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 Written by Katia Powell

Katia is a Doctoral student in Public Policy and an intern at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

My life has always been filled with people, love, laughter, and purpose. Despite this, I have always felt a sense of emptiness, and used food to comfort me and fill that void. At the young age of 26, I tipped the scale at 350lbs. ‘How did I get to this point?!’ I would ask myself. I was morbidly obese and had asthma, a bad back, and weak knees from the extra weight. In addition, I lost my job and dropped out of nursing school because of financial problems. I had reached the lowest point in my life.

Despite these events, I was determined to get my life back on track and go back to medical school someday. I was motivated to help others live healthier lives, but knew I had to start with myself. In addition, I was tired of always being told, “You have such a pretty face!” It was time to make a change.

I joined a local gym for a low cost and started working out 3-4 times a week. I slowly worked my way up to being active 4-5 days a week for 60-90 minutes. I changed my eating habits and wrote down everything I ate. Eating healthy can get expensive, but I found ways to eat healthy while staying within my small budget:

  1. I rarely went out to eat and made my food at home
  2. I stopped for fresh fruits and vegetables at local Farmers Markets
  3. I clipped coupons and kept an eye on grocery ads for sales
  4. I stopped buying cups of coffee and brewed it at home before leaving for work
  5. I made my own 100 calorie snacks from larger packages
  6. I planned my meals a few days in advance

Believe me, it was not easy. Yet, the benefits outweighed the costs.

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In six short months I lost 100 lbs and felt awesome. It took me 3 years to lose the excess weight and arrive at the goal weight of 150 lbs. Since then, I have regained 30 lbs, but I have the confidence and determination to lose the excess weight.

As an African American woman, I’m at higher risk for obesity-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Let my story serve as an example of how to defy the odds. Not only did I reach my goal weight, but I’m back on track in my career as a student intern at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and a doctoral student in Public Policy.

Despite whatever is going on in your life, you can make a positive change and become a healthier you. If I can do it, you definitely can too! So join me in my journey toward healthiness today!


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