My Fitness Journey, Part 1! Moving Beyond “You Have A Pretty Face” (Diary)
Passionista Principle: “Make your future dream a present fact by assuming the feeling of a wish fulfilled.” ~Neville
Let’s talk “real talk” about body fat and fitness.
This year instead of resolutions I set intentions. My main “New Year’s Intention” is that I decided to finally gift myself with the strong, healthy and fit body that I deserve. Life is too short not to be who we want to be in any aspect of our lives.
So far I have improved by cardio fitness by 70 percent. I have dropped fat, released pounds and a size or two. I am on a healthy gluten free journey and working out almost every day.
Let me back up a little.
We’ll get to the hows etc. in the next post…
I give advice on live, sex, dating and lifestyle via a number of media outlets including my columns on Yahoo Shine and the teen girls’ site gURL.com. I also give advice on TV and radio talk shows. On a recent “Drama Queens” episode, I gave advice to a young woman who had been bullied about her weight and used the bully’s constant taunts that she was “fat!” to hold her back.
I have totally been there!
“Tough Love” and body image issues.
In late 2008 after I was cancelled out of hosting my BET show “The Best Shorts/ Film Showcase” I received an offer to be a participant in the first season of VH1′s” Tough Love.” Simon and Schuster had already published my popular novel “Dare,” I have already directed my award-winning erotica film “Afrodite Superstar” and I had already written an advice column in the weekly urban newspaper “Rolling Out.”
So why would I go on reality TV? A number of reasons. Sure, I’d hosted shows and been a lifestyle correspondent for BET, HBO and NBC but I needed the paycheck and the recession in full swing. It sounded fun and at worse like possible fodder for a future book on love. It would be a cool social experiment to be a lifestyle journalist “undercover” and open me and my work up to a larger audience. Besides, I studied theater and everyone already knew that reality shows aren’t real, right?
Then, one of the few genuine experiences happened on my first day shooting “Tough Love,” booting me right out of the character that I was excited to play. Our first assignment was to parade around a pool while 3 average looking white guys gave their first impressions of us. All of the guys basically said that I was fat cute but fat.
Fat?! I was definitely bigger than all of the other chicks in the house but I had never ever had a man consider me F-A-T and therefore undesirable before. Despite the matchmaker theme of the show, I had a boyfriend waiting for me at home, but so did all of my castmates. Yes, I was bigger than my usual size but I am a life sized woman and proud to take up space in the world.
The last time that I’d felt so low and uncomfortable in my skin was being a “lonely only” black kid in all white schools. I have a curvy black girl body. I went to high school before Kim Kardashian made my body type “okay” on the scope of national beauty. So what happened on the show? I burst out crying! I felt awful and humiliated, but why? Somewhere inside I had to believe what they were saying.
I WAS NOT FAT. So why was I crying?
I didn’t care about the jackasses on the show but I repeat: The fact that I was crying means that subconsciously I agreed at the moment with their low thoughts of me, that I was fat and unworthy. As adults, no one can belittle us EVER without our agreement and permission.
For the record, your body size has nothing to do with your happiness or desirability. You deserve to be happy. Just because you’re having a thought doesn’t mean it’s true.
I dropped 20 pounds easily being at the “Tough Love” house mostly because we weren’t allowed to have alcohol. Yeah, those weekly cocktails add up! Plus I have a number of food allergies that come and go. My allergies were raging at the time so I couldn’t eat from my local takeout spots when I came home without breaking out in hives.
Fast forward to 2011.
When the year kicked off I totally had more junk in my trunk. I was just back from taping the MTV series “MADE.” I was on the show as a Teen Dating Empowerment Coach, transforming a sweet, wimpy high school kid into “ladies man.” For the six weeks that I was alone in Atlanta I sat up in my hotel room in between shoots eating fattening Chinese food and pre-packaged Nutrisystem meals. I wasn’t dashing around and burning calories naturally like I did in NYC because in Georgia I had to be driven everywhere.
