The Heart Of The Matter


Before you read this grab a box of tissue.

The Universe always brings us EXACTLY what we need, we just aren’t always ready. Read this knowing that in September of 2016 Abby and I stood elbow-to-elbow at a friends house. 9 months before tragedy would strike her family.  I was new to the Community and taking it all in. We both were listening to a remodel horror story and really only exchanged a few words of our own. It wasn’t Abby’s time yet…a lot of life was ahead of her that would lead her to contacting me. She had forgotten we had met, but I knew I had been placed in her path for a reason. ~ Jennifer



I’ve struggled with my weight ever since the winter of 2013 when I moved into my current house.  Before that I was a little over where I wanted to be but I was still a normal BMI, had done several whole 30’s, went through phases of running regularly or doing the Insanity DVDs, and generally was healthy.  When I moved I started working more and not pushing a double stroller as much; that was compounded by the stress of my previous home spending 9 months on the market before selling.  My weight started climbing and eventually I’d put on 25 lbs.  I was tired a lot, often frustrated with my family, spent my evenings on the couch surfing the web while watching TV and drinking wine, and felt disconnected from friends.

I was frustrated.  I joined a “Body Back” 5:45am small group workout class several days a week and got stronger but the scale didn’t move much.   I had plans to lose it by my 40th birthday in 2016 (140lbs by 40 was going to be my theme) and lost some weight in January but I was back up to ~165lbs by my July birthday.  Over the 2016/2017 holiday season I gained more weight and weighed as much in January 2017 as I did when I was 9 months pregnant with my first child.  I half-heartedly tried to lose weight for my youngest sister’s wedding in April 2017, but I ended up having to buy a size XL bridesmaid dress and felt like a whale.  My sister’s wedding weekend was the last time I saw my father.

My Father, Dave Kempner

I’d been following Jennifer/Project Healthy Body on Instagram for a while as both a neighbor and a coworker knew her and my coworker had good results working with her.  In late April I reached out to her but decided it seemed too expensive and I should just try harder on my own.  I lost 0.4 lbs. in May – not really any progress.

On June 12th 2017 at 6pm I got a text from my youngest sister that my father had suddenly stopped talking while they were on the phone during her commute.  My mom wasn’t answering her cell and the home phone was off the hook.  We frantically called neighbors to go over, my middle sister who lived in town drove over, but my dad was found not breathing.  My middle sister – a doctor – performed CPR.  By 7pm we knew my dad was gone.  That evening I got on a red eye from Portland to Michigan.  My dad was an active guy.  He was overweight but went to the gym regularly; he always walked and carried his clubs when he played his daily round of golf.  But his autopsy said he had 90% blockage in his main arteries.  When my aunt arrived in Michigan, we drove together to view my dad’s body.  On the way to the funeral home, she told me about all the cardiovascular disease in my family.   It seemed like almost everyone died of a heart attack or a stroke.

After my dad’s celebration of life, I came back to Portland.  I stopped watching TV but continued to drink wine on the couch.  I went on a 41 mile hike for my 41st birthday with a group of friends and was the slowest one.  I’d initially lost a few pounds due to grief but gained it back and was now back solidly above 170lbs.  My neighbor mentioned Project Healthy Body and I decided I needed help to change.  The weekend before our first call, I met Jennifer at a resort on the Hood Canal in Washington; I also remember going to my room and falling into a drunken sleep while my kids watched a movie one night there.




Since starting the Project Healthy Body program, I’ve learned about what foods fuel my body and what constitutes empty calories.  I’ve successfully integrated exercise into my life and appreciate both the benefits to my health and to my mental state.  My running pace is getting faster and I’m running farther – last weekend I ran 5 miles each day and on Saturday they were all under 10 min/miles!  I rarely drink on weeknights and never fall asleep on the couch after drinking wine.  I start each day with a green smoothie and love the routine of it.  My husband has nice father/daughter time when he takes the girls out to breakfast and I enjoy a little time to myself.

Abby holding the 15 pounds she had lost early 2018

I’ve read a ton of books this year and have watched less than 10 episodes of TV shows since my dad died.  We’ve started eating Sun Basket meals which means that healthy dinners we make ourselves are delivered to our house weekly.  It doesn’t take that much more time than what we were making previously; our kids are now used to “healthy food” vs “kid food” and we’re aligned to a single dinner for the family.  I have more patience for my children and feel more grateful for the time I spend with them.  I ask for help more at home and am not apologetic about it.  I feel closer to my community and have a stronger group of friends than I did a year ago.  I have enjoyed shopping recently for new summer clothes – there are many things in the store that I like and look good on me.  People regularly notice I’ve lost weight and ask me about it.  I’m not self-conscious about my looks anymore and can focus on other aspects of my life.  I have more energy.  I feel better.

I’ve now reversed a multi-year upwards trend and have lost 20 lbs, 18.25 inches and over 10% of my body weight. I have a normal BMI. I wanted to be a healthy weight by last Christmas, (or 5 years ago) but it took time. Good things take time. I’m succeeding.  It’s a slow, steady process and I know this is for life. I’m also confident that this progress will continue because it’s been accomplished through a lifestyle change, and not one of the quick fixes I’d tried before.


My dad would be proud I made this change.  I told myself that the issue with my weight was one of appearance; yes I was chubby but I wasn’t actually “fat fat”.  I didn’t think there weren’t health consequences.  There were.  Overweight women have a 32% higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  Last year over 600,000 people died of cardiovascular disease.  My grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of 73 (after surviving one at age 69).  My dad died of a heart attack at the age of 69.  I want to live long enough to watch my grandchildren grow up and enjoy my retirement – and I want to maximize my enjoyment of the life I have now vs letting it pass me by.  A year ago I wasn’t going to be able to do either of those things – and now I am.

Project Healthy Abby. Photos taken 14 months apart

  1. Beautiful Story Abby! Glad to see you are enjoying life more each day (it goes by so fast).

  2. I am so inslured by you! This is writen by a strong, confident woman who is going to inspire many more women to take control of their lives ❤️ Thank you for sharing part of your heart with us 🥝

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: