My name is Malati Harris. I am a 39 year old full time single mother, full time family practice physician who delivers babies (at all hours of the day and night), and an avid weight lifter. When I’m not working I’m hanging out with my two kids, Mateo age 8 1/2 and Liliana age 4 1/2. One of my favorite hobbies is shopping! I’m always looking for the best deal and I absolutely never pay full price for anything.
I began my weight loss journey after I gave birth to my daughter in November of 2007. I had been overweight since the year after I graduated college and by the time I delivered her I was 330lbs. 6 days after having her I was admitted back into the hospital with severe pre eclampsia (toxemia of pregnancy) with pulmonary edema (fluid filled my lungs). The ER physician originally thought I was in heart failure. That was my wake up call. I was laying there in the hospital bed, my sisters were taking care of my almost 4 year old and my brand new baby, I was in the middle of my divorce and it finally clicked. What in the world would happen to my kids if something happened to me? I decided then that I was going to change the way I ate (I had tried the South Beach Diet in the past and liked it) and I was going to do it forever.
I started out at 330lbs at 9 months pregnant (I include my pregnancy weight in my total loss because it counts. Lord knows I didn’t lose my pregnancy weight the first time around when I was pregnant with my son. Those 66lbs stuck around until after I had my daughter). It took me from November of 2007 until July 2009 to lose 150 lbs. I got down to 180 that July and stayed there for a while. I have settled out at 190 lbs. with some muscle weight gain as well as a little bit of fat gain. I foolishly did not take measurements during the whole process, I wish I had.
I bought myself a treadmill for Valentine’s Day in 2008 and started walking 2 miles 5 days a week for some sort of exercise. I did that until about July of that year and then I stopped. I had gotten a tattoo on my foot and couldn’t wear socks or shoes for a week and that was just enough time for me to give up on the exercise kick! At that point it was much easier for me to control what I was putting in my mouth than motivate myself to get my butt off the couch. Since I was still heavy, I was still seeing results by sticking to my eating plan. In May of 2009 I had lost 120lbs and was pretty flabby. I knew that I couldn’t do anything about my flabby skin but thought if I built my muscles bigger, they would take up some of that extra skin and it wouldn’t look so bad. That is when I became somewhat addicted to lifting weights. I joined the gym and worked out every single day for the first 6 weeks (a tad bit ridiculous). My gym offers Body Pump and I started doing that 3 times a week and within 2 weeks started noticing muscle definition and I was completely hooked. In January of 2010, I got hooked up with my current trainer, Fernando. He has a very enthusiastic and innovative way of working people out and I couldn’t get enough. I credit him with me continuing to work out to this day. I know I would have gotten bored and stopped if it hadn’t been for him making working out so challenging and fun. He taps into my competitive nature, that I really didn’t know that I had, and keeps me motivated to push my body further.
My eating habits changed in that I no longer ate fast food. In the past I was eating fast food 3 times a day. I’m not patient enough to cook elaborate meals so I live off of my George Foreman and my veggie steamer. I don’t eat rice, pasta, potatoes, breads etc. I get my carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. I eat all kinds of meats either grilled or sautéed in either olive oil or coconut oil. I eat a lot of eggs, avocados, salads, chicken, all fruits and pretty much all veggies. I’m a pretty boring eater and can eat the same thing for lunch for months. Right now for Fall I crave chili so I make a big pot and I take it to work every day for lunch. Being prepared and eating often has been essential for me.
To maintain my current physique I stick to my whole food eating and workout 5-6 days a week. I meet with my trainer 2 days a week and on the other days I do a combination of cardio and weight lifting. My favorite parts to train are my arms, shoulder, and upper back because it’s easy for me to see my progress. My trainer knows this so he makes sure I get in legs and booty when I’m working with him! I also like to be active with my son. He has recently shown an interest in running (my boyfriend is a marathon runner and has earned numerous medals and my son wants to earn some too!) so we decided to start running 5Ks together. We started last December and tried to run one a month (we did take a hiatus when it was over 100 degrees outside this summer). We ran our last one a few weeks ago. He has also completed a Mile-At-A-Time Marathon Club where he ran a total of 26.2 miles on his own over the course of about 4 months. I am super proud of him. His little sister won’t be out done though. Whenever we are at the gym she will randomly get on the floor and bust out 10 pushups (on her toes, of course)!
I think the biggest misconception about this journey is that it ends. It NEVER ends. I will always be one of those people that have to worry about what I eat. I think people see me and they see that I’ve kept my weight off for over 3 years now and that it’s easy at this point. They are wrong. Certainly it’s easier now than it was when I started because I have been eating this way for so long and I crave foods that are good for me now but I also sometimes crave pizza…and hot wings…and brownies lol! It is an every day, every meal struggle to make the right choice and sometimes that’s very frustrating then I have to check myself and realize that if I don’t worry about it every day I will be 300 lbs. again and I am NEVER going back to that. When I started this journey I did not have any goals or time frame or set weight I wanted to get down to and I think that helped me categorize what I was doing in my mind as a life style change.
For anyone getting starting on this journey my advice would be to listen to themselves. This journey is very personal and only works if you are doing what is right for you. All of these weight loss programs out there like Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, etc. all work if you do them. The most difficult part of this is finding out what works for you, what you can sustain for the rest of your life. For me it was South Beach Diet for the first part of my weight loss (about 100lbs) and after a while I stalled. At that point I realized that I needed accountability so I joined a diet center Metabolic Research Center.
The diet was similar with lower simple carbs and higher protein but I had to weigh in twice a week and my pride would not let me ever go in and weigh heavier than I was the time before so that kept me on track and I lost the last 50lbs. Exercise is important as well but you don’t have to start out running a 5K. In the beginning I used to “trick” myself…”just get on the treadmill for 10 minutes” I’d tell myself. Once 10 minutes was done, “just do a full mile”. Once a mile was done, I felt good and warmed up and doing another mile was easy. Whatever you can do is better than not doing anything. I tell patients all the time that you just have to go for it. It can be very daunting to think about needing to lose 150 lbs. but either you do it or you don’t. Either way the time is going to pass and this time next year you are either going to be on the path to being healthy or you’re going to be boo hooing about needing to lose weight. Hopefully it’s the former.