I used to weigh almost 200lbs. This is the story of why I don’t anymore…
It all started in June 2010 when my mother asked me if I wanted to try out Weight Watchers (WW) with her and my father. Up until that time, I’d never been super pressed about losing weight. I knew I was a big girl, but my only concern at that point was making sure I didn’t add to the 190+lbs I already carried.
Accordingly, my strategy was to not eat much or often during the week. I’d usually skip breakfast, stick to soup or salad for lunch and/or dinner, and eat whatever my little heart desired on the weekends. It didn’t take long to realize that this way was not helping me with my one, short-sighted goal. So, after years of politely declining, I finally decided to commit to WW. Over the course of 2-3 months, I lost about 40lbs. WW was great because it required me to eat and I STILL lost weight. During that time, I used to run and/or do Tae Bo. All of the cardio, but no weights. Both were easy to keep up with all of the work travel I was doing at the time. For a few years, I was able to maintain, but I reached a plateau.
Fast forward to May 2013. I underwent surgery to have an ovarian cyst removed and was simultaneously diagnosed with endometriosis. In summary, this condition occurs when the endometrium (lining of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. Ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder…it does not discriminate. Despite displacement, the tissue still functions as if inside the uterus in that it expands, bleeds, and breaks…typically on it’s own cycle, separate from the tissue inside the uterus. The condition usually amplifies period pain to ungodly levels and the associated cramps are not very responsive to typical NSAIDs or over the counter medications. There is no cure for endometriosis and the only real way to lessen the effects is birth control. Surgical removal of the tissue is an option to temporarily deal with it…but it always comes back. Remember this for later…
In 2013, I also fell in love. You know how it is when you’re really into someone and they’re just as into you…the attack of that “happy weight” is inevitable. Over 20lbs, to be exact. But the relationship did not work out (no pun) and we ended up going our separate ways. Between the heartbreak and trying to prep for my commissioning exam at work, I was pretty stressed and found myself in desperate need of an outlet…
…And that’s how I got into Crossfit. A good friend had been recommending it for the longest and, given my circumstances, it seemed like the perfect activity to get into. I know this sounds super dramatic, but the connection was unreal. Because for at least one hour of every day, the challenge of lifting heavy things and pushing my body to do things I never thought it could, literally, made me forget the heaviness of my heart and mind.
As much as I hated the circumstances, they changed the whole entire game for me. Working out quickly transformed from something I did because I had to, to something I did because I wanted to. I keep coming back for this craziness because I love it and I need it in my life. I sound like an addict…probably because I am. Lol.
But this isn’t about Crossfit.
They introduced us to the Paleo lifestyle during my first month. Paleo, derived from the term Paleolithic, is based on the premise that, for optimal health, we should rely on real, whole unprocessed foods. Much like cavemen during the Paleolithic era who only ate what they could “hunt” or “gather.” Essentially, the paleo lifestyle does not permit grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, or sugar. It’s primarily meat (any kind), veggies, nuts, and fruit. I remember the instructor mentioning that she had some sort of autoimmune issue that she no longer grapples with because of her switch to paleo. She said that one of the most powerful tools to change your health is changing your diet and she stressed the importance of putting good, quality and REAL food into your body and how it helps it function properly. I put her words in my back pocket, but had no immediate plans to switch my diet up because cheese…and peanut butter…and ice cream…and cake. This list could go on, but you feel me. I ate three well-portioned meals everyday, but there were always lots of snacks, I had something sweet every night, and I fully indulged on “cheat” weekends. In my estimation, I didn’t eat terrible, but I wasn’t willing to part with my comfort zone. It was all good anyway because I ended up losing all 20lbs from before and then some. I noticed some muscles peeking through. They were stubborn, but I didn’t trip because all of it was better than what I looked like before. So my body is transforming and I’m feeling great…
Over time, the pain during my periods had progressively gotten worse. Aside from another surgery and/or birth control, I did not have much in the way of options (that I knew of). So in March of 2015, mom comes up with another awesome suggestion…this time it was to try the Whole 30 with her and my father (they had both done it before) . The Whole 30 is 30 days of real, whole foods (meat, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts). The only processing allowed is that done by you…in your kitchen. With both Whole 30 and Paleo, you have to read labels because absolutely no chemicals, no fake ingredients (commonly those items you can’t pronounce), and no sugar are allowed. It seems simple enough, but I’ve often been surprised at how many foods randomly contain foreign ingredients and sugar. Like, deli meat. *blank stare* And don’t even get me started on how nearly impossible it was for me to find BACON without sugar. SMH…Tragic. But anyway. Whole 30 and Paleo differ in that, on the Whole 30, absolutely no sweeteners are allowed (honey, agave, stevia, etc.) and you cannot recreate sweets or “desserts.” The Whole 30 is not so much about losing weight as it is about giving your body 30 days to detox by keeping all of the junk out of it. Paleo is more of a lifestyle change rather than a detox.
I decided to do my first Whole 30 in April of 2015, primarily to see what it would do for my Endo issue. It was crazy! I did not experience any of the PMS symptoms that I normally do and the menstrual cramps, for once, did not leave me doubled over in extreme pain. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even have to take medication (however futile it had been in the past, it was at least something). And then there were other things I didn’t even think about. I felt very well rested and I wasn’t as exhausted. My skin cleared up and I no longer had issues with eczema. Symptoms from a couple of other nagging medical conditions significantly subsided. Oh…and I dropped another two dress sizes. I couldn’t actually tell you how much weight I lost because the only time I ever stepped on a scale was at doctor’s visits. The Whole 30 was so good to my body that I actually ended up going beyond the 30 days for another couple of months. The long-term effects have been CRAZY. From hardly ever getting sick to not really needing my glasses to healthy hair (important things, right?). I have never felt better. It was like my body breathed a huge sigh of relief.
