Jillian Hoover has been transformed.

The days of negative self-talk and self-imposed limitations are a thing of the past. Physically, mentally, emotionally – the weight is gone.

“A lot of what I went through had to do with the mental aspect,” Hoover said. “I had to learn how to believe in myself and in the process rather than the results. Too often, we put these thresholds on ourselves and say, ‘I can’t do this.’ In reality, we just need to add the word ‘yet’ to the end of that sentence and keep trying. There’s no regret in trying.”

Hoover is a stay-at-home mom turned personal trainer, and a former student at North Platte Community College. She’s lost 67 pounds since she began her journey to fitness, and more importantly, she’s gained health, confidence and a newfound respect for what her body can accomplish.

“I’m more fit now than I was in high school,” Hoover said. “That just goes to show that there really are no limits to how far you can go.”

Hoover has spent her life in North Platte. She was homeschooled through high school, then attended North Platte Community College for her continuing education – earning a GED there in 2010 before enrolling full-time.

“I was familiar with the college because my mom and sister worked there,” Hoover said. “I knew that I would get a great education at an affordable price. Going to NPCC allowed me to live at home and save money while continuing my cleaning job. I really enjoyed my time at the college, and really excelled there.”

She also developed a fondness for English and writing at NPCC and briefly considered a career in the field. Life had other plans.

By the time college graduation rolled around in 2012, Hoover and her husband were expecting their first child.

“I walked across the stage to accept my diploma and gave birth 10 days later,” Hoover said. “I became a stay-at-home mom, and it wasn’t long after that I realized I needed to make a lifestyle change. I didn’t care much about my health after high school and gained 65 pounds while pregnant with my daughter.”

With her husband in the military and deployed, Hoover had slipped into a daily routine.

“I would go to my classes at the college then come home and eat fast food,” Hoover said. “That took a toll on every aspect of my life – my confidence, how I felt – even labor was harder than it should have been because of my choices at the time.”

Having a baby put things in perspective, and Hoover began trying to take better care of herself for her family.

“I wanted to be ‘healthy for a mom,’ whatever that meant,” Hoover said with a laugh. “That was my starting point. Everything was sporadic at first. I didn’t have any knowledge of nutrition or fitness, but I started working out at home to YouTube videos while my daughter was napping. I ate peanut butter because I thought it had a lot of protein in it and ate Special K cereal because I heard that was good for people. I didn’t even like Special K.”

What she did like was how she felt, even with the little changes. Hoover started reading every article she could find about nutrition and exercise. Sometimes what she found was misinformation and marketing gimmicks. She made it her mission to sort through the clutter and find the truth.

After her husband returned from deployment, he was able to watch their daughter so Hoover could go for runs in the park. She eventually moved up to high-intensity interval training.

“I was weak in the beginning,” Hoover said. “I didn’t know exactly what my body needed – just that it needed to move.”

Hoover welcomed two more children in 2013 and 2016. By then, she had a different mindset in terms of working out during pregnancy.

“With my middle child, I realized I could continue moving,” Hoover said. “I was more mindful of what I ate, and I knew what was safe and what wasn’t. I was quite healthy by the time my youngest was born. I started lifting light weights while I was pregnant with him.”

Working out, Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Through the process of losing the baby weight, Hoover developed a love for the human body and for the science behind proper nutrition, building muscle and moving to live – not just to look good but to feel happy and pain-free.

“Having kids ignited a passion in me,” Hoover said. “I wouldn’t have known that I love taking care of myself if I hadn’t experienced what my body could do and become. Making that time for myself helps me be more present as mother. I enjoy the mental clarity that comes with giving my body what it needs. It has become something that is a part of motherhood – not separate from it.

That sense of accomplishment was fueled four years ago when she started going to the gym.

“I was like a kid in a candy store looking at all the equipment,” Hoover said. “I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on.”

Lifting weights. Jillian has become a personal trainer.

As she slimmed down and built muscle, others took notice. Hoover became certified as a personal trainer at the end of 2019, and by 2020, had her first clients.

“I was contacted by a couple who went to the same gym I did,” Hoover said. “The husband wanted to know if I could train them. He said they had been watching my transformation and had been waiting for me to announce that I was taking on clients so I could help them too.”

Hoover has continued to expand her clientele since then, mostly due to word of mouth. She also promotes her training services on her personal Facebook page and has created a blog using the writing and persuasive skills she gained at NPCC. A website is in the works.

Over the summer, Hoover added pain-free performance specialist to her list of certifications. She will be nutrition certified by the end of the year.

“My initial goal was to be able to keep up with my kids,” Hoover said. “Now I feel like I’ve built a body that is strong and healthy for anybody – not ‘just a mom’.”

Her journey has become a family affair. Hoover’s kids, now ages 9, 7 and 5 enjoy exercising with her at home and often take the initiative to work out by themselves.

“I hope they see what I’ve achieved and apply it to themselves,” Hoover said. “I want them to look at health as an investment in their future – not purely from the aesthetic standpoint but as what’s best for their body so they can feel better and move the way they’re supposed to.”

She’s also hopeful other mothers will be able to relate to her story and find the confidence and motivation to improve their lives.

“I want all moms out there to realize they’re strong and can do whatever they want,” Hoover said. “There’s no such thing as ‘getting your body back’ after pregnancy because that should not be the goal. A mom’s body has done something amazing. It has held a child. As moms, we have to appreciate our bodies and see what they can do moving forward. Going back isn’t somewhere I’m trying to go. I’m going to keep pushing, transforming to reach that next level.”

Hoover trains at the Nebraska Athletic Club. Those interested in contacting her can email jilliancandacefitness@gmail.com.

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