Home Inspiration A Year Ago Today

A Year Ago Today

by Erika Nicole Kendall

A year ago today, I weighed 281lbs.

I worked out in a gym for six months, and didn’t have much to show for it. I mean, yes – some weight loss took place, lots of muscle development took place, but I still felt so defeated. I wanted to lose inches!! I wanted to be smaller! Why was I not progressing!

This was the start of a 3 month break from fitness. I just… I had other priorities. I had other focuses. I had other places my energy needed to be directed toward. I didn’t need the constant disappointment of trying to be healthier and failing. Repeatedly. Miserably. I just didn’t want to be bothered.

Well, in 3 months, I gained 10lbs.Yeah, it was a stressful 3 months and I was running to food to try to give me temporary release and relief… but 10lbs? Ten pounds? By March, I realized… “Well, if I’m going to have the gauntlet thrown at me, I might as well prepare my body for it.”

I started thinking about how I can properly tackle my health without cheating, being lazy, getting in my own way. A lifestyle change that would become second nature. I thought about this… over a bowl of queso. That I ate… for breakfast.

By late April (the picture above is from April), I got into the habit of cooking everything I ate. I realized that perhaps if it were more difficult for me to indulge in the foods I liked, I wouldn’t indulge so much. If I wanted cookies, I had to bake them myself. If I wanted queso, I had to make it myself. Want a quesadilla? Do it yourself. This helped with my blood pressure. Why? Because processed foods overdo it on the salt. It helped with my risk for overeating. Why? Because I was eating whole nutrients… my body was getting the nutrition it was looking for, so I wasn’t continually compelled to keep eating while my body sought out nutrition.

As soon as I got my eating habits together, I dropped 17lbs. That was when I realized what kept me from losing the inches I wanted – I was still filling my body with crap! I finally figured out how I could get a lock on this thing… and just like that, I started working out again.

Just going for a walk every day and eating better, I lost another 15lbs. I was doing so much more than my body was used to… that it was burning all kinds of energy to keep up. It wasn’t used to this kind or amount of effort! I had properly shocked my body, revved up my engine, and was on my way.

6 months later, another 50lbs was gone. I’m not as concerned with the pounds as much as I am concerned with the inches. Why? Because I’ve developed ab, leg, and thigh muscles that weigh just as much as – if not more than – the fat I once carried… and although it might cause me to put on more weight on the scale, my figure has still become much more lean.

I’ve probably lost about 20lbs in the past 3 months, but I’ve lost about 21″ total – 2″ from each thigh, 4″ from my low-rise waist, 4″ from my normal waist, 2″ from each arm, 2″ from the band in my bust, and 3″ from my hips. I can see cuts in my arms, and lines in my abs. My face is way more defined… I feel like a different woman. When I do my Yoga poses, I can see development in my thighs. When I stand in my high heels, I can see lines in my calves from my knee to my ankle. So my scale might be slow, but my tape measure is movin’!

How am I developing nutritionally? There is one processed item in my pantry that is not organic: goldfish crackers. Dreaded things. (I know I’ve written about how my love of these things plagues me.) If my daughter didn’t love them, I might throw them away. Hey, she’s young – I might throw them away, anyway. Besides… it’s my house. πŸ™‚

I still cook everything I eat. I get a little more jazzy and bake things that I shouldn’t be eating – home made or not – but at least I’m not gaining weight at the speed I was before. I’m way more mindful of what I’m putting in my body. Thinking about this makes me more emotional than you think… because it passes on to my daughter. If given a choice between those goldfish crackers and a handful of blueberries, she’s going to choose the blueberries. I didn’t have that foresight as a child. If I had, I might not’ve spent middle school as a size 15.

I’m more comfortable working out in front of others, now. Which translates into my being more comfortable with myself as a whole. It’s easier for me to accept my shortcomings because I know the greatest of my troubles – my health – were able to be tamed… there’s nothing I can’t do at this point. My struggle with my weight has taught me the value of facing my shortcomings head on. If I don’t be honest and real with myself about the source of a problem, how could I ever possibly and effectively find a solution? Ever since I’ve had this epiphany – this newfound value in self-transparency – my life is so much less stressful. There’s less satisfaction found in dramatizing the problem, and the peace found in having obtained the solution is way more valuable.

