Let’s jump in to her story:
✋ At what moment did you realize you HAD to lose weight?
There was no one moment. I never had high blood pressure but my cholesterol levels were sometimes high. I came to the realization that I was being very sedentary at work and after work. I felt sluggish. I decided for myself that I want to eat healthier and get more active.
1️⃣ What was the first step you took towards transforming your body?
I started walking during my lunch break at work. I have a really sedentary job and would get home from work and just get into bed. I figured that it would be a good start to just walk for 30 min and spend 30 min eating. I also started to cook my own meals to save money. Once I noticed how much money I was saving, I just continued to cook.
💻 What apps/websites/resources did you use?
YouTube and Instagram for vegan meal ideas, transformation inspiration, and workouts.
These are my favorite YouTube channels:
- Sydney Cummings: Her workouts are varied, challenging and fun. She is great for beginners. I love her upbeat attitude.
- Fitness Blender: The workouts from this couple are challenging and beginner friendly. This is where I initially learned how to do a variety of workouts using dumbbells.
- TheChicNatural: I went to her for vegan meal ideas. She was the first Black woman vegan who I stumbled across on YouTube. She wasn’t restrictive and her recipes were easy and budget friendly.
- CheapLazyVegan: Her recipes are budget friendly as well and not restrictive. I learned how to make delicious tofu recipes and how to spruce up my ramen.
- BeautifulBrwnBabyDol: She was the first person who I saw not only lose weight but also maintained her weight loss over years.
🍳 What kind of adjustments did you make to your diet?
Cooking the majority of my own meals and adding items rather than taking things away. Instead of just having plain pasta with pasta sauce, I would add tomatoes, kale, spinach, bell peppers and lentils.
I started drinking a lot of water and cut down on sweetened drinks. I made sure I purchased a reusable water bottle to carry to work so that I could refill it constantly throughout the day. I became more mindful of portion sizes as well. I never cut things out completely, within a vegan context of course. I still ate chocolate, bread, ice cream and cookies.
🥕 What were your go-to staple foods that helped you achieve your goals?
Fruit was (and still is) a go-to snack for me. I love bananas, apples, grapes and plums, avocados… basically most fruits. Another favorite snack of mine was hummus with tortilla chips or pretzels.
I love soup. I would make a huge batch of lentil soup then freeze any leftover amounts not eaten during the week. Cauliflower stir fry with tofu and veggies, with veggie dumplings on the side, was an easy meal as well.
I made my version of burrito bowls with brown rice, black or pinto beans, bell peppers, corn, lettuce and guacamole. For breakfast, I ate chocolate overnight oats quite a bit. Cashew milk ice cream from So Delicious was a staple dessert choice.
💊 Did you take any supplements along the way? If yes, how useful were they for you? If not, why not?
No. But I since have started taking B12 and vegan vitamin D3, since I do eat a vegan diet.
💪 Can you talk a little bit about what you found to work the best in terms of physical exercise? What worked best for you and why?
For me, having a fitness goal was important. It allowed me to stay on track to improve cardiovascular health. For example, my initial goal was to be able to run 1 mile on the treadmill at a 12 minute mile pace without stopping.
Once I reached that goal, I tried to run a mile in 11 minutes then 10 etc. I then signed up for a 5k and started running outside to train for that. I used all of the cardio machines in the gym to switch up my routine on leg days. I started using the weight machines as soon I signed up for a gym membership.
What works for me is strength training upper body and lower body on different days with a cardio workout. I followed YouTube channels like Fitness Blender for workout ideas.
🧾 What was the best advice you received (or read) along the way?
Find an activity you like so you can stick to it long term. If you hate running, don’t run.
Q: After reading your story, this advice seems to line up with a very healthy approach you’ve taken to losing weight. You went through an incredible transformation, yet you still ate chocolate, bread, and ice cream from time-to-time, and it sounds like you didn’t force yourself to do any physical exercise that you hated (though I’m sure there were days you didn’t want to exercise at all)—is this fair to say?
Could you talk a bit about the philosophy behind your approach to losing weight and why you think the way you do?
I’ve seen too many instances of people losing weight super quickly only to gain it back and more weight.
I had yo-yo dieted since I was 13. Everything from the 3-day diet to only eating apples. I would eat a ton of processed food with no variety and feel terrible… I felt fed up with the cycle. I decided that I wanted to enjoy a variety of foods while being healthy. I wanted balance. I also knew that I had to move body more especially as I got older. I tried to focus on fitness progress and not the number on the scale.
I used to love the Biggest Loser but came to realize how toxic the show actually was. The way the trainers would make the contestant do extreme exercises was just awful. And then to see how many contestants gained back the weight they had lost was really disheartening. This also confirmed to me that I needed to be able to adapt and live healthily in a sustainable way.
🥵 What was the hardest part about your journey? How did you overcome it?
Not criticizing my body after weight loss and comparing myself to other people is still the hardest thing. There are still things I nitpick over on my body. I’m trying to work on that.
Food has also been a struggle throughout my journey. I was obsessing over counting calories with MyFitnessPal. I no longer count calories because it became too disordered. There are times when I think, am I eating too much? too little? I’m still trying to find balance.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about how you’re working on this and how you’ve managed to make progress thus far?
I try to tell myself three things that I appreciate about my body most days. I also make sure I buy clothes that properly fit the body that I have.
I listen to podcasts like I Weigh by Jameela Jamil and Diet Starts Tomorrow by Betches Media. These podcast help me process some of the issues that I have around my body. Hearing other people talk about their struggles and how they’re trying to overcome them is helpful.
💡 Was there an ‘aha’ moment where everything began to click?
There wasn’t necessarily one moment I can remember. I enjoyed having my routine of going to gym, walking during my lunch breaks and cooking my own meals. There was a time I knew for sure that my process was working when my work pants were literally falling off me and my belts were too big. I went so long without buying new clothes.
😎 How has your life changed since the day you took your before photo?
I’m way more active and I love it. I’m a lot stronger physically. I can run for more than 45 minutes. I rediscovered my love of biking during quarantine. I bike everywhere when it’s not raining. I started to bake and try new recipes. I realized that I can make chocolate chip cookie dough way cheaper than buying it at the store.
❤ Based on your experience, what advice would you give to our readers who are starting off as the ‘old’ you?
This takes time. Start off slow. Don’t expect to be able to run 5 miles or do 20 push-ups if you’re just starting out. Try not to compare your journey to others. It’s hard I know. But I heard someone say, “comparison is the thief of joy“.
Don’t think you’ll necessarily be happier or more confident after you lose weight. I still have self-esteem issues that I’m working on. Sometimes we are our own worst critics. Be kind and understanding to yourself. You have to be on this journey for you and no-one else.
Don’t do fad diets or extreme caloric restriction. It doesn’t work long term and you’ll be miserable. Increase your overall daily activity. Working out is a small portion of your waking hours. Don’t rely on the scale. Instead track the amount of push-ups you can do, or how long you can walk or bike. Take measurements and photos.
Thanks for the interview, Trish!