Let’s be real—it’s hard losing weight. Trading carbs for abs may sound nice in theory, but so does pizza, pasta and those delicious theme park funnel cakes that love to leave evidence of your gluttony all over your face (powered sugar is a hell of a drug!). Not to mention that if you’re not a fitness buff, rolling out of bed for an early morning gym session or dragging yourself to workout after working that draining 9 to 5 job can easily turn into one of those chores that you do half-heartedly just to check it off the list instead of giving it your all.
But if you ask any personal trainer it’s all mind over matter—a simple act of trading in your excuses for a pair of Nike’s and just doing it! But the reality is that for many people, eating healthy and getting fit is more psychological than anything. At least that’s what personal trainer and celebrity fitness correspondent Fallon Mercedes found out after signing up to work with a client weighing in at 445 pounds for Fit to Fat to Fit—a new show where professional fitness trainers gain an extreme amount of weight in order to understand the struggle of losing weight alongside their obese clients.
At 5’0, Fallon admits to never having tipped the scale of obesity, but for the show packed on 45 pounds just to fit into her client JD’s shoes.
“I would get frustrated with him when he wasn’t following my nutritional plan. And I had to step back and realize that this isn’t an addiction for him, this is almost like it’s a disease,” Fallon says. “People are sensitive to people who are alcoholics and drug addicts, but I feel like we’re not as sensitive to people who are obese.”
Working with JD wasn’t just a wake-up call concerning her clients, but also to herself. Gaining over 40 pounds took a toll on Fallon’s health and at one point the fitness lover was scared that the excess weight would affect her fertility. Not to mention that despite her years of training and healthy eating, she struggled to lose the weight that eating her beloved sweets and Dominican food afforded her. “When I was losing the weight I got really frustrated when I would step on the scale. All of that hard work that I put in and I only lost a pound?”
Yeah, that’s exactly how many people feel when they bust their behinds in the gym and nibble on cucumbers and carrots, only to see the numbers creep up on the scale.
With a newfound understanding and appreciation of the struggles surrounding weight loss and obesity, Fallon chatted with us about her journey of gaining and losing weight, how it changed her perception as a personal trainer, and shares weight loss tips for those who are still fighting the good the good fight of having a healthy and fit body.
Here's what she learned:
You Have to Constantly Love Yourself Through the Process of Losing Weight
"A casting director contacted me and told me the premise of the show. It’s funny because I read the book that this is based off of, Drew Manning’s book, and he got fat and lost the weight with his client, so I knew what he was talking about but I was like 'I don’t know if I want to get fat, I kind of want to do this bikini competition' and he’s like no trust me, you should do it!"
"For me it was just like am I really going to do this, am I really going to put on the weight? So I decided to just go for it, and test myself to go to a place I’ve never ever been. I wondered if I still could love myself and be confident at a bigger size because I train a lot of clients and a lot of women suffer or have a hard time with their confidence and loving themselves because you don’t lose the weight overnight, it takes time. So I have to constantly tell them you have to love yourself through the process. I wondered if I could love myself during the process. Would I have enough confidence in my relationship to be secure even at my biggest? So it was definitely a challenge."
Being overweight looks different on everybody
"My goal was 40 and I went over, but I think like every girl I’ve been 5 – 10 pounds fluctuating, but I’ve never gotten fat. I’m short–I’m 5 feet–so even 5 or 10 lbs shows up on me, and I think I’m a little different from most trainers like the ideal body type. I am curvy and like I said, I’m Dominican. I like having curves, but I consider myself fit curvy. But to gain 45 lbs, that took my curves to another level. I really looked like I was pregnant once I put that weight on; it looked like I’d gained 75 lbs because I was so short."
Eating the "typical" American diet can cause migraines and other serious health issues
"We weren't allowed to work out for four months and we had to eat a typical American diet. They didn’t really give us a nutrition plan to gain weight so basically I did whatever I could. I would go to McDonald’s or Taco Bell or I would do the fast food thing, the pizza. I started cooking the meals that I grew up loving the rice and beans, the fried plantains and then I have a sweet tooth so I was eating a lot of sweet foods like chocolate and cookies. But I think overdid it in the beginning with the sweets because I was getting constant migraines and constant nausea because I was trying to eat over 3,500-4,000 calories a day and it was just intense. And then after that we had to start incorporating healthier meals and not so much sugar.
"I can understand that fast food documentary [Super Size Me], I get it because within my first month, I was like I have to peel back, this was insane."
Carrying extra weight can affect your fertility and menstrual cycle
"There were doctors on the show to monitor us, but what really freaked me out was not so much the headaches and nausea, but I was getting my menstrual cycle every two weeks. I don’t have any children, and you know I really want to get married and have kids one day so at that point I almost passed out and told the producers listen, if this is going to affect my fertility and my reproductive system I’m out.
"So I had to sit with the doctors and they had to monitor me and check me and they told me because it was just for a short amount of time I would bounce back and get my menstrual cycle regularly once I started eating clean and working out. But what a lot of people don’t realize, and I get a lot of clients who have trouble conceiving and it’s because their body fat percentage is too high, and they’re living and eating unhealthy. So once my body fat percentage got to a certain percent, I think that’s when I started having those issues. I think within the first two or three weeks of me eating clean again my menstrual cycle regulated."
"I get a lot of clients who have trouble conceiving and it’s because their body fat percentage is too high."