All things I didn’t have a year ago. I didn’t weigh 185 a year ago. I also didn’t have a size 8 shape a year ago. Yay me.

Looking at everything I’ve left in 2008, I am excited to see what I leave behind in 2009. How I learn, how I grow, how I use what I’ve learned to help others. Hopefully, I’ll leave those stupid goldfish crackers behind. That’s first on the list.

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Jubilance December 23, 2009 - 11:37 AM


Like seriously. I’m so proud of you!!!

My diet is the sole reason why I am 225 lbs right now. The absolute biggest I’ve ever been, and I absolutely can’t stand it. And its cause I’m lazy, I picked up the habit of grabbing things on the go in grad school, and now that I have the money & time to cook, I’d still rather be lazy.

But I don’t want to be lazy anymore, its not worth it.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Valerie December 23, 2009 - 12:04 PM

amazing story. it brings tears to my eyes and hope in my heart. keep up the good work.

Melody December 23, 2009 - 12:14 PM

Wow – your story is such an inspiration. Continued good health and progress in 2010!

Scooter December 23, 2009 - 12:28 PM

Very inspiring. I’m trying to change my trifling ways. I keep reading your blog and I know that change is gonna come.

Kudos on your success!

Ralonda December 23, 2009 - 12:56 PM

Thank you so much for creating this blog. I have been reading it for a month or so now, and I am coming to understand my struggle a bit better. I have been overweight since I was 7 years old. I am now 24. My grandmother put me on countless diets, even diet pills (yellowjackets) once. Now I am realizing (slowly, but progress is progress) that this is not easy and calls for a drastic lifestyle change. I am now taking steps to ensure that I can at least enjoy the last half of my 20s. I have a dr.s appointment now to get a physical so that I can do this safely.
You have inspired me. God bless you.

Ebs December 23, 2009 - 12:57 PM

You are such an inspiration. I want to change the way I eat in 2010 and you have given me some great tips. Now I know where to start. I just bought a cook book with simple, healthy recipes.

Question- Did you see a nutritionist at any point during your weight loss journey?

Erika December 23, 2009 - 1:03 PM


Thank you so much for your kind words! One of these days, I’ll have to thoroughly outline my journey so that perhaps it can help a little more.

During my entire process, I never saw a nutritionist, but I DID do a LOT of research. Most of what I learned, I’m fully intending to share here. πŸ™‚

Joni December 2, 2012 - 2:37 PM

Wow, God surely put this story on my Facebook. I just came to “if you want it cook it” over the past 3 weeks or so and I’ve been looking up simple recipes for my favorite foods and comparing the ingredients to the “pre-packaged” counterpart. Amazing and pretty scary. Like you, I’m able to adjust the SALT content for my blood pressure. Thank you for letting me see what results I can achieve in advance!!

P. December 23, 2009 - 2:35 PM

Boooooo….. *sprinkles salt* lol

(just kidding… good work woman. Maybe one of these days you can actually try out what I sent to you in that Zshare link lol)

Ironlady December 23, 2009 - 2:39 PM

Wonderful story! You found “The Secret” that so many of us overlook. Diet and proper nutrition is 85% of the healthy and fitness equation. Working out is VERY important, but if you are still eating junk, it’s not going to help with weight. Congrats on the weight loss and your healthy NEW life!

SoJo December 24, 2009 - 9:46 AM

WOW!!!! Absolutely amazing. I recently started following you on twitter and knew that you had a health and fitness blog, but had absolutely no idea how far you’d come in your journey!

CONGRATS!!! And double congrats for doing it the right way. You’ve got a new reader in me. πŸ™‚

*bookmarking site and adding to Google Reader*

lesley hal December 24, 2009 - 6:06 PM

Wow! I was just telling my friends we need to do better when one emailed me your blog. you are such an encouragment.i know it will not be an easy process and that i will have to be patient. Keep up the great work! i look ofrward to reading your blogs from here on out!

Jackie Toye December 27, 2009 - 5:21 PM

Thanks for the motivation .. I’m getting back on the horse. Like you, I’m diving into “cooking everything myself” … I am definitely Restaurant Fat!

