It often seemed unrealistic to think I’d ever lose this much weight, let alone keep it off for over 4 years, but after my consultation for gastric bypass (which I never did), my inner rebel kicked in and I was determined to do it on my own. How dare I?! How dare I consider this surgery while sitting on the couch watching hours of TV, eating chicken parm heroes, drinking Frappuccinos like water, and smoking my life away. How dare I?!
Yes, I tried countless fad diets... but did I really try? Did I ever try anything to the point where it was inconvenient and uncomfortable? Did I do it on the days I didn’t feel like it? Did I resist my friends “one bite” or “one night” invitations? No. I didn’t. Not once. Not ever. So how could I look at myself in the mirror and say “I tried it all” or “I just can’t lose weight” and let this man cut me open and rearrange my organs for life?
I was still relatively healthy regardless of my horrible habits, so what was stopping me from giving it a real try? Only me... Only what I was willing to do, the effort that I was willing to put in, and the level of importance I had given this goal.
It was this train of thought that changed my life. I put my mind to my goal and, well... Four years later and down 160+lbs naturally, my only advice is that nothing worth having comes easy.
After two years of making myself and my goals a priority, I was 120lbs down and eating clean and exercising everyday. I've since lost an additional 30-40 pounds depending on the month (lol) but I’ve maintained it because it is a lifestyle change for me. I gave myself laser focus and I made it the most important thing. The most amazing thing about my story is that we are all capable of this. No matter what your goal is, anything & everything is achievable when you make yourself your number one priority.
Last summer, I was reminded of this belief system when my friend Boe wouldn't stop talking about about a local run group he found. When he invited me, my heart dropped in terror. Me? Run? Yeah, right. I'm not going all the way to Harlem to attempt to run the streets and be left in the dust to look like a fool - even though I so desperately wanted to try.
He assured me this group never leaves anyone behind, so I put my former obese embarrassment mentality aside and went to run the streets of Harlem! I can remember my heart beating a mile a minute as I approached the corner, but I consciously decided I was going to leave myself completely open to feel the energy of the whole environment. When I arrived, the corner soon filled with the friendly, laid back, and supportive energy of the HR family. It wasn't just the people running, it was everyone watching, who were visibly affected by this contagious positive energy.
My most memorable moment had to be meeting Alison; her energy was like none I had ever felt and I knew she was going to change the world. I was immediately at ease around her... Not that it made it any easier for this first time runner to keep up during the hilly route - ha! It was a huge challenge, but in true Harlem Run fashion, I was not left behind and everyone kept coming back to check on me.
I was instantly reminded of the mantra that got me started on my whole journey... what have you tried? And if you haven't tried with all of yourself and your being, you'll never truly know what you're capable of. The supportive Harlem Run environment paired with my refusal to give up set me up with a recipe for running success. I had another "Who Would've Thought?" moment as I remembered my former 320lb self.
This past year, I left my dream job as a guidance counselor to pursue a career in fitness. I currently operate a personal training and group fitness studio that I own with my personal trainer, who helped me through my weight loss journey. I have obtained a certificate in Sports Nutrition and personal training. I not only co-manage our business, but also train and coach people through their journeys as well, which is so rewarding.
Last year the Daily News reached out to me and did a whole page article on my transformation and just last month I was even featured on Dr Oz! I have over 17,000 followers on Instagram (PoloPrincessNYC) and have done several interviews for weight loss and fitness websites. Who would’ve ever thought that at 320lbs?
My last words of advice for anyone trying to change their life or achieve their goals? Go ahead... Take that step. All you need to so is keep putting one foot in front of the other and you'll get there. I promise.