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The Sweet Smell of Victory

Jenny Hodges of Land O' Lakes lost 212 pounds. This is part two of her story.

Reaching your goal weight aftermight seem like the perfect end to a hard-fought battle. But for Jenny Hodges of Land O’ Lakes, it was the start of a new adventure.

Soon after she achieved , the company put out a casting call on Facebook, Hodges said. They were looking for success stories—and she had one.

Hodges sent an email and within 24 hours, she had an appointment for an interview in downtown Tampa. A week after that interview, another.  From about 30,000 applicants nationwide, it was narrowed to 3,000, Hodges said. Then to 300. Then to eight.

And Hodges was one of them.

Hodges was flown—first-class, a first for her— to LA to film a series of commercials with Jennifer Hudson along with the other seven who came from all over the U.S., she said.

At 40, she was the oldest of the group, and the highest-losing woman, Hodges said.

Though there were several—including the opportunity hear Hudson sing live—one of the highlights of the experience came during her dress fitting.

Not just any dress— it was referred to as "the dress," Hodges said. 

An Yves St. Laurent, with the tag showing only the European size. When Hodges asked what its U.S. equivalent was, she was told a size 6.

When she made the decision to change her life in 2008, Hodges had been a size 32.

“That was really cool,” Hodges said. 

One commercial is out now, and others are forthcoming from the two-day, 32 hour shoot—a "surreal experience," Hodges said. 

But the experience wasn’t over. Before she left for LA, a producer for the Rachael Ray show contacted Hodges after seeing her "I Lost It" story in the Tampa Tribune. She wanted to know if Hodges had ever thought about telling her story nationally.

“Really?” Is this for real?” Hodges asked herself.

It was.

Within two hours of returning from LA, producers from the Rachael Ray show were at Hodges’ Land O’ Lakes home to film her back story. Within 24 hours of her return, she was back on a plane to New York.

Hodges also spent another week filming a Spinning infomercial for Mad Dog Athletics. Spinning classes are among some of her favorite workouts, she said.

The dust has settled a bit from the whirlwind coast-to-coast adventure, but Hodges is still fired up.

As a librarian at a private school in Tampa, Hodges is soft-spoken but confident. Passionate. Radiant.

That "umph", as she calls it, comes from her experiences during the past few years. Without the journey, she said, she wouldn't be the person she is now.

Her three young children look at “before” pictures of her and don’t recognize her. She is a different person on the outside, stronger on the inside. Always moving forward.

"My goal for 2012 is just to work a little bit harder—run farther, bike faster," Hodges said.

Hodges works out seven days a week and competes in at least one race a month. She recently applied to become a Weight Watchers leader.  She wants to help other people take control of their own lives, she said.

"If I can do it, anyone can," Hodges said.

She ran her first half-marathon in November, the sight of her husband and children cheering her on at the finish line engrained in her memory, she said.

She finished in 2 hours, 31 minutes.

“I smelled so bad, but it was the smell of victory.”

To learn more about Jenny Hodges, visit her website or like her on Facebook.

Editor's note: We are so excited to introduce Jenny Hodges as our newest Land O' Lakes Patch blogger. She will discuss meal planning, eating fresher, teaching children healthy habits and more. Watch for her first post on finding a support system Monday!

Rene Van Hout January 18, 2012 at 08:56 PM
I thouht about yesterdays article all last night! I remember standing next to Jenny in a Zumba or Pump class a few years ago. Her face was so red, as her larger body was being pushed to perform. She hung in there, through the entire class. I am so excited to see her happy and healthy now!!!
Holly Tripp January 18, 2012 at 10:09 PM
WOW!! Jenny is amazing! She used to come to my class and not be able to stay because her knees would give out and hurt. Now she is a fitness dynamo!! She is truely amazing!!
Karen Horgan January 19, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I don't know Jenny personally, but this is an amazing and heartfelt story of her life. Keep up the "umph" and continue to stay healthy. Karen Horgan - LOL Transport & Moving
Terri Dusek January 20, 2012 at 04:25 PM
OMG! Congratulations
Mary Lee January 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I won't know jenny, but in either case: Way to go Jenny! That is amazing! This is encouraging me to keep my new years resolution to take the kids out biking every weekend for a morning routine! We just got the bikes we ordered from http://www.2wheelbikes.com/. KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK!

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