When one discovers their passion in life, a sense of purpose manifests and doors begin to open.
My blog was birthed out of my need for personal accountability to myself to remain fit, maintain my weight loss, and to help others who are still in the fight.
I struggled with weight my entire life and tried every diet known to man. The scales would go up and down, up and down until they finally kept going up. In 2009, I developed Type 2 Diabetes and I was diagnosed with hypertension years before. Self-hatred and depression constantly plagued me because I often wondered how I could do this to myself. I was my worse critic. It was at that moment in my life that I realized I was an emotional eater. Happy, sad, angry or indifferent– no matter how I felt, I turned to food as my comfort.
In the summer of 2009, I had to see 3 different specialists-an endocrinologist, cardiologist, and a pulmonary specialist, along with my primary care physician. I was 36 years old and felt as if I was 80 having gone to so many doctors, yet according to my age I was still young. I was in denial for the longest about my chronic illnesses. Being overweight, diabetic, hypertensive and depressed was a dangerous game to play and I felt as if I was losing out on life.
I started my weight loss and fitness journey in 2010 after being sick and tired of being sick and tired. I weighed 342lbs and wore a size 32. That was the heaviest I had ever been. I wanted that to be the last time I’d ever see that number on the scale or tag in the back of my clothing. It was my goal to become healthy, fit, and medication-free by the time I turned forty in December 2013. “Fit by Forty!” #fitbyforty became my new mantra.
I didn’t know how I was going to achieve my goal in losing weight, but I knew I had to start somewhere. At the time, I couldn’t afford a gym membership, nutritionist, weight-loss pills, supplements or a personal trainer. Gastric bypass and Lap Band surgery weren’t options for me (even if I could afford them), because I knew with sheer will and determination I could do this on my own without any extra means. I didn’t have any help gaining the weight, so I felt like I didn’t need surgery or other supplements to help me lose it either. I don’t criticize others for having surgery, I just knew that it wasn’t for me.
This had to be a lifestyle change because temporary diets had failed me one too many times. So I decided to do research on my own on how to eat and live a healthier life. I also used free outdoor resources such as walking through neighborhoods and the park. I looked up exercise videos on you tube and used my body as resistance for strength training. I had no more excuses. I couldn’t let work, life, lack of time, money, willingness, or emotional roller coasters deter me from reaching my goal in achieving good health.
This weight loss journey was one of the loneliest periods in my life. I cried often and couldn’t find any accountability partners to take this walk with me. I was in it to win it alone with the grace of God. I remembered listening to Bishop Walker of Mt. Zion out of Nashville on many of my daily walks. His sermons really helped get me through most days when I felt like giving up. It wasn’t until later in my journey that I realized this was how it was meant to be; for it was unto Him that I would give honor and glory for my health, wellness and healing…not man.
I did a 180 turnaround in terms of how I ate and exercised. I would eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, breakfast every morning, I read every label and went by serving sizes. I learned how to balance my meals and portion control. I meal prepped and planned. My palate had changed where I was eating things I never said I would and now I enjoy preparing new dishes and creating my own recipes. I switched out all of my white foods such as sugar, flour, pasta, rice and bread for whole wheat options. I learned about high and low glycemic foods, starchy vs non starchy veggies, good and bad fats, limiting processed foods, how to grocery shop and a lot of other things about eating healthy. Walking 2 to 3 miles daily turned into going to zumba, ab labs, boot camps and eventually running. I figured out what my trigger points were when I wanted to emotionally eat and used exercise and other positive activities instead to fill the void or combat the emotion.
I surrounded myself with positive affirmations because everyday wasn’t going to be a good day, but each day was another opportunity to get it right. I began to become more sociable and learned how to handle stress better. I finally was getting my life back and I was going full force with it. There was no turning back.
