As I begin to take my weight loss more seriously than I ever have in my life, I’m always on the lookout for people who have lost a great deal of weight and dramatically changed their life in the process.
Yvette Nathan-Jones is one of those people.
After reading her weight loss success story on the Hufington Post, I had to ask Yvette about what her life was like before her 105lb weight loss, how she was able to create the momentum to get started and keep going, and what her life is like now.
Just a quick note: The audio quality isn’t as high as it should have been. I’m working with a new microphone and didn’t get the recording settings quite right.
However, it is still an in depth and incredibly motivating interview that I hope you will enjoy.
Time: 70 mins
Read the full transcript of the interview: show
Welcome to Eat. Sleep. Move. A podcast devoted to helping you lose weight, get healthy and have an amazing life.
Here’s your host, Wendy Wallace.
Wendy: Yes, I am Wendy Wallace and thank you so much for listening to the Eat. Sleep. Move. Podcast. As I begin to take my own weight loss more seriously than I ever have in my life, I am on the lookout for people who have lost a great deal of weight and dramatically changed their life in the process. Essentially I’m looking for people who have accomplished the goals that I have for myself right now.
Yvette Nathan-Jones is one of those people. After reading about her weight loss success story on the Huffington Post, I had to ask Yvette about what her life was like before her 105lb weight loss, how she was able to create the momentum to get started and keep going, and what her life is like now.
Before we get to the interview, I just want to make a quick note about the audio quality. It really isn’t as high as it should have been. I am working with a new microphone and I didn’t quite get the recording settings right this time. However, it is still an in-depth and incredibly motivating interview that I hope you will enjoy.
Before I start delving into questions about your weight loss and how you went about doing it, can you just tell everyone right now exactly where you are right today in terms of your age, your weight and what you’ve accomplished.
Yvette: I’m 37 years old and I currently weigh 185lb. My goal weight is 165lb so I have a few more pounds left to go. Due to the weight loss, my doctor released me off my medications. I have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and Hypertension and I was on medications for about four or five years. He finally allowed me to just monitor those Hypertension and Diabetes with diet and exercise.
Wendy: That is really, really amazing. I don’t know whether to say congratulations on your success because it’s not about luck or anything, but great job with that!
Yvette: Thank you.
Wendy: Obviously we’re going to delve into how it is that you did it. But let’s back up because I read that you gained most of your weight during the time that you were pregnant with your two children.
Wendy: But before the pregnancies, let’s talk about when you were 180lb back then. What was life like for you at 180lb? You were still carrying a bit of weight, right?
Yvette: Most of the weight I gained was in my senior year in college. I was holding a steady 135lb-150lb at 5’7” all through high school and my first three years in college. Then I had gotten on birth control and of course they say you’d gain all your weight when you get on the pill. But I didn’t.
I stayed active. I was on the marching band for three years at Albany State University where I went for undergrad, as well as my roommate. In our senior year, we thought we could focus on internships and graduating and then we just kind of noticed, oh my gosh, we are growing up! What’s going on here? So what used to be a size 8 ended up being a size 12, which was still okay.
When I needed to buy a formal for an event at school, that was kind of an eye-opener for me. I said, I needed to cut back on the late night eating. You know, how we do when we study late at night and we eat to stay awake.
Once I graduated, I was still kind of holding steady. Once I got married two or three months after I graduated, that was when those few pounds of wedding bliss as they call it occurred. And then I was at 180lb to 190lb, fluctuating before then.
So that was my pre-pregnancy weight for my first child. That was when everything just skyrocketed after that.
Wendy: So then your highest weight was 290lb, right?
Yvette: Highest weight was 290lb, yeah. I would say it probably was higher than that but I just kind of believed that when there was time for me to be on the scale there was no scale available, just to save my sanity because I don’t know how I would have reacted to see 300lb on the scale. But the highest weight at the time that I ever got on the scale was 290lb.
Wendy: I want to talk to you about seeing that number on the scale and how that impacted you. But before I ask that question, I’m curious about what life was like for you at 290lb, because obviously there was time in your life when you were active. You’ve kind of had a connection with your body, right? Like you knew what exercising and eating well could do for you. But obviously you got busy and had other priorities. Would you say that you checked out and just began neglecting yourself, not in a harmful way but you were just not making that mind-body connection? I’m curious about what it was like for you physically and then, I guess, psychologically being at 290lb.
Yvette: Well, for a long time I didn’t realize I was that heavy. Luckily I didn’t get sick very often, being that heavy or catching cold or anything like that. I didn’t know because often I didn’t have a scale at home. But I noticed there was being sluggish, having to buy plus size clothes. Plus six clothes cost much more than regular clothes that are size 12 and below.
I went in denial, I guess. I can’t say I ever got comfortable because I was never comfortable being that heavy. But, in a way, I guess I just wished it away until there were times when I had to stay fit. Most of the focus were on the kids. I mean I had two small kids at that time so you tend to take the focus off you and shift it to the more impaired of me which were the kids.
That was when I moved back to Columbus when I tried to once again establish a weight loss program when I had to get on the scale and face the fact that I weighed 290lb. I just kind of cried and had a panic attack.
