Jennifer Whitlock is a nurse practitioner, a published author–The Everything Weight Loss Surgery Cookbook–a professional health writer, and the Surgery Expert for VeryWell.com. She has worked as a hospitalist, an organ procurement coordinator and as an intensive care nurse working with the sickest surgical and medical patients.
Despite an abundance of knowledge about health and wellness, Jennifer weighed 310 pounds when she got married in April of 2017. Taking care of her body was becoming less and less of a priority and she had just finished a second unsuccessful round of physical therapy for an achilles tendon problem days before the wedding ceremony. Three days before the wedding she was given strict instructions to do as little as possible including absolutely zero yoga.
Jennifer, being a typical healthcare worker, is a very good patient and follows instructions to the letter. That means barely even remembering instructions were given, let alone complying with them, especially whilst on vacation. On her honeymoon she proceeded to do yoga on a stand up paddleboard in the Atlantic Ocean surf, hike with a 40 pound backpack, ride a bike while wearing a forty pound backpack, camp, walk all over Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, St. Simons Island and Savannah, Georgia for the week along with lots of beach walking and some swimming. Her ankle was 95% better at the end of that week, the combination of mostly clean food and exercise had done what pills and PT could not.
As a happy newlywed, the words “until death do us part” hit hard and were cause for introspection. At 310 pounds, Jennifer knew that it doesn’t matter that you’ve finally settled into a great career, that you are happily married and surrounded by wonderful friends and family if you are eating yourself into your grave on a daily basis. Jennifer knew her life expectancy was going to be absolutely and dramatically decreased by the size of her body.
Given the choice of staying morbidly obese and filled with self-loathing, or doing something about the excess fat, Jennifer chose to lose weight. A lot of weight. She decided to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of half of her body weight, around 150 pounds, and to get busy getting healthy.
She also decided to make this happen without surgery, gimmicks, or fad diets–while still using her cooking talents, word smithing and irreverent writing style, combined with her overgrown child sensibilities to encourage and inspire others to join in the fun and games.
So where does Everest come in to the picture and what’s this glass stuff all about?
Everest was the perfect solution to a simple problem: Jennifer doesn’t do well with casual easy goals that only benefit her, but does really well with huge goals that involve lots of time, effort and other people. (Yes, she is aware that this doesn’t make any sense, but it is no less true.) So eating more salad and going to the gym a few times a week doesn’t work out so well, but spending three years in school to get a master’s degree seems utterly doable. Strange, right?
So the Everest Base Camp Trek is the perfect solution. The first three people Jennifer told about this insane idea said “I’m in” before she even got around to asking them to go along. This shocking turn of events was fantastic because the idea probably would have have died right there as an unspoken random thought–but POOF there was instant accountability. In that moment quitting wasn’t just about letting herself down, it was about a team and success for everyone, and the instant it became a team thing failure was no longer an option.
So that is where this semi-crazy whole thing started (interestingly enough at a healthy-food-only-vegetarian-potluck, who knew such a thing existed).
Everest. For realzies, EVEREST, go extremely big or go home, get your bootay in gear, Mount EVEREST.
17,598 feet or so, depending on where you are standing at Base Camp, is the goal. It’s a massive goal of training to trek uphill–for eight straight days at increasing altitudes– that requires not only serious fitness but enough weight loss to stop needing CPAP at night for sleep apnea. This goal is NOT about being skinny, or a certain size or a certain weight. It is a goal that is all about being fit and ready and conquering a mountain–literally. 310 = starting weight. Everest = goal. Just like that, 310 To Everest was born.
Suddenly, like the flick of a light switch, this thing became real. Really real. So real that whenever Falling Down a Mountain by INXS came up on Spotify or Jennifer’s Ipod, she skipped it, because this is really going to be happening and let’s not talk about falling down a mountain.
So that’s how it happened, and then people started to talk about feeling inspired. Those people started to exercise, and that inspired Jennifer, and that inspired a few more people when Jennifer started shrinking, and the more it worked the better it was for inspiring people and now Jennifer uses scrunchies to hold up her pajama pants because she is too cheap to buy new ones and insists on waiting until she can wear a pair for a while before investing the $10.
What about the 310 To Everest glass?
The glass, well, Jennifer is a morbidly obese person who forgets to eat when she’s making glass. Glass is Jennifer’s escape from her busy life as a nurse practitioner, from her other life as a professional writer, and from the insanely busy calendar that is the rest of her life. Glass is Jennifer’s hobby, and refuge, and is (slightly) less expensive than paying a therapist out of pocket. Plus, glass is pretty. So Jennifer makes glass. Lots of glass, whenever she can find the time, and that isn’t as often as she would like. The glass is made in a kiln (or 3–addict) and it ranges from teensy weensy wee pendants to bowls that are nearly 2 feet wide.
It seemed logical to use the glass to fund the madness, and so 310 To Everest Glass, also known as Jennifer Whitlock Glassworks, was born. Glass sales will help to make the trek financially possible.