Being "skinny fat" doesn't mean you're healthy--you can still be pre-diabetic
"You’d be surprised, there are a lot of people who—you hear the term skinny fat—and you look at them and they’re like I’m good, I’m not overweight. But muscle weighs more than fat so you can’t really get on the scale and judge. You really have to take your measurements and get your body fat percentage then because that’s what’s really going to tell you. Because you want to be in the range of 20-25%, anything over that, and a lot of people think that fat is on the outside, but there’s something called visceral and that’s fat surrounding the organs, and when you have too much fat, you know a lot of people that are obese you see it in their stomach first, that’s because there’s so much fat surrounding their organs that it’s protruding from their stomach.
"And that’s the dangerous fat, and that’s when it starts affecting your organs and for women it starts affecting your fertility. And you become pre-diabetic and have high cholesterol and all of those things, so not just for aesthetics, you want your body fat percentage low for your health."
Obesity can affect fertility in men as well
"When JD came to me they told me he was 375 or in the 300s so I sat down and asked him let me know your history and do you have any issues and he’s like no my doctor says I’m pretty healthy for a fat guy and I’m like okay, so I put him on the scale and he’s like 455 lbs. and he’s like wow I haven’t weighed myself in 10 years and I’m doing his measurements and literally the measuring piece I couldn’t even get all the way around him and when I assessed him later on after I gained weight, I learned that he was pretty agile for a man that size but he definitely was the most out of shape.
"But it wasn’t until two months in that I took him to the doctor because he wasn’t taking it seriously when I was training him and he wasn’t losing as much weight as he should’ve, he was going up and down on the scale and cheating on his diet so I took him to get his blood labs read and he was pre-diabetic, high cholesterol and his testosterone was so low that basically, he was in male menopause. So that just shows you that weight gain not only affected my reproductive system, but even as men when you’re overweight it can affect you having children and affect your testosterone levels.
Obesity isn't just a habit, it's an addiction
I’ve worked with obese people before, but never severely obese of his size. What this experiment really taught me is that a lot of it is psychological. I would get frustrated with him when he wasn’t following my nutritional plan, and I had to step back and realize that this isn’t an addiction for him, this is almost like it’s a disease. People are sensitive to people who are alcoholics and drug addicts, but I feel like we’re not as sensitive to people who are obese. That’s what I really learned with him was that I have to tread lightly, he’s in this shape because it’s more of an addiction and disease, he doesn’t want to be this way it’s a behavioral habit.
"People are sensitive to people who are alcoholics and drug addicts, but we’re not as sensitive to people who are obese."
Losing weight is an emotional journey
"I remember the first workout that we did together I was just like whoa, I couldn’t even do half of the pushups and half of the workouts that I was able to do before. So it definitely opened my eyes that first workout at 40+ pounds on my back I was like okay this is going to be work.
"Then I was emotional, too. I had a lot going on wondering if my menstrual cycle would be regulated and wondering if I was going to bounce back and lose all the weight. It was definitely an emotional journey for me, and then I also had to be the strong one to support and motivate and push him to lose weight so it was hard."
Finding a way to make exercise fun is the key to consistency
"Nutrition is 75% of losing weight. The first thing I did was a food journal, and that made me really aware of what I was eating and along with that I did a lot of plyometrics at high-intensity intervals. I teach a class called 'Body Shred' so I lost a lot of weight doing that class, and I did things I loved like going to fun classes, dancing, hiking, paddle boarding.
"I worked out five days a week and for the majority, I would do at least an hour a day, some days two hours. I had to work, too, during this process, so I was working my real job, training clients and then also training myself."
"I think what I learned from the situation is like I said earlier, it's psychological, too. You have to want it; you have to be ready. As a trainer I learned that I have to be a little more empathetic and sympathetic with my clients. I didn’t realize how hard it is."
Having a support system can help you get through the hard times
"You know what’s funny is I would still would dress up and put makeup on when I’d go out on a date with my boyfriend and I would put Spanx on and I would just act like even though my confidence level has not been the same, I still portrayed that I’m just as beautiful as I was before. I was still the same person, nothing inside me changed. And I feel like I kind of fooled my boyfriend, my boyfriend never once commented that I wasn’t beautiful. And I think that helped my confidence level.
"He never waivered with his affection or made any comments to me about getting too big, he was just supportive. I guess having a supportive person you’re dating that helps, and faking it ‘til you make it. I convinced even myself that I was still the same person, still beautiful regardless of what size I was."
Losing Weight Is About Patience and Enjoying the Process
"I think the first place to start with is to just get moving. I think sometimes people will put it off like, 'oh I’ll do it when my money’s right, I’ll do it when my kids are in daycare, I’ll do it when I have the time.' I feel like just get moving, do things that you are motivated by or excited to do. If you love hanging out with your girlfriends instead of going to a restaurant to eat with them, do girlfriend catch up time on the elliptical next to each other and get that cardio in or go hiking together. Or plan activities that you do like. If you love to dance try a dance workout class or Zumba or if you like the beach, try like a surf sport workout, something like that. I think the first thing is to start moving, and then you can kind of figure it out from there.
"I would encourage people just to take it one day at a time. Even when I was losing the weight I got really frustrated when I would step on the scale. All of that hard work that I put in and I only lost a pound? So it takes time, you know. Even for me, I’m a trainer and certified in nutrition and I had all of the tools, and even I couldn’t lose 10 lbs in a week, so it’s really about patience and trying to enjoy the process. They say it’s a lifestyle and that’s what’s really going to keep the weight off, incorporating it into your life and with your friends and your family and your job."
Check out a preview of Fit to Fat to Fit and be sure to tune in tonight at 10 PM/9c on A&E.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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