When I was heavy when I lived in St. Louis I didn’t want to come home. I didn’t want people to see me. I remember one time I was at the mall and someone said, “Oh girl, you got big!” and I was mortified. I was really, really uncomfortable with that.
I never really got comfortable being that fat. I was very unhappy which led to different bouts of depression and I always said I had to do something. I actually did something. When I was in St. Louis I went to Weight Watchers and I actually lost 40lb. I got active again. That felt good. But being on one income, I stayed at home with my kids. At that time there was a freeze on raises. My husband hadn’t had a raise in four years. So I had to stop but then I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter.
I guess the best way I can say how I dealt with it is by ignoring it. That’s pretty much what I did.
Wendy: So then, you get on the scale and you’re going to face the fact that you’re 290lb. You just explained that you had a bit of a panic attack. But there comes that moment when you’re feeling overwhelmed by this reality and there are two ways you can go – you can either face it then start to get proactive or you can just be numb to it. I’m curious because obviously something within your mind clicked and you began to become proactive. How did that happen? How did you rise above the panic, shame, guilt, whatever feelings you were feeling to start making changes?
Yvette: It started when my arm was hurting and I thought I was having a heart attack. My husband rushed me to the ER and that time we were back here in my hometown Columbus, Georgia. I just started to get uncomfortable and I needed to go to the ER. My background is in healthcare so I know the signs and symptoms of heart attack, stroke, etc. So I get there and my blood pressure is 200 and something over high 100. A part of that probably was fear. You know, your blood pressure rises when you’re nervous or having an anxiety. But at the same time, the ER nurses are saying, “You need to go to the doctor and you need to get on some medications.”
So the idea of me having a heart attack and a stroke was really the main thing that kind of kicked everything in the gear. When I finally go to a follow-up appointment with my PCP, my regular doctor, he puts me on all these medications. He diagnosed me with Diabetes Type II with Hypertension, and that puts me on three medications, two of them being brand names and two of them being very expensive.
I just remember him saying, “You know, Yvette, you don’t always have to get the value meal. You can be satisfied with the happy meal or the kid’s meal.” I was mortified. I cannot believe he said that to me. That just added on to the whole thing. You put yourself in this position. You know, trying to work through the depression and blaming myself for being the way I am. I was kind of blaming my husband because even though he loves me unconditionally I felt like he didn’t do a good job to give me at least a little hint. Hey, babe, let’s get healthier…
It was a lot of emotional turmoil that I went through. But that was it. Then that was when I said, okay, I have to do something. And I did. I started Weight Watchers. That didn’t give me the results I was looking for. I still wasn’t fit. But I stuck with it for a little bit. Then I went to Bariatric Doctor here and that didn’t do it. She was pretty expensive.
I went to one other place. I got a personal trainer. That worked out for a little bit. But due to me going back to school and we had a scheduling conflict and so I couldn’t go to her anymore. I didn’t know what to do. I had lost 20lb with her. Then I was like, okay, what am I going to do? I’m still large and I’m still morbidly obese. 20lb can get right back on just easily as I lost it.
My cousin introduced me to a person that she went to. This lady didn’t advertise or anything. That was how it started. I went to one boot camp that she had and I was hooked.
Wendy: I want to ask you about exercise in a moment but there are a couple of things that also come to mind. When you tell that story about that comment that your doctor made, it reminds me of an experience that I had one time when I was just so mortified and embarrassed.
I went to my doctor and he had an issue with my weight and it happened to be Thanksgiving Weekend. I was walking out of his office, he was walking me out, and he said, “Happy Thanksgiving,” and he made some comments about how I shouldn’t be eating turkey. He made some authentic comments about how I should lay off the turkey. It really struck me.
I’m going to ask you if you kind of went through the same thing where you live your life and you’re in your comfort zone and maybe you’re at home with your kids and you’re just doing your thing. You’re not really impacted by the way that other people see you. Then when you go out into the world and you’re dealing with people you haven’t seen in a while or total strangers and they make comments. And it dawns on you that you’re actually really big or different, or people see you as being different.
Wendy: And then you have this weird reality or this identity crisis because you don’t feel like you’re morbidly obese, that you don’t see yourself that way. You don’t identify as being someone like that but yet that’s the way the world sees you. Did you ever have that conflicting stuff in your head?
Yvette: People can be really insensitive. What I can say as far as the people that are in my sphere of influence, the friends that I hang around being in St. Louis and here in Columbus, they never really said anything about me and my weight. But then at the same time they were overweight. So you can’t really point a finger at anyone. I also have some good, good friends from college. They would say something like you got a little round over the years or things of that nature.
A lot of the things that people wanted to say, they have taken the time on Facebook to write me. My close friends would call me and tell me how they were concerned I was dying. They saw me and they knew me when I was smaller so they were really concerned. Even my parents, they never said anything until after the fact when the weight started coming off.
As far as my doctors, they were brutal and that was just really difficult to deal with. My medical assistant from my OB-GYN, they were like, “Girl, what have happened to you?” I was like, “Ahh, I had some kids.” And they were like, “Where did you get all this weight from?” I was like, “Uhm, having kids…?” I mean you didn’t really know what to say. So I was really embarrassed. I felt that was just downright embarrassing because I was heavy and it would be an embarrassing experience. There were times when I would not go in two or three years. I would just risk it and not go because I didn’t want to be put on the exam table.
