An Xplore Story - Meet Jessica Jackson

Xplore Nutrition helps aspiring mother cope through IVF treatments.

Spurred by failed in vitro fertilization cycles, food became a crutch for Jessica Jackson, an escape from the fear that the pregnancy might never take.

The 41-year-old Clemson, S.C. resident had her son Jordan in college. When she and her husband, Cody, started trying almost two decades later, several surgeries, medications and hormone treatments had taken their toll, and it soon became clear that they would not be able to conceive naturally.

"I'd done the single mom thing. I wanted a child with my husband," she said. "I didn't feel like a good wife. The emotional bit was crazy, and on top of it all, I didn't like the way I looked." 

Pictured is Jessica and her husband Cody on their wedding day.

Pictured is Jessica and her husband Cody on their wedding day.

Gradual Weight Gain

Jessica has always been an animal lover. An amateur dressage competitor -- a sport she refers to as "fancy, dancing horses" -- she got her first pony, Patrick, for her eighth birthday, and has been riding consistently ever since -- one of the things that has helped keep her fit over the years.

For 15 years, she worked in industrial construction sales and spent most of her days walking. The weight gain started when she transitioned into her current position with a military purchasing company -- primarily a desk job -- three years ago.She gained 30 pounds. At her heaviest, she jumped up to 160 pounds -- not obese, but a marked shift for her 5'1" frame.

"It was very gradual, almost unnoticeable," she said. "I knew my clothes were getting tighter, but it wasn't a medical issue or anything."

The new job isn't all bad. Jessica works for a small company, with only eight employees, that services every military base in the country. They facilitate sales of anything a military base may require, everything from frozen mice to refrigerators, she said.

She met Cody while she was still working in the industrial construction field. He was a client, and they immediately clicked. He started coming around more, and they would chat once the business was done. After a few weeks, he asked her out.

Six years younger than her, Cody doesn't have any children. When they realized it wasn't going to happen naturally, they began to pursue IVF. "I think the combination of the medicine and hormones I'd taken, and this desk job really changed my body," she said. "It just kind of snowballed. When the doctor tells you that you can't have kids, you look into the next step. You get more and more involved, and it just keeps going.

"The couple froze eight embryos -- eight opportunities for a pregnancy to take. It hasn't yet, and there is only one embryo left.

"I used to tell myself that when each round of IVF was over, I'd go on a crash diet and lose the weight," she said. "I even tried that cabbage soup thing."

Without a horse at the time, she also wasn't exercising. During those two-month cycles, her life essentially revolved around work and returning home to eat her emotions.

"I journaled at the time, because I wanted to remember different patterns of the cycles," she said. "I read back, and I was just so miserable."

Jessica standing with her horse PA Locano after their last show together.

Jessica standing with her horse PA Locano after their last show together.

Breaking Away From Fad Diets.

She saw some positive results when she cut out sugar, but it wasn't until she got connected with Cat Holly and Xplore Nutrition that things really started to turn around.

"Cat and I are friends on Facebook," Jessica said. "I would always private message her, saying how disappointed I was in my weight and asking what to do. Out of the goodness of her heart, she kind of mentored me a bit.

"When Xplore Nutrition launched its beta test, Holly recruited Jessica. Jessica appreciated the program, but she struggled with logging her meals each day, a mental block she said. She tended to throw the entire day away when she ate something unhealthy.

"Cat was so understanding and helpful through all of that," she said. "I would be so embarrassed that I just wouldn't log my foods, but Cat would contact me. She wouldn't make me feel bad about it. She wanted to find something that worked for me."

Rather than logging her meals every day, Cat suggested that Jessica log her meals three times weekly. Through the beta test, she lost 12 pounds and has been able to keep it off. Although she no longer uses Xplore, the experience helped her develop healthy habits that have stuck with her.

"In my opinion, the coaching part of it is the biggest benefit," she said. "I still think to myself, if I were logging my food, would I be embarrassed to tell Cat that I ate this."

The weight loss has helped her to feel better about herself, and the experience has inspired her to begin exercising again. She takes a tabata and spin class and does strength training, but her most difficult workout of the week is always her riding session. The weight she has lost isn't the best indicator of the overall changes to her appearance, because she has gained muscle through the process. A better marker is the fact that she has dropped three dress sizes.

"I was really modest before, but I'm more relaxed at home now. I don't have to cover up if my husband enters the room," she said. "Xplore is a positive program, and it set me on the right path. If Cat hadn't contacted me, I would probably still be doing a fad diet."

This blog was written by Xplore Nutrition member and contributing author, Matt Dutton.