I love, love, love a beautiful weight loss journey! It’s super inspiring. I’m literally brought to tears when I hear someone talk about how they’ve transformed their body, their mindset, their attitude – and have amazing results to go with it. I want to start to share some of these awesome journeys on my blog, as I think these stories can really motivate all of us.
So today…meet Shauntay!
Shauntay and I are both members of the same fitness Facebook group, and when she posted about her journey, I immediately reached out to her. Fortunately for us, she was kind of enough to let us into our world and tell us about her transformation.
Let’s dive in.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What’s something interesting about you?
My name is Shauntay, owner and creator of Naturals By Shauntay, a line of natural products for hair and skin. I’m an east coast native entrepreneur who now resides on the west coast! My most interesting characteristic is my bubbly, optimistic personality, and drive to create and achieve my goals. I’m very outgoing and will speak life into any dead situation! What can I say? I love a challenge; life can be hard at times so I try to be as optimistic as possible. I wasn’t always in this mental space, but growth & maturity is a beautiful thing!
Tell us about your weight loss journey.
I’ve always been healthy all my life, but being overweight started as a teenager. I was slim until I moved down south and start eating what I thought was “good” food. It tasted good, but it was so horrible for my health. I started to gain weight and from then on into adulthood, I was overweight. Thank God, I didn’t have any major health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, etc like everyone including the doctors thought; I was overweight, inactive, and needed to take a walk to avoid those illnesses.
In June of 2006, I said enough was enough and started my weight loss journey. It wasn’t an easy task but it was well worth it, saved my life. Recently, I shared my experience on my blog. You can read about it here. This post was published August 2015, but the “after” picture was taken on my birthday a month before. Note: I weighed 189 at the time of that post.
No, it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took me 9 years to get down to 200lbs because I was also dealing with chronic back pain 6 out of those 9 years. My heaviest weigh in was 244 lbs wearing a size 22/24. Once I reached that goal, the weight just started falling off because I never say no to a workout, whether it’s a swim (my favorite exercise), a T25 workout, a gym session, or a brisk walk! Before I knew it, I was in the range (170-180 for my height) where I’m not considered “obese” per the doctors. I can now say I’m weighing in at 182.
Shauntay started her journey in 2006. You can see the progress here and it continues over the next 5 years.
I don’t diet; I changed my eating habits. There is a stigma on the word “diet” so I choose not to use it. I changed the way I was living my life by what I put in my body, and how I took care of her. Many people often ask me how I did it. I always tell them I started with:
- Eating cleaner. I was never a big soda drinker or sweets eater so that was never an issue, and I love water so that’s a plus. I cut out fried foods which is a must which was also a trigger for my cystic acne breakouts. Ironically, my acne problem came a year before I started eating better. Weird right? Lastly, I wouldn’t eat past 7:30pm; I eat later than that sometimes now though. It’s still no bueno (good) for me honestly.
- Working out. My aunt gave me a machine like an elliptical, but instead of your legs going around and around, your legs move back & forth. It resembled a person skiing mid-air. I started off doing 15 minutes and worked my way up to 45 minutes non-stop. I knew that if I could get past those 15 minutes, my endorphins would kick in and I’d be able to push myself further. But, to get through those first 15 minutes, I’d set my alarm clock on my cell phone for 5 minute intervals, after I chose 5 songs on my ipod that amped me up. Now that I think about it, that machine wasn’t probably the best first step because I hated an elliptical machine for the longest. Ironically, I use to be afraid of it, but before the back surgery I’d hop on and ride it like I owned it!
- Yes, I encourage you to do anything you need to do to get you over that hurdle that’s stopping you from reaching your full workout potential. This machine was used every day for a week, and I quickly shed 8 lbs which gave me an unbelievable confidence boost. I also realized I love working out having a type A personality and all, and without even knowing anything about it, I started cross training. I walked, used the machine, kick boxed, did Zumba/Yoga, swam, and weight trained; I worked out based on the weather and how I felt, I like variety. I didn’t have money for a trainer so I trained myself with the knowledge, wisdom, and guidance God gave me. I’d say we did good looking at this picture.
