Returning Home - A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

Returning Home

2007

I made the awful – awful, awful, awful – decision to return back home to Indiana. I was basically leaving Miami in the middle of their cold snap, only to travel up North for a cold snap that actually involves snow. Really, this was a horrible idea.

The last time I saw my Mother, I weighed somewhere around 280lbs. Really, the last time I saw a lot of these people, I was somewhere around 300lbs. There’s something a little complicated in trying to explain to someone that even though they’re looking at a physically different representation of the person you are… you still are… the person you are.

Alas, the first words out of my Mother’s mouth were, “I feel like I’m staring at a stranger in my own home!”

When my Mother first laid eyes on me, I was sitting on the floor, legs folded, trying to figure out how to gerry-rig the broadband to accommodate my laptop. “Get up! I want to see!” I only looked at her with a face that said, “I want to roll my eyes, but since I don’t wanna hear it, I won’t.”

She definitely got a little teary eyed… leaned back, put her hand over her mouth and said “You know, it was to the point where I thought you were sick. I mean, you were out there.” You know how you use your hands to draw a globe that’s bigger than you? Imagine someone doing this, and talking about your body. Sigh. Yeah. She’s excited… so I’ma let that one go.

She asked me what it was like to have made such a drastic change in my size. I told her the truth — that it was hard to see because I look at me every day. That I don’t just think of “Month-ago-me” and compare her to “today me.” It doesn’t work that way for me, personally, and that it’s to my downfall.

“So, wait – you mean to tell me that you don’t remember what you looked like?”

I told her, “I just always think I looked this way.” Clearly, I was downplaying it… or deluding myself. The picture above is definitely me circa 2007.

At this point… she reached for a few photos to show me just how much of a change I’d made in myself. I won’t even lie – these photos hurt my feelings. Maybe because I can understand the magnitude of what’s happening in the photos — my waist was, well.. I didn’t have a waist. My face was full with nice gloriously fat cheeks. I mean, I didn’t have any shape what-so-ever, but you couldn’t tell me squat! I was all kinds of fine!

I was still morbidly obese, “pre-diabetic” and in dire need of a supportive shoulder. But I was fine, and apparently that’s all that mattered.

She watched me get a little teary-eyed, myself. I guess I didn’t think I was “that different.” I have long since avoided this moment, where I could compare where I am now to where I was then.. but I knew it was coming.

Having this moment also magnified the purpose behind why I opted to return back to Indiana, anyhow. With all the knowledge I’ve gained in the form of health and fitness… if I can’t use it to save the people who mean the most to me, it doesn’t mean quite as much as I thought it would.

I haven’t really seen anyone else since I’ve returned, and that’s fine. I’m not really here for everyone else. I’m just here for Mom. It was hard enough to listen to her talk about the changes I’ve made… so let’s hope we can share the same smiles and tears when it comes time to evaluate the changes she’s made.

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

21 Comments

  1. Tracy

    March 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    I’m not crying… I have something in my eye. *tear*

    Girl, this story is touching because I know what it’s like. Of course, I don’t REALLY know, as I haven’t reached my goal yet; however, I can imagine what it’s like to be faced with the old you via pictures. I currently feel it in reverse. I look at old pictures of myself from when I wasn’t as big as I am now and wonder how/why I allowed myself to keep growing in girth. And once I lose the weight, I can only imagine what it will be like to look at who I am now.

    You have made AMAZING changes, Erika! I’m so proud of you and happy that you are helping others fight the battle!!

    • Erika

      March 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

      Aww, thank you, Tracy!

      The hardest thing about writing this was what I didn’t say… and while I’m coming from a different perspective on this, I understand where you’re coming from because I’m seeing it in my Mother, which is the real reason why I’m here. So trust me… I can feel you 100%.

      Don’t worry, pretty girl – you’ll be all good before you know it! :)

  2. Ilyasha

    March 1, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Thank you for sharing! You are a brave soul and your stories continue to motivate me (and many others I suspect). Blessings!

  3. MaroonDawta

    March 1, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    @ Erika

    Well done on your weight loss hun and thanks for sharing. ;)

    I’m at the stage where ‘Tracy’ is at, where I’m looking at pics or just remembering how much I weighed 5 years ago and just cannot believe I used to eat 2 double whopper meals in the space of 30 mins thinking it wouldn’t catch up with me.

    Love your blog btw!

  4. Helena Thornton

    March 1, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    She was glad that you took steps to get healthy, Right?

  5. Andrea (AJ) Plaid

    March 1, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Hey Luvie–

    I really dig this piece b/c it does get to how we learn to talk about our bodies and fat–mostly from our female relatives, esp. moms. Most of all, I love your continually opening up about the realizations about weight loss as it affects quite a few of us Black women. I feel like I’m following a trailblazer b/c we don’t hear what you say so eloquently too much of anywhere.

    • Erika

      March 1, 2010 at 3:41 PM

      @Helena, She sure was. Nothing like seeing tears form up in your Mom’s eyes. :)

      @Andrea, Wow! Thank you so much for those words. I’m so honored! :)

  6. Inkognegro

    March 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    This was amazing and insightful. So often there is a lot of Harrumphing about Getting in a bikini and what men say/think.

    Self perception and what WE see as the Scale rises and falls, is what I find more illuminating. Thank you for sharing that.

