From before to … during: Utah Valley Magazine editor shares her AF Canyon Race Against Cancer journey

In a quest to run the AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, Utah Valley Magazine Editor Jeanette Bennett drops 27 pounds.


Jeanette Bennett’s before picture (left) is when she weighed 165 pounds in October 2017. The after picture is Bennett in April 2018 who is down to 138 pounds. (Photo by August Miller, UVU)

The AF Canyon Race Against Cancer asked me to be one of their 13 podcast interviews in the 13 weeks leading up to the 13.1-mile race. My podcast conversation with Elden Nelson centered on my personal experiences running/walking their 5K (multiple years) and the half marathon (just one time in 2011).

Then Utah Valley Magazine jumped on board to produce the Race Guide and be a sponsor of the June 23rd event. I hesitantly, vulnerably decided to go public in my own pages about how a non-athletic, 43-year-old mother of five has gone from being out of shape to dropping 27 pounds and possibly, maybe, kinda sorta being able to hang with my age group in the county’s most thoughtful half marathon.


I never have been and never will be a fitness model. I’m 5-foot-4, and I’m well aware of my body’s imperfections — even after getting closer to my goals. My body fat percentage is still higher than I’d like, and I have some of the same insecurities I had as a 99-pound high schooler.

But I’ve gained an appreciation for what my body IS and what it CAN do. My body has had five children, hiked Mount Timpanogos six times, run several races of different lengths, and has allowed me to work and play with my family while running a  20-year-old publishing company.

I’m grateful for my healthier body.

Plenty of befores

At our publishing company, we have done numerous before-and-after stories, especially as part of our network marketing magazine division where we’ve written about dozens of weight loss products. For the first time, I realize how scary it feels to reveal my own pics and digits.

Ever since having a fifth child in 2012, I’ve struggled with my weight. I’ve lost the same 20-25 pounds during bouts of cleanses and obsession, but the weight would come back quickly when my emotional eating took over. #iBlameTheDeadlines

Weight for it 

My maiden name is “Waite,” which is often spelled “Weight” by sales reps and people pretending to know me. So “weight” is a word I’m intimately familiar with. In mid-November 2017, I had eaten my way through a busy year and hit a number on the scale that in the past meant I was nine months pregnant.  Yet … no baby on board this time. Sigh.

I was tired of my body not matching my spirit. I wanted to fit in my clothes and feel confident in photos. The time had come. Game on!

EXL Fitness owner Mat Gover watched me go from not being able to do a single push-up on my toes to doing a dozen — even at the end of a one-hour boot camp.
“Jeanette is an entrepreneur with a great spirit and heart,” Mat says. “I wish I could train a room full of women like her. She works hard and smiles even when suffering through burpees.”

Excelling at EXL

I had never worked out in a gym before. NEVER. I was afraid of looking stupid, of not knowing what to wear, and of wasting precious minutes driving to and from a gym. I overcame these obstacles when my friend Dianna Andersen and I joined EXL Fitness in Orem together to attend the 5 a.m. bootcamp class twice a week. Owner Mat Gover helped me figure out the kettle bells and resistance bands. I still get confused about which “ding” is the halfway bell and which bell tells me I can stop planking, but the EXL environment is supportive, friendly and non-meat-market-ish.

Pounding the pavement 

To prepare for the AF Canyon Race Against Cancer on June 23, I’m loosely following training schedules found online and tweaked by a fellow fitness friend. I live near the Murdock Canal Trail, and I put in most of my miles just out my front door and onto the nearest asphalt pathway. I initially developed a hip injury when I started running, but with better shoes and some patience, I overcame it. Hip, hip hooray! #KeepingMyFingersAndHipsCrossed

Avahlee owner Pattilyn Jensen did Cool Sculpting on me as part of my transformation efforts.
“Jeanette is an ideal client for Cool Sculpting because she combined fitness with our procedures,” Pattilyn says. “She already has a small natural frame, and we were happy to smooth out a few areas for her as part of her journey.”

Playing it cool 

I’d like to think I’m not high-maintenance. I’ve never done Botox or had a pedicure or manicure. My girlfriends have tried to take me out for a pedicure, but I’ve always managed to get out of it. (I know, right?) So when my friend Pattilyn Jensen said she wanted me to try Cool Sculpting at her new business Avahlee, I avoided the conversation multiple times. But my trust in her and my desire to smooth out some areas on my body after dropping a few pounds helped put aside my fears. I did “cycles” of Cool Sculpting on my stomach and thighs, and I am pleased with both the process and the results. Avahlee pampers guests, including providing food from the local menus near their Point of the Mountain location. They brought me my choice of Nektar smoothie during every visit. The process was painless (other than a few seconds of discomfort when Pattilyn kneaded the frozen area after the procedure). Although some clients experience a little bit of bruising or numbness afterward, I did not. Cool, right?

Tips to be the biggest loser

1. Be mentally ready.

I wasted time feeling guilty about my weight before I was really going to do anything about it. When you’re ready, then you are ready. (Another profound statement along the lines of “Wherever you go, there you are.”)

2. Create a fitness plan and have an accountability partner.

I joined a bootcamp class with a friend, and although she stopped coming regularly after an injury, her initial support got me over my fears. It helps to know someone is expecting you to get out of bed and lace up the shoes.

3. Track calories.

I use My Fitness Pal, but there are many ways to log food intake. I’ve tried and failed to keep food journals before, but the convenience of an app that already knows how many calories and grams of protein are in my granola bar makes it doable. You can choose to connect with friends on the app and congratulate each other on weight loss and caloric self control. I choose to be antisocial on the app so nobody feels obligated to comment on my broccoli or Twix.

4. Weigh every day.

I check in with my scale nearly every morning and track the number on My Fitness Pal. It creates a progress chart, which keeps me motivated and informed on what my body is doing. Knowing I am going to get on the scale and possibly see a reward gets me out of bed in the morning.

5. Don’t obsess.

Funerals and obituaries NEVER focus on how much weight grandma lost. Our true legacy is created through kindness, love, ambition, friendship and loyalty. During a weight loss journey, it can be easy to become obsessed with the importance of pounds and body fat. Keep it in perspective! It’s just one part of who we are.


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