In the beginning of Erika Nicole Kendall’s journey, it was all about appeasing her mother, who lovingly reminded her of the fitness center that opened up around the corner from their home.
“I knew my mother was concerned about my weight, but I figured that if I at least got the membership, she’d ease up on me about it for a while,” Kendall said.
She never knew how her mother’s gentle nudging would change her life.
Kendall tells the story of her early weight loss adventures in great detail in many places throughout her website, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she shares not only the ups and downs of her own experiences with weight loss, but also everything she’s learned along the way to make her successes possible.
“I wanted a space to hold myself accountable for everything I’ve learned. I could never tell myself, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that!’ Not only did I ‘know’ it, I wrote 1600 words about it!”
Kendall originally set out to complete a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology at the University of North Texas, but eventually became pregnant with a little girl, one whom she credits with the drastic change in the trajectory of her life. The birth of the infant, whom she chooses to identify on her website only as “Mini-Me,” combined with Kendall’s choice to separate from the child’s father, inspired her to create her own business.
“If I went to work for someone else, I wouldn’t be able to spend time with her the way I wanted. Not only that, but day care is expensive. Paying for day care would’ve affected how much money I would’ve had left over to live in a safe neighborhood, afford a car… I needed to be self-employed.” she shared.
Kendall successfully ran a now-defunct online marketing and web design business, but saw her weight gain increase consistently over the course of the next two years. It was this moment where her mother convinced her to join a gym.
The result of Kendall’s chronicling of her over 160-lbs-to-date weight loss journey, which has become a full-time job for her, is a massive community – over 130,000 people on Facebook, over 12,000 followers on Twitter, over 12,000 e-mail subscribers, over 7,000 members of what she refers to as her “Clean Eating Boot Camp”, and thousands more across Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest – that comes together to share their successes and struggles in their own journeys, and support one another, all under the umbrella of Kendall’s key components to her fitness philosophy: compassion (both for self and others), positive body image, pleasure, consistency, mindfulness, and varying one’s methods of goal measurement.
“I refer to it as my #ScaleFree Philosophy – it’s all about living a healthier life, not simply losing weight. You could lose weight on tic tacs and water, but that’s not sustainable. That’s not healthy. More importantly, you’ll be miserable. If we want fuller lives and healthier approaches to being fit, we have to unpack why we’re so willing to suffer so greatly for it. We have to unpack why we’re so willing to starve ourselves, become pale and fragile, lose our hair, brittle nails, inelastic skin, high blood pressure, can barely lift our own purses,” Kendall said. “A lot of us simply never learned how to live healthier lives out of the context of ‘get skinny,’ and would rather experience the fullness of life as opposed to sitting on the sidelines, too frail and hungry to actually enjoy it.”
Kendall’s movement is catching on. After becoming certified in Women’s Fitness, Weight Loss, and Fitness Nutrition by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, she’s been called on to speak at countless conferences to help connect people to what she calls their “Come to Fitness” moment. Recently making an appearance at the Black Girls Run! Sweat With Your Sole Conference in 2013, Kendall held multiple massive Q&A sessions where she took rapid-fire questions and shared resources and tips with people to help them get the answers they need.
“For me, I know that the answer won’t be the same for every person, but I can at least give them the tools they need to find out exactly what will work best for their individual lives. That’s not me dictating to people – it’s me connecting them with just enough information to empower them to be proactive. That’s an esteem-booster. It makes fitness feel more possible for people,” Kendall shared.
Kendall has shared her messages of positivity and sustainable fitness in reputable organizations such as NPR and The New York Times and Salon, from NYMag.com to US News to EBONY.com where she once held a weekly fitness column for over a year, aptly titled “Get Life.”
“It was actually my editor (Jamilah Lemieux, EBONY.com’s Senior Digital Editor) who came up with the title. We agreed that my healthy approach to fitness and making it a part of you is literally the stuff of life, so hopefully my column would both inspire and encourage people to go out and get it!”
The blog itself, BGG2WL, and Kendall’s story, have been featured everywhere from the front page of AOL.com to Shape.com, from Woman’s Day to Yahoo! Health, from NYDaily News to The Root. Kendall has appeared on both Dr. Oz and The Doctors for her success and positive message, has appeared on MSNBC to talk health-related current events, and has been featured in major print publications such as Ladies Home Journal and Essence Magazine.
Kendall also travels and speaks about blogging within the healthy living blogger world, as well. A regular at major conferences like BlogHer, Kendall will also be a part of the keynote panel at FitBloggin’ 2014 in Savannah, and is slated to be at BlogHer as well as BlogHerFood this year. She does everything from food and recipe demos to discussing and debating healthy living matters affecting us all.
