weightloss

Check me out in People Magazine!

People...I'm in PEOPLE! It's still kind of unbelievable to me and it all happened so fast. An editor reached out to me via email just a couple of months ago. She asked me if I wanted to be featured in a segment about chefs who have lost weight in their annual Half Their Size issue. 

I said, "HELL YES!" Duh.

She interviewed me, I sent some photos, and then I kind of got lost in the holidaze. Until one of my clients called me (hi Kerry) on January 12 basically screaming in the phone that she had just gotten home and opened up her People magazine subscription to see ME. She was so excited. It was adorable. I had no idea the magazine was already out! 

Admiring...MYSELF! Check me out on page 82 in the January 23, 2017 issue.

Admiring...MYSELF! Check me out on page 82 in the January 23, 2017 issue.

The thing about this that I am most proud of is that I'm the only woman featured...AND the only person of color. The food industry is, like many other industries, dominated by white men. However, that doesn't stop me. I hire women, I service (predominately) women, and I make it well known that my business is owned by a PROUD, Black, queer woman. 

This experience and the exposure that's come with it are invaluable to me. I am grateful for all the new customers, fans, followers, and people who have been reaching out from around the world to let me know how inspirational I am.

Stay tuned, cos I'm not done yet!

I think you can still find this issue on the racks now so go grab one! Love you all! 

Between "Before & After"

I think it's fair to say that our society is pretty fixated on the idea of "improving" things. We love renovations, trash to treasure, corrective surgery, and Transformation Tuesday. Never heard of that last one? Do a Google search and check out the images.

We love that shit. 

Those side-by-side photos of dramatic weight loss do a horrible job at telling the story of the individuals journey. I know, because I am one of those stories. And I've been blessed to be an integral part of so many other people's stories. 

In actuality, my weight loss story would feature a TON of before/after images. Before I started dressing my size and I wore oversized shirts to hide the fact that my pants were unbuttoned and unzipped ( I refused to by jeans in a size 20 so I squeezed into 18s). And after I started dressing my size when I was a teenager shopping at Lane Bryant. Before I binged, after I purged. Before I I hit the gym, after 2 hours on the elliptical. Before depriving myself of energy and nourishment for a full day, after going to bed with an empty stomach and feeling proud and accomplished. And so on. Those are just a few of the small details that reveal the in-between. All the shit a person might endure before and after a substantial weight loss. 

Rarely is it ever as pretty a picture as the one we show. In fact, I deemed my images and writings so ugly that I destroyed them all a long time ago. I was disgusted with myself. Embarrassed, ashamed, and most of all, angry. So I destroyed the evidence; almost everything that linked me to my past. I have almost no photos of me from before about 2006. No journals. No old "big girl" jeans. No artifacts from my inner travels. I'm lucky when I uncover one of these rare relics in my mother's garage or a family storage unit. They make me smile now, whereas they made me sad before. There's another before and after for you.

Besides hiding the story, these images also create a sense of insatiable yearning for some viewers. I'm still, after 5 years in the health and fitness industry, shocked at how many times I receive a message, inquiry, email, or face-to-face exchange about someone wanting to look like someone else. I get it ALL the time. "I want her results!" or "I want to look like him!" It's as if for a brief moment, we forget we are individuals and have our own bodies. You will NEVER look exactly like anybody else. Nor will you EVER share the same story. I happen to think that is amazing and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Of course, that wasn't always the case. I too used to fantasize about other bodies. But most often, an extreme version of my own. I wanted to be thin. Very badly. My weight goal was far below what was healthy for my body but I didn't know that, and I wouldn't have cared anyways. All that mattered to me was the number on the scale and the number on the tag inside of my jeans. And any way I could measure a decrease in those numbers made me happy. Well, a funny thing happened when I would do anything to lose weight: I didn't lose any weight. 

So, why do I share my before and after photos then? Probably for some of the same reasons other people do. To inspire and motivate. To encourage and support. But most importantly, to educate. I share my photos to reveal just a small part of my story. A picture is worth a thousand words. Which means a before and after photo is worth two thousand...at least. My intention is to educate others so that you're not led astray like I was. Yes you can change your body, if that's what you would like to do, but it has nothing to do with buying diet books, fake food, or joining the gym. It has everything to do with being honest and vulnerable; sharing your innermost fears, embarrassments, failures, and feelings with others so that you can empower yourself to WANT to do and be better...however you define that betterment. Share your story with the world. Don't hide. Don't be embarrassed. And most importantly, don't compare yourself to anyone else. 


