When I gave birth to my third daughter in 2010, I was 365 pounds. At 4-feet-11-inches, I was the heaviest I’d ever been. It got to the point where I felt if I looked at food, I gained a pound.
On my second night in the hospital after the delivery, I started having trouble breathing. I was removed from the maternity ward and went to telemetry. There, they put a 24-hour heart monitor on me and ran a bunch of tests. It turned out I had a little bit of fluid on my lungs from giving birth, but the doctors also discovered a clogged artery. I was not allowed to leave the hospital until I promised to make an appointment with a cardiologist once I got home.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
I did and had more tests done, including something called a catheterization, which showed that my artery was 50% clogged. Afterward, one of the nurses told me to look around the room and tell her what I noticed. I realized everyone around me was much older than I was. She said there’s no way I should have been having a catheterization at 34 years old. That really hit home, and I began to cry.
At my follow-up appointment, my cardiologist told me if I wanted to live I had to lose weight immediately.
“Do you want to be around for your children?” he asked. “You’re not going to wake up one morning and that one day is soon.”
I had to make a decision, and all the emotions associated with being overweight flooded over me. With the weight came laziness because it was hard for me to physically accomplish the things my mind wanted me to do. The weight literally weighed me down and began affecting my career, my marriage and my parenting. Thanks to the type of food I was bringing into the house and the way I ate, they were overweight as well. My weight stunted my family and myself.
Because I had to lose the weight as soon as possible, and my life depended on it, I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery — where 80% of the stomach is removed. The procedure brought me down to less than 300 pounds, but I still had a long way to go to get healthy, and I had to do it on my own. My gastroenterologist told me to act like I never had surgery, which meant I had to make a serious effort to exercise and eat right to lose the rest of the weight.
I began exercising at the gym and eating healthy, natural foods. I began drinking smoothies and eating lots of salads. Quinoa became my best friend. I was able to bring my vitamin levels to where they needed to be without taking any pills. I began to heal my body through healthy food. I put an end to years of terrible eating habits and made a conscious decision to stop buying processed garbage like soda, ice cream, chips and cookies.
When you show up for that walk, everything is better.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
My life changed even more after I began walking with GirlTrek, the largest nonprofit and health movement dedicated to get Black women and girls to develop a daily routine of walking. It has now became a daily thing, where we head out around 5 or 6 in the morning and walk at least five miles. The support from these women has been amazing. We have great conversations and I love the bond and the sisterhood that comes with it. No matter what you’re dealing with, when you show up for that walk, everything is better. One of the best exercises you can do is walking, so doing something good for my body and also having a good time chatting with women who have the same agenda, is even nicer. My daughters, now 19, 12 and 6, have started walking with us as well. They don’t walk with me every day, but I make sure to get them out there as much as possible.
Now 41 years old, today I am down to 137 pounds and healthier than I have ever been in my life. Not only am I doing a lot of walking, but I’m even hiking — I’ve done the Appalachian Trail twice! Since my gastric sleeve procedure, it has definitely taken a lot of hard work to get to my current weight and I refuse to go back where I was. A lot of times in life we don’t want to deal with what’s hard. But I chose to deal with it because it’s even harder on your children and your husband when you’ve left this earth before your time.