Transformation of the Day: Patrice lost 85 pounds. This author, mom of four and Sigma Gamma Rho Soror is using her journey to inspire and educate others. She shared with us in detail about how she embraced clean eating and took a number of simple, straight forward steps to transform her body and her lifestyle.
My name is Patrice Smith. I am a 43 year old mother of four girls, ages 10, 11, 13, and 14. I am a stay at home mom, author and member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. I’m also a graduate of University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana with Bachelor of Science in Human Resources and Family Studies, and I also have a Master of Cosmetology License. I am 5 feet and 6 and a half inches tall, and I currently weigh 157 pounds. My starting weight was 242 pounds.
My weight loss contemplation started during a getaway for my husband and I. I had an opportunity to shop until I dropped, but I was so out of shape and didn’t even want to go. I stayed in the hotel most of the visit. I didn’t have anything to wear to the banquet, so I bought a silver jacket before the trip (one of my before pics). I think it was a size 2X or 3X. It took me all day just to find it, and I wasn’t in love with the jacket, but it fit. That is how shopping goes when you are uncomfortable with your weight.
My weight loss journey started shortly after that (see the before photo of me sitting on a couch about 9 years ago [below]). I couldn’t believe that my stomach had gotten so large. I mean, I could rest my arms on it! Photos are telling in this way. At this time in my life, I had gotten so large that I couldn’t fit in my maternity clothes (this was about a year after the last baby). I couldn’t blame past pregnancies. I had gotten even larger than I was when I was 9 months pregnant.
The thing that actually got me started on this journey was a small bout of sickness. Because of it, I had lost a few pounds. Well, needless to say, it had been a long time since I had lost any weight, so even though it was due to illness, I was excited about it and didn’t want it to go to waste. It was what actually got me going with my weight loss plan, which I had been contemplating for the last few months.
So, this is when I realized that I had to do something. I did the following in stages or steps. I didn’t pressure myself. The goal was simple. To do each step, one at a time, until it became a lifestyle change:
The FIRST action was to stop eating after 7pm (or 3 hours before bedtime). I ate whatever I wanted, I just had to cut off all eating after 7. If for some reason I was hungry after 7, I allowed myself to eat cucumbers, celery, or something healthy. I told myself that if you are hungry, you will eat it. (That’s how we teach children about hunger. We eat to live, not live to eat, right?).
SECOND, I stopped or limited eating white stuff, i.e. bread, rice, junk, etc. I also limited or omitted condiments, like ketchup, mayo, and most salad dressings. I used mustard and hot sauce instead. I would put the tomato on one end of my sandwich and the lettuce on the other end so it would not be dry. I would sometimes omit one of the pieces of bread of my sandwich and eat my sandwich with a knife and fork. I sometimes would use cucumber slices instead of bread.
THIRD, I ate more vegetables, specifically fiber. I learned that beans, leafy greens, nuts, and whole foods kept me full. It worked for me because I didn’t have those nagging hunger pains like I did when those high sugar, processed foods would wear off. I also had fewer food comas, this food wasn’t making me sleepy. I didn’t need a nap after eating these healthy, high fiber foods and I loved the feeling. I loved not feeling sluggish.
FOURTH, I learned how to read a nutrition label. I began to understand that I could not rely on what the food manufacturers said about their foods. Most people will see words like healthy and natural and think that it is healthy. This is not always true. For instance, an unhealthy high-fat food might say low sugar on the label to camouflage the fat. They don’t want you to notice the hydrogenated oil, so they try to focus your attention on its low sugar content. It is not against any laws for a manufacturer to not tell the whole truth about their product. Also, understanding how to read the ingredients in food is critical. Basically, my rule was, if I couldn’t pronounce a lot of the items on the list then I would not buy it. Eventually, I came to a conclusion if I didn’t know what an ingredient was, to not buy it. It had to be a natural ingredient.
After I totally embraced the above steps, I found that I had lost 40 pounds, but I was experiencing a PLATEAU. At this point, I wasn’t losing any more weight, so I started doing more things that I needed to work on.
FIFTH, I began exercising 3 to 5 times a week, no weekends. I did Turbo Jam, Zumba and walking (or a little jogging occasionally… a combination of walking and jogging. I am not a runner). It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something. The exercising caused me to burn more calories and therefore helped me continue losing weight.
SIXTH I kept eating clean
and switching out unhealthy and highly processed for more natural foods, which meant making most of the foods I ate. Also, when you begin eating this way you start making most of your meals because you start to learn what PROCESSED really means and you start shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. I also began to learn more about food in general. I watched many food documentaries that helped me with my food education. This gave me the resolve to eat more clean foods. I tried to avoid foods that had lots of chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and etc.
These additional changes help me lose another 40 lbs, making it a total of 80 pounds lost. The above happened throughout a period of about 1.5 years.
Then came the maintenance stage. This was probably the hardest part. This is the part that most people don’t plan for, so this is what I did to keep it off for about 6-8 years.
I gave myself a number to never go over and that is/was 170 pounds. I check my weight regularly, especially if I eat unhealthy foods. This keeps me in line. If I get close to that number, like 168 pounds, I regroup and make sure I go back to clean. Presently I am working toward not going over160 lbs., because I recently have lost a few more pounds. I believe I can maintain this new goal.
Most importantly, my weight loss and my ability to maintain my current weight are based on my excitement about what I eat and knowing that I’m feeding my body healthy foods. When I eat healthy food, I feel strong and fit. I also make sure to keep movement/exercise in my life.
Here are some other things that motivate me in MAINTENANCE STAGE…
- Understanding that you are worth it and it’s important to take care of your body because you only get one.
- Surrounding yourself with other like-minded people.
- Have a plan. We plan for so many other things, why not our health.
- Don’t let the noise and the abundance of information cause you to become paralyzed and do nothing. You do not have to be a nutritionist to know that vegetables are better than donuts or fried food so start there. Worry about specific diets later. It’s more important to get started. Just eat real food (the best diet there is)!
- Diet, what you eat is the most important. It’s 80% diet. It’s hard to outperform a poor diet.
- Take one day at a time. If you have a bad day (eat something undesirable) then there’s always tomorrow if that’s in His plan.
- You don’t have to be strict, plan for times/foods when you allow yourself to eat some of the bad foods if you need that…however the longer you eat healthy the less you will need to deviate from your health plan. Finding healthy foods that are similar to the ones you crave is also a good option.
This weight loss journey was one of my motivations for coauthoring the cookbook and healthy living guide, Real Food Is Real Good with Tamara Sanders. I am passionate about sharing my stories and struggles with others to inspire and encourage them on their journey. I am currently working on a second cookbook, to give others more healthy choices and ideas. I love encouraging others to help them understand how weight loss works.