Why I Chose to Keep My Loose Skin

So there's this one time, and I can't believe I haven't shared this with you already, that I decided I was going to have a tummy tuck. It was just a couple of years ago, but it's something I've thought A LOT about over the past 5 years or so. Blogging about my most personal experiences, dilemmas, challenges, and achievements helps me sort through my own feelings and ride them out with raw honesty and an open-mind. I tell you this story for myself; and hope that is resonates with at least one other person.

I should probably back up and tell you why this all came back to me. I happen to have a very large and passionate interest in human sexuality (and everything about people and the human body that we don't get to learn enough about in school). So, I read a lot of research papers, articles, blogs, etc and I watch a lot of documentaries. About a week ago, I watched a documentary about the shame and secrecy behind intersex births called Intersexion, which I highly recommend. I was fascinated by the stories I heard and felt that I could relate to many of these individuals. Often they used words like "wrong" and "disgusting" when they talked about how others viewed their bodies. The narrator mentioned that when an intersex child is birthed, the standard procedure is to "fix it, shame it, and hide it." That is exactly how I used to (and sometimes, but very rarely, still do) feel about my own body. But, in order for that to be the proper procedure, it would mean something would have to be WRONG in the first place. And there is nothing wrong with my body. 

I've gone back and forth with wanting the surgery, then not wanting it, thinking it was an absolute must, to thinking it was the worse idea in the world. I've felt excited, scared, guilty, ashamed, happy, relieved, anxious, angry, wrong, and happy about the idea of not having loose skin on my body. Yeah, ALL of those feelings. But the one thing I never felt was RIGHT...it just never felt right. 

But, that one time, when it was feeling like a really good decision, I got as close as scheduling a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Mind you, I've done a lot of research about this procedure (get the gist yourself here.) And, I've researched doctors like crazy too. I've watched videos, read blogs and visited forums all about the joys of having a flat, tight, tummy. And, I wanted that joy. Even though the thought of voluntarily and surgically removing a section of my body made me ill. 

So, I submitted my info online for a consultation with a surgeon in Alameda. Within a few hours, I got a call from his office and the person on the other end wanted to confirm my appointment with me. She proceeded to tell me about the procedure from consultation to recovery and even though I already knew EVERYTHING she was talking about, when it was discussed within the context of ME, I suddenly freaked the fuck out. I kept thinking, "What the hell are you doing? This isn't what you want!" But then I argued with myself as she continued with the timeline of events..."Oh you're just being cheap, you do want this, you just don't want to pay for it! Imagine what you'll look like when it's done and you're all healed up, it's a small price to pay! Wait, what the hell?! You're seriously OPTING in to having someone put you under and cut into your body for no good reason? You're not ill, you're not trying to prevent illness, this is totally ridiculous!" 

So, I thanked her for her time, apologized, and asked her to cancel my appointment. I just could not imagine myself going through with it. I didn't want to pay $6,000, that is certainly true. But I also didn't want to be put under. I didn't want to not be able to stand fully upright for weeks. I didn't want to be in pain. I didn't want a fake belly button. I didn't want to put my life on hold. Not for the sake of vanity, at least. And it was then that I realized that having this procedure would go against everything I believed in about myself, my life, and my body. It would go against everything I teach others and work so hard to help them believe. But you know what, that's not even what mattered most to me. I give myself permission to change my mind, to change what I believe, to challenge myself in different ways, to do things I wouldn't normally do, to be different versions of myself. I do. I think that's what makes me the person I am, a self-loving mystical beast. I know no limits when it comes to personal growth and change. I'm all about it. What mattered most to me was that it just. never. felt. right

And so, after all of that was said and done, that's the only conclusion I could come to that made sense to me. And it helped me understand why so many others opt to have these procedures done. Because it felt right for them. Cosmetic surgery is such a personal thing. There truly is no right or wrong answer. It's a means to an end and some of us use it, while others do not. I chose not to. Will I change my mind later and decide to go for it? It's highly unlikely but I guess it's possible...

But for now I am super glad I decided not to do it. Since that day, I've literally changed and shaped my body in ways I never thought possible (see photo timeline below). And it feels amazing to know that all I used was my own power, heart, determination, and commitment. I feel like my body reflects who I am on the inside, and never in my life was I able to say that until now. I'm strong, nonconforming, present, and beautiful both inside and out...naked and clothed. And THAT, feels right!  