Nancy December 29, 2009 - 11:47 AM

I’m so glad I found your blog! I am starting my own journey now (at 260lbs) and I desparately need some inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us πŸ™‚

Shannon January 5, 2010 - 1:18 PM

I am truly glad that I stumbled upon your blog because it is giving me the boost and encouragement that I need. I am the heaviest that I have ever been and I need to lost some weight. I have been on diet pills and even thinking about the lapband surgery but deep down inside I want to lose the weight without surgery or medication but with strong determination and will power. My biggest problem is that I love food. I always start a diet, lose weight and stop when I see a little success. This is going to be a long and hard journey for me, but I am going to start now.

Shannon January 5, 2010 - 1:19 PM

I forgot to tell you, that you look “FAB”…Keep up the good work:)))

Diva Style February 1, 2010 - 10:42 AM

LOVE THIS!!! Will be making you a regular stop on my blogroll!!! Very inspiring!

IrieDiva June 26, 2010 - 9:54 AM

a size 8?!?!?! DAMN i am now 185 i think πŸ™ and im about a size 12 or 14….sigh πŸ™

the beginning of the journey always look so hard but i am determined to reach the end πŸ˜€

thank you for sharing, your site is a staple along my journey

Nlynch October 9, 2012 - 2:30 PM

I understand how that might be discouraging, but remember height matters as well πŸ™‚ good luck!!

Gabulous June 29, 2010 - 9:38 AM

I am so excited that I found this site! You are an inspiration to many. Congrats on your successes.

Erika June 29, 2010 - 10:08 AM

Thank you! πŸ™‚

Kem July 15, 2010 - 10:53 AM

“If I don’t be honest and real with myself about the source of a problem, how could I ever possibly and effectively find a solution? Ever since I’ve had this epiphany – this newfound value in self-transparency – my life is so much less stressful. There’s less satisfaction found in dramatizing the problem, and the peace found in having obtained the solution is way more valuable.”

Your story is amazing and inspirational but the above quote truly blessed me! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and most importantly – thank you for sharing your testimony for it is truly a blessing!

Mydria July 18, 2010 - 9:50 AM

Your story is amazing. And your site has so many helpful tips. You truly are an inspiration to me, and I can’t wait to get on the right path to weight loss! So glad I read this right before heading over to Starbucks for breakfast!

DrMom July 21, 2010 - 10:03 AM

OK…my a/c went out (I live in Fl) and I had to escape to a hotel. Obviously the hotel lighting and mirror lovations were different and I got a good look at myself from a different vantage point than I’m accustomed to (not that I thought I was Naomi Sims in the 1st place) and I was truly HORRIFIED!!! I took myself back to Weight Watchers the very next day and I’ve gotta get a grip on what is clearly an out of control woman…and I’ve got the 250 lbs to prove it. I found your blog after the WW mtg. and it is just what I needed. Thanks so much for sharing sistah to sistah. Continued Success and I look foward to joining you!

Nissi August 12, 2010 - 5:37 PM

wow you are absolutely amazing! you are where I want to be one year from now! I too am embarking on a weight loss journey and I have 90lbs to go! I would love for you to follow my blog and give me some hints along the way

P.S. u look absolutely stunning! i may have to get some beauty tips from you too!!

Jacqueline October 22, 2010 - 11:28 AM

I’m happy I found you and this blog. This is heartwarming and motivating all at once. Kudos to you for all of your hard work and it surely is paying off.

breukelensfinest October 22, 2010 - 4:26 PM

truly inspirational! congratulations on your success, you look amazing!


Greta November 14, 2010 - 1:58 PM

You’re amazing!! I need to cook more too. I’m so glad to have “met” you on twitter!! Looking forward to collaborating!

Nadia November 15, 2010 - 12:39 PM

Totally inspiring, i hope to achieve even a small amount of the success you’ve managed!

