Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Where Do I Begin?

Q&A Wednesday: Where Do I Begin?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

This can all be a bit overwhelming… so let’s take a look at starting over from scratch.

Q: Hi… I am the reader that was going to have the weight loss surgery, but decided against it.

I have been looking at your website, and I want to lose the weight naturally, but I am confused as to where to start–using your website as my guide.

I am 31, 5’5, and 301 lbs as of this morning. My goal weight as I have read it is 145. I reached that goal in college (1999) and kept it off …until I had to have calf surgery on both legs which kept me from running track. I became gradually very sedentary and with the birth of my son (2004) I reached my highest weight 280 lbs. Over the next 6 years I have yo-yo’d and eventually ended up here at 301.

Looking for where to start? Here's a good place.

Walking is the easiest and cheapest form of exercise for me–as I am on disability and can’t afford a gym. But I get so discouraged at the amount of walking I am “told” to do to lose weight.

Can you give me the brief step by step that you started with?

First and foremost, it is true – 3500 calories worth of burned energy equals one pound. That’s why it is especially important to manage your food intake and be active on a regular basis. Don’t focus on that, though.

When I first started, I worked out in a gym. Still ate like crap, eating crap in boxes and microwaveables, and didn’t lose much considering how hard I was working.

It wasn’t until I fixed my eating habits that I realized I needed to place a priority on eating as cleanly as possible. The weight just started to fall off. The more I lost, the more difficult it became to lose. Why is that? Because as your body shrinks, it burns less calories. I had to keep changing my habits and understand that I couldn’t possibly eat as much as I used to.

From there, I began walking. I’d just take my two year old and we’d go walking for a half an hour every day. It was how I’d relax and destress. The weight began falling off again.

From here, I began trying out yoga. A few minutes of yoga each day with walking and clean eating had me on a healthy path. After that, I added some strength training using things I had around the house. I couldn’t really go to a gym, because I had no regular sitter for my little one.

Now, I run. A lot. I eat very cleanly and I am a stickler about my activity levels. I made sure that I lost the weight in a way that I could maintain forever, and working out at home and using the legs that I was born with would always be with me.. money or not.

This is the problem that I have with the fitness industry. They only way they can ensure that they continue to make money is to convince you that you have to spend money in order to develop and maintain your fitness. They don’t even tell you to put your health before your appearance, because they know that goading us about our appearance is what’ll drain us of our money first. I have a gym membership now, but that’s only because for my very specific goals right now, the equipment at the gym makes life easier while I slowly invest in building a gym at home for myself. The way I was doing things before would work just fine for me.

The reality is that exercise is meant to preserve your quality of life and ability to function properly. It is not meant to be used as a way to negate your bad eating habits. It can to an extent, but realize this – you WILL be struggling if you develop this kind of mentality. This is why I focus on eating habits so much.. just because I know I’m not the only person who didn’t know anything about why some foods just are not… well, food.

Because I know I kind of gave a quick and dirty answer to this question, and because I know I’ve written more detailed accounts of my experiences elsewhere on this site… the following links should be considered good reading for someone who wants to follow how I did what I did, and get a better idea of how they can do it too:

Best of luck to you!

Do you think there are any other BGG2WL posts belong on this list?

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Enjoyceinglife September 22, 2010 - 10:53 AM

This was very helpful to me. I just began reading your blog about a month ago and while I have been inspired, I, too, was wondering just where to start. I appreciate this. I’m penning in me time in my calendar to focus more on my goals of dumping my hypertension medicine and losing 50 lbs within a year. Thanks much!

Trina September 22, 2010 - 11:57 AM

This blog has only helped cement the changes that I have known I needed to make over the course of this year. I’m on the pathway now but am only just realizing that it truly is the nutrition part of it. Now eating clean is everywhere around me, from this blog to the magazine that I just subscribed to, Oxygen. It’s everywhere and I love it. Thank you for making all of your tips and advice easy to understand. Also thanks for throwing down the knowledge in a way that allows us to soak it in without overwhelming us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Erika September 22, 2010 - 4:26 PM


Tina F. September 22, 2010 - 12:14 PM

Erika, could you please add the fiber article to the list? Eventually, she will need that as well. Just a thought… Thank you

Erika September 22, 2010 - 4:26 PM

Your wish… my command. 🙂

The Bapster September 22, 2010 - 4:15 PM

Thank you so much for posting my letter so quickly…your advice is a life saver.

