I’ve been overweight my whole life.
NAME : Sheena
BEFORE WEIGHT : 255.6
AFTER WEIGHT : 180
POUNDS LOST : 75
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE? It stopped me from doing certain things because I felt I was too big. Example before going inside a bounce house with my son wouldn’t be something I would want to do because in my head I would be thinking I’m too big to be in here but now I’m first one in.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY? Watching others transform on Instagram. I spent almost a year watching real people lose weight. Post after post I would feel inspired but never do anything about it. Fall of 2013, I was struggling to balance being a mother, FT worker and graduate school student.
I remember posting a quotes on my Instagram saying you have three choices, Give UP, Give IN, or Give it ALL YOU got. I decided that day that I would give it all I had, I would complete my courses successfully. By the end of the semester in December I ended up getting a B+ and an A-.
On my way home from school I asked myself “Why is it that I can do everything else but lose weight”. No matter how hard school got, I completed it. I might cry, be mad or whatever but the work gets done successfully no matter how crazy work or life gets.
I told myself that I needed to look at going to the gym as school and eating right as my homework. If all those regular people on Instagram can do it then why couldn’t I?
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? After almost a year of being inspired by I opened up a new IG page dedicated to my journey. I found a whole world of people on Instagram documenting their fitness journeys. I watched real people, shrink in a matter of months. I watched them post recipes, workouts, tips and motivational quotes and decided that one day I would have my after picture posted.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS? First month I believe I lost 10 lbs but I took me a couple to months to actually notice.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART? We all face challenges in life but it’s how we handle them that separate us. You can have a valid excuse not to work out or eat healthy but no matter how valid the excuse, results don’t change. I celebrated my Dads 67th birthday October 18th 2014 and one week later, I got a call at 5am from my brother that changed everything. He told me my Dads in the hospital and they found Cancer. My dad was diagnosed with Cancer in 2011 but had an operation and chemotherapy and recovered.
We knew things were bad this time, the Cancer was taking over quickly. I remember praying to have one more Thanksgiving, one more Christmas. The next couple of months weren’t easy; watching his health decline so quickly, trying to stay positive but knowing what was to come.
One day its liver Cancer, the next kidney failure, blood clots, kidneys better than its bladder Cancer too. Countless trips to the hospital but I still had to live life and go to work, workout, take care of my son, meal prep, go to class, meet classmates for projects and get school work done.
He came home November 1st 2015 but still sick. Blessed to have him home but it wasn’t easy for him or my brother who took care of him around the clock. It’s not easy watching someone you love in pain. Seeing simple tasks become so hard for him. Emptying out urine from the two bags he had attached to him.
Luckily enough he was in good enough health to join us at my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner 2014. I got my wish, one last Thanksgiving & I cherished it. He was back in the hospital in December and moved to hospice in January. Hospice was real hard, day by day his condition changed.
I remember spending the night at the hospice, waking up and going to a local gym (guest pass lol) and coming back. Running up and down the stairs so I could get some steps. I focused on finding ways to keep me motivated and participated in different challenges. I continued to upload videos on YouTube, post on IG and fight to reach my fitness & education goals. December 2014 I finished my last class for my MBA.
January 20th, 2014 I called the hospice nurse to check in while I was at work and she told me she believed today was the day and I should come in. I left work right away so I could be there and let him know it was okay to go and how great of a dad he was; sitting there watching him take his last breath; listening to my mom count the seconds since his last breath so we could call the nurse in and let them know he was gone. It was hard, a day I will probably never forget, so many mixed emotions, sad, angry, lost even happy. I only say happy because he I knew he was finally out of pain.
Throughout all of this, I was determined not to give up on my weight loss journey. I knew my dad was proud of all the progress I had made and didn’t want to use him as an excuse. It was an emotional roller coaster, some days I let my emotions get the best of me and ate for comfort instead of fuel, drinking alcohol or not getting my water in but I didn’t make it a habit.