P.S. I used to think of my loose skin and stretch marks as sort of "battle wounds" of the body...little snippets of physical evidence of my journey. But, what's funny is that the more comfortable I get with my new body, and the more I accept it as perfect and beautiful exactly how it is, the less I differentiate each part. I am WHOLE, no longer broken. 

 

That One Time I Exceeded My Own Expectations

Actually, I'd be lying if I said that this has only happened to me once. I blow myself away on a regular basis. Dare I even say it happens everyday? Yup, sure does! It's because I have a ton of love and respect for myself. And I take a moment everyday to check in on my badassery and acknowledge myself on the inside and out.

That's usually when "it" happens.

Some days it's as simple as, "Wow, I can't believe I got up and made shit happen at 7am!" or "Damn, I just cooked an insane amount of food in just a few hours!" Other times it's more monumental..."Did I really just toss that cookie simply because I didn't like it and felt not even a smidge of pressure to eat it all?" or "Are you fucking kidding me, I'm at 15% body fat?"

That last one happened two weeks ago, and I'm still a little shocked about it. 

I've never had my body fat measured via hydrostatic testing before. This is also known as a "dunk tank." The last time I had my body fat measured with any accuracy at all was when I was a teenager and it was also the first time I had ever had my body fat measured. I had no idea why it was important or what the numbers meant. I just knew my results (45%) and what the technician told me (you're morbidly obese). Devastation, guilt, and shame set over me and I carried it with me every where I went. 

Am I killing myself? How much bigger am I going to get? What happens now? What am I supposed to do? How did I let this happen? Why did I let this happen?

The only answers I ever seemed to get led me to extremely low-calorie diets, a deep sense of self-hatred, and a neverending cycle of binging and purging. It was the darkest and loneliest time of my life. 

My weight has been a topic of discussion, an issue, a THING for nearly my entire life. I was almost 10lb when I was born...so I've been big since Day 1. From a big baby, to a chubby girl, to a pretty face, to nobody. People seem to get uncomfortable around fat people. Especially fat adults. Because if you're a fat kid, it's not your fault. But if you're a fat adult, you're lazy and pathetic. Even though I was fat, I used to compare myself to other fat bodies and wonder if I looked as grotesque or disgusting. I always came to the same conclusion...no. What I saw and thought never had anything to do with the person I was looking at or thinking about, it had everything to do with me. I felt ugly. My body seemed grotesque. I was disgusting. But deeming others worse off than me made me feel better. I was a bully.

Fast forward to 2006 when I left the country for 14 months and was officially reborn. It took me that entire time away to realize who I was, what I wanted for myself and my life, and why I had become the person I was. A person I was desperate to love and accept. I felt my potential exploding within me and I wanted so bad to let it out. When I finally did, my whole world changed. And it wasn't until that moment, when I just let go and embraced me in my entirety, that I became the person I had always wanted to be. 

When I returned home in late 2007, I was finally ready to reveal my true self to the world. Between now and then I graduated from college, paid off all my student loans and other debts, rekindled some precious relationships within my blood family, came out to my family as a gay woman, got certified as a personal trainer, then as a fitness nutrition specialist, then as a health coach, traveled to 3 different continents and explored more countries than I can list, met the love of my life, moved in with the love of my life, proposed to the love of my life (she said yes), adopted two furry kids, started a business, and have been financially self-sustaining and independent for two full years now. None of any of that would have been possible without my own self-love and acceptance. 

So where does the weightloss come in? Notice I didn't mention that in my grand list of achievements. Why not? Because my weightloss was a byproduct. As a result of me embracing myself in my entirety, I made my health my number one priority. And then, I defined what it meant to be healthy. It was easy for me to do that once I stopped listening to others. Health = happiness. Simple as that. What makes me happy is being outside, helping others, exploring, cooking, eating, traveling, dancing, animals, good people, and love. So, I just cranked up the volume on all of those things and left everything else in the dust. Consequently, I lost 140 lb. But because I stopped focusing on the numbers, how hard I was working, how often I was exercising, how long I was on the treadmill, etc., the weight came off of me like a snakeskin. Slow, bit-by-bit, and revealing a brighter version of the same person underneath. 

I stopped weighing myself, I stopped caring about carbs and sugar, I stopped worrying about calories, I stopped restricting foods from my diet. I ate what I want, when I wanted, and however much I wanted. Nothing was off limits. Nothing was a "bad" choice. I wanted to be free of my abusive relationship with food and that's how I did it. 

