My health problems began early. As a young child, I had very little interest in food. I was underweight, and my picky eating caused constant anxiety for my mother.
But around age ten, something life-changing happened: I had my first taste of a fast-food cheeseburger.
My young, immature taste buds had never been hit with such an explosion of flavor. The gooey cheese, salty beef, sweet ketchup, crunchy onions, and pickles created an irresistible flavor bomb in my mouth.
My neurons were on fire. Like the first hit of a drug, I was instantly hooked.
Don't get me wrong; I come from a family of Jamaican cooks who can throw down in the kitchen. But this was like nothing I'd ever tasted before.
While I now know that I'd fallen victim to the hyper-palatable allure of ultra-processed food, back then, all I knew was pleasure.
There was no turning back. That was the beginning of a long, addictive relationship with food - and the beginning of a seemingly impossible struggle with my weight.
By the time I hit high school, I was overweight, borderline obese. By college, I'd passed that borderline. I did all the things that I thought were right. Countless hour-long sessions on the elliptical machines at the gym. Grueling sessions with a rude personal trainer. Unfulfilling salads for lunch.
And yet progress was slow. Even when I did lose a bit of weight, it was only a matter of time before those results were lost.
I felt uncomfortable in my skin.
On the one hand, I was curvy in shape. When I would tell people my actual weight, I was told that I "carried it well" and "didn't look that big ."
But I still spent a lot of time in the mirror picking myself apart, wishing there was less fat… everywhere. More concerning than the way I looked, though, was the way I felt. I always felt like crap.
I was constantly anxious; most days, I felt like I would jump out of my skin at any second. I also experienced recurring bouts of depression that were sometimes expressed as anger. To top it off, I suffered from insomnia even though I was exhausted pretty much all the time.
Too often, I felt helpless, and life felt pointless. Something had to change. I had to change.
My journey towards losing weight and gaining health was filled with trial and error. But as the years passed, I gained more knowledge and experience, which have given me clarity about where I went wrong.
I swapped out a few hours a week of cardio for strength training. Once I started lifting heavy, everything changed.
I began seeing changes in the way my body looked and felt. Slowly, I gained muscle and re-shaped my body composition.
I discovered the joy of progress.
As the weeks and months passed, I gained strength I never knew I had. And as my body changed, my mind followed suit. I began seeing myself as strong and capable. I found my inner athlete.
But things weren't perfect.
Aesthetically, I was seeing my body in a new light, and while I felt better than I ever had in my life, I knew I could feel even better.
My periods were still atrocious. I was still depending on painkillers to get through the cramps.
While increasing my physical activity did help me feel more emotionally stable, I still had anxious and depressive moments. And my digestive health was poor.
I then realized that I had only figured out a part of the equation. If I was going to truly improve my health, going to the gym was definitely not going to be enough. I realized that I had to work on my diet.
As a natural nerd, I fell deep into the hole of nutrition research. Though it took some time and some experiments with different diets, I concluded that a plant-based diet was best for me.
Once I restructured my diet to include an abundance of nutritious, whole plant foods, the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I unlocked a deeper level of healing that I never knew was possible.
'You are what you eat' took on new meaning as I finally understood how the food I put in my mouth was responsible for building the very cells that make up my being.
It was also quite humbling to realize that my poor diet was responsible for much of the suffering I'd experienced since childhood.
I now feel confident that I am fully capable of making whatever changes I want to make to my body. No longer am I out of control, and no longer do I feel cursed.
This next stage of my journey is dedicated to helping people discover their healthiest, strongest, most capable selves.
I discovered my inner strength and power, and now I help others do the same.