Transformation of the Day: Jermelle’ lost 114.6 pounds. She’s a proud wife, mom and a member of Delta Sigma Theta. Exercise and healthy eating habits were important parts of her transformation, but it was about much more than pounds lost. Her mindset and her spirit were also impacted by this lifestyle change. Check out her inspirational journey.
What was your motivation?
There were several motivating factors in my initial decision to lose weight as well as continue to pursue reaching my overall goal weight. First, I was motivated by my doctor after a few appointments that yielded not so great results. As a young woman, he diagnosed me with Edema and prescribed Lasix in 2007 because the excessive weight caused me to retain fluid, especially in my feet and ankles.
During this time I started to have back pains as well, which for the next couple of years prompted me to avoid activities that were strenuous or required lots of physical activity. If that was not enough, I also begin to have some serious issues with my cervix. I was told that if I became pregnant, my cervix may not hold the baby to term or I could be limited to bed rest. At this point in my life, I was not interested in having children but the thought of a possible tumultuous pregnancy in the future frightened me. Despite that news, I still decided to get off of my contraceptive in 2009 because it too was a cause of my excessive weight gain.
The second factor in my motivation to lose weight was the end to a very stressful relationship. For five years (September 2007- July 2012), I was in a relationship with a man who lacked in many areas, caused my self-esteem to become low, and produced a significant amount of stress and anguish in my life. After the breakup I poured my energy, hurt, anger, and disappointment into losing weight.
The third motivating factor during the early stages of my weight loss journey came from my amazing line sister. She encouraged me to do simple things, like drinking more water, eating less fried foods, and stepping outside of my comfort zone. She pushed me to live healthier and happier! She lit a small spark to a flame that become a huge fire of positivity and self-acceptance.
The last motivating factor, but certainly not the least, was the job I had at the time. I worked as a project coordinator for a grant program on a college campus that dealt with tackling the onset of childhood obesity in the local schools and surrounding communities. There I was at 339 pounds, conducting workshops, teaching training sessions, developing curricula, and providing students with a plethora of information on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, but I was not the model example for what I was trying to accomplish. I was motivated by the student participants in the grant program. I wanted to not only teach them, but join them in living healthy, making better choices, and increasing daily physical activity. The combination of all these factors motivated me to make a change for the better in my life and for my future.
How did you change your eating habits?
I never liked the term diet. Maybe because every since I was in high school I would always go on diets, get tired of them and then eat more than before I started. Healthy living was my goal. I wanted to have a healthy lifestyle that did not feel forced. So, I made small changes over time so it would not feel like I was trying to live by some rigid dieting regimen. I did not want my life to solely revolve around being healthy because I spent too much time letting my life be dictated by weight gain. I needed my habits to feel natural and comfortable.
I focused heavily on portion sizes and daily healthy living routines. I did not get to 339 lbs because I ate all the time or snacked needlessly. I got to that place because when I ate meals they were in large quantities, usually at one sitting. I didn’t have a couple slices of pizza. I could eat a whole pizza. I did not have a serving of sherbet. I could eat a whole tub of sherbet. I always had seconds and sometimes thirds. I rarely ate breakfast, unless it was a huge breakfast-like feast for dinner. I always ordered the super-size at the drive through and consumed an unimaginable amount of sodas and sugary drinks.
My eating habits transformed to include more baked and grilled foods. I tried more fruits and veggies most of which I had never tasted before, like zucchini and asparagus. I stopped eating late at night and opted to not eat after 7pm. I would also sporadically go 7 to 10 days with no meat, limited carbs, and eating as fresh as possible. I learned that breakfast is essential. In addition, I incorporated ways to control my portion sizes. For example, drinking warm lemon water before meals.
Before, I had a bad habit of eating heavy meals later in the evening or at night. So to change that, I would sometimes eat a heavier lunch and have a lighter dinner with a salad and/or soup. I also learned how to order at restaurants and even asked for special menus (when not offered) that showed the nutrition facts.
What did your workout routine look like?
