Almost 16 years ago, Enact Wellness Solutions business owner, Jessica White, weighed her heaviest at 340 pounds. After being married for one year to her high school sweetheart, and unable to walk upstairs without catching her breath, she went to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor bluntly told her that she needed to make some changes. If she didn't, she was on track to become a prime candidate for Type 2 diabetes.
"I knew I was big," Jessica says. "But there's a difference between knowing you're big, and knowing you're going to die."
While she doesn't excuse her weight gain, she does lay some of the blame squarely at the feet of her thyroid, the temperature- and metabolic-control system of the body—in charge of how fast or slow you burn calories, as well as auto-immune issues.
After the doctor's appointment, Jessica began a walking program around her neighborhood. Slowly, the weight started coming off.
Now, a much slender and healthier Jessica is an instructor, business owner and personal trainer who prides herself on helping others achieve their goals.
"It's about creating a sense of community," Jessica says. "Community is what we're about; fitness is just a bonus."
One of the reasons she opened her own studio is that Jessica recognized how intimidating it can be for people—especially women—who want to work out but are afraid to walk into a gym.
"I wanted to create a sense of openness and an atmosphere where I can make people feel comfortable because I love people, and I love to see them change," she says.
"I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients, what things they've tried before that haven't worked. I understand because I've been there. You try everything, and then eventually, you stop trying."
"I'm teaching people that it's a lifestyle, and that you don't have to be obsessive to lose weight and be healthy."
While Jessica loves the safe space she has created for her (mostly) female clients, she is more than the sum of her business.
Along with her husband, she also volunteers her time in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, where she teaches self-defense to girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking.
She and her husband became in-tune to this cause through a mutual friend, who has created When The Saints, a home for girls in that country and a first of its kind. The haven is a place that is "free from sexual exploitation and ruled by the transforming love of Jesus," according to its website. The home was opened Dec. 15, 2015.
Now Jessica devotes two weeks every year to teaching young women self-defense, as well as helping them to find their voice for change through their experiences and suffering.
It seems apropos that when asked what she would now tell her younger self, her answer is, "Don't give up."
That is surely applicable to her current clients and the young women she encounters two weeks out of every year half a world away.
"I wanted to create a sense of openness and an atmosphere where I can make people feel comfortable because I love people, and I love to see them change."