And that's why I, again, exceeded my own expectations two weeks ago. I had no idea just how hard I've been working, how strong I've gotten, how much muscle I've built, how much body fat I've lost. No idea because I'm happy as hell about everything in my life, therefore I know I'm healthy! So, fuck numbers and scales! That's not how I measure my success. But, it's an amazing feeling to know what I was/am capable of and to see the physical transformation I've made. Ready to see my results? :) 

About to go in! We went with  Fitness Wave  for their mobile testing service and they were AMAZING! Highly recommend them. 

About to go in! We went with Fitness Wave for their mobile testing service and they were AMAZING! Highly recommend them. 

Getting my resting metabolic rate analyzed. Apparently, I have a faster than average metabolism, SWEET! P.S. Breathing through your mouth for 10 minutes, into a tube, while your nose is plugged, is seriously difficult!

Getting my resting metabolic rate analyzed. Apparently, I have a faster than average metabolism, SWEET! P.S. Breathing through your mouth for 10 minutes, into a tube, while your nose is plugged, is seriously difficult!

Getting weighed, something I stopped doing regularly a long time ago. 168 lbs. A meaningless number to me. 

Getting weighed, something I stopped doing regularly a long time ago. 168 lbs. A meaningless number to me. 

I'm going in! The water was warm thank god! 

I'm going in! The water was warm thank god! 

Getting prepared to submerge myself under water and have my water weight measured. 

Getting prepared to submerge myself under water and have my water weight measured. 

Aeron (dude on my left)  told me that I sink like a stone in the water...which is an indication of someone who has lost a lot of weight and has a low bodyfat percentage. 

Aeron (dude on my left)  told me that I sink like a stone in the water...which is an indication of someone who has lost a lot of weight and has a low bodyfat percentage. 

And now, the numbers:

  • Previous weight: 300+ lb 
  • Current weight: 168lb
  • Previous body fat: 135lb or 45%
  • Current body fat: 26lb or 15.9%

Before the test, Aeron asked me what my body fat goal was. I promised the participants of my current 90-Day Program that I would join them on their journey every step of the way, so I knew I had to have a goal to work towards just as they do. So, I just threw out a random number that I felt was attainable in that time frame given a lot of hard work...

My answer: "20%" 

Q&A: The Ketogenic Diet

Since I've been getting so many questions about this lately, I figured I would save myself some time and write a blog about it instead of answer each person individually. 

I feel like I could attack this from 2 viewpoints: the purely information-based approach, or the personal approach. I followed a non-cyclical ketogenic (low carbs, no "cheat days" or variations in carb intake) diet a few years back so I do have that personal experience to speak from. Heck, I'll just hit it from both sides (naughty). 

 

What is it?

You can find plenty of detailed chemistry/scientific-y explanations and research papers on the subject if you feel so inclined but basically, a ketogenic diet is a way of fueling your body with fats as opposed to carbohydrates. It involves a high intake of saturated fats and proteins with little or no carbohydrate intake (depending on your program) usually not including fiber. I would NOT recommend anyone attempt this without the guidance of a professional. Just as with any shift in dietary lifestyle, it's easy to mess shit up fairly quickly. And then, you just give up or claim it wasn't right for you when you weren't doing it correctly from the get go. Be smart and ask for help if you're curious or want to try it. That's what I did. 

 

WHo's it for?

Anyone who is interested I guess unless you have special diet needs or a condition preventing you from processing high amounts of fats. The most important thing though, is what I say about ANY dietary change you implement: your intentions should be clear and your aim should be sustainable. If you think you want to do this from now until Dec 31 to get lean before the New Year, please reconsider. I mean, you can, by all means, and it would probably work great for you. But what about after Jan 1? The body adapts to change very quickly so once you start eating your "normal" diet again...you can kiss your results good-bye. 

 

What was your experience like?

Amazing. My diet was already naturally heading into the "low carb" direction but I just never put a name to it. I still prefer not to give my diet a name. I eat what my body asks me for now that I have embraced whole foods and can tell the difference between cravings and actual hunger. When I started my journey 7 years ago, I knew I had to get a grip on my sugar intake, for good. I was a slave to sugar. Truly and totally addicted. And for me, the concept of moderation, cheat meals, or any other kind of back-and-forth approach does not work. Your diet is a very personal thing, in case you haven't noticed. And part of having a healthy dietary lifestyle is finding what works for you and makes you feel good inside and out. If that's dairy free, more power to ya. If it's vegan, great! If you eat sea animals, but not land animals, awesome. If it means low carb, fantastic. 