Yvette: So the doctors, for the most part, were really brutally honest. But my friends who I saw on a day to day basis, they didn’t say too much because we were all overweight. We all tried to be proactive about it here and there. My friends that were long distance that I didn’t see often, they just told me how it was. That’s what I was afraid of because I knew it. I kept blaming myself and I didn’t want to hear it because you’ll just tell me something I already knew.
I got mixed responses. I think in their own way they were trying to be supportive. But you have some people that are just blatant with their words and then you have some people who try to sugarcoat it so it doesn’t taste so bad.
Wendy: Here’s something I’m also curious about. You tried various things.
Wendy: But what I’m wondering is, was there ever a time when you really wanted to go to extremes with your weight? Like I think of The Biggest Loser has been on TV for almost a decade or something like that.
Yvette: Wait a minute, hmm.
Wendy: I realized every time I’d really wanted to get serious about losing weight, I’d be like, okay, if I could just work out like three hours a day and eat 1200 calories and work out really hard and do it and go at it hard, I could lose that weight. I actually had stopped watching the show to be able to start thinking more sensibly. Did you ever go through a phase like that?
Yvette: I did. Actually, my cousin and I sent in a video to try to get in the show. Of course we didn’t get picked or called back. I think that would be the most extreme.
Well, there are three things I can think about. First, try to get on The Biggest Loser. And I actually thought about getting into bulimia. I figured I can just throw it all up and then I’ll get the results that these other girls get. But it was just something about sticking my finger down my throat that I just couldn’t do it. So I just never tried that it did came to mind.
Another thing that I thought about was just starting myself to get in the hospital and start off being fed on a tube or something and that will jumpstart some weight loss and then I could just pick up from there. But it got to a point where my mindset was not in a good place and to me it was a desperate measure.
I know it was wrong, I know it wasn’t the right answer, but I was desperate. I needed something to get me started. Because I rationalize everything and I look at the pros and the cons, other than The Biggest Loser, I chose not to partake in those activities. But it comes to mind. It really does.
So those would be my most extreme measures that I have considered.
Wendy: I also read that you said that you wanted to lose weight for your daughters. Obviously you want to be there for them long-term. But of course at the end of the day it’s about you and you’re doing it for yourself. How did you get to that point where you were able to begin to focus on yourself? You still had the same responsibilities that you did but you really began to again connect with your body and want to take care of yourself.
Yvette: When I started boot camp with my trainer, Katrina, my first month or so was really difficult. I did a lot of crying and I was slow. I was sore. I realized that the first thing was the fact that I needed to be there for my daughters, and my husband for that fact, but then when I started to liking how I looked in the mirror I started to change. In two weeks time I noticed some inches milking away from my waist and around my body. Then it got to be, okay, this can be a hobby. I kind of liked it.
And so when a schedule was established, these days I would do this and these days would be designated for this – I sat down with everyone at the table and I was like, I’m getting really serious about this and we need to just make sure we can work out scheduling and everything works out. These are the days I’m dedicating to my goal, my weight loss. Everyone was really supportive. I think once I got into the groove it became more so like a personal goal for me. Like, okay, you actually can do this so let’s push yourself and see how far you can go.
Every month it was like, okay, let’s try to lose 10lb a month and let’s do this and let’s do that. And I did. I mean I would just make a vow that I was just going to go hard and not give up. And then I would get up in the morning, I would look at myself and I would say, okay, this area we need to work on… keep doing cardio. I was reflecting on what I’ve eaten, thinking about what I wanted to eat in the latter part of the week and what I needed to do to eat that and not be detrimental to what I’ve been working on.
When we got to that point to the particulars it really started becoming a focus that this is a personal thing for me.
Wendy: I want to back up to the first month of working out. Again, it’s kind of a mindset thing. Obviously you mentioned that it was difficult for you physically but I’m wondering what it was that kept you going. I would imagine like not only is it difficult physically, but mentally you’re thinking, I can’t believe that I can’t do this when ten or fifteen years ago I could have done it easily, or I should be able to do this – why can’t I do this? This just hurts and it’s just easier not to do it, and then you start kind of rationalizing or telling yourself something to ease away from the discomfort. How did you get through that initial time to be able to get to a place where it was, for lack of a better word, easier?
Yvette: My husband was very supportive because like I said there was a lot of crying in a lot of days where I was sore. I wanted to call out at work but I never did. When my students realized I was working out when I finally told them, I would come to school walking slow and they were like, “You must have worked out this morning.” I was like, “Yes.” It’s drive. I can’t even really explain.
One thing is that $332 a month of medications tends to inspire you when you don’t want to give that up. When you are in flexcar that’s being used up because you’re paying this amount of money every month, then you definitely want to come up with something and you know the only answer is to lose weight. When you look at old pictures then you realize that you were healthier then and in shape and active. You know, you want to go back to that. So you use that as drive to press on.
I’m competitive because I’m an athlete. And so getting out there, working out every day is okay. There’s an A Group and a B Group and I thought I wanted to get in the A Group. So I worked hard so I can get in the A Group.
