Before making a major lifestyle change, Cathy and Todd Jennings took a trip to the Red River Gorge to hike the trail that leads to Natural Bridge.

“We had to take breaks going up the hill,” Cathy said.

A year later and 185 combined pounds lighter, the duo returned to the same trail and climbed it with ease.

Todd and Cathy Jennings before their weightloss. (Photo submitted)

“We went right up the hill,” she said. “Both of us were amazed at how good we did.”

In July 2020, four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Todd and Cathy had reached their all-time high weight — Cathy at 230 pounds and Todd 305 pounds — when they committed to making a lifestyle change.

They had tried doing Keto, but with Todd on high blood pressure medicine, the diet turned out to be bad for his health because of the high fat intake. That’s when Cathy noticed one of her friends losing weight with Trainer Joe out of Lexington.

“It’s a three-week program,” Cathy said. “In the first 21 days, Todd lost 22 pounds and I lost 14 pounds.”

Todd said they were hooked after that first 21 days and decided to commit to the program for the long haul.

“We started seeing results and it seemed easier and easier,” he said.

Todd and Cathy Jennings walk on a trail at Salato Wildlife Education Center. (Photo by Hannah Brown)

They were given a list of 250 approved foods to consume. They eat lean protein, like chicken and fish. No beef, pork or processed meats. They eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, and program-approved protein bars.

“We eat more nutrient rich foods,” Todd said.

Since starting their new lifestyle, they’ve had several revelations.

“We were hungry before because we weren’t eating things with nutritional value,” Cathy said. “Now, we’re eating things our bodies need. Our bodies aren’t craving things.”

One of their go-to-meals is taco bowls made with ground turkey, cauliflower rice, black beans, peppers and onion. Todd grills a lot on a Weber Grill and likes to smoke meat.

“I just like to eat,” Todd said. 

They eat three meals a day and a snack. They don’t stick to serving sizes or count macros.

They also still go out to eat — they just follow a few tips and tricks to stay within their diet.

“If we go to Mexican, we don’t eat tortillas and we request they don’t add extra oils,” Cathy said.

Along with their diet, the program requires that they exercise 20 minutes a day. It can be whatever exercise they want.

“We walk,” Todd said. “Cathy does aerobics and Pilates.”

Cathy said when they started the program, they committed to walking 20 minutes a day. “We didn’t miss a day,” she said. “We walked in the wintertime through the snow. Our dogs walked with us.”

They also committed to losing 50 pounds by Christmas, which they accomplished.

“For us, it didn’t seem hard,” Cathy said.

Some of their favorite spots to walk in Frankfort are downtown and around the Capitol. They also walk a lot at Salato Wildlife Education Center because it’s near their house.

They also enjoy hiking at Cove Spring Park and around the state. They’ve hiked at Bernheim Forest and Red River Gorge. They use an app called All Trails and are working to mark those trails from around the state off their list.

“We’ve done a few this summer,” Cathy said.

Since starting the program, Cathy has lost a total of 80 pounds and Todd has lost 105 pounds. Now at their ideal weights, they consider themselves in “maintenance mode.” They still participate in the Trainer Joe Program and help support other participants. Cathy shares healthy eating tips with participants in the program’s Facebook group.

Cathy and Todd Jennings hike at Red River Gorge. (Photo submitted)

“I share in the group my grocery stores finds and how we try to keep frozen steamable vegetables around,” Cathy said. “We don’t do dairy products, other than Greek yogurt. We use Premier Protein Shake in our coffee.”

The couple has also inspired many of their friends to join. They tell them that there is no magic pill or supplement that is going to help them to lose weight and keep it off.

“That stuff doesn’t work,” Cathy said. “When you do a plan that includes real food at the grocery store, it’s life long. You can continue it. I had a friend doing bars and shakes and every time she went off of the diet, she gained back the weight. I tell them to just do Trainer Joe and stop.”

Todd recommends just finding a program that helps you achieve your health goals.

“You just have to find what works for you,” Todd said. “There are thousands of different things. Just do it and stick to it.”

As for their health goals for the future, Cathy has recently started back teaching aerobics and plans to continue it. She teaches on Facebook and has a YouTube channel.

“I just want to stay off as many pills as possible,” Todd said. “As I’m getting older, I don’t want to worry about taking something all of the time.”

Cathy and Todd Jennings (Photo by Hannah Brown)
Todd and Cathy Jennings. (Photo by Hannah Brown)
Todd and Cathy Jennings walk on a trail at Salato Wildlife Education Center. (Photo by Hannah Brown)
Todd and Cathy Jennings walk on a trail at Salato Wildlife Education Center. (Photo by Hannah Brown)
Cathy and Todd Jennings take a selfie while hiking at Red River Gorge. (Photo submitted)
Todd Jennings hikes at Red River Gorge. (Photo submitted)
Cathy and Todd Jennings hiked the sand dunes along Lake Michigan. (Photo submitted)