FFFC: Please introduce yourself to our readers (i.e. your name, occupation, hobbies, etc.).
KS: Hello! My name is Kimberly Shorter. I am a program analyst for the federal government, and a freelance writer. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, baking and traveling.
FFFC: What sparked your weight-loss transformation journey?
KS: I have been battling with my weight for much of my adulthood. There have been times when I was rather content with my weight, whether or not it was healthy at the time. At one time I worked out religiously, going to the gym once or twice a week. When the demands of my job changed, I had less time for a workout routine and I thought I could manage my weight simply by eating right. That lasted for a while, but a few years ago I was diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure). That was the real spark for me. After my doctor had to put me on not one, but two medications to manage my hypertension, I said that’s enough. I had constant headaches, I was always bloated and tired. I had to face the fact that being overweight was taking its toll on my body and my overall health. It was a wake-up call.
FFFC: What was your beginning and current weight or measurements?
KS: When I started my weight loss journey in earnest, last October, I was 190 lbs. Today, I am 173.8 lbs. I still have a long way to go, but having lost almost 20 lbs., I am motivated to work harder and keep going!
FFFC: How long did it take for your weight-loss transformation from beginning to end?
KS: My transformation has taken 10 months, and I’m not finished yet! I consider this another weight loss milestone in my journey.
FFFC: What physical activities did you participate in during your journey?
KS: I didn’t stick with just one workout routine; I like variety. Plus, I like to find ways to get in some physical activity outside of the gym. I enjoy walking a lot. I challenge myself to park at the far end of the parking lot at work. Doing so, I can get in a brisk 10-15 minute walk. I also do Pilates, and I enjoy dancing. My next challenge will be to start a regular Zumba class again. It was the most fun and the easiest way to get moving and burn calories.
FFFC: How did your eating habits change?
KS: I am making more conscious decisions about the food that I eat, thanks in large part to Weight Watchers. I look at food differently now. It’s not just about the taste or the texture of the things I eat, but what nutrients I am putting into my body, and what kind of results I am getting because of it. As much as I love breads, baked goods and dairy products (cheese, ice cream), I admit that those things don’t make me feel healthy and strong eating them all the time. I am learning to be more mindful of the food I choose.
I had been focusing on eating a more plant-based diet when I had a health scare back in June. I was in the hospital for a week as a result of a mysterious bug bite. I was pretty bad off; my blood levels were either low or abnormal, and I was severely anemic. When I got out of the hospital, my doctors told me to focus on an iron-rich diet and suggested things like kale, spinach and beef. As much as I love a good cheeseburger and a good steak every now and then, who wants to eat that stuff every day? However, I can eat kale and spinach all day long!
I am learning that despite what we see and hear on TV, that not every good thing comes with cheese, butter isn’t everything and fried foods aren’t all that they’re cracked up to me. I love cooking, and I am finding that I can create delicious meals and wonderful flavors by grilling, broiling and steaming foods. This is opening up a whole new world for me, and I am excited!
FFFC: What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
KS: I love breakfast food, and breakfast used to always consist of something that involved butter and syrup. But now, I like to have something much more simple and healthier like fruit and smoothies. My favorite smoothie is a creation I make with bananas, strawberries, spinach (or kale) and flaxseeds.
For lunch, I will opt for something filling but light, like a grilled chicken wrap full of fresh, crisp veggies or fish. I try to stay away from bulky sandwich rolls and white breads.
At dinner, especially in the summer, I like to put some chicken or salmon, and some Naan bread on the grill, along with a bunch of veggies – green beans, carrots, squash, red onions — tossed in olive oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper. I can never go wrong with that!
I drink lemon water with every meal. I seldom drink anything other than lemon water. It’s the best thing in the world to me. There’s nothing as cleansing and refreshing to the body as water. Lemon water has so many health benefits, it’s long been a part of my daily routine.
I haven’t totally sworn off my favorite foods. I just eat them in moderation, and by ‘moderation’ I mean maybe once a week or a couple times a month. I cannnot deprive myself totally of a good pancake every now and then. I just know now that I can’t eat that stuff every single day. Weight Watchers helps me to make smarter food choices. If I want a treat, I know how much it will “cost” me, and how hard I will have to work to make up for it.