LISA November 18, 2010 - 1:32 PM


Tracie January 18, 2011 - 6:46 PM

Hey, I am so glad I found this site, I am just getting back to the basics. I lost 20 lbs a few years ago and was feeling good, but then I get lazy and dont stick with it. In 2007, I saw a picture of me at my 30th bday and almost died, I was huge! I then began to go to water aerobics and cardio workout 5 days a week. We moved to a new state(military) and I just cant find the classes I was taking before. I promised myself that I needed to stay focused because I want to be less then 200 lbs its been 8 yrs since that has happened. I think if I talked to a nutritionist to get an idea of how to change my diet that will be a great start. Thanks so much for taking us on your journey and I hope that I can post some progress of my own soon.

Wesanda January 19, 2011 - 7:44 AM

Keep up the good work and advice….your blog site is exactly what I needed at this time in my weight loss journey.


Lorrie February 7, 2011 - 4:11 PM

Your words are so validating. I can identify with you in every way. Your writing style is wonderfully well done and I look forward to new posts. You seem to have a similar body type as mine and looking at your pictures at your various stages gives me hope. I completely agree with the cooking home meals only, this has really made a difference for me however I still do “cheat” one day a week although I know you are completely against that from what I have read so far. I have also begun to measure my “fitness” by the way my clothes fit and how defined my muscles are becoming. I hate the scale and the scale hates me. I chose to focus on developing my fitness habits, for example, working out 5-7 days a week (everyday right after work), keeping my fitness bags packed with what I needed to work out, keeping tennie shoes available, investing in good workout equipment such as kickboards, bags, googles, stretchy pants, cute cotton tops to sweat in, etc…then I had to tackle the mental block of working out in gym with people I knew from the community with fat floppin and all! I needed the gym for social interation, daily motivation and to develop a lifelong habit but I had to be okay in my skin while I was doing it fat and all. The psychological challege was the biggest for me. I had already hurdled the hair issues years before, I didnt care whether I sweat or not and I knew how to make time to workout. When people would stare at me I would imagine they were thinking the worst things about me and I didnt realize how bad it was until I verbalized what I thought to my eldest son. The thought would go something like this, β€œI know he is wondering what this big black.(you fill in)…is doing here.” My son balked at me and gave me this look I wont soon forget like – “What in the hell is wrong with you mother?” and he followed it up with a comment, β€œWhy would you think that?” At that moment, I realized it was all in my head and that even if those people were thinking something horrible it was not my concern. I also realized that some of them may have been liking what they saw regardless of my size. All men do not hate fat women. Once I changed my attitude and learned how to smile more these suspicions were confirmed. I have to be happy in the skin I am in.

Carla February 9, 2011 - 8:55 AM

Great job! very inspiring.
That is exactly how I live my life and coach my own clients.
May you be healthy and enjoy!

Beverly Moore June 17, 2011 - 11:38 PM

Thank you so much for this website Erika, I appreciate your transparency and all the wealth of information you share. I have struggled with my weight for a great majority of my life. I have been on this particular weight loss journey for a year and half now and thus far I’ve lost 75 lbs. I give God the glory because truly I did not have the power to do this on my own. What I will say has also been a contributing factor in my success to date is making the commitment to myself to get this done and agree with God for my health. I pray for other sisters to be set free because being overweight is bondage. I enjoy working out now, I need it, because I feel, better, think better, and look better when I work out. I am doing things now I was previously afraid to like cycle class, and even though I am still the largest one in I do my very best to keep up and I push myself harder every day. Keep up the awesome work in inspiring and informing African-American women and all women to reclaim the power within to be healthy.

God bless,
Beverly Moore
Matteson, IL

bianca July 2, 2011 - 8:10 PM

wow , congrats. you worked hard and derserved it.
I just have a few questions
i am about 190 and want to lose about 50 pds or so.
im really worried about excess skin and stretch marks.
did you have those problems with weight loss ? and what were your solutions ?

LaDonna July 12, 2011 - 4:28 PM

Erika. To an extent this sounds like my stop and start. Or at least paralells it. Because my starts and stops are based on my own inner combat. I get started good. Have an off day that turns into weeks of not doing. Especially if I get on the scale. That really has an effect. On and off is the problem for me. But somewhere along reading this blog I’m getting to a place where I realize that heavy “I don’t feel like it” feeling is a part of this process. The more I press, the more I trial and error the more success will come. My mind is changing. I’m seeing exercise and my diet differently. Bad food doesn’t get an allowance. I appreciate you sharing. I’m inspired to fight myself until my health wins the battle over my “don’t want to”.

