Losing weight is a tough endeavor for anybody. But for 38-year-old Jamie Goodwin from Georgia, it came with even more obstacles than usual. In high school, Jamie was lying in the back of friend's truck when the vehicle went through an intersection and her back hit part of the truck, severing her spine. "I pretty much knew immediately that I was paralyzed because my legs went numb," she says. Jamie didn’t let her accident derail her plans, though; she graduated from college with a teaching degree, got married, and had three sons.
In 2012, Jamie decided to become a stay-at-home mom. She didn't know how to work out in a wheelchair, and her disability made it hard for her to cook meals in her kitchen—shelves were hard to reach, and the counters were too high for her to use for prep work. "I just took the easy way out and did fast food all the time," says Jamie. "I'm a busy mom with a busy life, and that's the way we ate." Jamie's sweet tooth also made it hard for her to resist eating sugary treats like cake and cookies. "I didn't watch my portions," she says. "I didn't really care. Well, I did care—but not enough to make a change." Jamie, who's 5'8," thinks she must have gotten up to 248 pounds before she made the decision to be more proactive about her health.
Jamie was watching an episode of The Biggest Loser featuring Bethany Hamilton—a professional surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack—when she realized that she had what it took to do the things the contestants were doing. She decided to audition for the show. When she didn't get a callback after her audition, she and her husband made a video to get the attention of producers. They did fly her out to L.A. in response, but they ultimately decided not to cast her.
"I was OK with that and tried to lose weight on my own," says Jamie. "I failed. I couldn't do it. I went back to my old ways." A year later, representatives from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (now calledExtreme Weight Loss) reached out to Jamie. She got her hopes up—but again, wasn't cast. "That was my lowest moment," says Jamie. "I thought, 'I can't do this on my own. I need accountability.'" Jamie took to Instagram to share her disappointment:
Although Jamie's photo didn't make it to the popular page, it grabbed the attention of a local trainer who offered to help her lose weight for free. "I started crying," says Jamie. "That's what I needed." Following her trainer's advice, Jamie started a Facebook page called Wheelin' Weightloss to gain followers who would hold her accountable for her progress. "To have over 4,000 accountability partners is just amazing to me," says Jamie. "I'm just so grateful for these complete strangers who encourage me."
For cardio, Jamie would take herself out of her chair, sit on the floor, and scoot her body across the room. She'd also wheel herself up and down the streets in her neighborhood. Eventually, Jamie met another trainer from her husband's gym who offered his services for free, too. He taught her how to use certain equipment such as a pullup bar, battle ropes, and a machine that helped her do dips.
Her nutrition needed a major revamp, as well. Jamie cut out sweets (except for a handful of dark chocolate chips now and then) and replaced junk food with fruits and veggies. "I'm totally on the healthy side," says Jamie. "I'm not ordering French fries or hamburgers. I go for lean proteins like fish or salads, which I love."
Jamie guesses that she currently weighs 190 pounds, and her goal weight is 140 pounds. But she's in no big rush to get there. "I'm taking it slow," says Jamie. "I want it to become a lifestyle, so if it takes me three years, so be it."
Jamie has done an incredible four 5-Ks in the past year. "I've never done anything like that before," she says. She recently suffered a hand injury, but when that heals, Jamie plans on participating in her first 10-K. Another major bonus to her weight loss: cute shoes. "I was so overweight that my feet were swollen all the time—I couldn't even wear flip flops," she says. "I can finally wear cute shoes again, and that's a tiny victory for me."
Stop making excuses. "We're all guilty of doing it. Yes, we all have our limitations, but if somebody in a wheelchair can lose 40 pounds in a year, anybody can."
Eat more often (just keep it healthy). "I eat five meals a day. It sounds strange, but now I'm not hungry. Every two hours, I eat something, which keeps me full and my metabolism going."
Keep going no matter what. "You're going to have those temptations and fall off the wagon—something will get in your way. But you have towork around those obstacles."