My name is Tameika Gentles (@tameikag),and I am 34 years old. I live in Toronto, Canada, and I'm a wellness and weight loss coach as well as an entrepreneur. I lost 90 pounds by finding my love for weightlifting and living a balanced lifestyle that works for me.
Growing up, I was perceived as the stereotypical fun, jolly, overweight friend that everyone loved. My family is of Caribbean descent, so our house was always filled with joy, food and most importantly, fun! Traditional Caribbean foods were a huge part of my culture and lifestyle.
As I got older, though, the weight piled on. I went from being the cute, chubby Tameika to becoming severely overweight. After my first year of university and gaining yet another twenty pounds, I’d reached my highest weight yet: 230 pounds.
My turning point came when I realized I couldn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
I've experienced a number of unfortunate, embarrassing things because of my weight, which absolutely no one deserves. For one, I wasn't able to fit comfortably in my airplane seat on my first international trip, and in another instance, I was rejected from a ride at an amusement park because of my size. This world isn't designed to fit big people, which is simply unfair and wrong.
My turning point came when I realized that because the world is built like this, I couldn't feel comfortable in my own skin. I knew deep down that there was so much I wanted out of life, and I just knew in my heart I was destined for a great, fulfilling life. I decided that changing my lifestyle was the first thing that was going to get me there.
My journey started with lots of research and the decision to cook my own food.
I started with research. This was during a time when Instagram, blogs, and the wealth of information available today just wasn’t there. I went to the library and checked out books on weight loss. I studied the science of weight loss, caloric intake, macros, fitness, weight training and the psychology of obesity. I was basically a sponge, absorbing everything I could.
Because of all the newfound information that I was learning, I made the decision that I was going to cook my own food. As a student, that consisted of very basic and very affordable meals. But I knew making and preparing my own meals was a first step. Over time it evolved into making my meals fun, buying healthy cookbooks, and trying new recipes.
Eventually, I gave up all restrictions and truly developed a lifestyle of balance. I recognized how dreadful a diet felt (not to mention it never lasted!) and was determined to figure out a lifestyle of balance. Taking the balanced approach may take longer, but you’ll be able to maintain it long term.
Here’s what I typically eat in a day now.
- Breakfast: Oats with fruit and almond milk, or a green smoothie with toast and almond butter
- Lunch: Either a salad stacked with veggies and a protein, or a sandwich or wrap with a salad
- Snack: A protein bar or protein shake
- Dinner: Fish with grilled veggies, or a shrimp stir fry
Fitness classes helped me get excited to head to the gym.
Honestly, I had a nonexistent relationship with exercise before my journey began. I would try certain programs to see if I'd lose weight, but nothing stuck. I even tried sports but was never really committed to anything.
But then I began to take fitness classes at my local gym. Through research, I knew how important strength training was toward muscle-building. Initially I just did cardio, but I quickly learned that if I wanted a toned and strong physique, with minimal loose skin, strength training was going to be a super important part of my routine.
Fitness classes taught me the basics: What a bicep curl was, how to properly squat, how to target different muscle groups. I couldn’t afford a personal trainer back then, so learning in classes was a perfect alternative.
After nine very dedicated months, I lost nearly 100 pounds.
I feel so empowered when I hit new PRs, and I only want to get stronger.
Now, I love strength training. I weight train four days per week and have for the last 14 years. I feel so empowered when I hit new PRs, and I only want to get stronger. When I’m not in the gym hitting the weights, I love getting outdoors. I often try to find new hikes or trails that can keep me active while seeing new places. I’m also developing a new love for yoga and stretching. I love what it’s doing for my mental health.
My current exercise regimen looks like this:
- Day 1: Back and biceps + 10,000 steps
- Day 2: Yoga + 10,000 steps
- Day 3: Legs and abs + 10,000 steps
- Day 4: Shoulders, triceps, and chest + 10,000 steps
- Day 5: Yoga + 10,000 steps
- Day 6: Any activity I fancy (usually a hike or something outdoors)
- Day 7: REST
The key to my weight loss was education.
The key to my weight loss was taking what I learned to really build a lifestyle that worked for me. Another massive win was slowly integrating these new learnings into my lifestyle, free from extremes and fads. I knew that wouldn't work as it hadn't in the past.
I tried time and time again to start this journey and failed. The main problem was lack of patience and consistency. I would always try to find quick wins that put me in a nasty yo-yo cycle. It wasn’t an easy road, but I’m so glad I went through it and got here because I believe my approach has helped tremendously with weight loss maintenance.
Most importantly, though, I stopped worrying about end goals. Truth is, after losing the weight and keeping it off for 14 years, I’ve come to realize that there is no end date to this journey. Once you lose the weight, you still have to maintain it. It really isn’t about the destination, because there is none.
This is lifestyle I am creating forever, so I started enjoying the process.