“My God. Just look at you. Ya neck ... sho’... is ... fat! You just too big, gurl,” said the usually pleasant elder Mrs. Gladys.
I rolled my eyes. She didn’t flinch.
For nearly two years, we’d brought fresh fruits and vegetables to Mrs. Gladys in Raleigh’s Apollo Heights neighborhood.
As I rung up her order, I vowed to never, ever deliver a single fresh food item to Mrs. Gladys again!
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Once inside the truck, I tilted the rearview mirror to my neck. Tears began to flow.
Goaded by Mrs. Gladys’ harsh observation, I went in for tests at Lifestyle Medical Centers in Durham.
My 5’ 3” frame had ballooned to 169.2 pounds with 40.7 percent body fat.
While standing, I could no longer see my feet. The tests revealed that I was pre-diabetic and obese.
However, my registered dietitian, Jenni Grover assured me that my health was salvageable – with an overall lifestyle change!
Skepticism overwhelmed me.
In the black community I grew up in, my body type wasn’t considered fat.
It was judged a “perfect ten, dimepiece, stacked, and P.H.A.T (pretty hot and tempting)” because my 44 double D chest overflowed underneath my arms; a 38-inch waist, and 46-inch hips packed my jeans.
I got to see my skeleton for the first time volunteering for Body Composition Changes in a weight loss study at UNC.
The DEXA scan revealed a 7.5 inch halo of yellow fat surrounding my waist and limbs. I was in the 50th percentile of the population with increased disease risks. View the scans: http://bit.ly/2biiyuf
Right then, I decided to take my health seriously and stop suffering from highly preventable health problems.
For a year and a half, I’ve followed Jenni’s guidance with weekly check-ins and boot camp classes.
I lifted weights, jogged around Patterson Place shopping center, gained pilates techniques and nutritional education with Molly Devine, lifestyles dietitian.
Along with my husband, Wes, I ate healthier food, we rode bikes, walked, ran along Bolin Creek trail, slept seven-plus hours a day, drank half of our body weight in water, and lifted weights three times a week.
By July 2016, we both surpassed our personal weight goals!
We’ve lost a combined weight of 127 pounds and 22 inches off our waists. My health risk index dropped to under 6 percent.
Losing forty-two pounds allows me to do things I never imagined possible.
Now I’m training in Capoeira Brazilian Martial Arts at the Balanced Movement studio in Carrboro.
But then, be careful what you wish for …
We started receiving snide remarks from people who remember us from “before.”
“Hello, Skinny! ... You just gon’ float away … You lost too much weight … You don’t look like yourself. But I meant that in a good way … You are wasting away … That’s not normal... You trying to be white, now?” and so on.
They’re hurtful. But not factual.
I tried to be positive: “Yes, I’m so happy not to be obese anymore. ... I’m loving the results I’m getting. ... Thank you for noticing I’m very fit!” And it’s kind of working!
I credit my weight-loss success to intentionally loving myself more, making healthier food choices, and having a great support system.
Nowadays, I make it a priority to exercise gratitude toward those who assist me along my journey of transforming into the best person I can be.
Last month, I bought a Prayer Plant to give to Mrs. Gladys.
I hadn’t seen her for three years, when she commented on my unhealthy weight.
She busted out, “Oh, I didn’t know who you was at my door. You looking so good, gurl! Got that weight right off you. I sho’ am happy for you.”
I hugged her so hard. “Yes ma’am! I got rid of all that extra siding on my brick house and remodeled it. You were right. ... I had to improve my health so I’m not pre-diabetic anymore. Today, I truly thank you for speaking up about what you saw.”
Anita Woodley is an award-winning health educational performer and journalist. Contact her at www.anitawoodley.com or 919-914-0104.
Anita Woodley will host a talk about achieving, maintaining, and celebrating a healthy lifestyle at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 27, at the Vegan Flava Cafe, 4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd in Durham. Free. Door Prizes!