CBS Sunday Morning is one of my favorite shows, and I set my DVR so I can watch it AND sleep in every weekend. It’s such a great show that covers so many topics. This last Sunday, there was a feature on ubiquitous fitness personality Jillian Michaels (click to watch it if you want to). It was about her many many DVDs, and fitness pills and potions she endorses, and how hard she’s worked to build her brand, and how – despite what we see on The Biggest Loser – Jillian Michaels is at heart, a misunderstood woman who takes the tough love method we see on television to heart because she once was a bigger teenager and knows tough love works.

I was fascinated by the story, but still somehow unmoved. I’m not meaning to disparage Jillian Michaels at all – her DVDs and fitness books stay in the top 10 for a reason, but hers is not a journey I can personally relate to, and her method that has ever worked for me. My goal isn’t dramatic weight loss or physical reinvention. My goal is an overall improvement in my health and fitness. I completely disagree with yelling and using anger as a motivating tool in working out, that doesn’t inspire me at all. What does inspire me, is seeing real role models with real results that have come from consistently putting in work. No surgery. No pills. No crazy diet plans. Nothing unhealthy or extreme.

Top - Erika of A Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss, bottom left Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey, right Renisha James

Top – Erika of A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, bottom left Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey, right Renisha James

I am inspired by women who I know, who have transformed themselves both externally and internally, with hard work and exercise and consistent effort. I am inspired by women who I know, who have managed to put fitness at the forefront of their lives despite the difficulties and demands of real life. Let me tell you about the three women who are my personal fitness inspirations, and hopefully they can inspire you too. Because of these ladies, I know my own fitness journey is possible if I dedicate myself to it.

Erika of A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss.


When I first heard about Erika’s weight loss journey – you can see it right at the top of her blog, first of all. And she did it all with consistent hard work and teaching herself healthier ways to eat. When I first heard about Erika’s weight loss journey, it seemed impossible. But she did it, without gimmicky diets or unhealthy exercise habits. Erika isn’t one who believes in fads or programs with fancy names. She doesn’t get caught up in crazes. Her blog tackles the psychological aspects of fitness and what it takes to dedicate yourself to changing your physique. A LOT of what she’s written about resonates with me, and her recipes are amazing! You can follow her on Twitter @BGG2WL and here’s her Facebook page. And she just started a YouTube channel which is as amazing as I expected it to be! Check her out there, and on!

Click here to visit her official site. And you can follow her @BGG2WL on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey AKA “Beautiful Brown Baby Doll” .

Before and After

Anyone who’s managed to lose more than 100 pounds by changing their life to include a healthy diet and exercise gets major kudos from me, and not only has Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey done that, she’s managed to keep the weight off and inspire others while doing it. She’s a force to be reckoned with. On Facebook she keeps her followers on track throughout the day by asking them what they’re eating and sharing positive messages. Her YouTube channel is vibrant, fun, touching and always honest and relatable. She tackles tough topics, like how to heal from unsupportive friends and family, and the difference in how the opposite sex treats her now. She’s not afraid to be emotionally honest about her experience, and I love that about her. Encouragement, positivity, and honesty!

Click here to visit her official site. And you can follow her @ButflBrwnBabyDoll on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Renisha James of Renewed Fitness


Renisha is SUCH an inspiration to me on so many levels. I know her personally and have seen how fitness has transformed her life, her personality, and her outlook on the future. But that alone isn’t what has made her one of my fitness inspirations. Renisha didn’t have a dramatic weight loss story of her own, but making fitness and healthy living the focus of her life has taken her to some incredible places, and her life’s work is to inspire other people to be fit and healthy as well. From Renisha, I’ve learned how taking fitness seriously can change your personality for the better and make you a more focused, centered and confident person. I’ve worked out with Renisha, talked to her about my life and my own journey, and she’s really helped me to get my mind right about my health. Her blog is awesome and she’s about to star in French art film Bobby Seale Polyptych. Click here for details on that!

Click here to visit her official site. And you can follow her @RenewedFitness on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

My goals aren’t to metamorphosize into a different person, it’s just to take better care of this body that is my temple. Currently I am working out regularly with a personal trainer – the awesome Jen Zea, who teaches classes at When I work out with her, I feel positive, recharged, capable and BETTER. The three women above inspire me to do better and try harder. It’s a journey, but I’m back on it. And I feel good about it!

Who are your biggest fitness inspirations?


Joe Malone says:
March 28, 2013, 5:23 pm
When it comes to fitness in the world, we need help! In the end, a healthy diet and exercise are what people need. We just need to find a way to convince them all of that.
Jenna F. says:
March 29, 2013, 7:48 am
You are so right. Health is sooo important, i use to train a lot until i broke my ankle and ended up with 9 screws and a metal plate. One year later, i still cannot run but thanks to some of the training i could find in the beachbody family, i was able to find one that my ankle can deal with...I feel so much better when i train. Even when you are tired, you always feel more enrgized after a good training session. Great post.
Ariel Perks says:
March 29, 2013, 9:26 am
This is an inspiring article! I really love to see pictures of role models who did a lot of sacrifices and do the impossible to become fit and healthy. This will motivate me to do more workouts! Thanks for sharing! :-)
pets says:
March 29, 2013, 11:12 am
Reading this post made me realise that I too can be brave and committed enough to work consistently on my health and body issues. Thanks for this.
J. Nicole of UrbanExpressive says:
March 30, 2013, 9:54 pm
Wow, I had no idea "Beautiful Brown Babydoll" had such a major weight loss. I would have never guessed she struggled with weight issues. It's always great to see women of color maintaining a healthy lifestyle, since media tries to make us all out to be overweight and lazy. I just try to eat right (I'm vegan- but never force my views on others) and work out as often as possible.
Cosmolude says:
March 31, 2013, 5:11 pm
I wasn't that serious about eating healthy and exercising until I started reading Erika's blog. I didn't think I'd be able to give up fast food and processed food; it took me a while but I did it. I started going to the gym more often and doing more challenging workouts.
Kir says:
April 2, 2013, 11:29 am
I'm so glad that you wrote this! I'd never even heard of A Black Girls Guide To Weight Loss! Thank you so much for hipping me to something new!
Louise says:
April 8, 2013, 8:27 pm
Thanks for the info. I was always a large kid and young adult but after having kids I actually lost weight. The difference is that I now move around a lot more than I used to.
Jo says:
April 11, 2013, 6:19 pm
I couldn't agree more about the value of having inspiring stories to help us with our health and weight goals, and i also agree that yelling and shouting to motivate someone is not a good way to go. We should be encouraging love and compassion, not anger. Thanks for providing all the information!
Emm says:
April 11, 2013, 6:24 pm
I really love Erika's weight loss story, and I appreciate her psychological approach, because unless we recondition our subconscious minds to accept health, we will not be able to sustain health and ideal weight for the long term. Thank you very much for the story!
Robyn Donaldson says:
October 24, 2013, 3:02 pm
First, you did an excellent job at Blogalicious5! I was there and had a chance to hear you speak! Second, I just got an opportunity to meet my fitness inspiration last weekend! Jeanette Jenkins! I highly recommend going to see her if she comes to your city. She has such high energy and is an awesome trainer! I wrote a blog about the event if anyone is interested.
sex says:
June 7, 2014, 6:58 am
Obviously bag the low cal diets because they do not work long term. It is important to drink plenty of water when dieting. Every time you feel about to cave, recall this picture of who you are meant to be.
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