MY ENTIRE LIFE. As far back I can remember, I cannot recall weighing under 190 pounds. I was always “husky” as a little girl. I was wearing regular women sizes (not kid sizes) by the time I was in 3rd grade. My family is from the south and our normal dinners consisted of everything deep fried, soaked in butter, deep fried again and then drowned in more butter. Even the most innocent of vegetables was loaded with extra salt and pork. There was a Chinese restaurant near my house that we were regular customers of. You guessed it, I was eating fried wings and lo mein, ensuring to drown my food in duck sauce & soy sauce. Instead of normal sized kids meals that came with a toy, I would eat 3 chicken nugget meals with fries and a milkshake. I remember one time my family dined at a local fast food joint and my Mom’s friend pointed it out that she had ordered me so many nuggets and the friend was taken aback. She said “Sheesh, that’s 20 chicken nuggets for a CHILD?!” That’s right, an 8 year old eating 20 chicken nuggets in one setting. She thought I didn’t hear her but I did. And it deeply affected me.

I was never active in sports. And like any normal teen going through puberty, my body changed. I sweated more than girls my age and any type of strenuous physical activity would make me sweat even more, producing body odor. I ate to hide these feelings.

HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?  I rarely if ever took pictures. If I was in a picture, it was a group picture where I could discreetly hide behind someone and blend in. I missed so many memorable moments with my family and friends because I hid from every camera.  I purposely would cover mirrors in my house so that I couldn’t see my body and how out of shape I had become. The summer is my favorite season. Sun’s out, gun’s out right? Not for me…while everyone else flaunted bikinis and tank tops, I consciously wore sweaters in 100 degree weather because I was so ashamed of the rolls on my back and my arms.

WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?  And then it happened, I collapsed while taking my final exams. I remember walking up to my professor’s desk to turn in my final, and then I woke up in the hospital. The doctors told me that my blood pressure was so out of control, I was mere minutes from collapsing into a coma. At 23 years old, my life was about to end. I began to cry and think of all the things I still had to accomplish. I finally mustered up the courage to say, “I want to live.”

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?  I went to my primary doctor after the fainting spell and I weighed in at a staggering 270 pounds! My doctor sternly told me that because of my weight, that I was slowly dying. My insides were literally crushing under my weight! At that moment I decided that I wanted to live!  In August of 2018, I underwent surgery to have my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. I under went a drastic 2 week pre-surgery diet plan that focuses on low fat and high protein to prepare for the surgery and life there after. I began to walk trails in my community as well. 30 minutes a day turned into an hour and so on. By surgery day I had lost 15 pounds. My surgeon was proud.

HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?  Immediately! I lost 15 pounds in my first week after surgery. By my 6 month weigh in I was down 100 pounds. I have no lost 125% of my excess body weight. Excess body weight is calculated by your starting weight, goal weight and how many pounds you have to lose to meet your goal weight. I blew that out the water and I am very proud.

WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?  I suffer from the mental “fat girl syndrome” where times I will go into a dressing room and still see that size 22. I underestimate myself and still pick out clothes from when I was heavier. Drastically losing weight can effect you psychologically. You must remain focused on why you committed yourself to this journey. Keep your eye on the prize!

DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?  I finally uncovered my mirrors and I make it ny mission to look at that woman staring back at me and say “YOU CAN F***ING DO THIS! YOU GOT THE SAUCE! YOU DID NOT COME THIS FAR TO GIVE IN. KEEP GOING!”  Some days I still cannot believe I was 270 pounds! I feel like a large weight has been lifted off me both figuratively and literally. I am finally confident enough to put my mind to anything I want to do.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?  I’ve been on this journey of self discovery and evolution for 1 year.

DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?  Too many to count! Fitting into clothes that I got to heavy for. They are too big now! For example, I am able to fit into cute clothes that I’ve been dying to get into. A cute pair of size 4 shorts I purchased right before surgery fit flawlessly a few days ago.  I recently went on a trip to Universal Studios and could fit on the rides! I’m a dare devil and I love rollercoasters so this was a tremendous non scale victory to me.

WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?  I was a big time “Boredom Eater”. I ate to kill time, I ate at stop lights, I would walk to class and stop by a vending machine — just because. I wasn’t hungry, I was greedy. I ate upwards of 8,000+ calories a day. Fast food, desserts, fried foods and late-night drive thru’s were my life. I even kept a package of strawberry filled donuts and a jar of M&M’s beside my bed. There was a Chinese restaurant near my college that I frequented so much and on such a daily basis, they knew me by name and by my order — a large lo mein with fried wings, 2 eggs rolls and a side of pork fried rice.

HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?  I hated working out because I hated sweating. Black women across the universe have this secret language with our hair. “Ooooh girl I can’t workout because I don’t want to sweat my hair out!”. I was that girl. I also hated gyms because I felt uncomfortable. I felt like people were staring at me like “Why is her big behind in here?” Gym shaming is real.

Nowadays, I LOVE TO SWEAT! Nothing makes my day like a good morning run, or a strength training session or doing yoga. I love the process and thought of physical activities. I like finding fitness challenges on Instagram and Pinterest. One of my first challenges was the “100 Miles in 30 days” challenge. I completed that challenge about 3 months after my surgery and I blew it out the water clocking in 175 miles in 30 days! One mile turned into two. Two miles turned into five. Next thing I know, I was running marathons! I’ve ran 10 half marathons since January of this year and I’m not stopping anytime soon! I’ll be running the LA Marathon in March 2020. Ive also started kickboxing and weight training because my goal now is to tone up.

MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS

  1. Take nudes. Now, don’t send them out to anyone but take nudes just to feel sexy and embrace your body. Self-love and growth heals.
  2. The internet is your friend! Be vigilant and google information. Google recipes, look up menu’s before going out to eat, find new foods to try. I found a delicious ZERO CARB bread option from strictly looking for it online.
  3. GET IN THE GYM and find an activity that you love. So maybe running isn’t your thing, try dance. Don’t like to dance, try yoga. Enjoy a physical activity that you love. Don’t let it be a chore.
  4. Take plenty of pictures before you start this journey. Being able to see where you were and where you are is soooo soothing and satisfying.
  5. This YOUR journey and YOUR body. Ignore the Negative Nancy’s, the naysayers and the doubters. Use it as fuel to prove them wrong. You know how many people I’ve proved wrong?