It’s been over 6 years and I’m SO thankful to God for ordering my steps along this journey. He has taught me a lot about myself and my abilities with Him in my corner. It didn’t take me 6 years to lose the weight because that was never the primary goal…it took 6 years to develop and cultivate a healthy relationship with food. That’s what this is all about. To me, food is fuel…food is medicine. I’m eating to live and not vice versa.
Hi Ashley; just read your most recent story and I’m so blessed by it! Praise God for His guidance upon you through this experience. And thank God for your parents and for their godly wisdom! I’m age 78 now, but would love to take off 20-25 pounds and include some lite workout routines. I know you’re much younger, but you’ve inspired me! And you look absolutely fabulous!! You go girl! Love you!👏🏽
Praise the Lord, Sis. Bragg! Always a pleasure hearing from you and I thank you so much for your kind words! I send out a weekly email with my meal plans and do a few eating challenges a year. If you’re interested, I can add you to the distribution list. I’d love to help out any way I can…let me know! Love you!
Great read and awesome job!
Thank you so much for reading! God has been so good to me!
Awesome loved reading this😘
Thanks so much, sis😘😘!!
Thank you Ashley for sharing your story. You’ve given me so much to think about. Most importantly, you have reminded me this is a lifestyle change. Happy New Year and thanks again
Robyn, thank you so much😊!! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance!
This is great Ashely! So proud of you! And thankful God is using you and your testimony to encourage others! It’s sure encouraged me! To God be the glory!
Thank you SO much! God is TOO good to me!! I had to share😉.
Thank you so much for being so open and honest. What a beautiful testimony and journey you’ve shared. I know that changing your whole mindset and lifestyle to eat what’s best for your body takes total commitment. Your transformation is totally amazing, and you look fabulous!!! It is very encouraging to read your story and see what can happen when you stay focused on your goals and stick to them. I am very interested in being added to your distribution list to receive your emails, and I would like to learn more about the Whole 30 and Paleo lifestyle plan. Thanks again Ashley for sharing your story, it’s so inspiring!!! 😍❤😘
Sis. Golder, thank you so much! To God be the glory! I was just telling my parents how this whole entire journey was unintentional, but there were so many things that came together to spark this lifestyle change. It has been one amazing journey! And yes, absolutely…shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you😊!
So good to read your story! Very motivating.
Thank you so much😊!
Ashley you are awesome. This was a great read.
Aww thanks so much, Ahja😊😘!!
Ash, Ash, Ash… where do I begin?!?! First off, you’re such an awesome person with the greatest character ever! I’m so glad to be able to call you my true friend. You never cease to amaze me! This article and the comments speak to the inspiration that you are to sssoooooo many people, including me. Thank you for sharing your story and I love you dearly! Best wishes and I pray God’s abundant and continued blessings over your life!
Can we talk about these waterworks? Lol! Thank you so much for being a great friend to me. We’ve known each other since practically babies and you’ve been around for all of this crazy beautiful ride. Thank you…love you😊😘.
This is so encouraging. I to will be taking a journey of healthy eating and exercise. I will try the 30 for I am sure it will do a ton of good. Thank you for sharing.
Let me know how i can help!
Hi Ashley! Wonderful story and I have enjoyed reading your post over the years, This 30 plan what is that and I too need some sort of meal plan if you don’t mind adding me to your distribution list. I’m have problems with Arthur in my knees, lol
Praise the Lord, Sis. Reed! Thank you so much! Send me your email address and I’ll send you some info!
That’s my FRIEND!!! Love you and so proud of your journey.
Friend! Thank you so much! Love you mucho😊😘!
Totally inspired yet again by you, please add me to the distribution list. Mdlandersotr@gmail.com
Michelle Hoke Landers
Thank you so much😊😘! God has been so good to me!
Hi Ashley, I finally got a chance to read about your journey…so inspiring!!! Your testimony is truly powerful and stands to impact many! Keep up the good work, My Friend!! 😊
Awww Deb, thank you SO much! I mis you😊😘!
Girl, you’re my personal hero. You’ve inspired me and so many people, keep on spreading the love boo. ❤ you
Love you JoJo! Never made a faster friend, lol. So glad to have you on this journey with me😘!!
Ashley, It’s the Triple O.G. from the Westside of South Central L.A. that has finally sat down and taken the time to read your infamous post that you’ve been trying to get me to read since Dec 2017. I’ve heard this story before, and the others out of your own mouth, and despite the initial pain from all of them, I now get to benefit from Ashley Two dot oh (2.0). As we continue to adjust our schedules and increase our time together i pray that this will be the start of your health and wellness ministry that many women and men will be inspired and motivated to live their best lives Glorifying God. That is the purpose right?? Well, As your O.G. Alumnus and soon to be plus one, i look forward to a great lifetime of facing problems, believing God, supporting you and partnering with you to accomplish so much more. Oh, its been said that “The Game is to be SOLD and not TOLD”, so let this be your last year of free advice and start putting out short books so you can do greater kingdom work and reach those young athletic and talented girls and Teach them the game. Just my two cents.. Love you, LA… Your next door neighbor…
I love you, LA. Thank you for being here… you are the best😘😘😘!
❤️. Thank you for sharing!!
Thank YOU for reading😊!!