“I never imagined this would all come from me scribbling notes to myself on a website. I not only get to share my story with others and empower them to make it happen for themselves, but I also get to read and learn from the community, too. This has become a place where people can come, read, share, feel protected, and learn from one another. It’s a safe space for not just them, but for me, too. We all truly love what we’ve built here, and it shows in our collective hard work.”
I thank you for this site.
Something about you and this blog is resonating with me. This journey of serious weight loss and focuss may just well be my birthday gift to myself.
I am going to read your blog cover to cover, post-to-post!
I absolutely love what i have read so far. I am 33yo, married mother of three, and I have gained so much weight since having my last child. I am so ready to get in the health/weight loss game. Im tired of being overweight and it is wearing on my body!!! I look forward to the challenges and advice offered here.
You are a living doll! Love you. Put cha in my instant links to keep up and motivated. I worked another 8 lbs off this beautiful body o mine. Thanks for sharing! Bless!!!!
Kept seeing ‘a black girls….to weight loss. new to the sight. Whated to read up- for the past year, have been trying to eat healthy, designated meal time, etc. it’s hard but…. so I’ll be looking to see what works best.
I’m so glad I stumbled onto this site!!! I realized that for the first time I am mentally prepared to start shedding the pounds – I was just unsure of how to get started. I’m excited to look thru your site and see what tidbits I can learn (looks like alot!) Thanks for sharing your journey with us!!!!
Love this blog! I’ve followed fitness and food blogs for awhile but I have yet to come across a Black Woman chronicle her transformation as well as you have done with yours. Kudos to you! You’re an inspiration and I’m elated that you’ve decided to share your story with the world. Weight loss isn’t easy… we all have to take it one day at a time but with support from one another we can change the alarming statistics of obesity within the African American community. I wish you continued success in all of your endeavors Erika! Keep up the fantastic work 🙂
I am completely inspired by what I’ve read and seen here on this blog. You are A-MAZING! Thank you for your insight and information.
I just discovered your blog and have to say kudos to you on the success and such a wonderful blog.. i really appreciate it.. while there are a lot of health blogs out there not many by black women.. i had one question though, do you have any advice for us pregnant ladies? i’m about 4 1/2 months pregnant and exercise is the last thing on my mind but my doctor says i need to do something, even if it’s just walking.. any tips?
Hey i’ve been trying to get small enough for a pair of BeBe Jeans so honey i know the struggle and I love our sight also!
I just came across your blog. I think I was linked here either from http://www.forharriet.com or http://www.thefreshxpress.com (sorry not sure). I look forward to getting to know you and your weight loss journey. I know it will encourage me to begin my journey.
Thanks so much!!!
Oh yeah, I love the blog design!!! Very wholesome and encouraging.
One of my best friends told me about this site. I am very excited to get additional cybersupport for my weightloss and lifestyle change journey. So grateful that you have decided to share this intimate story with the world.
This website is a friggin God send!
I have been lurking for several weeks just reading your daily posts on FB.
I have followed the Clean Eating menus for only 2 weeks – and have lost weight already. It was not hard or difficult -and I am a mom of three, business owner with sites in 2 states, and a wife.
You don’t know what you have done and how many people you have encouraged with this site.
Keep it up!
And no homo – lol – would like to see the progress swim suit!
that looks like a picture of you in front of fine arts, did u attend HU?
oh by the way, absolutely loved the blog. had to show my daughter a post so that she could see what her beloved chicken nuggets look like before they reach Mickey Ds.
No, I’m not a HU alum, but you’ve got a good eye – I was out there for a trip, and snapped the photo while there. 🙂
thanks so much for the info it was very interesting
WOW, what a wonderful blog. I’m very excited about exploring all the post and other information. I’ve been looking for a way to start and this is my motivation. Thank you.
I just want to stay alive, after reading your article in Essence Magazine and seeing that you were the same weight I am has inspired me. I am trying to fight the battle of the bulge. I want so many things. I want to run a marathon, I want to make love with abandon and not worry about my michelin man tire rings, I want to see if I can rock a pair of skinny jeans?? I want to see my daughter’s children…first and foremost. I want to feel good when I get out of bad, I want not to be afraid of mirrors, I want my big fat booty, to be a big PHAT booty. But second to seeing my daughter and what she will become I want to feel good about who I am, the fatter I get the less I want to go out and am finding that I am staying in more. I actually won “cut the line passes” to the Biggest Loser audition this weekend in Boston and didn’t go get them or go to the auditions because of seeing it as a positive I got down that It had come to this. I only know that I want to find that “something” inside me that turns that workout, eat right, light bulb on and gets my butt in gear. I want to be able to cross my legs and I want my boyfriend to pick me up and put me over his shoulder…is that too much to ask? I say to god, who has a lot on his plate these days….to help me acheive the most honest of my goals, help me stop hiding behind the fat because of things done to me in the past and help me to be a better person although some of my goals are vain. I want LIVE AND NOT JUST BREATH …please god hear my prayer!
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