I got called out right on this here blog sometime around January. Someone came on and commented – hey Bella! Didn’t you used to be part of the 50 Million Pound Challenge? Whatever happened to that?

Good question! And one I didn’t really want to answer. Because I’d fallen off the wagon to the extreme.

In 2009 I documented my struggles and efforts to lose weight in a series of sponsored posts titled The Journey, wherein I did my best to do right by the 50 Million Pound Challenge. There are many reasons for falling off the weight loss wagon – everything from quitting my job to traveling extensively to just getting myself all the way together proved to be obstacles for me. Also, the expectations of the challenge – that I’d log in and document my weight loss and participate online…that also didn’t click and become a habit.

My own feelings about my body lie at the crux of it all. The thing is, I am very happy being me. And it’s taken me a long time to get here! Finally after years of doing unhealthy things – both mental and physical, including developing an eating disorder. At long last I can honestly say that I have gotten over many of my old issues. Finally I completely love the skin that I’m in. And now that I’m here…the realities about my family’s medical history and the battles I may consequently have to face are finally sinking in. I’ve got high blood pressure on my mom’s side, and diabetes on my dad’s. And I don’t want to wind up with either of them, even though sometimes it feels like the odds are against me. It has been easy — too easy — to not think about the reality of the so-called silent killer. I was even diagnosed as having type one HBP for a month or so, but still managed to ignore that diagnosis and keep on my sedentary, eat-what-I-want-when-I-want path.

Now I recognize that I actually need to try. Because I don’t want to suffer the consequences some of my relatives have.

My motivations for improving my diet and starting an exercise regimen aren’t to lose weight and fit into a size that isn’t in the double digits. My motivation is my health and well being. Fitness. Strength. I want to age beautifully, both inside and out. I want to have a bright, happy future. For me, part of that will mean a lifestyle change.

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Ian Smith about his diet plan, his concerns for African American women as a whole, and his new initiative with CVS pharmacy to fight diabetes.

If I sound super rushed, that’s because my phone was about to die! For the whole interview I was freaking out that I’d wind up disconnecting and leaving Dr. Ian hanging there.

I don’t know if I’m ready to recommit to the 50 Million Pound Challenge – it has worked so well for so many, but right now I’m on my own challenge. I’m not doing it alone — the motivational power of Renewed Fitness has been instrumental in my recent mental outlook. Expect to hear LOTS more about this up and coming personal trainer, y’all.

My new journey involves a healthier diet that includes more fresh fruits and veggies, and cuts way back on fried foods and high fructose corn syrup. It involves drinking water instead of just about anything else – that doesn’t mean that I won’t allow myself the indulgences that make my mouth happy, but I am doing a better job of keeping my liquid calories in check. It involves improving my skincare regimen – including discovering new body washes, sunscreens, night creams and lotions that allow me to treat my skin like the vital organ of my body that it is (expect some awesome reviews of some of these products coming up!). It involves being completely truthful with myself. And it involves testing my own limits of strength, speed, stamina and sweat than I’ve been accustomed to doing before. My new journey does NOT involve constantly counting and comparing and being critical of myself and my own efforts and abilities. Not anymore.

Even though I’ve just begun on this new journey, I’m truly excited in a completely different way. Finally, I’m ready to commit to myself. And that feels amazing.

Are you on a journey too? Tell me about yours!

