"I lost 170 Pounds!"
Alicia Franklin-Edwards, age 43
FOOD AS THE FOCUS
When I was growing up, every Sunday was like a Thanksgiving dinner and the rest of the week, meals were always at least three courses. One entire meal would include meat loaf, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and of course, dessert. Most of my immediate and extended family members were overweight and struggling with heart disease and diabetes. I was over 200 pounds by the time I reached sixth grade.
I had what I call a divine revelation in my 20s: I glanced at a picture of myself and was disgusted. I thought about how my father was an insulin-dependent diabetic who died of a heart attack at age 56. In that moment, I realized that I would follow in his footsteps if things didn't change. I was a little over 300 pounds, had lower back pain and couldn't fit in an airplane seat. I was taking such good care of my spiritual self through faith but ignoring my physical body. So I asked God for strength to make a change and guidance on what to do. I had no clue where to start, so I decided to read everything about nutrition and weight loss.
The book that made a big impression on me was by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, which encourages a diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I cut out meat and dairy, and discovered new sources of protein like beans and tofu. (I later added fish back into my diet for the healthy omega-3s.) I walked each day for 15 minutes and lost 75 pounds in the first year.
A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
My weight loss was truly a journey, and faith helped me every step of the way. I didn't gain all that weight overnight and I knew it wasn't going to disappear overnight. I slowly shed the rest of my pounds over the next 10 years as my lifestyle changes became permanent. I hit my current weight five years ago and have maintained it ever since. Now I work full time at a parks and recreation agency and as a weight loss coach on the side. I exercise six days a week (changing up my routine every few months keeps me motivated). At 43, I'm in the best shape of my life!