Transformation of the Day: DaVina lost 246 pounds. This woman put in the work. She totally changed her lifestyle and overcame a number of health conditions. She shared with us in detail about her 4-year transformation journey.
What is your motivation? I am motivated to actually live and experience life to the fullest. Before I had surgery, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and I was just existing. I was seconds, minutes, hours away from a heart attack or stroke, and I have a strong desire to live and be a guiding light to others.
I was so incredibly depressed due to my weight, and I was an invalid to my ex-husband. He literally carried me through the streets of New Orleans because my back went out, and I could no longer walk while we were on vacation. I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes. I was at the final size for jeans at The Avenue (size 32), and it was decision time: either graduate to Moo-Moo dresses or regain control. The Moo-Moo was not an option for me. Tent dresses were not an option for me.
When did you start your journey? At birth…just kidding. I was an average size baby, but I was a chubby kid. My grandmother literally put me into a fat kid summer camp when I was about nine years old. I knew there was a problem when my mom refused to buy me clothes as a kid and made my Dad do it because my clothes were so much more expensive than my younger sisters. So I lived in stretch pants because jeans were not an option for me due to my size and shape. Well, my parents were cheap, and my Dad (God Bless Him) was not into little girl fashions.
However, I didn’t let my weight or size hold me back. I was super social in school, and I had many friends who loved me regardless of my size. I am eternally grateful for that and my church family. I specifically started dieting when I was a senior in college in 2004. This is where the story gets stupid. I tried every diet except Jenny Craig. I learned firsthand how much the diet industry is a joke. For every diet I tried and subsequently failed, I am almost sure I packed on twice as much weight than I lost. By the time I was 30 years old, I weighed over 350 pounds and was miserable.
I had Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass Surgery on 12/4/2017 at IU Health North. Dr. Dimitrios Stefanidis literally saved my life. Because of that, I know it’s my life’s mission to give back and help as many people as I can regain their confidence and work towards having/maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I genuinely want to help others achieve their goals and live their best life through motivational speaking, creating tailored workout programs, and creating healthy savory meals that you “want to eat” and not that you “have to” eat.
What inspired you to keep going, even when you wanted to give up? Years before weight loss surgery and years before I lost weight, I had a vision of my smaller self at a smaller size that I had never seen before. It was as if I knew I could do this and finally meet this smaller version of me that I had always been but had never seen and barely knew. Deep inside, I knew this would happen, but I didn’t know how.
My employer benefits never covered weight loss surgery. At the time, I was a juvenile probation officer supervisor, and that was my identity for a long time. I never imagined how I would afford the procedure or achieve my weight loss goal. However, I just knew it would happen. I know this sounds insane, but it’s the truth. I can’t make this up. That vision was my motivation, determination, and inspiration to help me keep believing in myself and keep going.
How did you change your eating habits? Bariatric Surgery limits the amount of food you can eat at any given time but not the type of food (for the most part). The surgery kept me from eating a whole seafood fried platter, but I still eat.
I still eat meat, but my vegan and pescatarian friends are definitely swaying me towards this way of life as I’ve had difficulty digesting chicken and beef. However, fish never gives me any problems. I eat seafood and fish five days a week. 1-2 days a week, I may have chicken, turkey, or an occasional cheeseburger.
I refrained from everything white for two years after my surgery. (i.e., flour, bread, ranch dressing, sour cream, sugar, etc.) One of my bariatric doctors told me that I was getting old and needed to let this mess go if I wanted to succeed. She was right. Refraining from those foods helped to balance my hormones. This really does work.
Following my surgery, I also occasionally used Beachbody’s Shakeology as a meal replacement or extra protein shake from 2017-2020. My Fit Sis’ and former coworker Jenna Murray introduced me to Beachbody and Zumba. I can’t thank her enough as she checked on me and invited me to many events that promoted health and wellness for Women of Color. I am eternally grateful for our friendship and her care and concern for me. She is truly an Angel on this earth to us all.