* photo above obtained from Nubian Fitness Goddess

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freeyourheart says:
June 24, 2010, 1:16 pm
first of all, i'm proud of you for even addressing that comment and why you didn't respond. i'm on my own journey. i want to lose 10 pounds before my birthday in august, but above that, i want to not get so tired, and winded. i want to feel healthy, like i used to. i don't like most vegetables, hate water, and am a very picky eater, (think of a 5 year old's palate) so eating well has always been a struggle. last week when i weighed in, i was 261.2. ugly number, but a true number. thankfully, i don't look it. unfortunately, my body feels it. but hopefully reading & knowing someone else is going through this journey will make it easier. thanks for this post!
Kelly says:
June 24, 2010, 2:07 pm
Bella, Thanks for being so honest. I too was on the weight loss wagon until, well, until I wasn't. Getting back on has been difficult( a number of different factors). I too have been following Renewed Fitness and am getting inspired. I'm unhappy with some of the weight side effects I have now and wanting to be "healthy" is a huge part of the process. Again, thank you for your honesty--you are not alone and it's good to know, neither am I.
Purple says:
June 24, 2010, 2:11 pm
Good for you Bella! I started gaining weight when I was about 14 until about 20. Those were the darkest years of my life. I didn't know it then, but looking back, I was depressed. Maybe my being fat contributed to depression, or depression contributed to my being fat, I don't know. When I got to my twenties the weight just dropped off until about three years ago when it began to pile on again. It's so difficult for me to separate eating healthy and exercising from trying to get down to a certain size and to not attach some emotion to it. I'm still trying to get to the place where I can say: My motivation is my health and well being.
Pets says:
June 24, 2010, 2:39 pm
You make me so proud and I really should follow your example...will keep you posted on my struggle.
Sunshine says:
June 24, 2010, 2:44 pm
I have tried many diets in the past and have lost weight, but after the diet is over I gain it quicker than I lost it. Just recently it finally clicked in my head that diets will not work, this has to be a healthy lifestyle change for me - something that isn't a quick fix. With that attitude in mind I have recently begun to eat better, healthier foods. Can't seem to get that motivation to exercise yet, but I know that it's an important part of living a healthy life so I'm working on it. I appreciate you sharing your story with us.
Alovelydai says:
June 24, 2010, 2:59 pm
I had shot gun wedding. So for our 5th anniversary next year we plan to renew our vows. I want look and feel my best...& I want to pictures to reflect that. So yes, my journey is clear but it's going to be a lot of work. I've even thought about buying my dress 2 sizes too small as incentive. So crazy it just might work. Good luck in your journey..You already love YOU for YOU and that's the hardest thing about any lifestyle change!!
Melanie C says:
June 24, 2010, 2:59 pm
That was an awesome interview Afrobella! Good for you for recommitting yourself to living a healthy life. I have recently done the same. After moving back to a city I had onced lived for a new job I was excited to put weight loss and getting healthy onto my list of great things that were happening. Then life happened, and instead of losing weight I gained 30 lbs. in a matter of 2 months. So, about 6 weeks ago I started Weight Watchers and have already lost 12 lbs. I still need to get the exercise part started...but my clothes fit better and, most importantly, I feel better...and that is the BEST motivation to keep going! Good luck to you on your journey Afrobella!
Nikia says:
June 24, 2010, 3:00 pm
So proud of you , Bella!! I'm on a similar journey. I'm a firm believe that changing the way you eat is key. It's more of a lifetime commitment compared to the occasional diet, etc. My challenge is finding an exercise regimen that doesn't bore me. I do plan to walk more on lunch breaks plus taking stairs even when there are elevators/escalator. I 100% support you and I wish you the best of luck on your journey. *high-five*
Shones says:
June 24, 2010, 3:04 pm