I don’t know. I always tell people that you have to find that one thing that’s going to perpetually motivate you to do it and to see it through. Now, although I lost 175lb I’m not content. Now that I can see the muscles and the sculpting of my body, there are still certain areas that I want to fix. Plus, I haven’t reached my goal weight. So I just want to stay focused and not be content; not eat things that I’m really not supposed to be eating. And if I do, just not indulge in them every day or what have you.
It’s just a matter of mindset. This is the end result. How do I get there? Surrounding yourself by people who want to push you to get there, because I can tell you as I started losing weight, people started saying some nasty things and it just got to a point where you had to let those people go.
It’s just like you’re not there to support me like I thought you would. We can still be friends but we’re just not going to be on that level. That’s not me telling them. That’s just me making them to know. Okay, so we can be friends but it’s just not going to be what it used to be or what have you. There will be some people that really don’t want to see you be successful and they’re going to try to sabotage you or break your spirit. But you have to know what you want to do and then you just have to stay focused and follow through.
Wendy: Can you tell me what workouts were like at the beginning at that first month? And then also tell me what they’re like now.
Yvette: Oh my gosh, horrible. Okay, I’ll give you an example. I cannot remember my very, very first boot camp. I can tell you about my husband since I came there and I closed the garage door and I walked up to him. I just put my hand on his shoulder and I just cried. I said I’m not going to quit.
But I do remember a boot camp where we had to run a hill, and it’s not even a big hill. That was our warm-up. We could jog or sprint; she gave us a choice. Of course me being heavy, I sprint at it. I remember we had to walk back up the sidewalk to go to the parking lot to finish up and I couldn’t even walk up that sidewalk. Her husband, Brad, had to get and hold my hand and walk me up to hill. I just remember breathing hard not being able to catch my breath and control all of that. I remember getting shiftless all the time. We had to pushups and my wrist would hurt.
I never really caught cramps because we did a good job stretching. I remember I wanted water all the time. We don’t do water break that often and she would say, “You need to hydrate at home. You need to always drink water all the time. You need to let go of all these other things that you drink and hydrate your body because when you work out you won’t need to stop all the time and have water because you’re hydrated already.”
I remember coming last place, and not that it mattered. It didn’t matter. But to me it mattered. I would reflect like, oh my gosh, I used to go back and down the basketball court all the time and now I’m coming in last… I remember when we would do jumping jack and things like that. My fat was just going up and down with the jumping jack. But then at the same time every month I saw progress.
Now what used to be very, very difficult is tolerable because she has a way of changing things up. When she finds out it’s getting easy to you, she changes it and she takes it up another notch. So I want to use the word tolerable. Nothing is easy KBH Fitness but it’s tolerable. But the things I had a hard time doing I can do now. So it’s like I’ve mastered those skills and I can go on to another, or a more advanced deal of the same technique. Now I’m running 5K and 10K.
It’s a big difference. It’s a big, big difference when the weight is gone how everything just changes.
Wendy: What kinds of things would be a typical workout? It sounds like you guys did some outdoor stuff, but are you doing aerobics classes or are you on the treadmill? Are you doing weights? Is it kind of functional fitness or cross training?
Yvette: It is a conglomeration of boot camp aerobics and personal training. I do personal training twice a week. I do boot camp twice a week. Then I can do aerobics up to three times a week. I do more aerobics on the summertime because of the timing; it’s from 6 to 7. Of course my kids are in volleyball and basketball. So I’m usually not doing aerobics during the school year because of their extracurricular activities. But during the summertime or any kind of breaks we have as far as school breaks I’m in aerobics. But my main two stables are boot camp and personal training.
I’ve gone to a point where if I’m idle, if I have an off day and have nothing going on, I will work out myself. So I would go over and call some of my KBHs and meet them somewhere. We’ll go walking or running or we’ll have our own mini-sessions. If the weather is bad or what have you, I’ll do something in my own home. Jump-rope a thousand times or I’ll lift weights or make my husband or my daughters get on the floor and do some floor work with me. I work out at least five times a week for up to two hours.
Wendy: Okay. Do you mean in total? So that means half hour and forty five minutes a day?
Yvette: Yeah. Our sessions are an hour to an hour and a half.
Yvette: And then if nothing is going on the next day we’ll do a little extra for an hour and a half up or two, for five days a week.
Wendy: Okay. Let’s talk about eating. You’ve mentioned Weight Watchers. I’m wondering about whether or not you’re following any sort of a plan now. Are you following any sort of eating plan in particular?
Yvette: None in particular. When I was attending Weight Watchers of course I did the point system. That was years ago. I would say like in 2004 when I first relocated here in Columbus. When I was with that bariatric doctor it was more like a shake liquid diet. I didn’t do that, it just wasn’t reality. So I did do it because I paid for it but after a while liquid shakes and B12 shots I thought just wasn’t going to work.
When I got with Katrina, she gave me a little nutritional plan and it actually jumpstarted. What she does is, she shows you how to eat. Even now, we take tips from one another and we learn stuff.
I started off with letting go of all the soda. Being a diabetic I let go of all the soda. I was drinking diet soda and I let that go. So I just drink water. I’m not even in Crystal Light or anything like that. I’m not even in Gatorade. I will have tea. We’re from the south so we love sweet tea and I’ll indulge in sweet tea every now and then but not often.
