Janae Blackman had a long history with diets and exercise plans that wouldn’t stick. Like countless others, she thought of fitness only as a tool for weight loss.    

It wasn’t until January 2021 that her relationship with fitness began to change. Janae faced a breast cancer scare that drove her to focus more on her health, and in the new year she joined an at-home HIIT program to help reach her goals.  

Unfortunately, the journey didn’t start off easily.  

“I hated it. I forced myself to do a month of it, but by the beginning of the second month I quit. I thought to myself, ‘okay, I’m just going to be a big girl for the rest of my life, I can’t do this workout thing anymore’.” 

But, a few months later, with the support of a close friend, Janae tried out a different method: strength training. 

“In May 2021, a personal trainer and friend of mine started a fitness program solely based on strength training. So, I said ‘If I’m going to sign up for this, I’m really going to put my whole heart into it for the two months. I’m not going to weigh myself. I’m not going to focus on measurements. I’m just going to complete the program.’” 

Her new approach to building strength and staying consistent quickly paid off. Janae noticed positive changes to her body and mindset. She started to feel better both mentally and physically.  

“For me, that feeling was kind of addictive, and I didn’t want to lose it.” 

So, she dived into the online fitness community, looking for motivation and tricks to stay consistent. The overwhelming advice from fitness professionals was to focus on mental health and boosting your mood with exercise. So, that’s exactly what Janae did.  

She joined GoodLife fitness with a friend and continued to pursue weight training, setting goals to increase what she could lift in the gym, not just to decrease the weight on the scale. Since then, Janae has been building her strength and sharing her story online. 

With a following of over 1,200 people on her Instagram page @janaes_lifestyle, Janae uses her social media platform to motivate others to move their bodies, regardless of their size. She hopes her posts will increase the representation of plus-sized women in the weightlifting sphere and help more people feel comfortable in the free weights section at the gym. Her inspiring message about a health-based approach to fitness has even drawn the attention of CTV News and Essence Magazine, which have both done features on her.  

Since the beginning of her journey, Janae has lost over 75lbs, created an online community, and discovered a love of strength training. Now, as a single mother of two, she uses fitness as time for herself, a way to clear her mind and manage stress.  

For others struggling to stay consistent, Janae advises a shift in mindset.  

“It’s not just about how you look. It should be about how you feel and your health in general.”