Transformation of the Day: Jacinta lost 105 pounds. She did lots of research and decided to adopt a plant-based eating style that is based on an understanding what our African ancestors ate. This Delta Sigma Theta soror shared with us indepth and gave lots of helpful insights you don’t want to miss.
December 18, 2015. This is a date I will never forget. This was the date I made up my mind to change my life and my family’s health legacy. I went to the doctor for my annual check-up and was told I had high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic. My mom and siblings have high blood pressure, and my dad died at the age of 44 due to congestive heart failure. After asking me more about my family history, my doctor told me, “Well, there is nothing you can do about this. It runs in your family, so we’ll just put you on some medicine starting today”.
I felt so dis-empowered and I told the doctor that I refused to take medicine. I told him to give me 3 months to prove him wrong. He laughed. I walked out of that the office even more convicted that I would prove him wrong. I have always been a competitive person, so although I was hurt, embarrassed and angry, I was also amped. Eventually my why evolved through the course of my journey, but my initial motivation at the start was to win and prove this doctor wrong. Since the good old doctor thought the joke was on me, I was determined to show that it was actually on him.
During the Christmas vacation, I did some serious research. I read 7 books on weight loss, watched documentaries, and had a consultation with a life coach. At the time, everything I read and discussed with others was leading me to a more plant-based lifestyle as my weight loss approach. However, I wasn’t 100% convinced that this was the way for me. Then, I stumbled upon a quote that said, “How can you be free, when your stomach is slave to another man’s diet?”
Shortly after that, I stumbled upon the African Heritage food pyramid, which outlines the way our ancestors ate. After that, I found a scientific study explaining biological adaptation and how the biology of descendants of the African diaspora have not yet adapted to a standard American diet over time. This is why we have higher rates of preventable diseases, even when we are eating the exact same diet as our counterparts. After discovering all this, I decided that at the beginning of the New Year I would adopt a plant based diet that is rooted in our African Heritage. I made a commitment to root my health in our traditions and the legacies of our homeland and people.
I literally went from eating bacon every morning for breakfast and meat at every single meal to being 100% plant-based overnight. To begin, I did a 25 day juice feast. I bought a juicer and made a gallon of fresh juice every day to drink. I had a completely liquid diet and I lost about 15 pounds during that time. During this time, I also did some spiritual and mental detoxing. I took note of my triggers and what my response would have been in the past. This was a time of amazing personal growth in my life. It’s almost indescribable. The spiritual and mental transformation outweighed any weight loss and subsequent physical transformation.
After juice feasting for almost a month, I remained 100% whole-foods plant based and from January-May. I worked out at least 5 days a week in a boot camp style class. I realized that my workouts were not giving me the physique results that I wanted, although the scale was still dropping in pounds.
My motivation and my goal also changed during this time. It was no longer about proving the doctor wrong. It was about re-writing my family’s health legacy. It wasn’t that high blood pressure, diabetes, and other preventable diseases ran in my family. It was our eating habits, the way we handled stress and the drinking habits that ran in my family. All of this is why we all had the same ailments. It was not nature, it was our environment and the way we CHOOSE to react to our environment.
When I finally realized this, my motivation shifted from extrinsic to intrinsic. It was about reclaiming my past, living in the present, and ensuring a phenomenal future for myself and my future offspring. This became my motivation: knowing that I can better my life and existence not just for me but serve as an example for others around me, especially my family, and work to ensure that my future children don’t go through the same struggles that I have gone through all of my life due to being obese.
I weighed 130 pounds in the 4th grade, near 200 by high school, 220 by high school graduation, and up to 250 just a year and a half ago. Let me be clear here… I am not blaming my parents or family at all for being obese. They did the best they could with what they knew, paid for gym memberships when I was a child/teen, put me on diets, etc. It just didn’t work.
In May, my boyfriend (now fiancé) recommended that I start training with one of his old classmates, Julius Miles aka. The TempleBuilder, since I wanted to reconstitute and transform my body instead of just losing weight. I reached out to Julius. He was able to work with my strengths as a person, create a customized meal plan based on my goals and diet, and create a workout routine that included both cardio and strength training. When I started working with him and following the macros on the meal plan consistently, my physique changed significantly and the weight loss continued as well. We strength-trained 4-5 days a week and I did about 30-60 minutes of cardio 4-5 days a week. He is based in Atlanta, but also has online clients. I recommend him highly to anyone who is trying to take their fitness to the next level, no matter your starting point. It was definitely one of the best decisions of my life.
In January 2016, my starting weight was 248 pounds. By the time I started working with Julius in May 2016, my weight was 210 pounds. My current weight, in September 2017, is 143 pounds for a total loss of 105 pounds in about a year and a half. I still have about 5-10 more pounds to lose and will focus on building as much muscle as possible so that I am toned all over. I am 5’2.5″
During this process I have learned hundreds of lessons, but I will share my Top 3:
- Change your goal: Your goal should not be weight loss. It should be to get healthy. Chasing weight loss is exhausting and once you meet that goal, you have no where else to go. In my estimation, this is the reason why so many people regain most, if not all, of the weight back once they lose it. Pursuing health is invigorating and you can never be at your healthiest. You can always take health to the next level. Also, when you are pursing health instead of weight loss, you make healthier decisions about how you lose weight. For example, one summer I lost 50 pounds in 2 months by taking prescription weight loss pills, walking 10 miles a day and eating only a waffle, 2 slices of turkey bacon, and a salad for the entire day. Sure, I lost weight but it was completely unhealthy, unsustainable, and ruined my metabolism. I gained all of the weight back and then some.Now, when faced with similar choices, like should I take a caffeine/thermogenic pill or should I workout 4 hours today since I didn’t go to work?, etc…- I make very different decisions. Although those choices may get me results faster, they are not healthy. If it’s not healthy, then I am not going to do it.
- This is something my trainer says all the time: Progress >Perfection. Consistency is more important than being perfect. I have been on vacations and attended weddings where I ate off my meal plan. There have been times when I have eaten non-dairy ice-cream, cinnamon rolls, and cookies, but I don’t do this most of the time. 90% of the time, I am consistent with my eating and working out. Consistency is key.
- Your health, in every aspect of your life, is the greatest expression of self-love and self-care. It is a way to reclaim a sense of intrinsic, personal freedom in a world that has conspired to deny us of our freedom everyday.
In closing, my advice is to:
- Find your why and let that be your motivating force. Go after it with fervor, conviction, and zeal.
- Make sure you are pursusing the right goal.
- Relish the small wins because the compilation of those is the accomplishment of your goals.
- Love on yourself. You are you and will only be you. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s.