BDO: What would you say are your most and least favorite exercises?

MM: Although I enjoy Zumba as a high energy cardio workout, my favorite exercise is weightlifting.  My goal is to begin training this January to compete in a figure competition.  I believe that muscle building is the best way to preserve bone health and sustain my weight loss.  My least favorite exercise is spinning. It’s a great, great calorie burn, but afterwards, it can be very painful to sit down!

BDO: What are some of the initial changes you made to your diet?

MM: The first thing I did was explore different lower calorie foods, like those 100 calorie snack packs…since I love to snack. Before I changed my diet, I was accompanying my meats with high calorie foods. Another change I made was to replace things like mac & cheese and scalloped potatoes with veggies. When I started doing this, I noticed I’d stay fuller for longer.

BDO: What’s your favorite healthy meal?

MM: I’d have to say broiled salmon and asparagus with yellow squash. I went online to figure out how to cook salmon…it did NOT work out right at first, but now I love it.

BDO: What have been some of your successful strategies for eating healthier?

MM: I measure and weigh everything. Even now, I still log-in my food every morning, I pre-plan everything and I only shop off of my grocery lists. This leaves the guesswork out of things.

BDO: Do you still make room for treats?

MM: As I said before, I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but now I don’t have as many issues with it as I used to, and I don’t have the cravings like I used to. I’ve learned to think about how badly I want something before acting on it, but I don’t deny myself. For example, I like Reese’s Pieces. If I tell myself I can’t have something, I will still want it. So instead, if I decide I want a treat, I’ll indulge, but then adjust the rest of my calories for the rest of the day. Many times I’ll just chew gum or drink a Crystal Light lemonade.

BDO: What’s your typical daily routine now?

MM: My life involves my children, my husband, work, school…but I am also my priority. It’s my health, and no one will take care of me. This journey has taught me that I have to take care of myself. Granted, I’m lucky I have a very supportive husband who can support me in all of this.

My typical schedule includes waking up at 3:30 in the morning and working out at 4am. I like working out in the mornings because it gives me an energy boost.

BDO: What impact has all of this had on your family?

MM: My family was never really unhealthy, but I’ve been slowly transitioning newer and even healthier options onto the menu, like switching from white rice to brown rice, and curbing our salt intake. Now my children are fighting over fruits, like apples and bananas. My 3-year-old loves apples with peanut butter. It’s funny – he’ll eat all his veggies, but won’t finish his meat.

BDO: Have you been back to the doctor for a follow-up to last year’s exam?

MM: I have! I went back to the doctor for another health screening, 40 pounds lighter after that initial screening. The doctor didn’t recognize me. Everything looked great, and my results had drastically improved. I was very happy I had done something to improve my health. For the first time, I actually look forward to going in for my physical!

BDO: Any final words of advice for people reading your story, who are thinking of starting a health journey of their own?

MM: One thing I’d stress to someone starting out on their journey is…don’t try to accomplish everything at once. I didn’t gain 40 pounds in a year. Start out with one thing, one activity, one habit. Say, “I’m going to work out today,” and go from there. I stress start small and work your way up.

I also have a special message for women: We need to make sure we make our health our #1 priority. Don’t make excuses. I’ve found that on days that things don’t go as planned, ‘cause life happens, I’ll go run on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Anything is better than nothing. I am doing this for me, to be healthy, and I owe this to myself. You have to be selfish when it comes to your health.

Fit & Fabulous Winner Monica Miller: Want Big Changes? Then Start Small  was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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