Photo: Ruven Afanador

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Jen Pastiglioine-Brody, Ramsey, New Jersey
Age: 35
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 273
Goal: Lose 100 pounds


I've wanted to have kids since I was a kid; I used to fantasize about having at least four. But after years of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, my husband and I started seeing specialists. We began infertility treatments about three years ago, and our most recent in vitro fertilization procedure was in October. It didn't take. I've had so many hormones pumped into my body that my doctor finally suggested I take a six-month break to get them all out of my system and lose weight. I don't want to disappoint my doctor or myself.

In high school, I was a little heavy, but I never felt self-conscious. My mom would come into my room to wake me up in the morning and sing me the Miss America theme. I only grew really large in the last several years.

As I gained weight, I became more anxious about my health, my future. I'd be playing with my nieces and realize I was winded. My husband and I ordered pizza three times a week, and since I'm a nurse practitioner, I knew I was killing myself. The light inside me dimmed—I'm typically a really positive person, and I lost that. A lot of people own their bigger bodies, but I've never felt comfortable in my fat skin.

I'm a bit of a control freak, and I like to be good at what I do. But weight loss is something I could never follow through on. Not knowing whether I'd succeed—with that or fertility—has been terrifying. And of course when I'm sad, I eat. I've known for a while that I need to lose weight, but I haven't been ready. I wanted to eat what I wanted and for everyone to leave me alone. I know it sounds crazy, but for a year, I followed people on social media who were on Weight Watchers and just observed.

I actually started Weight Watchers myself in January, and it's working well. My husband, mother and sister are doing it, too. It's not easy, but my husband and I will try anything to have kids. With my support system behind me, I'll achieve this—one milestone at a time.

Watch Jen and Cookie tell their stories at YouTube.com/OprahMagazine.

Living Large
From top: In St. Augustine, Florida, in 2008, at about 225 pounds; on a 2006 cruise to the British Virgin Islands, hovering around 205 pounds.

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Photo: Courtesy of Jen Patiglione-Brody

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Photo: Courtesy of Jen Patiglione-Brody