How I Ditched Diets and Embraced Exercise

(Shaka L. Kinard)

Meet Jennifer Turner, a television executive about to embark on yet another round of training for her sixth marathon – the New York City Marathon in the fall.

Jennifer will be chronicling her marathon training for Go Healthy New York, but before we follow along, here is her story of how she overcame her years-long struggle with weight to become a self-proclaimed "fitness activator."

I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, and never met a Happy Meal or a chicken wing I didn’t like. As I began to outgrow my childhood life-threatening asthma, the effects of the Hamburglar with accompanying McRib specials became evident, and I began to put on weight -- a lot of weight.

After many crash diets, gimmicks and several plays of the first Jane Fonda workout video (on Betamax), I eventually lost weight in my teens by developing an eating disorder. Although I eventually worked through the disorder, I was not a naturally thin person, and my lifelong struggle with weight and dieting continued.

It was in 1998 while attending Stanford University, that I decided to make a life change: I discovered and embraced fitness. I committed to going to the gym every day and, for the first time, stopped weighing myself. I stopped focusing on the results and focused on the process of embracing an active way of living. This was the last resort after a lifetime of being trapped in the crash-diet death spiral.

Although completely clueless in the gym, and feeling awkward working out in my not-so-cute 1986 L.A. Gear cross trainers and Flashdance legwarmers, I stuck with it. Through consistency and the support of a workout buddy, I lost fat in two months, my clothes fit differently, and most importantly, I felt great -- and FREE! I also found I was attracted to healthier foods, creating a virtuous cycle of nutrition to support my active lifestyle. My personal fitness revolution had begun.

I went on to complete five marathons (including the Boston Marathon twice and New York Marathon) and more than 10 triathlons, and became a pretty mean salsa dancer. I developed a lifelong commitment and connection to fitness while also developing my career as a television executive.

Although it's been tremendously rewarding to continue achieving fitness milestones, my passion and mission in life are to teach and inspire urban communities -- particularly women and children -- to lead healthier and more active lives. I became certified to teach group fitness through the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and, recognizing that successful fitness integration is impacted by many factors, received certification as a Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant, also through ACE.

I'm a self-proclaimed “Fitness Activator." I believe that everyone, with the right tools, social support, and inspiration, has the ability to connect to fitness in an emotional way. This connection will lead to long-term exercise adherence, and ultimately, what we all want: happiness. My mission is to activate that ability and inspire communities across the country.

Stay tuned for The Marathon Diaries! In the meantime, you can read about Jennifer's other fitness adventures at

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