Krysta Anderson, Gleaner Writer
Kelli-Ann Blissett-Madden and Dawn Pena have taken matters into their own hands, and have transformed into thinner and healthier versions of themselves.
Thirty-three-year-old Blissett-Madden was already knee deep in health-related issues, such as obesity and threats of diabetes and heart failure at 284 pounds. She decided to confront them head on and started her weight-loss journey. "I received a wake-up call in 2006 when, at 5 feet 4 inches, I was classified as morbidly obese. My doctor at the time made it very clear that I needed to address my weight issues if I intended to live a long and healthy life," she confessed to Flair.
She went on drastic diets which she discovered did not work for her. The high-protein and low-protein diets to the no-carbohydrate diet, and losing 90 pounds came at a great cost - malnutrition. "I experienced weakness, hair loss, headaches and other symptoms. It was obvious at that time that I had approached the situation the wrong way. As a result, I was forced to consume carbs which caused me to gain 60 pounds within a year. After that disappointment, I ventured down the road of many 'fad' diets which all resulted in me gaining more than I had lost."
She continued, "In an effort to find a sustainable and healthy weight-loss programme, I sought the assistance of a nutritionist who was able to guide me on the right path by empowering me with the information required to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Through a balanced diet and exercise, I was able to lose the excess weight and I have since achieved my target weight of 150 pounds."
Blissett-Madden used a moderate approach - the combination of the right diet with exercise over a two-year period that finally allowed her to consistently lose weight and achieve her weight-loss objective.
However, one of the challenges included finding healthy and tasty meal options in the early stages, while avoiding unhealthy foods and beverages, especially at social gatherings - since she was restricted from eating after 6 p.m. In the end, discipline and perseverance prevailed and she lost 134 pounds, moving from a size 22-24 to 6-8.
Along her journey, she was motivated by her daughter, family members and friends who provided a solid support system for her. Her nutritionist Frances Mahfood and fitness trainer Rohan Gordon also played a key role in her success. Since then, she has become a mentor for Island Grill's Weight Loss Challenge, and continues to be motivated by her results, following the rhythm of "consuming less and burning more."
I did it so can you
Her advice to aspiring individuals seeking to lose weight:
Remain focused and patient. Healthy and sustainable weight loss doesn't happen overnight. Surround yourself with a healthy support group that will encourage you throughout your journey. It's not easy; it takes discipline, focus, and determination.
Please seek the guidance of professionals.
Dig deep and believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. It is as easy as walking at Emancipation Park a few times per week; it does not require major expenditure. I did it, I am living proof, and it can be done so you can do it too.
Dawn Did it
Forty-seven-year-old Dawn Pena also did it, but she was primarily motivated by opportunity. She frequently attended the gym and was on her way to losing weight but a weight-loss challenge kicked things into high gear.
However, she did not expect for it to be such a life-changing and exciting experience for her. "I had followed a hybrid workout which my trainer had developed for the muscular definition competitors (athletes)."
Her eating habits also changed. She kept a detailed food journal, increased the number of meals she ate from three times per day to six small meals a day packing each meal in small Tupperware-style containers. She also used a protein shake within 30 minutes after training and drank a lot of water.
At the end of the competition, Pena was the victor. "I decided as the name of competition said to 'raise the bar'. From the journal to the workout sessions, I took everything seriously, showing up on time and ready to work because I was really in it to win it. But I learned a lot, unveiling a whole new me and I was truly grateful for that discovery." Since the competition in 2011, she has maintained the weight loss of 45 pounds, losing mostly inches.
Though both women accomplished different goals, it showed that no matter your size or fitness level, you can accomplish your ideal weight through healthy lifestyle changes.