Erika September 22, 2010 - 4:26 PM

If ever there’s anything else you wanna know… just ask. 🙂

Co Co October 27, 2010 - 1:53 PM

Beginning is often the hardest part. I completely agree with you about the fitness industry. I personally work out at home. I use those different On-Demand/exercise tv routines and I have a good time, and I’m seeing results. Also since there’s such a variety it doesn’t get boring and monotonous.

Erica January 4, 2011 - 7:37 PM

GREAT POST!! I stumbled across your blog one day and I’m soooo happy I did! 😀

Jaquanda January 18, 2011 - 8:44 AM

Hey Hun, I came upon your blog link and I decided to check it out…I am really glad I did because I am 22 years old and wear a size 24 in pants…I lost weight one time and now I am bigger than I have ever been…to be honest I do not know where to start and I would like to use your blog as a guide…I want to start one of my own..can you tell me how??

Erika January 18, 2011 - 10:03 AM

http://www.wordpress.com is a great start, mama.

LISA January 19, 2011 - 4:23 PM


OMGTre January 19, 2011 - 5:25 PM

I’m so glad this lady asked this question as I found it hard to see where to start as well. *Off to read*

Angela January 19, 2011 - 11:30 PM

Hey Soror,
I think that you are a Zeta, couldn’t really tell by your picture?

Anyway, it had to be God who had me come across your website. I read your story and want to personally thank you for sharing. I am about 5’7 and almost 300lbs myself. I have always big my entire life and was always comfortable being big, I played tennis, basketball, softball and very active but was always the biggest person on the team. Never really had issues with confidence or with guys. Currently, I am a mother and wife and for the first time in my life, I don’t wanna big fat anymore. Everyone tells you to do this or that. But like you I don’t agree with some of the tactics they use. I really want to lose at least 100lbs by the end of the year and your site is a great start for me. I could use the encouragement!

Erika January 20, 2011 - 4:05 AM

Zeta? Nope. 🙂

Chundra September 28, 2011 - 2:51 PM

Hey Erica I use the eat 2 meals a day and work out 5 days a week. I know you have an article about not doing that. I have like 5 more pounds to lose to get to 20lbs off of the 70lbs I am trying to lose. But I have been on 185 up and down for 2 weeks. That’s because I have not been focused. I am going grocery shopping this week to create my 2 meals a day to lose weight,so I won’t be tempted to eat chips and drink.

Tremilla November 1, 2011 - 10:22 AM

Loved this article! Every tip you shared is beneficial. I have a gym membership but I love my walking. It does relieve stress and it gives me time to sort out my thoughts. You are a girl who knows her stuff. Thankful for you and your blog!

Carolyn Armstrong April 6, 2012 - 5:49 PM

Hi Erika,
I really love your blog. I like the colorful appeal and the layout. This is a perfect example of a one stop health and wellness blog with all the information you need.

Jocelyn April 9, 2012 - 5:21 PM

Wow I loved this blog. I found your page by accident on FB about 3 weeks ago and I have been on it every since. This is just the blog I was looking for because I was truly one of those people that wanted to eat wrong and exercise to lose weight. I have been “educating” myself on eating habits for at least two years and have slowly and I do mean slowly made some changes but I found myself falling back into the same patterns. It is so great to find a place where people struggle like me, but the most comforting thing I find on this site is you, a regular person who lost weight with no gimmicks, no quick fixes and no surgeries. Thank you for starting this blog.

Unique June 13, 2012 - 7:53 PM

I so appreciate your blog, I’m glad this was re-posted as well. I’ve gained so much dietary knowledge by following you and am motivated, encouraged, inspired to say the least but I don’t know what my problem is at times because it seems I have a mental block I’m trying to get through in order to get on & stay on track in my journey. Getting started and refraining from sabotaging of my progress is what I’m working on. I’m doing better with curbing sugar, processed foods & such but I’m not being active like I need to. I have major medical issues & my children only have me so it’s a must that I get it together. I think that in my attempts of cleaner eating my issue comes from eating too much(constantly snacking) like a whole bag of baby carrots, or container of raw almonds/cashews, then falling back into munching on some bread after I’ve had a sweet potato b/c it’s guilty eating then from over indulgence. Ok sorry I’m rambling, but it’s hard for me to stay motivated b/c I don’t have a good support system that’s why I appreciate being able to come here, everytime someone is supposed to be there I’m standing alone which is ironic I suppose since it’s MY issue not theirs. Thanks for all that you do and for letting me share(vent)