As of today, I accomplished my goal of being healthy and free by my 40th birthday! I have lost 177 lbs, have been medication-free for over 5 years, reversed my diabetes, no longer have hypertension, and I went from a size 32 to a size 6-8. Best of all, I am mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically free and well on my road to self discovery. I have also become an avid runner and have completed several 5K’s and my first half marathon in 2 hours and 44 minutes. Not too bad for my first half.
In 2015, I founded “Fit and Finally Free, a lifestyle, fitness and weight management company that was birthed out of my need for personal accountability to remain fit, maintain my weight loss, and to help others who are still in the fight in the war of obesity.
I was featured on NBC’s, “The Today Show,” the national running publication, “Women’s Running Magazine, Redbook Magazine, Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz online,TBN, Yahoo Health, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail UK, CNN, Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine, local news outlets and many other national outlets for my 177 pound natural weight loss, overcoming diabetes, hypertension, and how running saved my life.
Fit and Finally Free provides lifestyle and wellness coaching, perinatal health services,, healthy meal planning and cooking classes, corporate wellness programs, pantry and refrigerator makeovers, healthy grocery store tours, public speaking, lunch and learns, personal training, group exercise classes, various yoga classes,, running programs, race event management and direction. I share ny healthy recipes, daily meals and workouts with my friends and followers through my social media networks and guest appearances.
I am the author of an E-book entitled, “How to Shop and Eat Healthy on a Budget,” an E-Cookbook, “The Healthy Budgetnista 25 Recipes for Busy People on the Go: Affordable, Healthy and Delicious Recipes from my Pantry and Fridge to your Dinner Table, a Lifestyle and Wellness Day Planner, “Embrace Life: Lifestyle and Wellness Planner. 365 Days of Inspiration, Forecasting and Fitness,” and is the co-author of Storealities: A Collection of Stories By Empowering Women to Empower Women and Beyond the Loss: Breaking the Stigma of Depression and Suicide.
I am a Simple Truth Brand Ambassador for Kroger and a Global Athletic Brand Ambassador for Balega Socks, On Running Swiss Performance Shoes, and RoadID for their North American Region. I served as a recipe developer for Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine and Nashville Fit Magazine and as the Lifestyle and Wellness Columnist for The Best Times Newsmagazine sharing my healthy recipes, wellness education and personal stories.
Currently, I am certified in personal training, group exercise, indoor cycling, barre, mat pilates, core and functional fitness, body pump, bootcamp, Silver Sneakers Yoga, Classic, BOOM Muscle, BOOM Move, Foundations and Nutrition for Optimal Aging, Myofascial release foam rolling, congregational health promotion, adult and youth mental health first aid, as a Certified Nutrition Educator from the Utah State University Extension Program, as a Certified SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) Leader from the Tennessee Commission of Aging and Disability, and as a Healthy for Life 2.0 Facilitator from the American Heart Association.
Also, I am a certified RRCA Running Coach, USA Track and Field Level One Coach with the United States of America Track and Field Association and the only African American and African American woman who is a certified RRCA Race Director in the state of Tennessee. I have numerous professional continued educational courses in the areas of nutrition and exercises for people dealing with Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Since I’ve started running in 2014, I’ve completed every running distance besides an ultra marathon including 15 half marathons, 2 marathons, 2 Ragnar 200 mile relays, and a Big Buffalo 50k relay. Her goal is to complete 50 half marathons in all 50 states before I turn 50.
I’m the official certified corporate running coach for the City of Memphis where I have successfully trained city employees to complete a 5k with the American Heart Association’s Mid-South Heart Walk and Red Dress Dash and the St. Jude Walk/Run for Childhood Cancer Awareness events.
In 2018, I made it to the final round in Nashville during the nationwide search for Season Nine of Masterchef. I have been featured as a celebrity guest chef for the Southern Women’s Show and was named as one of the New Century Memphians whom are making a difference in the community by changing the world around us for Memphis in May and it’s Bicentennial celebration.
