Transformation of the Day: Erna lost 96 pounds. After being diagnosed with high blood sugar after her honeymoon in 2019, she began her transformation journey. Fully committed to the process, she got results from a combination of VSG surgery, plant-forward meals, intermittent fasting, and exercise. She shared some great insights and tips with us.
What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going, even when you wanted to give up?
My primary motivation and what keeps me going so hard was and is MY HEALTH. I want to be the healthiest version of myself for my remaining days on this earth.
When I returned from my honeymoon in January 2019, I felt extremely sick (I thought I had malaria). So I went to the travel clinic to get tested. They tested me for everything and did blood work. I later got a call from the travel nurse and the head physician to discuss the findings from my bloodwork. My blood glucose level was 366mg/dL. I felt every emotion possible, including denial and thinking it was just a fluke because had pasta for lunch prior to that appointment.
They wanted me to go back for a follow-up, but I did not. After that day, I completely changed my eating habits by going keto-vegan (which I was before, but it was carb-heavy). I ate that way for that year when I decided I needed to have a complete change and considered weight loss surgery again. I had thought about it before and was talked out of it by “friends” and “family.” However, this was about my health, and I wanted to prevent having more health issues or a confirmed diabetes diagnosis.
So in December 2019, I went to the Emory Bariatric Clinic for my first appointment, thinking they would accept me and I’d be on my way to surgery. WELP, NOT EXACTLY! They did my lab work and came back with bad news (but looking back, it was great news). They told me that my blood glucose was 247 mg/dL, 119 mg/dL. That was lower than my readings in January of that year, resulting from changing my eating and exercising without medication.
My A1C was 12.6% (which is too high for them to perform the surgery). I had to be under 8% for surgery. They wanted to put me on insulin, and I refused but agreed to metformin since, in my mind, I knew it would only be for a short period of time. So, I had to get to work and switch up my eating and workouts.
I cut out all sugar and ate plant-forward foods. Not knowing the pandemic was only a couple of months away, I got into the gym five times a week doing heavy lifting. I also started intermittent fasting (last meal at 4 pm). I used the lockdown to really transform my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. I worked hard that year. By October 2020, I had brought my A1C down to 6.9%. I had vertical sleeve gastrectomy weight loss surgery in December 2020.
Today, my diabetes is in remission and reversed. I am off of all medications (but vitamins). SO, when I think about this weight loss journey, I’ve literally been on it my entire life. (my first diet was the military diet in 2nd grade!) I’ve been plus size my whole life: Moving to South Korea and losing 70lbs – then returning to the US and gaining it all back plus more. I think about how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am today – the thought of giving up does not cross my mind!
How did you change your eating habits?
I went from a carb-heavy Vegan to Keto Vegan in 2019. In 2020, I began intermittent fasting and cut out all sugar. Then, 2021 to 2022, I switched to more plant-forward/fiber-filled meals and limited sugary desserts to special occasions only.
What did your workout routine consist of? How often did you work out?
I work out at least five times a week with a mixture of HIIT and weightlifting focused on building muscles and losing fat. I’ve had a personal trainer in the past, and the muscle memory is real.
I went back to the exercises I did in training, as well as researching new ones on YouTube and using the FitOn app. That FitOn App really came in handy during lockdown when all of my workouts were at home. Weight lifting will forever be a part of my workouts because I NEVER WANT TO SEE DIABETES ON MY HEALTH RECORD AGAIN.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
Highest recorded weight: 331 pounds
Current weight: 235 pounds
I’m not at my goal weight yet, but I feel the healthiest I’ve ever felt. I’ve been building these habits since 2019 and will continue pressing forward to reach my health goals. As I always say during this journey, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”
What is your height?
When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
My journey started in 2019, and I’m still on it. My transformation is not done yet. I AM JUST GETTING STARTED!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that this weight loss journey is mine and mine alone. I am the only person in control of my health. Also, I’ve learned how resilient and disciplined I have become. Hearing the news, the doctor told me, I could have given up and wallowed in it. But I did the complete opposite. That was a catalyst to going after the life that I wanted to live.
What advice do you have for women who want to lose weight?
Do not wait for anyone to push you to work out or work out with you. Do not wait for anyone’s approval or feedback about you taking control of your health. If losing weight and getting healthy is what you truly want, you must stay focused and not let anyone deter you from that goal.
I realize everyone is not going to take my route and go full steam ahead and change everything at once, so start small by replacing one unhealthy meal with another. And showing up for yourself each day, building upon what you did the day before, and making it a habit is the way to go.
If getting healthy is your ultimate goal, do not let anyone stand in your way and put yourself first. Weight loss really begins in your mind, and you must make that mental switch. At the end of the day, we are the only ones living in our bodies, and we have to make sure we aren’t standing in our own way!