Transformation of the Day: Erica lost 106 pounds. She’d been overweight since the age of 11, but she was always extremely active due to her beloved father’s encouragement. At 301 pounds, she completed two mini triathlons. During her transformation journey, she prioritized her mental health along with her physical health as she addressed the aftermath of a car accident, childhood trauma, and depression.
Starting weight: 335 pounds
Current weight 229 pounds
I’ve been overweight since I was 11 years old. However, I was labeled the big girl who could move. My late father left me the best legacy. He’d take me to our favorite park and run with me while saying, ‘Whuppasnapper, no matter how big you get, keep moving. Run, walk, but just keep moving.’ I didn’t really understand as a child, but I listened, and I was always moving. Playing, biking, running… Astonishing others that such a big girl could move so well. Even though I weighed 168 pounds in 6th grade, I kept up, refusing to come in last in any race.
I attended a very physical university and studied to become an actor—my childhood dream. I left college at 21 years old and 198 pounds. By 25 years old, my weight was in the 260s. Still, I heard my pop’s voice and kept moving.
By 36 years old, I was fluctuating between 280 pounds and 290 pounds. Even then, I was in the gym regularly and still heeding my pops words. I kept moving. When I completed two mini triathlons and didn’t finish anywhere near last, I weighed 301 pounds. Even though I trained and competed, I gained weight. I never addressed the source of the deep hunger that lived within the childhood traumas in my cells.
I tried Overeaters Anonymous and lost 60 pounds. However, I couldn’t keep it off once I stopped the program and quickly ballooned back to 300 pounds. Moving as much as I did, I still didn’t lose.
I have a 10-year-old son, and one of my dreams for us was to run and work out together. By 42 years old and weighing 315 lbs, my life was spiraling out of control. I was depressed, suicidal, and chaotic. So I decided to get some help for my mental health. It took time to see the results, but eventually, my mind was clearer. I was able to thrive and not just survive. It was then that I started debating weight loss surgery seriously. Feeling healthy mentally changed my life and made the physical changes possible for me.
At 45 years old and 315 lbs, I got married to the great love of my life. Just before the pandemic, my wife and I were rear-ended in a horrible car accident. Thankfully we survived. It was then that I realized my body was no longer able to do what I wanted it to do. I just couldn’t move anymore. Everything hurt. I had a hard time walking to my car, taking out the garbage, and fitting in my clothes. I knew something had to change. I reached my highest weight, 335 lbs, after the accident. We were told I might need surgery on my back. It could be a risky, possibly paralyzing surgery due to the injuries from the accident.
I knew I didn’t want to do that. Taking a chance with my mobility wasn’t an option. As I said, I’d debated weight loss surgery before but thought I could do it the “natural way” instead. However, I could not control my appetite, and I could feel my mental health teetering as well. So I scheduled the gastric sleeve surgery.
The surgery saved my life. June 18, 2020, was a life-changing day. Ten days after having surgery, I walked 2.5 miles around the park. This is the same park my pops and I had walked, but I was with my son this time.
Since then, I haven’t stopped! I love being able to move! Although I still have some pain from the accident, I’m mobile, active, and healthier than I’ve been in years!
Eating Habits: After surgery, I gave up sugar. When the sweet tooth hits, I have found sugar-free items in small quantities do the trick. I also eat mostly meat, poultry, fish, and leafy veggies. I pay close attention to calories and try to stay under 1200 calories per day.
Exercise Routine: Immediately after surgery, and for three months, I just walked for exercise. After that, I started doing a lite weight training circuit. Eleven months post-op, I’m loving the FitOn app. I do strength training 2-3 times a week and deep stretching at least once a week (so necessary at 46). I’m also training for a 10K 2 days a week. I try to listen to my body, and I don’t overdo it while still pushing. When I reach 200 pounds, I plan to get a trainer because I’d like to really up my muscle and strength.
I’ve lost 106 pounds. I’ve got more to go, but I’m not in any rush. I’m happy as hell to be able to live life fully, move, and play with my kid. People think I’ve been in a good place just because of weight loss, but honestly, it’s truly because I dealt with my childhood traumas and got my mental health together.
Getting my mental health in check was the most significant part of my ability to commit to changing my mind, lifestyle, and habits to be ready for the surgery. I’ve been working many years before surgery, and I learned to love myself and all my melanin fatness way before I released the weight. I highly recommend therapy pre, post, and during your journey.