Thank you so much for sharing with us on this subject. Your openness about it inspires me to be completely honest with myself about where I stand, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and to examine the connection between all three aspects of me. I imagine it will prompt others to do the same. Around Christmas last year, I realized I was at my heaviest weight ever -- 219. I gained an extra 50 pounds since I got married. I'm tall, so I carry it relatively well... but still, the excess weight does not fit my goal of being a good steward over my body and my health. I've lost about 15 pounds since March, and I attribute it to being more active and changing my eating habits, especially omitting sugar, HFCS, and rice (BTW, I am enjoying quinoa as an alternative to rice!), and adding foods, fruits and vegetables. I really think having a friend to work out with is also key. I'm not into being in the gym, but I love to dance, so a friend and I found a community arts studio with inexpensive adult beginner dance classes (ballet and modern dance). Three wks ago we started a couch-to-5k program using CoolRunning.com, and my husband decided to join us as well. The weight is coming off slowly and, for the most part, consistently. This is much longer than I intended for it to be, but I hope it helps someone. :)
bella says:
June 24, 2010, 3:09 pm
EXACTLY my life issue, Sunshine! I always would "go on a diet." But that doesn't solve the whole quandary. I've only been exercising a few days a week, but having someone there to motivate me and not let me fall has proven to be the thing I so clearly needed. Find a buddy in your neighborhood. Go for a brisk walk - do intervals where you jog for a minute then walk at a comfortable pace. The main thing is to just get up and try!
Jasmine says:
June 24, 2010, 3:16 pm
I don't comment much here (this may be my 2nd or 3rd time) but I just wanted to wish you well on your journey to a better you! The commitment to live better is lifelong, so take your time and set manageable goals and you will get there. Find something you love or would love to do and do it. It makes exercising and reaching your goals alot easier. A year ago I decided that it would be cool to learn martial arts and train like a UFC fighter. I've lost 95lbs training in boxing, muay thai, and jiu jitsu. It's fun and often doesn't feel like 'exercise'. Again, Good luck and try to have fun.
V.E.G. says:
June 24, 2010, 3:31 pm
Good luck on your journey, Bella. Though I'm 'thin', I want to be super fit the way I was a few years ago. I ran marathons in the past but haven't been very active in the last two years. I've given myself six weeks to work up to a 3 mile run at a 10 minute mile pace. In those six weeks, I won't consume any sugar, junk food or non water drinks and I plan to get back into weights and start attending yoga again. I start in 2 days. Here's to getting healthy...together.
warrior11209 says:
June 24, 2010, 3:59 pm
'Bella - thanks for your honesty in this post. I struggled with weight at various times in my life. The times that I were fighting to get to a certain number on the scale were plagued with crash-diets ,yo-yo dieting and depression. I was experiencing health problems from being overweight- hypertension and being tired all the time. I decided to make small changes in my diet - adding more exercise to my schedule(walking 6 times per week) eating more veggies, no fast foods. Still no changes. I was not aware that I was hypothyroid which made it sooo much harder to lose weight. Once I was able to get my thyroid hormones stablized I was able to lose the weight. So far I have lost 88 pounds and ran 2 half marathons. I am no longer "dieting"(eating well and exercising) have become a way of life)nor am I doing this to be a certain unrealistic number on the scale - I am working out and eating better because now I feelso much and I want to be stronger Good luck to us all on this journey to become healthier :-)
Kat says:
June 24, 2010, 4:45 pm
Thank you Afrobella for posting this... I have begun my own journey of re-ownership. Finally loving and owning my body, after recovering from an eating disorder myself. Now, I'm following some basic guidelines (not rules...because I automatically want to break them if I call them 'rules.'). I'd like to share some with you... * 80-20 rule: I don't deprive myself of things I want, including eating the occasional chocolate gelato sundae. I eat healthy fruits and vegetables with every meal (even if that means I have fresh strawberries with my chocolate gelato sundae). * I think of food in terms of how it will make me feel over time...not just in the moment. If I'm having a craving, I think of how that food will make me feel in an hour or two, and if I don't think it "will work for me" then, I choose something else. * I try to have water with me to drink (at my desk, at meetings, on the ride home from work). I drink whenever I think about it. I have a 1-liter stainless steel bottle from earthlust.com. * On the water thing, I've been practicing something from "The Secret": Whenever I fill my bottle, I say what intention I have for the water. The bottle right now is filled with "supporting others and myself to be successful." Almost like blessing the water...and I feel like it changes me with every sip, because I'm reminded of the intention. * Finally, activities. I've started running again, and now I'm up to running a mile at 11.5 minute per mile pace. That's fast for me, and I'm getting faster! Also, yoga helps. I learn so much in yoga about how to love myself and how to work best with what I got. I agree with warrior11209...I'm not dieting either. I'm fueling my body for the life I want to live. Stronger, energetic, and peaceful in the midst of chaos. I think it's working. I've lost 13 pounds in 6 weeks, which is sustainable and healthy for me.
