In previous Fitness Friday profiles, I’ve interviewed women who’ve talked about a health crisis being the catalyst behind their decision to change their lives: warnings from doctors, fainting in public, being told they were pre-diabetic, blood pressure skyrocketing.
For Adrienne Michelle though, she was simply ready for a change. The 27-year-old Little Rock native, who adored McDonald’s, junk food and looked for any reason or occasion to eat at one point, reached 275 pounds on the scale. She no longer wanted sit idly by and do nothing about her weight. So she made a New Year’s resolution in 2016, like many of us do every year, to lose some weight, but she was committed to the effort. Adrienne transformed her diet and went from no activity to three days a week at the gym, to eventually five. The end result of her hard work in over two years has been a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. Not only does she look a lot different, but Adrienne also feels a lot different as well, noting that she loves herself more. However, she encourages others to love themselves in the way she loves herself now, before they take on a weight-loss journey.
“I would say I love myself a lot more, but I feel like throughout the journey I realized you should learn to love yourself way before you lose weight,” she said. “It’s important to love yourself before and throughout the journey.”
Amen to that.
We talked to Adrienne about seeking comfort from food, staying motivated after a slow start, and boosting her self-esteem to levels it was nowhere near before. Check out what she had to say.
MadameNoire: How long had your weight been an issue for you? Were you always bigger or did something occur that caused you to put on weight?
Adrienne Michelle: I did struggle with my weight from childhood up until I started my weight-loss journey a little bit before 25. I struggled with weight my whole life, yes.
What would you say was the reason for that? What was your relationship with food like growing up?
I would say I did eat a lot of fast food, a lot of junk food. It was a comfort, I guess. Holidays, anything going on, the goal was to eat. I’ve just always loved food. Also, I wasn’t active as a child. I did dance, but I wasn’t active consistently. Being overweight is also common in my family. My dad was overweight, he passed away from a stroke in 2005. A lot of my family members struggled with weight as well.
Was there something specific that occurred that motivated you to start trying to lose weight when you began this particular journey? And had you tried in the past?
My weight had gotten up to about 275.
How tall are you?
I’m 5’10”. Yeah, I’m pretty tall. So my weight had got up to about 275 and I decided to make it a New Year’s resolution. I was just like, I want this year’s New Year’s resolution to be to lose weight. I actually started January 1 and even though most people have their New Year’s resolutions and they drop it by February, it was something I wanted to be consistent with. That was in 2016.
What did it take to make your goals a reality? How did your diet and exercise change?
I started off by doing a low-carb plan. I cut out carbs, sugars, sodium, and I did a low-carb, high-protein diet. I drank nothing but water. I joined my local gym at the beginning of January and I would work out about three to five days a week at the beginning of my journey, and then I progressed to maybe five days a week towards the middle.
Did you work out alone or did you utilize a trainer?
I worked out by myself in the beginning and then later on after my first 60 pounds lost, I got a trainer.
Did you see a major difference when you started working with the trainer? It sounds like you were doing a great job on your own.
I started off doing nothing but cardio in the gym, so then once I got with a trainer, they taught me weightlifting and weight management and stuff like that. I’ve stayed consistent on my own with the low-carb, high-protein diet.
When you started with your resolution in 2016, could you ever have imagined that you would lose 100 pounds?
No, I couldn’t see it in the beginning. My first week of working out I lost about four pounds. Once I started working out and saw the weight dropping after maybe my first 12 pounds, I was like, okay, I kind of got this. I had the formula I guess, so I started being more consistent, but I didn’t see it at all. I tried to lose weight in the past several times, but I quit. But once I started to see the weight fall off with the low-carb diet plan, it motivated me to go harder and to continue on my journey.
In the beginning, I know you said you lost about four pounds a week. Would you say that was a slow start for you? Because that can be something that deters people on their journey. They want to see results quickly and they’re not motivated enough when they feel they’re giving their all but aren’t seeing much come from it.
Yeah, I did see fluctuations in my weight. It did go up and down, so that’s why I pride myself on not weighing myself daily. I would say that if you’re going to do it, try once a week or maybe once every two weeks in the beginning just because your body is getting used to becoming more active and the diet changes, so your weight will fluctuate, which can get discouraging. Being consistent was key for me, even when I didn’t see changes. Keeping up a healthier lifestyle and being active while changing my diet made a difference.
Do you see the low-carb meal plans and increased exercise you’ve picked up as something you will be able to maintain for the long term? Some people on a “diet” per se can eventually find them too be restrictive and end up eating poorly again. Do you feel eating low carb and exercising five days a week is something you will be able to keep up?
Yes. I’m all about balance. I feel like everyone deserves a rest day, a cheat meal and stuff like that. I feel like if you’ve been consistently eating a bunch of junk food and you love food, a genuine love for it, I don’t think it’s a good idea to just go cold turkey. I’m all about balance. I’ll eat cheat meals on the weekend but I stay really strict during the weekdays. Eating low carb and high protein is a very maintainable lifestyle, as well as having your favorites sometimes — like on occasion or however you choose to do it.
Aside from the physical, what is a big change you’ve noticed as a result of your successful weight loss?
A lot of the changes that I like are simply just being able to motivate people. I guess now people are looking at me as an inspiration. At first, the motivation for my weight loss was to be healthier, but I guess a lot of it was also wanting to be able to fit into the smaller clothes. But I like people looking to me for motivation. I also enjoy that my self-esteem has increased tremendously. I suffered from low self-esteem from being overweight.
Confidence, self-esteem, I’m happy about that. Being able to fit the smaller clothing, because I’m big on fashion, and being able to be more versatile with my looks has been nice. I also get feedback, stories from other people who are overweight who maybe suffer from bullying, stuff like that. That was once me suffering from bullying or having low self-esteem. Even in the dating world, most guys weren’t looking at me when I was a little heavier. So having the options is a plus for me as well.
So what advice would you give to someone trying to get motivated to start their journey? In your case, you didn’t wait for a doctor to tell you something was wrong with you or anything like that. You were just ready to do something different. What would you tell others?
I would say love your body enough to take care of it, consistency is key, have balance, start small, and really just love yourself. No matter what you see in the mirror on this journey, love yourself. You’re beautiful.
Be sure to follow Adrienne on Instagram and check out the rest of our Fitness Fridays profiles here!