My weight fluctuates more than NYC temperatures. I have struggled with this since I was young. I wasn’t always a chubby kid though. I was a tomboy and used to annoy my brother by following him and his friends around. I climbed and jumped out of trees with them. I raced against the neighborhood boys in our ‘Hood Olympics.’ I also played all the childhood games like kickball, dodgeball and tag.
But as life started to get harder, I turned to food and stayed indoors with my books. I had packed on the pounds by the end of middle school. The timing couldn’t have been worse, because I was already teased about my name, for being Haitian and a nerd (complete w/coke bottle glasses). So being overweight added fuel to the fire.
Luckily, I had a growth spurt the summer before high school. That helped me to thin out. But it wasn’t until I joined a local high school’s soccer team (my performing arts school didn’t have a sports program yet), that my body started to transform. My eating habits were still bad though. I loved eating all of the rich and heavy foods my mom cooked. Junk food and snacks were my vice, especially fried chicken (Sal’s Birdland was my ish!).
I thought I was healthy. I looked skinny, so I was, right? I didn’t understand how what I ate even mattered. Especially since I played sports and looked good.
I took those same habits to college. I had a ‘Super Card’ for purchasing food and I swiped that thing like crazy. The best (or worst) part was that the food courts stayed open late, and even delivered. I was in heaven! I was still active though and was a part of a dance troupe on campus. So I was still very slim. I never even gained the infamous “Freshman 15.”
But then that thing called age kicked in and my metabolism slowed down dramatically once I graduated and moved to NYC. I also couldn’t afford to eat anything but fast food, so I started to gain weight. As I struggled with trying to make it in NYC, I turned to (cheap) food to console me. I had stopped dancing due to a knee injury and started working sedentary jobs to pay the bills. Fast forward a decade and I had hit rock bottom. I was depressed and the heaviest I had ever been, at close to 170 lbs (I’m 5’6)!
My sister from another mister, Laci, encouraged me to join a Couch to 5k program with her. I felt so down, the only place I could go was up. So I got up off my butt. I started walking, then wogging, then jogging and was soon running. Being the true Scorpio that I am, I went to the extreme. I started to run a few days a week and then competed in 5ks and other races. I got to the point where I was comfortably running a 10k (6.2 mi) at 9 min miles. That was big, for me. I only used to run if something was chasing me.
The bonus was that the weight literally fell off. I went down to about 140 in like three months! I was a brand new woman. I felt so strong and like I could take on the world. I started to feel sexy again. Yet, as I said, I am a Scorpio and am very hot or cold. I started feeling myself and so I stopped working out as much. I also had only changed my diet slightly. As soon as I went back to my old habits, the weight crept back on.
I had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment years later, once the scale indicated that I gained more than 15 lbs back. Again, I got off my couch and went back to running and dancing more. This past summer, I was back at a healthy weight. I was also getting so many compliments that I felt great.
The downside to compliments though is that I heard them as permission to slack off. I disliked dieting and exercising. As soon as I received praise, I felt like the hard work had paid off and I could stop. When my birthday and the holidays came, I saw them as a license to eat (& drink) to my heart’s content.
Then I remembered that I was going to Trinidad for Carnival and had to wear a rather skimpy costume in my Mas band. $@&#! Le sigh. Yet again, I had to get off my couch and increase my workouts.
This time I also focused on eating well. I made green smoothies for breakfast, ate more veggies and fruits low in sugar and cooked more of my meals. I’ve come a long way when the snack I crave at the end of the day is carrots and hummus.
One of my friends, Cassandra, is a fitness coach and dance instructor (http://wellnesswithcoachcass.com/). She teamed up with another instructor and ran a Carnival Bootcamp, held live trainer.ly sessions and also shares daily workout videos to help us prepare for the trip. She said something that struck a chord with me. She said that we shouldn’t have to get ready, but that we should stay ready. Her other motto is “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.” She knows all to well what it’s like to struggle with weight. She transformed her body and her life years ago.
My sister Esther has also adopted a healthier lifestyle and looks great. She has lost a lot of weight and is working hard to lose more. I saw a recent picture of her and her leg muscles had muscles! She is not playing around!
Laci, Cass and Esther inspire me daily. It hasn’t been easy. I still have work to do, but I’m in a much better place. Something finally clicked. I feel my best after sweating it out in a dance class, especially Laci’s classes. I’m bringing my sexy back and I’m never losing it again.