Kat says:
June 24, 2010, 5:39 pm
I forgot to mention one more thing in the activities category! MORE SEX! The more intimacy I have with my boyfriend, the more willing I was to recommit everyday to my transformation. Staying connected with him, especially using a language HE UNDERSTANDS, helps me to remember the bigger picture of why my health is so important. We plan to have a life together, and our well-being is so crucial to making that dream a reality. Man, I've had a lot to say on this subject...but it really is a focus in my life right now, and I'm so glad to hear others are on the same wavelength.
E-fresh says:
June 24, 2010, 7:22 pm
Hey Kat, not to mention that sex itself is a great exercise.
sandra says:
June 24, 2010, 10:48 pm
I know it's hard. I struggle each day, but I have lost some inches from around the waist(which is a good measure) and this time it is from "walking" more. And this time I've integrated walking into my lifestyle. I walk to and from the food market and drugstore. I figure even if I have a little splurge I at least can walk it off. I also drink more water. I'll say this again: get yourself a bottle with the built in straw. You will drink more water faster this way. Drinking out of a glass is not fun and painfully slow. I also look at each meal and make a decision to eliminate or cut one thing down out of the meal. For example if I have a burger: I'll eat it open face and if fries(G--d forbid) I'll eat only half of them. I also cut out mayonnaise. So find your substitutions and make gradual changes and you'll find overtime your success will build up. It would be kind of cool to have a give away gift(based on faith) right here at this website once every couple of week for those who have lost some inches or something like that. Something to think about. Anyway thank you for interviewing Dr. Smith.
Dr. Renee says:
June 24, 2010, 11:02 pm
I started paying attention to my food and exercising last year. I have lost 2 dress sizes and I am working towards 5 more by my birthday. I eat healthy cheaply and I love walking the lakefront. Patrice if you need a motivator to get out there and sweat let me know. I have recently committed to doing a half marathon in January.
Michael Renee Daniels says:
June 25, 2010, 1:18 am
Great interview. You got a lot of usable and relevant information in a short period of time.Have yu posted to YouTube, yet. Everyone should watch as well as actively listen to this interview. Good luck on your journey. I know you can do it. I know how challenging it can be to get motivated and stay motivated. I'm working to maintaining my health. I was born with a heart defect that is made better by regularly exewrcising. Additionally, I've suffered from high cholesterol since I was 19 - genetics. Consequently, I try to remain diligent with my exercise routine and maintaining a healthy diet. It's not easy and I'm successful in cycles. Here are some things that have worked for me, but may be useful to you and others. I see a personal trainer twice a week. In this way I'm forced to work out because I've paid and I'm accountable to someone other than a girlfriend who may fall off the wagon with me. Yes, it can be expensive, but I suggest rediscovering the YMCA or YWCA. Much more reasonable and better equipped than some of the vanity gyms. I'm not a big water drinker, but have found a way to make it easier to drink. In Puerto Rico, everywhere you go, water is chilled with hunks and slices of fresh fruit. I now do that at home. I even chill water with sliced cucumber, rosemary, mint, lime and lemon. It's out of this world. My new go to for great recipes that are delicious is Cooking Light Magazine. These are a few things that have helped me.
KianaB says:
June 25, 2010, 9:44 am
Thanks for the post Bella! I gained 60lbs while pregnant. I'm now facing the challenge of eating right and exercising while taking care of a 5 month old on my own. So far it's not going so well, but I'm trying to make it work.
Sunshine says:
June 25, 2010, 10:17 am
Thanks bella.
JenG says:
June 25, 2010, 1:44 pm
