Last year OurHealth launched its Healthy Role Model series in an effort to highlight the many black women who are out there everyday making healthy choices, striving for excellence and living by example. We have highlighted almost 40 extraordinary women and we are always on the lookout for women who raise the bar.
Thankfully for us we did not have to go looking for our next role model because she is already out there telling her own story and we have been captivated by what she’s had to say about her journey.
Healthy Role Model: Meet Paula!
She Inspires: “If it's politically correct to scream "fat acceptance", I'll scream just as loud ... "fat un-acceptance" - in my own life ... without a care in the World, of what others may think. I've never been one to just accept something, I must love it too...”
Paula has a terrific blog Madame: The Journey of a Weight Loss*ista . By sharing her own personal struggles with weight loss and her triumphant victories on the road to being the healthiest she can possibly be, she is inspiring women everywhere to be conscious, aware and active.
Having spent a lot of time on her blog and following her tweets we can tell you that she doesn’t preach, she practices. She doesn’t judge, she encourages and she does it all with the humor and warmth of an old friend.
We reached out to Paula and asked her if she would agree to answer some of our questions as part of her profile as a Healthy Role Model and we are so glad she agreed! If you are in a rut, feeling lazy or unmotivated, spending too much time coming up with excuses and looking for some inspirations, look no further!
Her Story 1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Paula, I'm 25 years old and I live in Columbus, Ohio. I lead a team of retirement investment advisors for a major financial services firm. I'm also a graduate student, pursing my Master's in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing.
2. You have a blog Madame: The Journey of a Weight Loss*ista. Can you tell us why you decided to start a blog?
I was browsing my usual political, sports and entertainment blogs/op-eds and I felt like something was lacking. While the aforementioned all piqued my interests, I had just begun my weight loss journey and was eager to pull insight from that subject perspective as well. After some research, I ultimately discovered an entire community of weight loss and health bloggers. It intrigued and inspired me to get in on the fun. I started off writing about my personal journey for accountability and tracking purposes. Over time, I then began to incorporate stories and events that grabbed my attention.
3. Have you always struggled with your weight?
It wasn't until my late teenage years, that I began picking up weight. Considering the average frame of those in my family and even my neighborhood, my "thickness" was normal. When I went away to college, however, I rapidly upgraded from "thick" to "obese". This was a result of awful eating habits and an overall physically-lazy life on campus.
4. What motivated you to start losing weight?
My primary reason for beginning my weight loss journey, was my health. At age 22 and 257 pounds, I was told that I was Pre-Diabetic and had Stage 1 Hypertension. If all of this was occurring so early, my quality of life looking forward - didn't seem to hold much promise. It was unfortunate that my "awakening" was due to dire circumstances, but I thank God everyday for those early warning signs.
5. What do you do for exercise?
My current workout regimen consists of cardio, weight resistance, yoga and running. I'm preparing to take on my 3rd half-marathon in the Fall, so running has certainly been a training priority for me, as of late. Following the race, I'll be looking into some sort of dance classes and possibly, biking. I need variety, it keeps me engaged and energized about my fitness life.
6. You're a vegetarian. When did you decide to stop eating meat and why?
I decided to make the switch to vegetarianism, this past May. My primary reasons stemmed from health concerns and awareness of the sometimes unnatural and inhumane methods of it's production.
After a small stint with exploring farm-raised and organic products, I came to the conclusion that, I simply didn't need meat to survive. It was definitely a tough transition, as I love pork and scallops like the rest of the World! However, the benefits of "going veg" regarding my energy levels and even weight management - have all been well worth it.
7. You struggle with MS. Can you tell us a little about your diagnosis and how it effects your daily life and weight loss?
I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis w/ Trigeminal Neuralgia in 2006. As an auto-immune disease, my body interprets my nervous system as a danger and it essentially, attacks it. As all functions are tied to the brain, the results of MS can vary. I encounter mobility issues when I'm deep into a relapse, in which I'm unable to stand or walk. More frequent problems that arise for me are bouts of depression, vision complications, limb and facial pain and paraesthesia (numbness/tingling). All of which I control with therapies and treatments. I continue to be a student of my disease. I know my limits and realize that my restoration days are just as important as my active ones.
8. What is your ultimate goal & hope for yourself?
I know numeric goals are at times controversial, but I'm sticking to mine. While I feel I've gained some good ground, I'm still in pursuit of losing weight. My goal is to reach 120 pounds - which would place me in the "Healthy" category of the BMI chart. I don't harp or stress over the scale though. When it happens, it will happen. I'll just continue pressing forward in executing best practices and decisions on my journey.
9. Who inspires you to live healthier?
It's certainly a group effort. My mother dealt with morbid obesity most of her life and always expressed to me her fears of me going down the same path. A few years ago, she began making drastic lifestyle changes for her health. I've watched her transform from being bed-ridden (due to obesity-related illnesses) to leading support groups for women who wish to take back the reigns of their health and weight also.
I cannot forget my loving fiance, RaShad, who has been there for me during the ups and downs (literally) of my journey. And, my little brothers of which I was given the privilege or raising, after our father's passing. Getting them to eat broccoli with me was a struggle. But, I wanted to instill in them that even though our family is nowhere near the poster children of wellness, we can and will break this generational cycle of destructive health. I could go on and on with this question, but that's certainly the base of my inspiration.
10. What's your favorite workout song?
"I'm Me" by Lil' Wayne!
11. Upcoming projects and ventures I am rounding out course work to become a Certified Personal Trainer. My goal is to hold and apply these credentials in a non-profit capacity. Affording my services and understanding of the body's well-being, to those communities in which a gym membership isn't always an option.
A few of my friends, sorority sisters and partners in a healthy-living book project, have organized a walking program on our city's East side. Every Sunday morning, in this historically-rich black neighborhood, we set out for 3 miles with all that are willing. The turnout has been awesome and we've even had the honor of having the support of some city leaders. Even though this effort is still in it's infancy, it further perpetuates my dream; continuing to build on my personal healthy journey and sharing those experiences.