  7. Peach Cobbler

    March 1, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this. I came across your site via http://www.MADAMETHEJOURNEY.com. Both of you are an inspiration. I feel so behind because I have yet to begin my weight loss.

    Your story hit home for me, because my current situation is in reverse. For the past 7 years, I lived in Hampton, VA & due to the loss of my job & the bad economy, I had to move back home to GA in with my mother. Her including my family & old friends all have asked me “What happened?”. I wish Obama had a stimulus check to mail me everytime I heard that question. Before I left GA I was between sizes 12-14, now I am 22/24.

    In VA, I thought I was a DIVA. I loved fatshion blogs, clothes/makeup/hair, and men hit on me all the time. Now that I’m back home, I feel like there’s is something wrong with how I look.

    I know nearly 300 lbs is not healthy (for me) & puts stress on my body, but aside from that no one wants to accept my new, bigger body. Sorry I wrote so much. Your post just made me think about why I really want to lose weight. I hope people’s opinions in my hometown doesnt have a negative effect on my motivation.

    • asada

      December 23, 2010 at 5:20 PM

      This happened to me when I moved back home from college. You will find the strenght to do something only when YOU are ready.

      All I ask is that you be honest about WHY, even if your resoning is shallow, but at least don’t project it on others. My reasons are simply to fit in with my friends again, my clothes again and regain my peace of mind. Thats it.

      I used to be in shape through an exersize program and through eating well. I pumped iron and did exersize videos. I would dance in my room ( to radio music) and do crunches each day ( 25 each). I know how to do that , so its just a matter of doing the things I used to do. Find a program ( even if you have to buy it online ) and work at.

  8. BAnjeeB

    March 2, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    You are very insightful and I appreciate the candor with which you share your story. It’s hard to discipline yourself but it’s harder to deal with all the health problems that come with being overweight/obese. I’m still working on coming down, I’ve hit a plateau but I’m going to keep on doing what I need to do. Thanks for this forum and for sharing your experiences.

  9. Netherland

    April 9, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Wow, Erica! This is just what I needed to read, and I am now intriqued (sp). I think this journey is not only the excercise, and food, but understand the full picture through literature, and informational and inspirational stories, like you have shared here — Thank you, for sharing and developing this space for sisters like us! God Bless You and Yours!

  10. nettid

    October 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Thanks for writing this. My mother was like that to a certian extent. But it was the other way around. She would show pics of me when I was alot smaller and ask me” What happened to THAT girl?” *smh*

  11. Hilda

    February 22, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    I’ve recently discovered your blog and I LOVE IT! I’m so glad my niece turned me on to it..Thank You.

  12. Andrea

    September 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Im so in love with this site. I just found this site on yesterday via facebook! I just recently had a baby and lost a significant amount of weight. I considered the weightloss Gods way of giving me a second chance!! lol! So as soon as i was given the ok from my doctor i hit the track to keep it up and hopefully lose more. Well i had to go back to work and soon after, school started for my 6 year old, my routine was shifted and I went from walking the track everyday, to only going when i can in between work, school and my daughters cheer practice!!! I went to visit my mom one day and the first words out of her mouth is you look like youre picking up the weight again! That was such a downer and now i find myself giving up on the inside. I still hit the track when i can, but i find myself going back to my old habits of eating all the wrong things! I read an entry that you wrote and you mentioned the crab barrel syndrome! I needed to hear that!
    Sometimes what people say to you can keep you or bring you back to your low place. Im striving everyday to make it out to that barrel that others have decided to stay in!!! Sorry so long! God bless you

  13. Tiera

    October 12, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Girl! What do you know about the Naptown? (besides the brutal winters, humid summers, and terrible roads?) lol

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      October 12, 2011 at 7:05 PM

      Girl! Lived there for ten years before I packed it up and headed out! ROFL

      I’m still back there a few times a year just to check up on my Mom, but yeah.

      Oh, and you forgot the COLTS! LOL!

  14. Mallory

    February 24, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    I literally lmfao when I read “I mean, I didn’t have any shape what-so-ever, but you couldn’t tell me squat! I was all kinds of fine!”. This whole thing basically sums up how it is to lose weight but not notice…..and then have someone turn around and show you a picture.

  15. Annette

    October 28, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    I use to think that my Mom pushing my buttons was her way of getting back at me. Trying to inflict more hurt yet I realize it indicates I have work to do. Cause as long as she gets a rise out of me, and I can’t tell her my pain it will come up time and again. I don’t know if telling her how upset and anxious I was that food stuffed the feeling. But I have to try and not think about her reaction, just honestly tell it like it is and ask her to listen. When she brings it up it’s like a sore that won’t heal..why not tell her there are still things that I have to heal in my life. Just because the weight is gone it don’t mean the issue’s aren’t still there. It’s about how I feel how I reacted, the pain I was going through and have still not resolved. Also ask her to respect that. So much of my conversation with my mother which is a strong personality is about imposing her will and personality on me.

    It’s either stuff the pain when I see her or avoid the pain by limiting visits. I guess I need to learn how to communicate with my mother as a grown woman from the heart. If tears come so be it, what the hell we have tears for if not to purge our pain.

    As the holidays are coming up fast, family is always in the forefront. There is still a lot of anger and hurt I need to work on.

  16. Terri

    March 29, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    It’s almost as if there is a grief process involved with letting the obese persona go.

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