Transformation of the Day: My name is Ebony, and I’m the founder of Black Women Losing Weight. I wanted to create a community focused on weight loss and wellness, where Black Women would be inspired, encouraged, and affirmed. I’m inspired every day by the wonderful women who share their stories with us. Their words have inspired me to share my weight loss journey today, as I turn 43 years old. (It’s my birthday!)
Like many women, I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a child. I remember being put on a diet in 4th grade because I was overweight. From a young age, I learned to use food to medicate all sorts of emotions or to entertain myself when I was bored. In college, I gained about 35 pounds over the course of four years, going from (150lbs to 180lbs).
When I was 21 years old, my father passed away from Multiple sclerosis. That is when I experienced my first bought of depression. I basically started dating “Ben and Jerry” as part of the grieving process. Ice cream was my drug of choice, and McDonalds was a close second.
Over the years, I had a pituitary tumor and fibroid surgery, but my health was pretty good. My weight fluctuated up and down sometimes, but I had an active lifestyle while living in DC with no car (riding the metro and walking everywhere). I ate a reasonably healthy diet when I wasn’t stressed out. I even embraced veganism for a while. After I hit my 30s, I saw my weight increase, and my highest weight was 213 pounds.
A few years ago, depression snuck up on me like a thief in the night, and it brought with it two familiar friends: stress eating and emotional eating. I lost myself in my business, family, stress, self-doubt, and anxiety. If I’m honest, I just gave up for a while. Yes, Me. The person who tells everyone not to give up gave up for a while. Self-care was just not a priority. I actually didn’t realize that I’d gained about 20 pounds… No, I realized it. I was just in denial.
Ultimately this unhealthy living led to my wakeup call: being diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. I have PCOS and insulin resistance, so I was aware that I was at risk for diabetes.
When I got that diagnosis, I felt like a failure. I could not believe that I’d let my health get that out of hand. I was determined to get back on track and heal my body. First, I had to be real and honest with myself about my depression and seek out help, which I did. Next, I turned my attention to my eating habits, making practical changes that resulted in much better blood work numbers at the doctor’s office.
I’m honest about my journey because I want you to understand that despite everything I know about health and nutrition, I have struggled at times. I don’t want to come off as one of those perfect social media influencers who live some ideal life and is an expert on all things. I’m real, just like you. I have had valley experiences and mountain top experiences when it comes to my health. Most of the time, I’ve been able to stay on track with my eating habits and exercise, but depression had me down.
This recent leg of my journey has taken about two years, but the majority of my weight was lost in about eight months. What works for me: Lots of exercise, a calorie deficit, and tracking my macros. In the past, yo-yo dieting taught me that quick weight loss schemes and fads don’t work. Slow and steady wins the race and leads to long-term results.
Last year, I decided that I wanted to lose about 20 pounds. I tracked my eating habits for a week to get a baseline on how much food I was actually eating and used a food calculator to create some specific goals. (www.freedieting.com) I cut my calories down to 1550-1500 calories a day. I still indulged at least once a week for sanity. (I love breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and Starbucks.) This is one of the things that slowed down my weight loss, but I don’t regret it because it works for me. Counting macros allowed me to indulge but understand how I could balance out those high-calorie meals with intermittent fasting, carb cycling, and meal planning. My macros were around 30% fat, 40% protein, and 30% carbs. I adjusted those numbers to at times to eat a bit more low carb with more fat or protein. (I am my own experiment.)
I wanted to work out at home, so my exercise routine consisted of HIIT workouts that I found on YouTube. Next, I added walking/jogging for 30 minutes to an hour at a local track to the mix. I worked out four days a week in the beginning, and I started to see results after about a week. I had more energy, and exercise really helps me stave off stress and depression.
Eventually, my schedule changed, and I started going to the gym 5-6 days a week. I fell in love with the Arc Trainer. I currently do a mix of HIIT training and weight training. I recently started working with a local trainer as well (@get_fitmoe). My current goal is 1400-1450 calories per day. I’m focused on eating healthy, high protein foods, and lots of nutrient-rich plant foods. Nope, there won’t be as many cheat meals in the next chapter of this saga.
2019 was extremely hard, but I pushed thru. One of my brothers had a major heart event, and in October, my beloved grandmother passed away. During those times, I’ll admit that it was hard to stay on track. I’m happy to say that even though I may not have made significant progress during the week (or weeks) following those events, I didn’t gain weight. I turned my pain into fuel for my journey, remembering just how precious life is.
Today, I weigh 180 pounds at 5’5,” and I don’t have a goal weight. My goal is body recomposition: losing body fat and gaining lean muscle. I want more visible muscle definition.
It has taken years and a lot of trial and error to get to this place. I’ve learned so much about nutrition, fitness, and health in general over the years. In the end, I know I have to put that knowledge to work and take action daily to stay healthy.
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