Mainly fish, chicken, seafood, turkey, green vegetables. Sweet potato is in my diet. Salads, protein for the breakfast – so that would be like eggs, Weetos multigrain, good carbs, anything brown. Snacks would be almonds. You can sometimes sneak in some Peanut M&Ms really, the small pack though. Maybe some 100-calorie popcorn. Fruit is a big staple of course. And I do a lot of protein shakes because of the weight lifting that I do. Then you switch it up and then you find out what works for you, what time and day and what doesn’t.
Of course I try to eat all my carbs before three o’ clock. That’s just a guide. That doesn’t always happen. I’m realistic about that. I stay up until about midnight most nights. And I find myself really, really hungry but I try to stop eating dinner or what I want to eat by five o’ clock. My trainer was like, “Well, that’s kind of not realistic. Being able to stay up until midnight you might want to stretch it out from six or seven.” But of course lunch is always the biggest meal. Dinner would be like something light without bread for me.
She said my stomach is fastened to me about ten thirty and I was like I’ve got to eat something but I’ll drink some water or I’ll choose something else. And she said, “Don’t do that. Just don’t say five o’ clock for you. Not that late, make it six or seven or even six thirty.”
So we moderate; it’s trial and error. I’ve learned that some foods with a lot of sodium – I can’t eat that. If I do, then I’ve got to some way balance it out with how I eat earlier in the week. Even though it’s just sodium or water weight, I can gain 2lb or so after eating that. But I know it’s sodium so I drink water.
Yvette: While I’m eating it, after I’m eating it and way after that. So I really, really want to be vegetarian but I like meat so I decided not to do that. I’m just really turkey, chicken and seafood now and I’m happy with that. That’s fine. That’s been good to me.
Wendy: The other question that comes to mind – I know for me personally, there have been times in my life when I’ve got my eating thing down and I’m doing well with that but not working out and then other times when I’m like working out and it’s amazing but my eating is kind of crappy. How did you find that balanced for yourself? Was it after you started getting in to the boot camp that the eating came together better for you?
Yvette: And that’s because she’s holistic so she’s going to look at everything. After a while of “What did you eat today? What did you eat today? What are you going to eat later? What are you going to eat tomorrow?” you tend to have it programmed in your mind to play in how you eat. For example, let’s just say, Super Bowl is coming up on Sunday. Let’s say I get invited to a Super Bowl party. Well, I know there’s going to be lots of drinks and probably a cake or something like that. So I already know that I’m going to probably eat a little bit of everything while I’m there. So I know between today and Friday I’m going to have to really eat clean and probably cut back a little bit calorie-wise so I can enjoy that on Sunday.
It’s just a matter of planning. I’m at a point where I have to know where I’m going to go eat with my husband or with the family if we go out to eat. If it’s a franchise restaurant I’m looking it up on the web to see the nutritional content to figure out what I can eat, especially if it’s a restaurant I haven’t been to before. I’m constantly having a mindset of what I’m going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And then when I’m halfway through the day, or let’s say today I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat tomorrow. I’m already planning ahead. If I happen to deviate, which will happen on Friday, because Friday at where I work we do like a potluck breakfast and everyone is bringing something, I’m already thinking I’m just going to have this, this and this. Well, some things I’m not going to eat. I’m not going to deal with the grits and all of that stuff. But I have to be mindful of, if I get some turkey, bacon and some eggs, maybe some toast and it’s just not there, then I need to make sure I have my protein shake on my hand. I just plan that way.
Wendy: You know, when I’m listening to you say all of that, it’s really interesting because you’ve developed this rational and neutral relationship with food. It’s more like you can control it and it doesn’t control you. But I remember reading that you described yourself as being an emotional eater. So I’m wondering then, how did you get beyond using food not just to comfort yourself but at times as many people do like as a drug where you use sugar to boost your energy and you use carbs to kind of numb yourself or bring yourself down or just to check out. How did you get beyond that where whatever is going on in your life you are just not using food anymore to get you through the experience and to be able to have that rational and neutral relationship with food?
Yvette: Well, it’s funny because I can’t say. I go shopping now Wendy because that’s not the case. So it’s not like I traded food for shopping. What I’ve done, honestly I can’t really explain it. I do know when I’m upset or things of that nature I want something sweet. But I try to have something already at my disposal. Like I said, sweets to me now would be a bag of Peanut M&Ms and that’s splurging for me now. Maybe some cinnamon sugar with the regular roasted almonds – but some of it is kind of like willpower. I’m not like a snack food type of person. I never was. I was more of a big portion type person.
When it comes to me getting emotional and wanting to eat something, for me if I don’t have it in the house I’m good. I’m not going to go drive out to go get it. I’ve never been that type. But if it’s something I want, if I’m upset and I want to eat something, I’ll find something but it’s going to be of nutritional value now. I’ve just gone to a point where, okay, I’m upset, my kids may be mad, I need to go get me something. But it would be some pretzels or something like that.
It’s still emotional eating but it’s gone to the point where I can show what I eat. I also really have learned that when I’m having a stressful day I look forward to working out. So now I take all of that out on. That’s my therapy. Working out is my therapy now. Because I have such an avid regimen now with myself, I really just take the frustration of that on the weight and at the boot camp and at the aerobics class. But there are times, but it’s rare, where I want to go get this and I want to go get that especially women in that time of the month would get PMS and you want something sweet and things like that.