When I came home I was fat and I spent the year just getting fatter. I have a sugar addiction plus I’m a desk potato — a bad combo for fitness. I have the body type that for better or worse, hides weight well. As I taped my episodes of my web series “Abiola’s Kiss and Tell TV” I became harder for my BFF Kristal Mosley and producer to shoot and edit. I had a double chin and a belly, things that had to be hidden through camera angles and creative distraction fashion choices and editing.
On one fun shooting day in late summer we shot 3 episodes: an interview with Doug E. Doug, an overview of my Goddess Year Program for Single Women and Wine Tasting 1010 at Nectar Wine Bar and Harlem Vintage. It was a great day until I saw the footage. I looked fat and gross, particularly in the Doug E. Doug interview. I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. Still I continued to gain weight through the rest of 2011.
Balancing weight gain and self love.
Have I ever been fat-fat, whatever that means? No. But you don’t have to be morbidly obese to be at an unhealthy weight for your height and body type.
I’m a beautiful woman. Beauty has nothing to do with it. My body was rebelling. I had another outbreak of food allergies and was ridiculously out of breath just walking to the subway.
As I approach life in my 40s my health matters more. I have a number of things in my gene pool from diabetes to bad knees and hypertension that I need to head off at the healthy pass. I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t comfortably wear my clothes anymore.
My personal fat denial.
Because I love myself unconditionally and my body and enjoy who I am I had fallen into denial about my weight gain. In other words, my healthy positive thoughts of myself blocked me from seeing just how unhealthy my weight gain was. When medical professionals began to take notice it was time to wake up. Sure, wearing a bigger size and being cute was easy to dismiss but I deserve perfect health.
How much was I really loving myself if I wouldn’t work out on a regular basis? How much love was I giving myself if I wasn’t feeding myself with nourishing healthy homemade food instead of constant feel good fries. (Ooooh — french fries!)
As my dad always said, the body our temple on earth and we only get one. We have to take care of it. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to love ourselves inside and out.
The fat evidence mounts in 2012.
- A jarring wake up moment was in early 2012 when my doctor told me that she couldn’t properly examine my abdomen because I had too much belly fat. That was just the beginning.
- An irresponsible dermatologist offered me liposuction unasked for!
- I went to see my uncle in the hospital after his cancer diagnosis and he said, “you put on a pound or two.”
- There I was in Essence Magazine with a double chin.
- Then my very sweet producer on a TV talk show told me confidentially that my belly was poking out on camera — I had dressed thinking I was going to be sitting on the show but I was standing. My outfit that would have looked great with my legs crossed to hide my tummy looked fat when I was standing. That’s ridiculous. I should feel comfortable whether I was sitting or standing.
Time to rise and shine — for me.
This was all compounded by the fact that in my culture it is acceptable to stay stuck in this unhealthy body. Many people in my beautiful extended Afro-Caribbean family are unhealthy and overweight. I live in Harlem and I used to joke all the time that I might be “thick” everywhere else but I am the thinnest person above 96th Street! A recent survey revealed that black women are “fatter” but have higher self esteem than other groups. We also carry body fat differently as per another study featured in Essence Magazine. This is not a judgement on anyone else. I am talking about what was unhealthy for me.
If what I was doing (eating junk/being sedentary) was working I would have a fit strong, healthy body. Years ago I accompanied a friend to an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting. Although I could totally relate and shared the issues the program ultimately wasn’t for me at the time. However the most powerful thing I took from that one meeting was the workshop leader who told all of us in the room, “Your best thinking got you here.”
I had been able to achieve success on my timetable in every other area of my life but this one. It was time to make a change. My own best thinking had gotten me here and as I tell women when I give empowerment speeches, how you do anything is how you do everything.
- What if there was something else to believe?
- What if I could look at this differently?
I started a fitness journey in January and have lost fat in a healthy way. I feel great in my skin and I’m just beginning. In the next post in this series I’ll talk about the lifestyle choices that I made, my dietary and fitness approach.
My life has completely changed. We all deserve our healthy and fit dream body. I don’t want to have to try to fix diabetes and high blood pressure in a few years.
- What are 5 new things you can do to break habits?
Working affirmations for my wellness journey: ”I deserve to have my dream body. And I am worth it.”
Coming up next…
::: Kettlebells, Treadmills and Gluten Free, Oh My!