Transformation of the Day: Stacy lost 105 pounds. After years of trying to release the weight, her wakeup call came in the form of a high blood pressure diagnosis. She found that a positive mindset, eating whole foods, exercising, patience, and self-love is the perfect combination for creating a new lifestyle.
Always seen and never heard: I was always that fat friend that everybody had. I was the girl who was picked last in physical education class or rejected by boys, because of being too fat. Externally, I was judged by my size and weight; internally, my self-esteem was suffering as I hated how I looked. I felt anxiety when I could not fit into my clothes or when I did not look like the girls I went to school with. I avoided cameras and mirrors whenever possible and cringed at my reflection whenever I did look in the mirror.
For years I tried to lose weight, I always resorted to dieting because it was the quickest way to lose weight. I secretly hoped that within a day, I would magically look like the models in magazines. Every diet felt like I was starving myself. It felt like a form of punishment for allowing myself to put on so much weight. Inevitably I failed at every diet by the third day, especially when the results were not seen as advertised.
During my college years, I managed to move from a size 20 to a size 12 jeans. However, that did not last long. Eventually, the weight came creeping back on. At the age of 27, when I had to check my weight for a company related physical examination, I weighed 260 pounds (height: 5’5 and 1/2 inches) which is probably the heaviest I had ever been. I was always too ashamed to be weighed and avoided all scales as much as possible.
Over the next two years, my weight fluctuated as I was in a new environment and was dealing with the repercussions of a failing marriage. I was stressed and suffering from panic attacks that seemly got worse. By 2010 at 28 years of age, I was diagnosed with hypertension and was told I would need medication to control it for the rest of my life.
Hearing that I needed to take medication forever was the worst thing possible. It was a reality check. This disease was not going to go away in a few days nor with a quick fix. This ailment was here forever. I refused to accept my new reality and decided to make my health a priority. As many of us know, high blood pressure is common within the black community. My family was no different. Unfortunately, I never thought I would be diagnosed at such a young age as I assumed it was a disease for the elderly.
Despite my disdain for medication, it was crucial for my healing to take the pills as prescribed. However, I recognized that relying on pills would only place a Band-Aid on the problem, and I wanted to solve it. I began to educate myself on what I needed to do to control this disease naturally. My mindset shifted from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be healthy and whole.
When I was overweight, my diet consisted mainly of processed foods and foods high in fat, carbohydrates, and refined sugars. (For example, sausages, ham, baloney, cakes, cheese, cookies, ice cream, cereals, etc.) I realized my eating habits aided in making me sick, and I decided I would use food to make me healthy.
Health professionals state that excess sodium is a contributing factor for hypertension, so I started cutting out foods that were high in salt and preparing all my meals without salt. I started grilling, baking, and boiling foods. I also cut out refined sugars and got sugar from fruits only. I eat lots of fish, beans, legumes, salads and drink smoothies.
Example: I started eating oatmeal instead of eating the pre-packaged ones that were already sweetened and contained salt. I ate bought plain old fashion oats instead. Would cook that in water and eat it with bananas, apples, nuts, and cinnamon to make it more filling. I love eating oatmeal because it keeps me full for hours.
I educated myself on what foods were high in potassium and magnesium to help heal my body. I would eat mostly fruits and vegetables and allow myself to be more open and aware of healthier alternatives to foods I loved. Example: I ate mashed potatoes, but instead of eating it with butter and milk, I would use greek yogurt.
If I eat out at restaurants, I order from the healthy menu and always
request salad dressing on the side and no salt added whenever possible. I love learning about new recipes and creative ways to make “unhealthy foods” healthy. I try always to be mindful of choosing foods that will nourish my body. I don’t always pick the healthiest option, and I’m OK with that because it’s not a daily habit.
I would go to the gym 4-5 days a week doing various cardio exercises. (Zumba, kickboxing, high impact, low impact, aerobics, etc.) Some of the classes I took incorporated strength training. If I was unable to go to a fitness center or gym, I would walk for about 30 minutes. I also purchased a jump rope and would skip for 30 minutes. I worked out 4-5 days a week.
By 2012, I had lost 113 pounds. Since then, I have been maintaining my weight of 155 pounds and consistently wearing a size 8. I have also lowered my medication dosage, and I’m on track to be completely off all medication. This process was not easy. It involved a lot of trial and error and figuring out what worked for me.
What’s the secret to losing weight? I believe it is a combination of the following: a positive mindset, eating whole foods, exercising, patience, and self-love. Fat diets do not work. Being healthy is a lifelong commitment.
Weight loss is possible, no matter how many times you may have tried and failed. Don’t give up. Be patient with yourself. Forgive yourself when you don’t make the best decisions. If you don’t know where to begin or what to do, start small. Learn along the way what works and doesn’t work for your body.
After my transformation, I received so much love and support and requests for advice on being healthy. I decided to write a book called The Healthy Makeover. The book goes into further details about my weight loss story, the impact of obesity on my self-esteem, dieting, facts about hypertension and obesity, the strategy and tools I used to lose the weight and a guide to help others start their health journey as well.