Sunshyne Smith January 30, 2013 - 5:34 PM

Even though I am not in the starter position this was still good information for me to keep me on track thank you!!!!

christine January 31, 2013 - 4:18 PM

When I first started, I worked out in a gym. Still ate like crap, eating crap in boxes and microwaveables, and didn’t lose much considering how hard I was working.

Excerpted from Q&A Wednesday: Where Do I Begin? | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
That was a light bulb moment for me too! Just because your work out doesn’t mean you can eat half a pizza lol

Denice November 21, 2014 - 8:03 PM

Or (cough, cough) a half a pizza and an order of wings!!!!! Slowly but surely getting my diet (as in the foods I eat on a daily basis, not some restrictive short term eating plan!!) on track. I’ve given up fast food (but I can see Mickey D’s from the running track!!! whine, whine, whine!) sugar, Pepsi, Crystal Light and most packaged foods. I’ve increased my veggie intake 100%…I NEVER ate veggies, a fact my mother will verify! I’m shopping from the outer edges of the grocery store and reading labels and calorie counting. In short I have changed not just my “lifestyle”, I’ve changed my life!

Catherine August 23, 2013 - 7:34 PM

OMG I needed this to read this I need encouragement that is what I needed … I have been very sad about my situ now I know I can do this ..

Just_Joi September 4, 2013 - 5:26 PM

Hi Erica!

I am enjoying this blog immensely! I first googled BMI is stupid and it offered up your blog, from there you posted a link in the comments to this post. I am currently walking 6-8 miles 6-7 days a week. While I have lost 39lbs, I still feel like my thighs aren’t as great as I would imagine someone who walks this much to be. Should I start running? Will weights make me bulky. I naturally have big thighs so I am nervous about making them bigger. Any advice?

Erika Nicole Kendall September 7, 2013 - 1:02 AM

Well, to be fair, it’s walking. You want to pick up the pace on the progress, pick up the speed. Start wogging or c-2-5k a bit.

I’d absolutely run, and NO, weights will not make you bulky. If you’re cutting calories appropriately and eating adequate protein, you’ll likely not make any major gains in muscle… it’ll just be just enough for you to maintain any muscle you have. Besides, it takes YEARS to “bulk up.”

Pamela September 14, 2013 - 7:04 AM

I have been struggling with weight loss a long time now. I have reached my max weight. I weighed yesterday and I weigh 270 pounds. I have always been a big girl but this is ridiculous. I can’t wear any of my clothes and I don’t want to buy any in my size. So I guess that means I got to get up off my butt and do something about it. i have lost weight before but then I get comfortable and gain it back plus some. I really enjoy reading your blog. I hope to use your blog to keep me motivated and by the way you look amazing you did a great job.

Brandi October 2, 2013 - 5:44 PM

Your site is such a BLESSING! I just came across your website and was, too, looking around for where to start. And how appropriate that the original post was on my birthday this year! I just turned 28 and I stepped on the scale at 200. I’m 5’4 and until I started law school 2 years ago I had never been more than 140 lbs. I really want to get this weight off and be healthy. I hurt physically and emotionally. I’ve been doing 2 a days for about a month now with no change and I am guessing I really need to change my eating. Looking at myself makes me want to cry most times, but seeing your posts and the supportive community behind you, I feel that I should keep going and not get down on myself. Hopefully little by little my body and my spirit will change for the better.

val April 12, 2014 - 12:59 PM

May God bless you over and over again for reaching out to those of us who are fighting this battle to lose weight and be healthy. I woke up this morning weighed myself after another week of dieting with very little movement on the scales, and started to feel sorry for myself. After a little cry I opened my email and happened to start reading your blog. I feel encouraged and motivated again. Thank You!!! May your cup over flow with blessings.

Melissa Craig June 19, 2014 - 7:37 AM

First link, A Very Big Piece of My Weight Loss – not working! 🙁

Erika Nicole Kendall June 24, 2014 - 12:19 PM

Should work now. 🙂

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