Name: Almetria M. Turner
Before Weight: 342 pounds
How I Gained It: I struggled with weight my entire life and tried every diet known to man. The scales would go up and down, until finally they kept going up, with what seemed like no end in sight. In 2009, I got devastating news. The D word: Diabetes. My grandmother, her sister, as well as her mother, had had it, too. I knew it was hereditary, but I thought I was invincible, like Superman. I could dodge the bullet -- but I didn’t.
How could I not get it, when I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted and I lived a sedentary lifestyle? Years before, I was diagnosed with hypertension. Here I was, 36 years old, in what some would call the prime of my life, suffering from two chronic illnesses.
Breaking Point: In the summer of 2009, I had to see three different specialists: an endocrinologist, a cardiologist and a pulmonary specialist, along with my primary care physician. I was 36 years old, and felt as if I was 80. Being overweight, diabetic, hypertensive and depressed was a dangerous game to play, and I felt like I was losing out on life. I was not honoring the body God had given me. I was abusing it by not taking care of it mentally, emotionally, spiritually or physically.
Self-hatred and depression plagued me, and I often wondered how I could do this to myself. I was my worse critic and my worst enemy. 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. I knew I wanted to make a change.
I started my weight-loss and fitness journey in 2010. I weighed 342 pounds and wore a size 32. That was the heaviest I had ever been. I wanted it to be the last time I ever had to see those numbers on the scale or tag again. It was my goal to become healthy, fit and medication-free by the time I turned 40 in December 2013. “Fit by 40!” became my new mantra.
How I Lost It: Gastric bypass and Lap-Band surgery weren’t options for me, even if I could have afforded them. 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. At the time, I couldn’t afford a gym membership, nutritionist, weight-loss pills, supplements or a personal trainer. Oftentimes, health is the first thing to fall on the back burner and I was tired of putting me further and further down my list of things to do. 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.
I decided to do research on my own on how to eat and live a healthier life. I read every label and went by serving sizes. I learned how to balance my meals and used portion control. I meal prepped and planned. My palate had changed -- I was eating things I said I never would and now I enjoy preparing new dishes and creating my own recipes. Walking 2 to 3 miles a day 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 to fill the void or combat the emotion.
I stepped up my prayer life and pulled away from people who were negative and emotionally draining. I surrounded myself with positive affirmations, because every day isn't going to be a good day, but each day is another opportunity to get it right. Life has its derailments, but it's up to us to get back on track and trust the engineer. I 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.
How My Life Is Different Now: I feel that I am fit and finally free to do all the things that I knew life had to offer me. I've lost the physical and emotional weight that has been like an albatross around my neck for years. I'm helping others learn how to become fit through my lifestyle and wellness coaching, speaking engagements, seminars and blog posts, as well as working towards my 50 by 50 running campaign to complete a half-marathon in all 50 states before I turn 50. I'm not merely existing anymore. I am living my life like it's golden and I am worth it.
After Weight: 165 pounds
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The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers. As told to Erin Schumaker.
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