Virtual Belinda July 12, 2011 - 4:29 PM

You are absolutely fabulous. I had no idea your weight loss was so new. You are an inspiration to me as I work on accomplishing my own fitness goals. Thanks for that.

Virtual Belinda July 12, 2011 - 4:38 PM

My bad, I see it is from December, 2009. It is still inspirational though.

Bannef October 3, 2011 - 1:50 PM

I love reading this. I haven’t been taking clean eating as seriously as I should (for some excuse or another, don’t worry, I’m getting better) but I recently realized that I’ve had progress too, and it just blew my mind. In terms of pounds I don’t think I’ve lost too much (it’s hard to tell because I wasn’t measuring the whole time), but exactly a year ago I measured my legs to try and find a pair of boots to wear. This year I needed a new pair for something else, and while trying on a new pair I was surprised by how nicely they fit (I’m wearing them right now actually :D). I decided to leave a comment on their website, and figured I’d measure my calves just to let everyone know how inaccurate their “shaft” measurements are, and…. Somehow, I have lost an inch and a half in each calf.

I know that seems like the most ridiculous measure, and people claim they have been seeing it elsewhere, but that was the first real concrete thing I could point to, and say my life has “improved” – I can wear these incredibly kick ass boots now, and wouldn’t have been able to a year ago. Part of that is due to you, so thank you so much.

Beautiful Brwnin November 9, 2011 - 3:10 AM

I loved your story, it was very inspirational. Thank you. Oh, and Cheddar Bunnies by Annies are a great organic alternative to Goldfish, and I personally think they taste better, too.

Cassandre February 20, 2012 - 12:38 AM

reading your story gives me hope… i started eating clean about 2 months ago and have lost 10LBS since.. i finally feel like i am making progress, though slow but losing.. i just need to work out the fitness equation… thanks for your continued inspiration.. you show us every day that we can do this and to put ourselves first.. for that i thank you..

Jimmi February 21, 2012 - 11:47 AM

Wow! i am doing the same thing in regards to food. I am trying to and for the most part eliminating foods that are over processed. if they have more than 4 ingredients, I pass it by. If the ingredients are compound words that are hard to pronounce, I leave it alone. I really do believe it is the processed foods and the crap they put in it is what is killing us. A friend passed this on and you are fabulous!! You are an inspiration! Keep going! I lost four inches of my waist since August when I began eating healthier. I do back slide once in a while and over eat; it is a challenge.

Jenna Thomas February 22, 2012 - 6:20 PM

I LOVE IT!!! Thank you for sharing. It’s obvious that everything you share is coming from a place of passion, purpose and sincerity and I LOVE IT!!! I have spent years making an effort to manage the food allergies and ADHD that presented in my children. All the while, neglecting the need for my own dragons to be slayed. So never mind that I actually knew, understood and daily implemented the principles and practices of healthy living, I only did it for THEM! When I dropped them off to school, the first thing I did was sit down at a Waffle House or IHOP for breakfast. Then I picked up some fast food for lunch. And I would eat my sit down meal after I got them to bed. Yes, it was all emotional. A twisted view of taking time for myself. The struggle to recognize that and deal with it has been……interesting. Now that I am at a different place, free from the funk I was in and ready to say “Hello” to the world in a different way, I can’t wait to say hello to the me I will be a year from today. I so appreciate what you have shared here. It resonates with me. Twenty-two pounds down and about sixty more to go.

Quandabomb February 24, 2012 - 9:45 AM

Awesome thanks for sharing I needed to read this today!!!!!

Melissa March 24, 2012 - 3:28 PM

A year ago today, I weighed 345. Today the scale reads 291.7lbs. I should be excited but the weight loss has been up and down. Reading this made me realized…my food has not changed. I have recently began to cook more instead of buying so called healthy options that i still do not know what is in them.

Madamemiao August 1, 2012 - 2:46 AM

Yay, yay!
I share your joy, that lightness …
I myself have seen the light and have become an evangelist for weight loss…. Cooking my own food has worked for me too…..

