Transformation of the Day: Brandi lost 145 pounds. This Sigma Gamma Rho soror has been through numerous ups and downs, including the passing of her mother and father within a year of each other. She also had high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and a serious bacterial infection. Through it all, she took action to release the weight, dramatically improve her health and make herself a priority. Check out her journey.
I am a 44-year-old black woman from the Chicago-land area. I lost about 145 pounds and it took three years to do it. I have maintained my weight loss for a year and have started working on the last leg of my journey to lose the final 60 pounds.
I began my official weight loss journey during the winter of 2013. It was one of the most challenging times of my life, as I’d just lost both of my parents within eleven months of each other. My mom died in December 2011 at the age of 60 from a stroke/heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes and years of obesity. My dad died in November 2012 from a heart attack at the age of 64, primarily due to high blood pressure and clogged arteries (in my mind “normal black people stuff”).
I was also working on my second master’s degree, was married, and working as a full -time teacher. I had to take on the responsibility of managing my parent’s security company and employees, all while trying to stay sane. In December 2012, I lost it all and sank into a deep depression. Food and liquor became my “best friends”. My weight sky-rocketed to 390 pounds and I was around a size 30/32.
As Valentine’s Day approached, I went to Lane Bryant to buy a dress to wear to
our church’s annual Married Couples Retreat. I couldn’t fit anything in the store. Rock Bottom! I sat on the floor in the dressing room and cried for almost an hour. As I cried, I realized I needed to lose weight or I was going to die at an early age, just like my parents.
The next day, I decided to pursue weight loss surgery. I didn’t realize how challenging this process would be. I began by seeing a nutritionist to learn how to eat correctly. Then, I had to see my primary doctor and have blood work done, which revealed my blood pressure was high and I was borderline diabetic. I had to see a cardiologist, lung specialist, psychologist, and more specialists. They discovered I had sleep apnea, which had to be treated with a CPAP machine. The lung specialist found out I had low carbon dioxide output, which combined with sleep apnea made me a horrible candidate for weight loss surgery because my lungs were not strong enough to expel the “bad air” in the breathing process while under anesthesia.
March 2013, I started exercising to build my lung capacity so that I would be a better candidate for the weight loss surgery. I started exercising five to six days a week. I walked the treadmill for an hour every morning and then did water aerobics, line dancing or a cardio class in the evening. I also started going to a chiropractor three times a week and got orthopedic insoles to correct my alignment and flat feet. I went to the dentist to get my teeth and cavities fixed from years of neglecting my needs.
I also started seeing a counselor to deal with the grief of losing my parents. The counselor gave me strategies to deal with letting go of my parent’s business which was a huge burden for me and my emotional eating.
I drastically changed my eating habits by eliminating processed meats, white sugar, and fried foods. I began splitting meals when I went out to eat, adding a green smoothie for lunch or dinner, drinking 8 glasses of water each day and limiting my alcohol intake. In nine months, I lost almost 70 pounds.
As I got stronger, I still wanted to have the weight loss surgery because I did not think I could lose the rest of the weight on my own. I had a stress test and it revealed that my heart had irregular rhythms. I kept working out! Then, tragedy came again.
An upper and lower scope revealed that I had severe ulcers and parasites in my digestive system and stomach (probably from poorly prepared food). It’s a condition known as H-Pylori. So, I was no longer deemed a good candidate for bariatric surgery and had to go on rounds of antibiotics for a month. I couldn’t eat, I was extremely sick for over a month… resulting in weight loss of about 30 pounds.
I was finally under 300 pounds. I was weak but ready to work out again. I started using Herbalife shakes and supplements. It was a great support system for me since I couldn’t eat and was afraid to eat meat. I began by using the shakes for breakfast and lunch. I ate plenty of fresh fruit, salads, beans, and nuts to replace the protein. I became an Herbalife sales consultant and supervisor within a year.
I kicked my work out routine up to include boot camp and personal training, along with walking and cardio classes. To stay motivated, I surrounded myself with like-minded friends and people who were also on their own “fitness journey”. Also, I have met a slew of accountability partners through exercise classes who keep me on track with my goals and challenge me to try new workouts and recipes.
A friend made me giveaway or donate my clothes above a size 18. I was horrified to let go of my clothes. They were expensive and I wanted something to be able to wear in case I gained the weight back. She made me realize that I had to truly let go of my past if I expected to move forward. I had to let go of the grief, the depression, the bad eating habits, the liquor… all of it so I could be free. It took another year to lose 45 more pounds.
All in all, I now wear a size 16/18 and weigh about 245 pounds at 5’8”. I have been this weight for about a year. I am about 60 pounds from my ultimate goal of 185 pounds. I am proud of the woman I am now. I am way more adventurous. I travel (without a seat belt extender). I have completed a few 5ks and completed the Fight for Air Climb this past March, climbing 4 high rise towers with 45 floors of stairs in each tower (despite my bad knees).
I am so grateful for this journey. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to lose weight for you and live your life to the fullest! I watched my parents take care of everyone else but themselves. They never traveled. They put themselves last on their “to do lists,” and never got to do a lot of things they planned.
My new mantra is “Give Me 100%”. I make sure my needs are met. I keep my doctor’s appointments. I pursue advancement opportunities in my career. I do what I need to do to ensure that Brandi is Happy.
The advice I would give anyone who is preparing to start their weight loss journey is: Losing weight is not the magic bullet to being happy. Be prepared. Everyone is not going to be happy with your weight loss success. Also, it’s a journey, not a sprint. You will have setbacks, bad days and great days. Enjoy the journey.
Thank you for having this platform for women to share their story and inspire each other.