Mom Won’t Let Wheelchair Keep Her From Losing Weight

PHOTO: Trainer Amy Fendley taught Jamie Goodwin exercise techniques for paralyzed people, such as using medicine balls, free weights and boxing to improve upper body strength.
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Losing weight is tough for anybody, but Jamie Goodwin has to do it from a wheelchair.

Goodwin, a 38-year-old mother of three from Georgia, became paralyzed from the waist down when she was 17. She continued cheerleading from her chair and even entered the Miss Wheelchair America pageant, but after she got married and went through three pregnancies, her weight snowballed.

“I gained 60 pounds in one year,” she said, admitting that she had terrible eating habits and a “massive sweet tooth.” And she wasn't alone in her battle with weight. A 2007 University of Michigan Health System study found that about 60 percent of people with spinal cord injuries are overweight.

In 2012, Goodwin submitted a video audition to be the first paraplegic contestant on the weight loss realty show, "The Biggest Loser." She figured that if she could lose weight, it would send the message to America that anyone could do it.

Goodwin put the audition video on YouTube, and it got 10,000 hits in one day, she said, prompting the show to fly her to Los Angeles for a final round of auditions. But they ultimately chose not to have her on the show.

The following spring, Goodwin auditioned for "Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition." Once again, she made it to the final round of auditions but wasn’t chosen.

“I was completely bummed,” Goodwin said. “I’m a really happy person, but I was really sad that day.”

Then, local professional trainer Amy Fendley Goodwin a message on Facebook offering her services for free. Fendley showed Goodwin exercises she could do from her chair, like boxing and pulling something called a battle rope.

It was Fendley who suggested that Goodwin share her story on Facebook, and that’s how the Wheelin’ Weight Loss Facebook page was born.

Goodwin was honest about her weight at that time, 231 pounds. She even posted tummy-baring “before” photos.

“It was funny because I texted it to my mom beforehand and my husband and said, ‘Should I post this?’” she said. “My mom texted back and said, ‘Absolutely not.’”

Goodwin's husband said to go for it, but she still struggled to decide for two hours, she said.

Ultimately, she posted the photo, and it got 20,000 views.

“It has manifested and grown and been the accountability tool that she needs,” Fendley said of Goodwin's Facebook page. “She’s reaching people who she’s inspired, which was her goal to begin with.”

Goodwin’s routine involves a combination of modified interval training like Cross Fit, strength training and cardio workouts. She’s even done a few 5Ks in her wheelchair.

She now has more than 2,300 Facebook followers, and she said she responds to every message she receives. Some of her fans are paraplegics and some aren’t.

Now that Goodwin has been working toward her goal for a year, she’s down to 195 pounds.

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