Who: Caroline Jhingory, 37, author, personal trainer, and cooking instructor
Start weight: 307 pounds
Current weight: 145-150 pounds
How long it took: It took me a year to lose the weight and learn how to keep it off. Once I lost the first 50 pounds, I thought that I was cute and could just go back to eating whatever I wanted. I had to adapt to the mindset that healthy eating, consistent exercise, and positive self-talk needed to become as regimented as taking a shower everyday. I lost over 150 pounds and maintained it beyond a decade.
Turning point: My formerly Washington, DC-based dermatologist Beverly Johnson told me that the dark blotches on my neck and cheek bones were an indication that I was pre-diabetic. I had actually made the visit with Dr. Johnson to request a cream to lighten the blotches with no clue that they were a pre-diabetes indicator. This was my “scared-straight” moment.
Exercise: At the start of my weight loss, I opted for walking everywhere instead of catching the bus or Metro. At first, I could only walk ten minutes, and then I’d up the ante week by week or month by month. Ten minutes went to 20 minutes, to 45 minutes, and then an hour.
Diet: The majority of my diet became and still is lean protein (skinless chicken breasts, turkey breasts, seafood, and egg whites) and non-starchy vegetables (all vegetables excluding corn, potatoes, plantains, beans, and carrots).
How her body changed: My breasts disappeared first. I still have an APB out on where they are, and if they’ll ever come back. However, with consistency my clothes went from a size 26 to 24 to 18 and so on.
How she felt before he made the change: Being 5’2″ and over 300 pounds, I honestly never felt pretty. And the world’s commentary on my weight certainly didn’t help.
How she feels now: Now I feel healthy and strong, and feeling pretty or beautiful is just a byproduct of that. I am diabetes-free. Weight loss is a body, mind, and spiritual experience. I’m just happier, more positive, and not easily bothered. The gusto I now have at the gym surprises me sometimes. Before my weight loss, I could barely make it up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing. Now I speed walk seven miles a day.
Newfound body love: Just the realization that both losing the weight and maintaining is the result of something greater than me.
Workout wisdom: In addition to getting rid of unhealthy food in your cabinets and fridge, also get rid of the negative self-talk in your head and the people in your life.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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