When my trainer told me, “When you want something, don’t deny yourself of it because if you do, you can go overboard later on. If you want it, go ahead and have it but have it in my ratio. And just be true with it and just start all over.” So I’ve practiced that every now and then if there’s something I want.
For example, when I go to Atlanta and I know my husband likes to go to Cheesecake Factory. So what are you going to do with that? Well, if I go get it I may try the sugar free for the first time, I may not want it that particular day. If I want it, you know, I’ll take it back home and drive back to Columbus, eat half of it or a third of it, save it and eat the rest in the next few days or what have you. So there are just different techniques and strategies you can use without giving up everything. But then at the same time, I know that when I take a bite of it then I’m going to have to work out extra hard or I’m just sabotaging the hard work that I did 24 hours before.
So it’s really a mind game. You’re constantly looking at everything. If not A, then B. It’s like a flowchart. You just have to be savvy of your body and what you can and cannot tolerate. It’s a day by day process.
Wendy: The other aspect of this that I want to ask next is sleeping and resting, and taking care of yourself, relaxing when you’re really stressed. How was that changed for you since you lost the weight?
Yvette: I sleep so well like a baby. When I was heavier, I snored. I tossed and turned all the time. We have a king-sized bed and in my mind I slept as close to the corner as I could because I felt like I was taking up half of the bed. Now I’m smaller so it doesn’t appear that way. In your mind, you can be your own worst enemy. That might not have even been the case but that’s just how I felt.
But sleeping-wise, I sleep good. I mean, naps help. I take naps now especially when we’re on the weekends or summer breaks and things of that nature. It’s just I’m peaceful. The snoring is gone for the most part. I’m well-rested.
Sometimes I’d get up because I’ve got to work out at five thirty in the morning and I would take a nap before I’d go back to work, but I’m energized. And I have so much energy now. My mind is clear. If you can imagine that, I mean I’m focused and it just really has helped me to have a total body experience—mind, body and soul. But the sleep is wonderful. You sleep so much better when you work out.
Wendy: So the next thing I want to ask you more about was getting off medication. Oftentimes when you go to your doctor and you’re diagnosed with something and they tell you have to go on medications, it feels like a life sentence and that you’re somehow enslaved to this medication now and there’s nothing you can do. Then you begin to kind of feel that somehow your body is working against you and there’s nothing you can do.
So you’ve proven that with changing your body, exercising and eating that you don’t have to be enslaved to medication. What was it like for you to have your doctor tell you that he was taking you off of the medication? That must be the most empowering thing psychologically to be able to do that, because many people don’t get to that point. I’ve never been through that experience but I would imagine if I was, I would be so profoundly in awe of my body and what it’s capable and what I can do when I actually pay attention to it.
Tell me about the thoughts that went through your mind when you were taking off medication.
Yvette: Well, I wasn’t even due for an appointment but because, you know, the money was running out for the flexcar and I was like, okay, something has got to give. I’ve lost some weight and I need to go in and just command and tell him, “Look, if you can’t take me off these medications please put me on generic. There’s got to be generic for the main two.”
I went in there and the lady said, “What are you here for?” I told her I wanted to get off my medications. She weighed me and I don’t think I even hit the 100lb mark yet from if I’m not mistaken. And so she was like, “Oh my gosh, you’ve lost a whole lot of weight.” And I was like, “Yes, I have.” She was like, “Okay.” So when she put me in the waiting room and I waited on him. I was like, what if he’s going to say no?
So I walked in and he pointed out the weight loss and he was like, “So you wanted to get off your medications?” I was like, “Yes.” He was like, “Okay. Well, we’ll do a Hemoglobin A1c and if it’s within the range then I’ll take you off.” And of course my blood pressure was fine.
It was like the longest minutes of my life. Like what is he going to say? Is it going to be good news, bad news? I had already decided if he’d told me no, then I’d have asked for a generic. I didn’t want not to listen to doctor’s orders so he tells me to stay on medication I would have stayed on medication. I don’t want to die because I don’t want to be obedient and just be stupid and not be on medication. I had decided I would do everything he tells me to do.
He said, “Can you tell all my patients if you work hard you can do it. Can you just go to every room and tell everybody that yes, it’s possible to lose weight?” And I said, “Yes!” I was just grinning from ear to ear, had to contain myself. He said, “I’m so proud of you.” and I was like, “Well, you know, I have a goal weight for myself.” He said, “You know what, even if you don’t hit your goal weight just promise me you’ll keep doing what you’re doing.” And I said, “Yes, I will.” He said, “I’m so proud of you. It can be done. I have to get people to believe that if you try hard enough you can do it.”
And so I just remember going to my car and the nurses told me congratulations and everything, and I got in my car and I sat and I cried. I could not contain myself. I sat in the car at least a minute because it was done. Four years of being on this medication thinking it’s just a way of life. You know, I’m just going to be diabetic and hypertensive all my life.