- Not stopping. No matter the storm I went through, I didn’t give up. Being that I had chronic back pain for over 5 years, sometimes I was in too much pain to work out which stressed me out even more; this made my weight fluctuate. But, when I had a good day I made sure I worked out.
What is the #1 thing that contributed to your weight loss journey?
The #1 thing that contributed to my weight loss should have been my health, plain and simple, but that wasn’t it. It was purely superficial; I didn’t want to end up too big where I couldn’t get the weight off. I always talked about losing weight because it was so hard to find clothes that looked nice on me, and what I did find was very expensive. I could end up paying $100 for a shirt & a pair of jeans, wearing a 22/24 kind of limits your clothing choices. However, when I went to the doctor and saw I weighed 244 lbs was my changing point. I knew if I didn’t do something quick, I’d be 300 lbs and didn’t want that. That’s when I decided to put my health first, and take charge and accountability for my life.
What’s your favorite thing about your new, healthy body?
This new, healthy body has given me so much freedom, inside & out! I naturally lost over 60lbs and my energy & confidence levels are off the charts. The added bonus is now having the opportunity to purchase clothes from any store. That’s heaven for a female, but now I can’t stop purchasing $10 dresses!
What are some of your favorite healthy foods?
My favorite food starts with water even though water isn’t a food; I cannot live without my water. I mean it’s made from the best stuff on Earth. : ) I love all things vegetables, mostly collard greens cooked with only vegetables will probably always be my first choice though. Like I said I don’t fry anything so the fish, chicken, or turkey that I prepare is always boiled, grilled, sautéed, or baked. I cook with a lot of onions and garlic for natural seasonings in food. I tend to stick with the same meals but want to try new things.
Do you have any health and fitness blogs or social media accounts that you follow regularly? What are they?
Social media is a great way of learning new recipes, workouts, and like minded folk so I try to utilize it as much as I can. I’m a member of many health/fitness groups on my Google + and Facebook including Workout 2.0 in which I met the author of this blog. I’m also inspired by Training4MyLife on Instagram. I see my journey within hers and get excited for what’s to come. I’ve been looking to get into yoga and YogaRachel isn’t just about yoga, but empowerment, motivation, and inspiration also. There are so many people of all ages, places, and nationalities that are taking charge of their health and I salute all of you!
Now, I’m not a workoutaholic. Okay, I just made up that word but you guys get my drift. On my good days, I do Shaun T’s T25 workout following Tanya, his low impact moderator. After having major back surgery last year, I’m still limited; may be limited for the rest of my life but I refuse to let that stop me from achieving some type of workout.
She’s feeling herself a little bit more! This girl is looking amazing!
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I may drink a cup of herbal tea watching the humming birds play in their tree right in front of my balcony when I need relaxation, but don’t want to leave the house. I love being one with nature. Swimming which is my element mixed with music is the best form of relaxation for me. Movies, museums, trails, and all things travel are things I love to do also. Honestly, I’ll try just about anything once and if it exposes me to something new, and stimulates my mind then I’m all for it. I absolutely love geography so traveling trumps everything!
What is your best piece of fitness advice for someone looking to start their own weight loss journey?
In closing, if you’ve been contemplating working out or losing weight, I encourage you to start off with something small. Increase your water intake, cut down on soda, or drink juice instead if you’re not a water drinker. I’d try baking instead of frying, and take a (15 minute) walk around your neighborhood with the family or dog after dinner or once a day. Do this consistently for one month, and you’d be amazed with the results of what those slight changes would do for you. Most importantly, don’t let anything or anyone stop you! It’s a lifestyle change so nothing happens overnight and don’t feel pressured, just do you!!