Transformation of the Day: Nadine lost 250 pounds with healthy eating habits and exercise. She knew that is she could overcome Brain Hemorrhage, Stroke, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Sepsis, Lupus flares, and a whole host of other ailments, she could find the strength to release the weight as well. Check out her inspiring story.
My name is Nadine. I’m 35 years old and of Jamaican descent. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE) Nephritis in my early 20’s. With the help of immune suppressant medications, depression, and horrible eating habits, I ballooned to 480 pounds.
When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
My weight loss journey started ten years ago, in 2010, but got I more serious in 2018. My transformation is still in the works, but I know it will be completed soon. Just 80 more pounds to go!
What was your motivation?
My motivation was seeing my progress, and it still is today. Seeing how just something as simple as walking, or removing certain foods from my diet benefited my health, motivated me. It motivated me to push myself, to let go of fear, and to try new things. I could not only see the progress but also feel it, and that motivated me to keep going.
What inspired you to keep going when you wanted to give up?
My inspiration for losing weight was knowing what would happen if I gave up and didn’t start taking my health seriously.
Fifteen years ago, in 2005, I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE), and I weighed 240lbs at the time. Two years later, in 2007, I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis (Stage 4 Kidney Disease). I was put on a plethora of medication, which included several immune suppressant medications, like Prednisone. Being on that steroid was literally killing me, and I felt like a balloon about to pop.
When I reached over 450lbs in 2010, 5 years after being diagnosed with Lupus, a new medication called Benlysta was approved by the FDA as a new IV treatment for Lupus patients. It took just about a year, but I was able to start tapering down Prednisone. Almost immediately after I stopped taking steroids, I lost my first 100lbs in less than a year without even exercising. I began going to LA Fitness after work and swam for an hour 4-5 times a week. My eating habits weren’t the best, but they did change. I no longer had the constant urge to eat all the time, due to steroids.
After three years on Benlysta, I got down to 315lbs. Unfortunately, by 2014 I could no longer work and had to go on permanent disability. For the first three years on disability, I was severely depressed (which I was very good at hiding) and gained a significant amount of weight. At that time, I convinced myself that I’d be a big girl for the rest of my life, and I’d make the best of it. When I made that decision, I picked up a hobby: makeup.
Though it started as a hobby, I became good at makeup. I even thought I could become a beauty influencer on YouTube, like Jackie Aina, just plus size edition. During this process, my depression started to ease up, and I began to realize my self-worth.
I realized I couldn’t go backward. I was no longer on steroids, so that was no longer an excuse. I’ve overcome a Brain Hemorrhage, a Stroke, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Sepsis, Bradycardia, Lupus flares, taking over 30-40 pills a day, yearly hospital admissions… and that’s not even everything. So I told myself, if I could get through all of that, I could get through depression, work off this fat, and start living a healthier lifestyle.
Is weight loss surgery part of your journey?
Nope, no weight loss surgery for me. The only surgery I’m looking forward to doing is a full-body lift and skin removal. So if anyone knows a plastic surgeon looking to do pro bono work, let a sister know.
Did you use a specific diet or weight loss plan?
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to stay on a diet. That has never worked for me in the past, and I don’t want to diet my whole life. Instead, I opted for moderation and healthier meal options. Also, the Samsung Health app was already on my phone, so I began using it to track my food, exercise, sleep, weight, etc. I will say the app is incredible. It kept me on track and consistent.
I also began intermittent fasting (16/8). I’ll give some credit to Lupus for making fasting a little “easier” though. Due to severe nausea caused by my medication, I can’t eat until subsides. Now yes, I’d rather not be nauseous every day, but I’ll use it to my advantage.
How did you change your eating habits?
It wasn’t until the year 2018 that I started making real changes to my eating habits. Finding alternatives to my favorite unhealthy foods was key.
I started slow, but I tackled sugar first. I replaced all my Gatorades, fruit juices, and ginger ales with water. It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy either. I took so many medications that I didn’t think it possible to only drink water. However, I knew I had to make that change. I just needed to be creative.
I tried infusing water with berries, cucumbers, and mint. I even tried Crystal Light. Eventually, I tried adding citrus to my water, specifically lime juice. It’s much more refreshing than lemon. I could drink it all day, and I do. This year I will achieve two years of drinking water only. I do drink tea, usually green tea, but I don’t add anything except a little lime juice.
I cut out milk and any type of dairy. Without realizing, dairy was not only contributing to my weight gain but also inflaming my Lupus. My arthritis and joint pain were amplified. I removed dairy and replaced it with plant-based alternatives.
Starchy, sugary, salty foods were replaced with healthier options. I stopped buying cereal, which I swapped with oatmeal. All candy was replaced with fruit, fresh and frozen. Apples, strawberries, and blackberries are my go-to fruits when I have a sugar craving. Potato chips were replaced with nuts, like cashews and pistachios.
I love to bake, so cane sugar was replaced with coconut sugar, which I’ve recently replaced with monk fruit. Wheat flour was replaced with almond flour. Milk butter replaced with vegan butter and coconut oil.
Salmon and sardines were added to my diet. I also choose leaner meats like turkey and chicken. These changes helped me ease off beef and pork. I ate more vegetables too – Lots of spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower rice. They’re great fillers.
What did your workout routine consist of?
When I decided to be consistent with exercise, I started by walking my dogs. It was pretty much all I could handle in the beginning. Understand, I was a big girl in pain, and I was using a cane. On a good day, I would follow an easy, low impact exercise routine on YouTube in my apartment. I also started swimming, since it was easier on my joints.
I walked my dogs every day, for 10 minutes. My at-home workouts were 15 minutes, 1-2 times a week. I swam at least 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes to an hour.
In 2018, at 350 pounds, a friend introduced me to a personal trainer. I started seeing him for an hour 3 times a week. We did strength training with weights, bodyweight exercises, and some cardio. Not too long after, I began attending my trainers boot camp, and the weight just started melting off. Combined with my new eating habits and intermittent fasting, I was able to lose 120 pounds in a year.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight was 480 pounds, and my current weight is 230 pounds.
What is your height?
I am 5’1″.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
I’ve learned that it’s all mental. I came to understand why I was depressed, and what triggered me to eat poorly. I came to understand why food was such a comfort and figured out why I didn’t believe in my own strength. Though hard to confront, I needed to deal with these thoughts I buried deep in order for my health to improve.
What advice do you have for others who want to lose weight?
• Don’t overcomplicate it.
• Do what you can.
• Don’t compete with anyone other than yourself.
• Focusing on your mental state is where you should start. Figuring out your triggers is key to staying consistent.
• Consistency will bring you the results you want.
• And, you got this!
I hope to inspire, motivate, and challenge anyone and everyone who reads my story to take the necessary steps to create a healthier life. To those who are overweight, those of you with autoimmune diseases, anyone who suffers from depression, and those who don’t think they can do it: I’m a testament showing that you can indeed overcome it. Though unfinished, here’s a little look into my journey.