When Jackie Miller got up one morning and looked in the mirror, she didn’t recognize herself.

And when the Omaha woman saw pictures of herself, she realized that was actually what she looked like.

She was burning the candle at both ends trying to keep up with work life and family life.

“I was just unhappy,” Miller said.

She decided that 2017 would be the “year of Jackie.” She was going to follow her new mantra, to be “a hustling, hardworking, awesome ray of light.”

So Miller joined a gym and found a diet she could stick with.

Despite having been a high school athlete and tackling boot camp-style workouts in her early 20s, the kickboxing classes at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping were tough. She left the first workout feeling depleted.

But she stuck with it. After all, she wanted to show her team at work that she was a leader. Miller has dropped 70 pounds since starting at the gym and has since recruited friends and co-workers to join her.

“When I got to the end of the year, I felt so much better,” said Miller, 34. “It was a slow process, but a healthy process.”

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Q: When did you start working out and why?

A: I started at the beginning of January 2017. It was a slow process of putting on (weight), a five-year span. But I decided 2017 was going to be the year of Jackie. I joined Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping, started getting massages once a month and started going to a chiropractor. I found a nutrition plan I could sustain.

Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?

A: It’s a mixture of resistance bands, or strength training, and kickboxing. I knew I liked kickboxing and that all the cardio was done around kickboxing. It’s definitely a good variety, and it changes so you don’t really get bored. At the end of the day, when I’m on the mat, whether it’s lifting or kickboxing, it’s a nice release. I’m at the gym six days a week, unless I’m traveling. Then I do workouts on my own.

Q: What is your current fitness goal?

A: Performance in the classes. I want to do all the pushups on my toes. I don’t want to stop or pause in the middle of a workout. I’m really focused on the entire 45 minutes and completing each exercise. When I first started, holding a plank for a minute felt like I was dying.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: I lost 70 pounds. But I would say the biggest accomplishment is my performance and mental clarity at work. I thought it would be the weight. The weight helps with confidence, but I think it was my real focus at work and being able to be the best version of me.

Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

A: The slowness of the process. I had to believe the process was going to work. Once I got a plan together for food, I just had to keep sticking to it. The hardest part for me was wanting to look different. If you’re putting on muscle, the scale won’t move. It was knowing I was still moving the needle, even though the weight wasn’t moving. It’s not like it all melted off in three to five months.

Q: What helps you stay on track?

A: First is the feeling I get when I leave, the energy I have. Second is my friends. They call them accountability buddies. When life gets busy and everybody’s got priorities, it’s nice to see somebody, even if it’s for 10 minutes before or after class.

Q: What is your gym pet peeve?

A: I like to be pushed. I’m not much for the cheerleader-type in the gym, but everything motivates people differently.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?

A: I love brunch. I hike, so I go over to Fontenelle Forest a lot. I like to do anything where I’m disconnected from a screen — going to live music venues, going out with friends and doing something fun. I enjoy being outdoors. I’m perfectly content sitting around a fire pit in the evening.

Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?

A: A hair tie. Luckily, at Farrell’s, one of the owners is a woman, so she has a stash of bobby pins and a whole row of hair ties.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?

A: Set a mindset, a way you want to feel. I really didn’t recognize myself in the mirror or in pictures. I avoided being in photos. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in numbers on a scale or a pair of jeans, but then what? I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. Be consistent and be patient with yourself. Invest in yourself and don’t feel guilty.

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