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This is sort of a follow up to my recent New Year’s Resolution weight loss post. Judging from the response, they both struck a chord with quite a few of you.

After sifting through all 74 comments (including the tres sweet one from my parents, awww), I feel the need to clarify a few things about the motivations for my latest weight loss effort. Heavy sigh. Here goes.

Last year, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

It’s a combination of things — genetics being a predominant factor. The so-called “silent killer” runs strong in my bloodline, and all my life my mother has suffered from its effects. But it’s been called to my attention that my high-stress vocation, sedentary lifestyle, and yes — my weight — all are contributing to the condition.

So I had a decision to make. Either keep on the same path I was on, a sure fire ticket to serious health issues, or change the way I live my life. For real. No faking.

I’m doing it this time. And I’m doing it in a what might seem to be a pretty dramatic way.

So you already know I just put in notice at my high-stress vocation to put myself, my health, and Afrobella on the front burner where they should be.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about moving to Chicago is the unavoidable change in lifestyle living in the city will mean.

I can’t wait to live in a place where walking and taking public transportation will most likely trump driving (at least during the spring, summer, and fall for sure), and hanging out in parks and outdoor spaces on a weekend won’t seem like a weird thing to do. I hate to call Miami out for a lack of outdoor activity, but we were just named America’s fattest city. The image of slender, sexy South Beach is not representative of the whole city.

I know I’ve got some serious work to do. And as someone who’s been down this road before, and tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off, I’m coming at this with a new perspective on the journey.

Yes, it will be a journey. Long, sometimes tough, but ultimately rewarding and an education in itself.

This time around, I don’t want a weight loss program that relies on a gimmick. I don’t want a weight loss plan that will deny me fruits and vegetables and the things I know to be healthy. I don’t need a program that will require me to purchase a specific brand of products for guaranteed success. It seems like they’re all trying to sell you something, whether it’s pre-cooked frozen meals, or protein bars, or pills, or special beverages, or a series of ongoing cookbooks and mini-recipe books by your grocery store cash register. Y’all know what I’m talking about, right? Just about every diet plan under the sun.

I want a different kind of plan. Something so elementary it makes losing weight seem like a no-brainer, and makes exercise seem natural and necessary. I want a plan that allows me to use my own common sense and intelligence, and to make use of the tools I’ve learned from those years of trying and failing to keep the weight off.

When I was approached about joining the 50 Million Pound Challenge, it felt like serendipity.

Here’s what attracted me to this plan. First of all, it’s free to sign up. Second, although the plan is for men and women of all ethnicities, it’s designed by Dr. Ian Smith of Celebrity Fit Club (you know, the one who doesn’t yell at people during weigh-ins) to specifically target the health concerns of African Americans. So issues like HBP and diabetes are at the forefront of the weight loss issues in mind, and the plan’s diet tips directly spoke to some of my personal weaknesses. Those would be fatty meats, meats with skin, and sugary drinks. But the guidelines are just that — guidelines. The plan offers a 30-day meal plan that gives simple suggestions on what you should eat, but the rest is up to me. And that brings me to reason number 3 I can dig the challenge — strength in numbers.

The 50 Million Pound challenge aims to unite the community to track their activity, keep a vigilant eye on weight, and yes — to join groups. I’ll admit right now, I ain’t there yet. I have read that black women tend to work out in groups, but until I feel secure that my routine is regular and I won’t be letting the other members of my group down, I’m not quite ready to make that step. I need to committ to myself before I committ to others.

Having said that — would any of you be down to join an Afrobella weight loss group in the future? I might need some support from my bellas! Let me know. I’m gonna marinate on that idea myself before I start anything up. Just a thought.

So what are my specific goals on this journey?

I’m a curvy woman, I will always be a curvy woman. I will never be skinny. Having said that — I gotta add, I don’t feel as strongly as Monique does. I don’t believe that skinny women are evil. I just know skinny is something I will never be, and in the past I’ve set myself up for failure by thinking that way. In the past, I wanted to lose weight for superficial reasons. The goals I’m setting for myself this time around are realistic and grounded in my health concerns, rather than my self-esteem issues.

I want to be fit. I want to feel like I am being the best me possible. And I know on days when I give in to shoving a burger in my mouth for dinner while watching TV, days when I’d rather subsist on 100 Calorie Pack snacks and diet soda rather than drinking water and eating fresh, healthy food I prepared myself, days when I sit at the computer or watch TV all day instead of working out, then resign myself to tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll work out tomorrow… I’m doing myself a disservice and making my body and my mind weaker and flabbier. And that’s so 2008.

So what am I doing? Starting small, starting steady. I’m getting up and getting active for a half hour every day. I log into the plan for suggestions and motivation. I’m trying my best to avoid the snacks that have led to pitfalls in the past — I’m proud to say that I bought a melon bowl from the produce aisle instead of those little Hostess cupcakes that have been my undoing. I’m teaching myself to like the taste of water. Plain water, with no Crystal Light or flavored Splenda packets or added carbonation and sweetners. If I want to jazz it up, I throw in a wedge of lemon or lime, or some mint. Getting delicious recipe ideas from Cooking Light or even other diet plans like Weight Watchers or the South Beach Diet help to keep me inspired. I hate getting bored with the food I eat, and I’ve really learned to enjoy cooking healthy meals. Reading blogs like Sweet Potato Pie, Living the Fit Life and Sati Life are helping me keep my eyes on the prize. My health.

For some reason when I was writing this post, I thought of a song I haven’t heard in decades. A calypso called The Journey, by Chris “Tambu” Herbert.

This 1989 calypso was one of my father’s favorites, and the chorus pops into my head whenever I’m at a low ebb. Probably because my dad used to sing it so often: “The journey now start, the journey now start.” All these years my dad’s been lecturing me about my weight. But my motivation had to come from within. Finally, my inner spark has been lit.

I finally know and believe that I can do this!

Bellas and fellas, I’m going to be keeping you abreast of my weight loss journey on a weekly basis for the next couple of months. Recipe ideas, motivation, fashion and beauty issues are sure to arise.

So share with me — what are your particular weight loss stumbling blocks? And tell me — will you join me? Are you ready to begin this journey with me, or are you already on one of your own?

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