In the Summer of 2019, REI-Co-op Headquarters, Tastemade a global and digital food and travel network for millenials and Shelby Farms Park filmed a mini documentary about my weight loss and running journey called, “Pedals through Pavement,” examining the power of the outdoors in urban environments through the eyes of the people who utilize and maintain them.
In 2019 and 2020, Fit and Finally Free was recognized by the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness as a Healthier Tennessee Workplace by implementing wellness programs that will benefit employees’ health and well being in the state of Tennessee.
In March of 2020 once the pandemic hit, I knew I had to pivot my business. While devastated in what my life was, I focused on what my life could be by evaluating where the pandemic exposed socio-economic, health and racial disparities, food insecurities and educational gaps.
Stress, despair, hunger, depression, anxiety and other physical and mental health issues affected the well-being of adults and children throughout the pandemic.
I saw the benefits of yoga during my quiet time in the pandemic, how children benefitted from practicing yoga and mindfulness, as well as African American women and infants were dying at alarming rates during and after childbirth due to health disparities, not being taken seriously, and postpartum mood disorders in comparison to their white counterparts and infants. I noticed there was a need of representation in this wellness area in Memphis.
While in the pandemic, I completed my 200 hour yoga, 200 hour yoga sculpt, baby, restorative, chair and ayurveda specialist teacher training and registered with Yoga Alliance and the Black Yoga Teacher Alliance. I am also a BADT Trained Full Spectrum Doula and DONA Trained Birth Doula through Birth Blessings. I was awarded diversity scholarships throughout the US by Three and a Half Acres Yoga, Corepower Yoga, Trinatal Yoga, Cosmic Kids Yoga, Yogi Beans, Birthing Advocacy Doula Training, BeMore Empowered and Lululemon’s Here to Be initiative to become certified in trauma sensitive and service based yoga, yoga sculpt, prenatal and postnatal yoga, children’s yoga, baby yoga, become a full spectrum birth and postpartum doula, service and compassionate leadership in yoga for black women, a United States Track and Field Association Level One Coach and how to grow her wellness through a brand to business accelerator program with Tru3 Yoga Agency based out of Kuwait/Florida, and the Women’s Entrepreneurship program through Cornell University.
In my spare time, I volunteer on the St. Jude Heroes Ambassador Board, as a St. Jude National Social Media Influencer and is the past Faith Based Organizational Chair over their Walk/Run event to end childhood cancer. I was also featured as a volunteer spotlight in their national video campaign for National Volunteer Week, on their digital communications board throughout the hospital as well as internal and external marketing materials for St. Jude.
Currently, I am a Memphis River Parks Partnership Ambassador, an American Diabetes Association advocate, member of the Black Yoga Teacher Alliance, USA Track and Field Association, Yoga Alliance and the Junior League of Memphis where I am the Founder of the JFIT Health and Wellness Affinity Group and serve on the Training Council where I facilitate wellness training sessions and initiatives to develop, equip and empower women in mind, body and spirit. I was former volunteer assistant running coach for 3 seasons with Girls on the Run.
As a woman in business, I am certified as a Minority Business Enterprise, Small Business Enterprise and Locally Owned Small Business through the City of Memphis and Shelby County Government.
You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn @fitandfinallyfree
I’m excited about this new phase in my life and the possibilities of bringing families together and empowering individuals to join me in getting fit and finally free through:
●Lifestyle coaching and weight management services
●The joy of trying new foods and cooking their favorite dishes with a healthier twist.
●Uncovering fantastic food and product finds
●Perinatal health, mindfulness and yoga services
●Conducting meal prepping, private and group cooking lessons, my cookbooks and e-books
●Pantry and refrigerator makeovers
●Living healthy on a budget grocery store tours
●Running classes and clinics to help people become active or achieve their dreams of running a race.
I pray my online and in person presence will prove as a source of encouragement and empowerment for you in your personal wellness journey. If you desire one-on-one coaching or our other services, feel free to set your appointment today.
Contact us by phone at 901-794-4438 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.