After having four children, Jeanine McDonald found herself weighing 208 lbs., and admits she had been neglecting herself and her diet.
“You just get into a routine and it’s hard to get out of,” the Limerick, Pennsylvania-based event designer, 39, tells PEOPLE. “My eating habits were terrible. I made dinner for the boys and ate what they ate. I did not take the time to prepare healthy dinners, as it’s very hard when you’re a full-time employee and mother of four.”
It wasn’t until one of McDonald’s sons told her she looked “really fat” that she decided she needed to make her health a priority.
“Kids are honest and he wasn’t being hurtful at all, but hearing that was just a wake up call to get started,” she says. “I did this for myself. I want my kids to see the positive changes in my life so they can make better decisions in their lives.”
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“I have always been an ‘active’ person, but I didn’t exercise before March 2016,” she says. “I have four kids, so exercising was the last thing on my mind. But I am always on the go with the four boys [ages 9, 7, 6 and 3] and keeping up with house work.”
“Having three boys with special needs is tough because there’s a lot of doctor appointments, therapy, etc.” she says. “When I started going to the gym, I made a promise to myself: ‘If I’m not happy and healthy, my kids won’t be either.’ I have a babysitter who watches my boys at night, and on nights I do not have my sitter, I follow a lot of routines I can easily do here while they are asleep.”
Thanks to her dedication, McDonald has lost 77 lbs. since beginning her weight loss journey. In addition to being a positive role model for her kids, McDonald says the best part about losing the weight has been a major boost in self-confidence.
“I want to help others now,” says McDonald, who started a Facebook and Instagram page with a friend called Living Fit at 40 with the hopes to motivate others to get healthy as well. “I want everyone to know it’s possible with hard work and dedication.”