Transformation of the Day: Yahkira lost 74 pounds by working out and adopting a whole food-focused vegan lifestyle. Her wake-up call came when she was diagnosed with high cholesterol. She also had to become dairy-free while breastfeeding because of her child’s dairy intolerance. Determined to be a good example for her children and teach them healthy eating habits, she has embraced lifestyle change.
What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going, even when you wanted to give up?
My biggest motivation to get healthy had a great deal to do with my children. When I found out I had high cholesterol, I knew I needed to make a change. My eating habits weren’t as good as they could’ve been, but I didn’t think they were that bad. I hated the thought of developing more severe conditions due to the extra weight I was carrying and leaving my family too soon when many of those conditions are preventable.
Whenever negative thoughts surfaced or I felt like I wanted to give up, I thought about setting a good example for my children. Unfortunately, my bad eating habits rubbed off on them. So, as I changed my way of eating, I also implemented changes with them. For example, I couldn’t tell them not to eat potato chips for breakfast if I was doing it.
By the way, I actually ate potato chips for breakfast in the past. I want them to have a happy and healthy childhood that will continue into adulthood, allowing them to reduce their chances of developing the same health problems as the previous generations.
How did you change your eating habits?
I switched my way of eating to whole food vegan. I gave birth to my third child in September 2021. She was born early and had to spend six weeks in the NICU. She dealt with terrible reflux, and eventually, we found out that she could not tolerate dairy. So, if I wanted her to continue to receive my milk, I needed to give up dairy so that she could be at ease and not spit up so much. That is when I became vegan.
I was already a vegetarian (pescatarian on and off) for about six years, but I still consumed dairy products, eggs, and many processed foods. The change was meant to be temporary, but when I discovered that I have an inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis, I began researching and concluded that dairy was the main culprit of my very unpleasant symptoms.
I began noticing so many positive changes, such as better digestion, weight loss, and many more. So I decided to make it a lifelong change. Now I eat fruit primarily. I cut out most processed foods, oil, and sugar. After only two months of making those changes, my cholesterol went down, all my lab work is excellent, and my UC is now in remission.
What is your workout routine?
When I go to the gym, I participate in group classes. I enjoy cycling, body pump, body combat, yoga, and more. I typically stick to strength training if I’m working on my own. An example of a training week would be something like Monday – Full Body, Tuesday – Chest and Back, Wednesday – Arms and Cardio, Thursday – Shoulders and Abs, Friday – Legs, and Saturday and Sunday – Rest.
How often did you work out?
I try to work out at least 4 to 5 days a week.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight was 246.2 pounds, and my current weight is 171.6 pounds.
What is your height?
I am 5’2″.
Is weight loss surgery part of your journey?
No, I did not have surgery.
When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
I started my journey seven weeks post-partum on November 8, 2021. As soon as my doctor cleared me, I started doing light exercises and walking. It has taken me eight months to get where I am now, and I am not finished. I still have muscles to build and about 30 more pounds to lose.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson I have learned is that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. You have to make your changes permanent because a temporary diet will only produce temporary results.
I spent so many years losing and gaining the same pounds repeatedly. I tried so many fad diets that worked for short-term weight loss, and as soon as I returned to my previous way of eating, I gained it all back and so much more. I have learned that if you do not love what you are doing, it makes it so hard to stick to it. I love the way I eat and my new level of physical activity. I cannot see myself going back to my old ways.
What advice do you have for women who want to lose weight?
Find what works for you. There is so much information out there and so many different opinions, but the only plan that you should be concerned with is the one that works for you. The one that you can continue to do for the rest of your life. What helped me find what works for me is by doing tons of research and assessing how I feel when I eat certain foods. A vegan diet may not work for you, but I do know that reducing processed foods and incorporating more whole plant foods into your diet will yield outstanding results in a short period of time.