My mother is a nurse and she’s like, “Well, once you’ve been diagnosed with it you’re supposed to disclose it.” The fact is I’m off the medications. I worked to get off. I worked to save $332 every month. I worked to have some control of my life. It’s so great. I just was crying. It was all I could do. I posted it on Facebook things like, “Guys, you would not believe this. I’m sitting in my car crying. My doctor took me off my meds.” It was just a wonderful feeling.
And so now the goal is not to ever get back in that position. I refuse to be content. I refuse to stay stagnant. It’s like you’re off your medication. What are you going to do? Stay off of it. Some people, I’m off I don’t have to do anything anymore. No, you can’t stop. This is something you don’t have to do for the rest of your life. You’re going to have to have that determination. You’re going to have to continue your self-discipline and willpower and just continue doing. Don’t think of how long you have to do it. The commitment has already been made like a marriage. Just keep doing it. That’s what I’m doing.
Wendy: I’ve just got a few more questions for you. The next one is, when you look back during the moment that you got started doing boot camp until now, what was the biggest internal challenge that you had, maybe resistance that was still lingering for quite a long time that you felt that you had to battle even though you were taking action? Also, what was the biggest external challenge for you as well that you had to work at overcoming?
Yvette: The external challenge is finding time or rather making time because it got to a point where I was wondering if I was being selfish by monopolizing time that I used and spent doing things at home with focusing on me. I guess that would be the internal too. I really had to fight with that because for many years I gave myself to my kids and my husband. You know, making sure they were accommodated and they had what they needed. Then all of a sudden I decided I was going to spend five to six days, sometimes seven days a week, working on me. It wasn’t school-related. This is something else that some people might look at as a hobby.
So I really battled with not looking selfish and not saying that anyone in this house said that, that was just something that I had to come away from. And then when I started seeing the results and I started seeing the pounds dropping and losing the inches, the doctor’s visit going fairly well. Then it just came to a point where I was like, you know what, they’ll be okay because what are they going to do when I’m not around? The next person will have big shoes to fill and it’s not me. Something has got to give. Either you become supportive, understanding, or you don’t. But either way I’m just going to do me and I’m going to get healthy.
Luckily I have a great family and that wasn’t the case. But I did battle with that because I didn’t want any kind of drama to unfold and I didn’t want this new venture to be a hindrance to our marriage. You know, some people don’t like change and I didn’t know how the change would be accepted. And it was accepted well. Because when I started working out, he started working out at work because they have access to the YMCA. My daughter works out now. So it actually had a triple down effect. That was really heartwarming to see that everyone would buy in. You know, Mom wanted a healthier lifestyle and everyone started buying in to the healthier lifestyle.
So I would say the external would be finding the time, making the time and being committed to the time that I wanted to designate for this; and then internally not feeling guilty that I wanted to put this time, set this time aside for me and me only. Once I got past that then everything just kind of fell into place.
Also, I could probably add that every now and then when I first started I didn’t envision being successful. I would say, oh you’re going to lose your normal 20lb to 30lb and it’s not really a big difference. They’ll give it back and you just wasted your money. But that didn’t happen because I had to change my mindset. I had to tell myself, you know what, going constant on that small goal and you just keep pushing and then we’ll see what happens.
My trainer asked me, “Well, what do you want your goal to be?” and I said, “Oh, I love to see 185lb.” You know, I just picked the number. I was 185lb before I got pregnant. So I was like, yeah I’d love to see 185lb. And so 185lb is here!
Actually when I hit 200lb she was like, “Okay, so clearly you’re going to see 185lb one day so we will change your goal to 165lb.” “165? What? I was 165lb in college!” and she was like, “Okay.”
Now that I’m 185lb, 165lb is not too far away.
Wendy: Right. Right.
Yvette: You know, it’s an attainable goal. I guess the whole thing is not to sell yourself short about saying what you can’t do and just go after it and do it. And then also have a backup plan. Well, you’re not going to lose this amount of weight then shoot for being healthy and having better agility and endurance.
So in all of that come full circle you just do with the total body type workout. I am probably more athletic now than I was in high school or in college. I’m stronger now than I was in high school and college. Physically I feel I look a lot better now than I did in high school and college because of the weight lifting and the body sculpting and things of that nature.
Wendy: So that leads to the question I was going to ask about your goals. I would mention you’d want to keep things interesting with your workouts, right? So this is a two-part question. I’m wondering about your workout goals and your athletic goals that have long-term but, also, I would imagine that again from a mindset perspective, you’re thinking, wow, look at what I just achieved and look at what I learned about myself while achieving this monumental thing. So it makes you kind of maybe look at the areas of your life in terms of projects or other dreams that you might have.
I’m wondering about your goals. Also, you’ve gotten to this point where you were like, I never would have thought it was possible for me but now I do, I know that it is.
Yvette: That is so funny that you said that because one would be while I look at what I achieved it’s like with the weight loss thing I celebrate for a day and I keep it moving. And then when I ended up on AOL, that was crazy. I mean I knew about the Huffington Post because actually my trainer sent a story that someone else said on me to read and she contacted me. But the response that I received regarding being on AOL, that was just crazy. I did not expect that. And then for people to say, you know, you’re such an inspiration, those are big words for me because I want to share my story and I want everyone to know that anything is possible if you try it. I’m just a simple person like everybody else. But I guess, like you Wendy, we all have this commonality and we’re supporting each other because we’re all trying to get to this goal.