Great article! I wish we could all sign in, put our name and weight, how much we want to lose. And come into the site daily and chat about what is working for us and what is not working. Find recipes, exercise tips and anything else needed. A weight lost support group right here on Afrobella!
anna12 says:
June 25, 2010, 5:23 pm
Networking to lose weight really works. I gained 30lbs after baby nuber 2, discovered Sparkpages and found a healthier way to live. I lost all that weight and more and even though I am an emotional eater; I find myself thinking about why I choose the foods I eat. I still enjoy chocolate but in bite sizes. Moderation is key. All the best Bella. You can do it.
Shell says:
June 25, 2010, 6:40 pm
I've slowly been releasing weight which is good..uping the veggies which I always need more of. I also incorporated belly dancing for workout which I just love. Fun and I feel free. What works for me is to really look at each day as a new day. Start with small increments..lose ten pounds..once that ten is gone, go to the next one. I know you can do it Bella..just take it slow and have fun with it.
Mishara says:
June 26, 2010, 8:33 am
HI Bella, good job on reflecting on yourself and making a commitment that makes YOU comfortable. I too am on a be healthier journey. My Reasons: I want to continue to salsa with my boyfriend (minus the extremely heavy breathing & sore knees from balancing so much weight) I LOVE being active and I want my body to be a reflection of how much outdoor fun I love to have & how I cherish the skin I'm in. I want to shop in the size 12 section and know that I accomplished that size with hard work My obstacles: I work multiple jobs. Sometimes 4 parttime jobs at a time (After being unemployed I could never find full time work). Between the museum, daycare center, clothing store and census bureau my work schedule is never the same. I rarely have off days and often work long days. When I finally leave work I am so TIRED. My boyfriend constantly wants to take me out to eat. He loves PLUS size women. He is plus size himself. He is long distance. So when I go see him, I stay for a few days to make the trip worth the gas. He NEVER EVER has enough ingrediants in his fridge to make a balanced meal. So I must bring my own food to cook for several days or be willing to eat out for every meal. My Solutions: I do pilates when I am winding down for bed. It works well at shaping and strengthening my body. It is free on my cable network. Does not require I leave the house & feels like I am just stretching the tension out of my muscles before I sleep. I do not allow sweets in my house. Besides my nightly scoop of non fat rainbow sherbet. I drink water, or skim milk all day with 1 cup of juice only. I try to put vegetables in 2 meals eat day. I am PATIENT with myself. Because berating myself about unwanted weight only makes me want to go get 5 scoops of sherbet instead of one :)
gina says:
July 1, 2010, 12:48 pm
Well now that you're in Chicago, you may want to check out the D3 Bootcamp. I have a feeling that you'll love it. The trainer and owner "Dre" is excellent. She REALLY cares about the wellness of everyone involved. I've been participating since June of 2008. I took about 4 months off and have restarted again. You will love it. Here's the link. If you decide to check it out, tell her Gina sent you! http://d3bootcamp.com
Black people will die over a porckhop and a piece of red velvet says:
July 2, 2010, 11:13 am
The first thing you will need to do to be successful is to quite lying to yourself, If you weigh 261 pounds- You LOOK LIKE You weigh 261 pounds. PERIOD_ POINT_ BLANK The minority community is killing itself with these lies: I'm curvy- this means I'm on my way to diabetes I'm thick in all the right places- this means I'm giving cancer even more of a headstart I'm PHAT- this means I'm forever eating fried foods and laying on the couch I'm a whole lotta woman- this means I give up on losing weight because I just don't have the motivation I am a nurse and I am so DAMN SICK of BLACK PEOPLE continuing this bull and the excuses given like the ones I mentioned above are so DAMN Trifling. If most of the overweight people would consider MENTAL HELP along with PHYSICAL Exercise, they could overcome these battles.
Black people will die over a porckhop and a piece of red velvet says:
July 2, 2010, 11:15 am
For every person who says- they carry extra weight well..THAT IS LIE NUMBER ONE EXTRA WEIGHT CAN NEVER BE DISQUISED
uhura says:
July 6, 2010, 1:54 pm