Starling August 2, 2012 - 6:07 PM

You are truly blessed…congratulations, and I thank you for being an inspiration and a representation of what can be accomplished with a plan and the willpower not to give in to a quick fix.

Femigog October 9, 2012 - 9:10 AM

this was so inspiring! thank you so much for sharing your journey!

uniondiva October 9, 2012 - 9:21 AM

OMG!.. reading this today after a stressful day off (yesterday) and so wanting to demolish a few orea cookies.. I am committed to be being healthy and I really needed to read this.. so real and raw… thanks for reposting for those of us who need the inspiration now!

TF November 27, 2012 - 8:16 PM

Thanks! Truly a GREAT writeup!

christine January 21, 2013 - 5:20 PM

A year ago I was just getting off the pity pot. Divorced, feeling totally lost. Now I’m single, happy and hating the treadmill 3 times a week lol

Mary February 7, 2013 - 5:54 PM

How did you tone? I am 5′ 4′ about 145 (I was 209 at my heaviest) wearing a size 8, I would like to get down to a size 6 (lose that last subborn 10 pounds/and or tone). My problem is I can’t just go to say to TJ Maxx or Old Navy and pick up a the SAME size 8. I know each designer has their own sizing. But its disheartening sometimes.

Erika Nicole Kendall February 7, 2013 - 8:02 PM
christine June 17, 2013 - 1:00 PM

Thank you for clarifying..I’ve been going hard in the gym since January..jeans that we once a distant memory now fall off. So when I went to the doctor and my weight hadn’t changed I almost passed out. I asked a trainer about it too and that’s the same thing he said..you lose inches and create muscle

Veda June 23, 2013 - 9:51 AM

I finally figured out the exact same thing within the last year. After a March vacation in Hong Kong, and a stressful return to work my blood pressure sky-rocketed to numbers I had never seen. THAT, was the wake up call! It’s been high/borderline high for 10 years, but since most of that time it was only borderline, I didnt feel the need to panic out drastically change. 161/100 made me panic. That was the average after my doctor had me come back every well for a blood pressure check. Well. That’s it, I thought. No more screwing around! I started cooking large meals at the beginning of the week, freezing half, so at the end of the week when I’m overwhelmed, I know I have something homemade to eat and won’t resort to fast or processed food. Very little to no salt. Tons of water. 8, 8 oz glasses of water is fine if you’re at your ideal weight. For me, especially with the diuretic BP medicine, a gallon is more accurate. And movement. I was hooked on zumba a year ago, and I lost inches within weeks! Then my work schedule changed and I couldn’t make it to the gym at all. I felt weak, and gained weight. With the BP scare, I started doing simple things. Standing ab work. Squats. Arm lifts with canned goods as weights. Stretching. I’ve lost 20 lbs in 3 months, but like you, I really see the difference in my face, the inches around my hips, my waist. Now, I’m not perfect. Lol. I would be a lot smaller, but I sill love deep dish pizza, cookies, and ice cream. Just WAAAAAY less than I used to. You’ve stated it perfectly. We have to eat way cleaner, and MOVE! Whatever movement is good for you, but do it. Consistently! Thank you for sharing and congratulations! Keep it up Girl!

Jules June 23, 2013 - 10:14 AM

Here’s my question: how do you handle eating socially? what do you do when your coworkers want to take you out for lunch, or friends want you to go out for dinner and you all your calories planned out an their kibd invitation throws a wrench in everything? i dont want to keep turning down invitations and seem like i dont want to be friendly.

by the way-Awesome success!!

Erika Nicole Kendall June 23, 2013 - 11:00 PM

I think this is a good question. I could easily write an entire post about that, lol.

Jules June 24, 2013 - 8:11 AM

Post away sister! πŸ™‚ This is such a battle for me.

Yolande June 23, 2013 - 10:44 AM

What a wonderful, inspiring story, grats to you! I have been struggling with the last 15 pounds towards my goal, and this story is just what I needed. Really going to look into Clean Eating. Thank you!

Erika Nicole Kendall June 23, 2013 - 10:50 PM
Lexi August 24, 2013 - 4:39 PM

Woww, by chance i came across your website, well done you look amazing, i’ve been strugling with my weight since i’ve lost my beautiful baby… How do you start such journey when only comfort in my life is food….

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