I will be honest and say that exercising is not my strong suit. I do not enjoy it like most people, so this was by far the most difficult part of my weight loss journey. However, like my eating habits, I needed the physical activity to feel natural and comfortable. Early on in my journey, I decided to incorporate physical activity into my everyday life as much possible. Even now, I never take the elevator if I am going to the first three floors of a building. I always park as far as possible and walk to my destination when shopping, going to a restaurant, or just out and about running errands. At my previous job, I would walk 2 miles with my coworkers on our lunch break. In the evenings, I used to walk the trail at my apartment complex that was beautifully positioned on a local golf course. Over time, I had to step it up a bit. I felt more comfortable in workout clothes and started going to the gym 4 days week for one hour after work. Earlier this year, I got up at 5am and went to the gym before work 3 days per week. I also bought an exercise bike that I try to use at home. Now, I take walks with my toddler around our small neighborhood and still incorporate daily physical activity as much as possible.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
|Timeframe||Weight (height 5’3″)|
|January 2015||211.6lbs (pre-baby)|
|September 2015||254lbs (post baby)|
I began my weight loss journey in July of 2012. At the time, I only stopped drinking sodas and increased my water intake. In 30 days, I had lost almost 15 pounds! From there, I was convinced that if I only stopped drinking sodas and made that much progress then I surely could do more. When I started my journey at the end of July in 2012 I weighed 339.6 pounds. I stayed focused and weighed in at 211.5 pounds in early January of 2015. My goal was to reach 200lbs by birthday in May 2015. But little did I know, I was pregnant! I was 7 weeks pregnant by the end of February 2015. Although I was happy about embarking on the most important journey of my life, motherhood, I was very concerned about weight gain, cravings, and staying active while pregnant. I gained 43lbs during my pregnancy. My daughter was born in September of 2015. I was determined to lose every pound I had gained during my pregnancy and reach my goal of 200lbs in one year despite seasoned mothers warning me that it would take upwards of two years. I was able to maintain shortly after giving birth mainly due to lactation and breastfeeding, but by Thanksgiving 2016 I weighed 266 pounds.
By January of 2017, I’d reached a breaking point and weighed in at 278.6 pounds! I remember feeling so discouraged, unattractive, and just plain bloated. Many of my old insecurities started to resurface and I refused to feel that way about myself and my body again. I decided it was time to refocus and STAY focused. Immediately, I increased my water intake, stopped eating after 7pm, limited consumption of carbs, and eliminated both fried and processed foods from my diet. My daughter was and still is a motivating factor for me to not give up. I want to set a good example for her, be healthy enough to watch her grow up, and actively participate in her life. By May 2017, I weighed 235 pounds! I am still working towards my goal of 200lbs and I will not give up until I can see that specific number on the scale. As of today, I weigh 225 pounds. I have come a long way and the best is yet to come!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Simple. I have learned to LOVE me, all of me. I love me both inside and out. For years I was always the big girl, the big friend or the pity party friend among my peers who were slim, seemingly fit, and attractive. I learned that I am beautiful and worthy of love no matter what my exterior looks like. I hid behind my long hair. The long locks gave me comfort and solace (in May 2014 I cut it all off and have not looked back since). I hid behind being intelligent. I hid behind dressing nice and wasting money on expensive things that I could not always afford. I had the mindset that you could call me fat, but never bald headed. I hid behind the mindset that you could call me fat, but never call me dumb. I hid behind the mindset that you could call me fat, but never sloppy or cheap. These actions were not a sign of love. The lack of love for myself caused me to stay in failing relationship, hide behind my vices, and waste lots of money on things that I thought made me look more attractive and beautiful. None of those things changed my heart or the perception I had formed of myself. So the biggest lesson I learned is to love Jermelle’ for who and what I am as well as what I can and will be.
What advice do you have for other women who want to lose weight?
Do it for you! Do it when you are ready! Do it with passion and zest! Losing weight is more than just a decreasing number on the scale or smaller sizes in clothes. It is a transformation of the mind, body, and soul. It is feeling good about yourself even on your worst days. It is making healthy choices no matter the circumstances or external influences. It is embracing who you are as you are before you even shed one pound. It is also very much about becoming self-aware, grounded, and in sync with your spiritual being.
I encourage my sister-friends to always practice accountability and understand that you will fall short sometimes. However, find ways to get refocused and never lose sight of the ultimate goal at hand which is living a healthier lifestyle. I have a groupme called “Fit&Fine” where I check in with the members, share recipes, upload progress pictures, practice accountability, initiate weight loss challenges, and most of all provide support. Losing weight is a commitment that happens one day at a time, one meal at a time, and one healthy choice at a time.