Brittany Greenslit had reached 236 lbs. by the time she was pregnant with her first child at age 21.
“The weight gain was not the result of my pregnancy, actually,” she admits. “The weight gain was a result of terrible food choices, lack of portion control and lack of exercise.”
It wasn’t until the St. Cloud, Minnesota-based office worker had a health scare that she decided to get healthy.
“After my son was born via c-section, I had post-surgery complications that were bringing me into a depression,” Greenslit, now 27, tells PEOPLE. “My incision kept splitting open and my doctor wouldn’t give me the referral I needed in order to have corrective surgery, so for eight months I was in and out of her office trying to get it to heal. I ultimately ended up in the ER because it pulled open, and the ER doctor finally gave me the referral I needed in order to get the surgery done.”
Greenslit was angry and hurt that her doctor did not give her a referral for corrective surgery sooner.
“I was numb for a long time, because I was just a baby who had a baby and I trusted my doctor,” she says. “Exercise helped me cope, even if it was just walking, Pilates and yoga. It was my escape from a hard time that was suppose to be the best time of my life. I needed it and it saved me.”
After her doctor cleared her for more intensive exercise post-surgery, Greenslit decided to try Jillian Michaels’ workout DVDs (available on the FitFusion platform with more exercises available on her app).
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“Jillian saved my life,” says Greenslit. “That’s a bold statement, but it’s the truth! I started with the modifications and low weights, and worked my way up. No matter how sore I was after the workouts, I always showed up the next day ready for more. Her saying ‘Unless you faint, puke or die, keep going!’ became my motto.”
Greenslit committed to doing Michaels’ DVDs, and ended up losing 109 lbs. and dropping from a size 20 to a size 4. She wanted a new workout challenge, so Greenslit decided to sign up for her first 5k, and added running to her at-home workout routine until getting pregnant again at 24.
“I had to quit running due to back pain, but I stayed loyal to my Jillian workouts for as long as I could, even if it meant modifying and going at my own pace,” she says. “I gained 40 lbs. with my second pregnancy, and I was active throughout it. I even walked the treadmill the day I went into labor! Because I was active and healthy, I recovered quickly from my second c-section and the doctor cleared me for exercise after two weeks (with obvious modifications and restrictions).”
After six months of committing to her Jillian Michaels workouts and running, Greenslit had lost all 40 lbs. of her pregnancy weight. When a friend challenged her to try for a half marathon, she was willing to give it a try.
“When I’m challenged, I don’t back down,” she says. “Between running high miles and doing a variety of DVDs, I built my half marathon body and was able to run my first half in less than two hours, and took second in my age group! When I wanted to give up and thrown in the towel, I’d always have a Jillian motivational quote run through my mind that would carry me through.”
Greenslit has since completed three more half marathons, and is gearing up to run her fifth in September.
“Not only can I keep up with both of my kids, but I also take pride in the fact that I went from one extreme to the next,” she says. “I went from being overweight, having low self-esteem, and not being active whatsoever, to being a healthy mother-of-two, confident in myself inside and out. Now I can set that example for my children and be a positive role model.”