FFFC: What is your favorite fitness activity?
KS: Honestly, I love walking. I learned to power walk (not by choice, but out of necessity…LOL!) when attending undergrad in Philly. I can crank up some good workout music on the iPod and go for a good walk. Besides, you can walk everywhere — around the neighborhood, at work, at the mall. When I go shopping in the mall, I usually will do a lap or two before making a purchase (especially a major one). It helps me clear my mind and burn calories at the same time. There have been many times I’ve done a lap around the mall, only to realize that purchase I was planning to make wasn’t worth it. LOL!
FFFC: What do you do now to maintain your physique?
KS: I’m not where I want to be yet; I am increasing my physical activity to get the healthy physique that I want.
FFFC: How did you develop and sustain the willpower to avoid the bad stuff (i.e. junk food, bad drinks, lack of activity, etc.)?
KS: All I have to do is to think back to the time when I was almost 200 lbs., popping Tylenol or other pain relievers every day along with my blood pressure medication and melatonin to help me sleep at night. My health problems were a direct result of what I was putting into my body. Bad carbohydrates, sugars and fat got me that way. And I don’t want to go back to where I used to be.
Also, I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make it to the gym. I can always find some good music to blast on the iPod and get my groove on at home. The way I see it, there is no excuse not to move for at least 30 minutes every day. I just make it a goal to be active for at least 30 minutes a day.
Seeing the progress I have made thus far is motivation to keep doing the right thing, and to do even more.
FFFC: What advice do you have for someone starting out on their weight-loss journey but unsure of how to begin?
KS: You aren’t going to lose weight overnight, so be prepared to take a journey!
– Make a commitment to yourself to do something to M.O.V.E. (Meaningful, Optimal, Vital, Everyday. You may not be one for the gym, but you can find something to do to get active. Do what is fun for you. Working out doesn’t have to be a chore. If you love to dance, try Zumba. If you love being outdoors, run, walk or ride your bike.
– Find a workout buddy, an accountability partner or even a mentor to support you in your journey. Having someone to help you along and encourage you will really matter when the journey seems tough or impossible.
– Make a list of healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats) that you enjoy and create an eating plan (NOT a diet) around those foods. The more nutrition you put incorporate into your meals, the less room you will have for empty calories.
– And most importantly, make getting healthy, not a number of a scale or on a clothes rack, your goal. I find that I’ve had more success this time around not fixating on what the scale says or what size pants I can fit into. That will come with time.
FFFC: What do you think is the biggest misconception about this journey?
KS: It is so disappointing to think there are people who buy into the myth that there is some magic pill out there that will make them instantly fit and slim. There is no such thing! Weight loss and fitness require real commitment.
Any quick-fix weight loss product usually is too good to be true. And as fast as you lose the weight, you’ll most likely end up gaining the weight back even quicker. It’s not worth it!!!
FFFC: Do you have any fitness idols? Who are they?
KS: My younger sister Shani is one of my biggest fitness idols. She’s made an even greater transformation than I have. One day, Shani decided to make a drastic change in her eating habits, eating clean and being more active in her everyday life. She’s lost over 34 lbs. as the result of the smart choices she has made.
My brother Terrell is another of my fitness idols. He and my sister-in-law Lori are the perfect example of how to turn healthy choices into a lifestyle. Terrell is an avid marathon runner, Hearing him talk about his marathons, I forget that he ran 26.2 miles. I get motivated by his exhilaration and dedication.
I also consider some of my Instagram fam as fitness idols: Diatta Harris (@femmefitalefitclub), Mary Jones (@akadva37), Rochelle Quick (@mzzquick10) — all of whom are a part of Black Girls Run (@officialblackgirlsrun). I get daily inspiration from their posts.
FFFC: How can readers learn more about your transformation and journey online (i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.)?
KS: People can follow me on Twitter (@KimberlyWriter) and Instagram (@kimberlyshorter). Join me in the journey! I welcome new accountability partners!
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