What does your workout routine consist of? I created my own workout based upon what I learned over the years while watching workout videos, attending Zumba classes, and reading fitness literature. In addition, I create workout videos on TikTok as a form of inspiration/motivation for all (@DaVinaC526).
My routine: Cardio (bike 10 min, jog 12 min, and elliptical 8 min) for 25-30 min each gym session – This equates to 3.5 miles via bike, 1-mile jog, and 1-mile elliptical trainer. I also do bodyweight exercises with an 8lb medicine ball, ab work, and yoga. I am usually in the gym for about 1.5 hours.
I created a routine that uses static and dynamic exercises for accelerated muscle growth resulting in weight loss. It works but requires consistency. Sadly, consistency is a challenge most people encounter while pursuing weight loss.
How often do you work out? Daily, I am hyperactive now. I walk my dogs daily and work out at the gym no less than five days a week. On the weekends, I pick a park and walk 8k every weekend, rain or shine. I am usually clocking about 16k-20k steps a day via my Fitbit.
What was your starting weight? 441.8 pounds
What is your current weight? 195 pounds
Total weight loss: 246 pounds
Goal weight: Healthy! I am working towards 180 pounds as a goal to see what that size would look like on me. I am honestly comfortable at my current size and thankful each and every day.
I weigh myself once a month. Doing it any more than once a month drove me nuts. Hormone fluctuations, weather, gravitational pull, etc., all have an impact. To protect my mental health and keep me from losing my mind, once a month was the absolute best decision for me. I don’t need to have a weekly or daily head trip about my weight. In the past, when I weighed myself weekly and saw weight gain, I would buy Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, get a bottle of wine and chill on the couch until I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I have learned better coping mechanisms to handle my emotions vs. eating/drinking myself into a deeper hole.
What is your height? 5’6″
How long did your transformation take? 4 years and counting as I still have goals to achieve.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far? Weight loss, health, and wellness are all about lifestyle and mindset. It’s not a fad. It’s not an “only on the weekends” kind of thing. You have to be conscious and woke 24/7 regarding your eating. You have to be active. You really can’t outwork a bad diet. Nutrition, physical activity, and loving and taking care of yourself must be priorities because when they are not, it shows.
What advice do you have for women who want to lose weight? Fight for yourself and know your worth! Understand that you only get one body, so you better take care of it, or you will face the natural consequences of failing to treat your body like a temple later in life (cause and effect).
As a society (especially my generation), we grew up playing video games. In these games, you had extra lives that you could accumulate simply by playing the game. However, in this life, you are on your own. No one can eat for you, no one can drink for you, and no one can be physically active for you. Therefore, you have to get fed up and tired of your “reasons” for why you haven’t accomplished your goals. Results will only come when you stop creating reasons for why you haven’t done something.
Think of it this way; You work to pay your bills. Well, you have to work to maintain your weight and work harder to lose weight if you gained weight and no longer are happy with your current size. Also, the “work” never stops. You need to keep using those muscles and moving your body as weight loss, wellness, and mental health are all tied together.
Also, practice patience, Sis. You didn’t gain 100lbs overnight, so that slimming tea will not help you lose it in 5 days. (Stop using that mess. Yall gonna need colostomy bags cause you messed your stomach and intestines up.)
Do as much naturally as you can. I don’t advocate weight loss surgery because it’s definitely not for everyone. I feared having the surgery for ten plus years because my cousin died after having weight loss surgery. All I remember hearing and seeing was family acknowledging that she was a beautiful corpse. That was devastating to me as I loved, adored, and looked up to her. I would never have imagined something like that would have happened to her. I didn’t want the last thing my family said about me to be, “Well, she finally lost the weight.” No, Ma’am.
The surgery is only a tool, and you still have to do the work. I was what they call in Bariatric terminology, a “slow loser.” I’m grateful because I lost hundreds of inches and have not had skin removal surgery. (Everyone who lost weight fast and didn’t adhere to a balanced diet, drinking water, and taking vitamins as instructed has very saggy skin, chafing, and skin infections.)
Facebook: DaVina’s Kitchen Creations