 

ASKING Specific questions

One of the biggest problems I see is that people don't know how to ask the right questions about these diets and lifestyles. They get excited because they see before and after photos or read about someone else's experience. That's all fine and dandy but you are unlike anyone else. And your experience, no doubt, will always be different than anyone else's. What I think, or someone else thinks, is relatively unimportant. The facts are most relevant followed by your own personal needs. When you approach a coach, any coach, about a subject, try to ask very specific questions. Everyone who has asked me "What do you think about the ketogenic diet?" I have asked to be more specific about what it is they wish to learn from me. Here are some of the top responses:

  • Is it healthy?
    • Depends on your definition of "healthy." What I see a lot of times is a huge increase in meat intake for folks transitioning to a ketogenic diet. This is problematic in my opinion. I do not think consuming a lot of meat (especially processed meats like bacon, deli meat, jerky, sausage, hot dogs, etc) is beneficial to the body. Also, it's not all about meat in the first place. It's mostly about fat. But then people worry about too many carbs so they start eating less vegetables too. Again, problematic in my opinion. You can avoid both scenarios by asking a professional for help. (P.S. My email is EatSuite@gmail.com)   
  • Is it effective for weightloss?
    • Usually when I ask for clarification about this question, the person reveals that the number on the scale is not as important as the fit of their pants. Ok, now we're talking. If you're looking to DROP POUNDS, as in, decrease your body weight, this might not be the best way to do it. Depends on how much weight you want to lose and whether or not your body agrees with you. If your body thinks it's at a healthy weight, you'll find it harder to lose weight. If your body feels like it's in your best interest to shed some pounds, you'll likely find it easier to do so. This is one reason people hit plateaus and find it so difficult to lose those "last 10 pounds." If you want to BURN FAT, as in, achieve a leaner physique, you've come to the right place. Initially, most people "lose" weight when they first make the switch. Some of it will be water weight, no doubt. But yay! That's a sign of decreased inflammation so that's awesome. Normally, this tapers off and you either find that your weight will stabilize or gradually decrease. It may even increase. It depends on your body, your training routine, and your genetics of course. 
  • Is it like Paleo?
    • Similar yes, but not the same. The Paleo lifestyle is not really about ketosis as much as it's about reducing B.S. food products like refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, etc. There's soooo many different "levels" of Paleo now...it's hard to keep up. But generally, with a Paleo diet you are not as restrictive of your carbohydrates. 
  • What are some of the noted benefits or what draws people to it?
    • It's a long list! Improved performance, increased endurance, mood stabilization, balanced energy throughout the day, reduced LDL cholesterol (the kind you want to keep lower), weight loss, building lean muscle mass, increased HDL cholesterol levels (the kind you want to keep higher), mental clarify, shaper focus, better sleep, reduced inflammation, reduced blood glucose, and slow/gentler aging of the body inside and out. 
  • I'm an endurance athlete, will it work for me?
    • You won't know until you try. The first time I did it, I was doing a lot of HIIT and running. I was eating a whole hell of a lot more, but I didn't feel a lack of energy or endurance. In the beginning, yes. But I decreased my training for the first week while my body adapted. Then, I felt unstoppable. You may have a different experience though. I've learned over the years that no matter what my lifestyle looks like, my body just doesn't do well with a lot of carbohydrates. And, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to pack on the carbs to be an energized endurance athlete. I certainly know more power lifters and cross trainers who adopt this lifestyle than I do endurance athletes though.
  • Is your current diet considered ketogenic?
    •  Maybe. I don't measure, track, or weigh my food but given that I don't really eat fruit, I rarely eat grains and legumes, and I enjoy starchy root veggies from time to time, I would guess my carb intake is substantially low, especially compared to previous years. The majority of my caloric intake comes from fats, without a doubt. I eat at least half a bar of dark (unsweetened) chocolate everyday, as well as whole avocados, and tons of coconut. I LOVE fat. My body thrives on fats. Again, I eat the way I eat because it makes me feel good. I enjoy feeling good! I don't restrict myself. If I want cookies, I eat cookies. 
  • Should I try it? 
    • If the list above sounds good to you and you don't have any condition which calls for special dietary restrictions, why not?

P.S. Email me first. ;)

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