memory loss that she experienced during and after her twelve treatments, and that she still suffers from many cognitive difficulties related to her experience. “I had always felt smart,” she lamented. “Career or not, I always felt intelligent. Suddenly, I had lost that, too.”
During this period her weight and health became a very real concern. She had always fluctuated- and binged and purged to try and manage it- but now, feeling secluded and alone, she ballooned to 309 pounds and was beginning to experience very real, and very frightening physical symptoms including short black outs, serious breathing difficulty while sleeping, and the inability to walk across her own home without being short of breath. “It got to the point where I was afraid,” she said. “I was having scary symptoms, but I would not go to the doctor.” When I asked why not, the answer was a very familiar one. “I did not want them to weigh me or chastise me.”
Jessyca’s fear of judgment kept her away from the doctor until, one day, it could be avoided no more. After another black out episode, her husband forced her to go to the local drugstore and have her blood pressure checked. It was quite the wake up call. “I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I remember looking at the chart on the machine and [my blood pressure] was way into the hypertension range.” Out of fear of having a life-ending medical event, and leaving her husband and children alone, she decided to make another dramatic life change.
She previously had some success losing weight on a low carbohydrate diet, and so Jessyca and her husband decided to try again. She says she wasn’t particularly focused on the long-term at that point, but was doing anything she could to get some of the excess weight off so that her blood pressure would return to somewhat normal numbers and, hopefully, she would see some abatement of her other worrying symptoms.
Soon after rejoining social media with the aim of networking for support, her husband turned her on to the Ketogenic Success Facebook group. “He added me [to the group] and I began reading the posts, seeing the amazing before and afters,” she said. “At that time, I didn’t realize how different keto was from the high protein diets I had done in the past.”
She jumped in, feet first, and began self-educating. Her resources? All the big guns. “The Ketovangelist website, Keto Clarity (Jimmy Moore), The Obesity Code (Dr. Jason Fung), Why We Get Fat (Gary Taubes), and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living (Phinney and Volek). I was learning and adjusting my eating as I knew more. It suddenly clicked with me that this was different.”
Learning the science behind keto made all the difference for her. “I learned scientifically why everything else had failed. I actually began to believe [my struggle with weight and eating disorder] wasn’t my fault.” Jessyca’s weight fluctuated initially, but she says that once she “embraced fat” the scale finally began to cooperate and her eating disorders became manageable. “As a bulimic, it is something I never imagined was possible. In thirty one years, I had never gone a month without purging.” Suddenly time began to fly by with no urge to purge, and Jessyca had finally started overcoming her bulimia.
Over the next two months, her blood pressure returned to a normal range and she began to recover her ability to decipher true hunger and fullness signals. She recovered mental clarity and finally began to see the light at the end of the emotional tunnel. “I could think clearly,” she told me. “I was retaining information again. That by itself made me less depressed and more hopeful.” In the last year she has lost over one hundred pounds and has been able to discontinue all medications for anxiety, bladder disease, and migraines.
After maintaining her Ketogenic lifestyle for a year this month and becoming an administrator in the Ketovangelist family of Facebook groups, Jessyca is in a place where she has recovered immensely- both mentally and physically- and has a huge heart for helping others find the same healing and peace she has. “You can probably tell I’m extremely passionate about sharing keto with others. I have done that in my family and community for months. I counted one day and at least 45 people from my small city are eating keto and having success!”
She had been effectively coaching and helping people through personal interactions and social media when she decided, yet again, to venture into uncharted personal territory by becoming an official Keto Coach. “Choosing to be an official Ketovangelist coach was a huge decision for me. The fact that someone trusts me to help them in their journey, and counts on me for support is an honor and a privilege I don’t take lightly.”
Jessyca has come through her own struggles and uses the experiences and the strength she acquired along the way to lead others into the freedom that is the Ketogenic lifestyle. She believes knowing yourself is the key to success. “I ask clients to dig deep and discover the reasons why they make or have made poor eating decisions in the past.” She tells me “being self-aware, and understanding physical and emotional triggers” is incredibly important to overcoming negative food behaviors.
Keep it simple are the sage words she has for anyone just beginning this lifestyle. “The minute we start to make it a complex process, we get into a ‘diet’ mentality.” Her main goal as a coach is to make keto a permanent and sustainable way of living for her clients so that “food [will] take its proper place in their lives.” Having been through hell and back herself, Jessyca is well worth listening to when it comes to overcoming hardship and adversity. No matter where you find yourself on the keto journey, she will be able to meet you where you are and truly understand because she’s been there herself.
We here at Ketovangelist look forward to Jessyca’s success on this new endeavor.