I got to this point where there are other projects that I want to do. I felt like, well, okay, you can do this, you can do this. So I started my own business. I own a writing and editing service. I started that off in June of 2011 as well as my blog. I moved it from Facebook to a regular site. So I started just kind of blogging monthly on what I’ve been doing to get to this weight loss goal. I want to do some public speaking.
You know, I’ve had some friends who asked me if I would mind coming to their church and talk to them. I also want to start writing a memoir about it. The main thing is, yes, I lost some weight but I want people to understand what your mind can do to you. I wanted to commit suicide just to let all go because I just blamed myself for getting to this point. By me getting to this point, and this is just me saying this, but I caused a financial hardship to my family because of the money having to go out. I had to take more money to buy clothes. So I really blamed myself for getting in the way. I just figured that if you just aim your life in then you don’t have to worry about that part anymore.
You know, it’s a battle. When you don’t have something about yourself, and it doesn’t have to be weight related, it can really take a toll on your well-being. And so you have to really battle with that and find the right people to help you get past that and support you and level on you until you are well enough to say, hey, okay, I can see above the clouds, let’s get moving. And so it has put my life in a whole different perspective.
I told my husband, “Okay, I’m working now and I’m happy with what I do but there will come a time that these other ventures I plan on pursuing full steam ahead than what I currently do now.” So I have some things in motion with that and then I have one other little secret mission as I call it. My trainer’s husband is a trainer and he is actually my coach. I have decided to start training to do Amateur Powerlifting.
Wendy: Oh, fun. Fun!
Yvette: I started training in about four months so far and we’re working on getting the weight because I want to compete in the 165lb weight class for my age, which is 37. So I’ve just been doing my research and looking at the winning lift and trying to get to some meet around here. We’ve just been training and training and training. I’m excited about that because if I can do this, then I can do this. And I love lifting weights and I always did. I always wanted to do something to stay in shape and maintain so why not. When I told my husband, he said, “Cool. Go for it.” So that’s what we’ve been doing.
We haven’t really set a date for the first meet but we’re just preparing and I’m excited about it. It’s strenuous. There are days when I’m like, what in the world was I thinking? But I love it. If I could just lift weights all day I’d be happy.
Wendy: It’s weird that you mentioned that because I have this really, really long-term goal to get into bodybuilding because I’m so in awe of older women. You see pictures of women who are in their fifties, sixties, some seventies, who are body builders. How come you chose Powerlifting over Body Building?
Yvette: My trainer is a body builder and she actually was in the meet. We talked. She told me about what she had to do as far as getting her body together and things of that nature. And I just decided that the process that she had to go through is not one that I want to do.
And so I started to get into Powerlifting and I think that was just a better fit for me because I enjoy seeing how heavy I can lift. Whereas with her it was seeing how you can get your body to look like some kind of sculpture, you know. And she did a great job, she got it second or third place.
But when she sat down and told me everything she had to do and what was required of her and the posing, I was like, no, I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. But when I started looking into the Powerlifting, I said, okay, that’s what I can do. That’s what I’m more interested in. Body Building was never a thought. But the Powerlifting is about seeing how heavy the weight you can lift. What got me was that there were people in the age range that you mentioned that could do it. Oh my gosh, I’m 37 years old. Let me see if I can do it.
This is something out of the norm and I’m not a traditionalist by any means so I just want to see how far I can go with it. I always say this is what I call my transformation journey. It’s a journey and there’s always something to add to it. As soon as one road ends we build another road or add a sidewalk.
I just want to continue to just tell a story about it. My kids can tell. As far as they continue to stay healthy and have a lifestyle of just being active. You don’t have to lose weight like your Mom. It comes handy too because I’m 5’7” and we’re all almost the same height. My kids are 13 and 11 so they’re going to be tall.
I always tell my oldest daughter, I say, “When you’re ready to challenge me, just let me know. We’ll put out some space and we’ll go for it. So you’ll know now that when you try me later you understand you won’t win.” She looks at me and she’s like, “Mom…” I’m like, “I’m just saying. You won’t be doing a thing with me.” You know, I’m maintaining my alpha female status.
Wendy: Gotcha. All right. Tell everyone where they can find you on the web.
Yvette: Okay. I have a blog called Losing Weight Finding Me. You can Google that. You can Google Yvette Nathan-Jones. My website www.Transform.Alpha2Alpha.com or like I said you can just put in Google, Losing Weight Finding Me. Also, I am on Facebook, Yvette Nathan-Jones so you can feel free to request me as a friend.
If you’re in the Columbus Georgia area or Phoenix City area, if you’re coming down for a month and you need a great duo to get you in shape for whatever reason, Brad and Katrina Hill’s website is www.KBHfit.com.
Wendy: Thank you so much. It’s been such an honor to talk to you. I really, really appreciate it.
Yvette: Oh, Wendy, I thank you.
Wendy: Once again, thank you to Yvette Nathan-Jones for sharing her experiences and giving a lot of awesome advice. If you didn’t catch her website address, I have all of her links at www.EatSleepMove.com. Thank you for listening.
Thanks for listening to the Eat. Sleep. Move. Podcast. Find out more by visiting www.EatSleepMove.com.