I was sad to read your reply. It's so venomous, filled with judgement and negativity disguised as "truth". You said you're a nurse. If that's true, then you should know that making people feel bad or worse about themselves and their condition rarely motivates them to embrace long term changes. You should also be aware of how hard it is to seek physical and mental help when those who give it are condescending, hurtful, and mean. It also sounds like you equate being thing with being healthy. As if you equate being thin with being attractive and desireable. Also, you don't know that she doesn't "look" 261 pounds, because weight looks different on everyone. Most people picture morbidly obese images they've seen on tv when they hear you're over 150lbs. Even if she starts her journey TODAY, she's not going to be skinny overnight. Not in a week, not in a month, not 6 months - maybe a year. Maybe two. And while she's doing the work and getting the help she needs, how supportive are you being with your ignorant commentary disguised as concern? I'm overweight. And as I've had to tell a few people - I likely eat better than you and work out more frequently. Don't pre judge me based on the body you think you see. Plenty of skinny people aren't healthy. There are all kinds of reasons people gain weight that don't include sitting on the couch eating chips all day. And lastly, as a nurse, I would hope that you have had some training to better communicate with your patients. Get to the reasons *why* - only then can you tackle the *how*.
bella says:
July 6, 2010, 2:00 pm
Wow. I didn't notice this comment until Uhura responded - my sincerest apologies for not doing a better job of monitoring these comments. You give nurses a bad name, with your attitude. This post is about beginning a journey and uplifting others. Feeling empowered to change. You've done the opposite with your words. I encourage debate and dialogue, but if this is the best you have to offer I really would rather you find another blog to comment on. Freeyourheart - I am SORRY this made it on my page. Please feel free to continue speaking your truth. This won't happen again on Afrobella.
bella says:
July 6, 2010, 2:00 pm
thanks for calling that negative post to my attention. I will do a better job of monitoring these comments!
Erika says:
July 7, 2010, 1:03 am
I hear you. I have those same health issues in my family. I'm overweight as well but losing weight very slowly. The scale hasn't moved (as far as lighter), but my clothes are bigger. That has to mean something right? ;) Anywho, I'm going to try going the same route you're on; focusing on whole health and not just numbers. Feeding the body and soul. You have to be healthy inside and out! You have my prayers and support. I know we both, and other sistas out there who are trying, can do this. To health!
bella says:
July 7, 2010, 9:57 am
it's a perpetual challenge, isn't it?? I continue to struggle. Right now my goal isn't to achieve a certain size, it's just to regain control of my health. I don't want to feel breathless and out of shape anymore!
bella says:
July 7, 2010, 10:33 am
PLEASE do and I will keep you posted on mine!
BlackBetty says:
July 9, 2010, 2:17 pm
Thanks for the interview Bella. As a woman who has struggled with my weight, had many ups and downs for more than a decade, I can proudly say that I've dropped 40lbs and am under the 200lb mark for the first time in more than 12 years! Don't beat yourself up over not sticking to your plan. The energy you give to others, to your work, to your dreams, give some to yourself. None of that happens when you are last on your list. When I didn't want to wake up 30 minutes early to work out at home (I hate the gym), I had to talk to myself to see if that sleep would get me to my goals. It won't! Read the ingredients in everything you buy, most of the ingredients are so creepy you'll be more than happy to leave it on the shelf. Just make time for you and be patient. When it becomes a lifestyle change, it'll get easier. And if you fall off that wagon, strap on your boots, climb on board, try again!
jen says:
July 10, 2010, 3:22 am
Hi Bella! I really like your blog, and I pray that you have a wonderful journey to fitness! I know that you can do it. I don't know if you've heard about it, but I recently read "Women, Food, and God" by Geneen Roth (she was on Oprah) and it was a real eye-opener about food and life- not just another diet or set of rules, but a revelation. Of course, since I am a Christian, some of my beliefs were different than hers, but there was a central theme that I really had to agree with: the interconnectedness of the way we view food and the way we view life. It was a helper for me!
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Nicole says:
August 17, 2012, 1:50 am
I love your post. I'm inspired to stay the course with my health and well-being vision I'm creating. Thanks for the inspiration, Kat! :-)
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