I knew that I had a valid excuse, no one would judge me if gave up but eating crap all day and not working out wasn’t going to bring my Dad back. Having a valid excuse for messing up wasn’t going to get me closer to my goals. I learned NO matter what the excuse was, it was an excuse and results don’t lie. I kept fighting toward my goals and hit my 100lb weight loss goal about a month after my Dad passed away.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING? No giving up wasn’t an option this time even when I messed up I told myself okay this isn’t a diet, its your new lifestyle now keep going. In the pass I dieted so one mess up meant diets over.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? I just kept going, tried different workouts, switched up my meals and kept drinking my water, eventually the scale started moving again.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT? Believe I was down 50 lbs by 5-6 months, 13 months lost 100 lbs.
I have a chart at home on my wall that has exact numbers.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES? Yes I went from not being able to run a mile in Middle/High School to participating in 20 races in 2015, two of them being half marathons. Also did my first tough mudder race in 2016.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? A normal day before my lifestyle change:
DRINKING: Orange juice in the morning, a bottle of grape soda for lunch and maybe some coffee with lots of sugar and milk. I didn’t drink a lot during the day but whenever I did drink it wasn’t water. I also drank alcohol quit often, happy hour every Thursday, some nights a drink at home after work and depending if I went out that weekend who knows.
EATING: Some days I went hours without eating my first meal, some days I had breakfast. I never thought about what I was putting in my body, just ate whatever I liked. Usually a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll with some hash browns for breakfast, half a Chicken Parmesan Hero for lunch and Chinese/Checkers for dinner. I had a habit of saying I didn’t like something without even trying it, I didn’t cook much and I hardly ate vegetables or fruit. When I did eat at home I would eat enough for two people. Rice and beans, baked macaroni, chicken basically Haitian food that my Mom or Grandmother cooked.
EXERCISE: I didn’t work out, plus I sat a desk for more than 8hrs a day for work.
When I started my journey
I decided to drink WATER only; I would track how much I drank and try to increase the amount each day even if it was just an ounce. I cut out drinking alcohol unless it was a special occasion; I didn’t tell myself NO alcohol but as I started to see my body change, I didn’t want the liquid calories. I started food shopping more and cooking different recipes I found on Google, Instagram and YouTube.
The goal was to stay within my calorie limit and portion my meals correctly. I made sure I had at least 3 meals and a snack and started to eat fruits and vegetables. I joined my first challenge on IG, 2-3 weeks into my journey.
It help keep me motivated, gave me new recipes to try, and taught me the difference between juices and smoothies. I realized I could get all my fruit & vegetable servings with one smoothie. I found other ways to get my fruits and vegetable in without even noticing. Like making Turkey meat loaf or meat balls and adding shredded vegetable to it (carrots/broccoli/spinach). I ate sweet potato fries instead of regular fries, 100 calories whole grain sandwich thins instead of white bread.
I stopped eating out as much and when I did go out to eat I changed what I ordered or ate less of it. The most important thing I did was changed how I viewed food and working out. I had to be open to trying new things and I would tell myself I liked something before I tried it. I never consider myself on a diet, always corrected people and said no this is a lifestyle change. I can eat whatever I want, I choose not to eat certain foods at times because they do not align with my goals.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? What workouts did you do when you first started your journey?
For me, it was more about being consistent with actually getting my workout done, than sticking to a particular workout plan. I had a history of joining different gyms in the past and never going. This time around I decided to get different guest passes at local gyms, some gyms gave me a week some a day. After about a month I joined Synergy. I participated in different classes they offered, like Boot camp, cardio kickboxing, yoga etc. I took my first Pound Fit class at Synergy and loved it so much I order my own sticks and DVD.
Some days I would walk in do a mile and go home but it didn’t matter because at least I made the effort and still came to the gym. The elliptical and treadmill were my two go to cardio machines in the beginning of my journey now it’s the Stair Master. I remember my first time going on the Stair Master I went on for two minutes and thought I was going to die, I didn’t try it again until months after and was amazed to see I could last 15 mins, today I can do 30-40 minutes. It didn’t get easier, I got better over time, don’t expect to do 40 minutes your first day, this is a journey with no ending don’t rush it.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Make it a lifestyle change not a diet.
- Work on changing the way you think.
- Drink water all day long.
- Find fun ways to stay active.
- Take lots of picture and videos.