Please introduce yourself to our readers (i.e. your name, occupation, hobbies, etc.).
My name is Dr. Tionna Jenkins and I have over 15 years of experience in the public health field and philanthropy. Currently, I work at a global foundation as a senior advisor.
Additionally, I am the founder of Plate It Healthy, an online wellness platform promoting and engaging the world to embrace a whole food plant-based lifestyle.
What sparked your weight-loss transformation journey?
Working in public health, I have always been surrounded by the knowledge, resources and tools to address health issues. However, although these tools were readily available for me to access, I was still struggling on how to best address my own personal challenges on how to embrace a wholistic health and wellness lifestyle.
I started a little over 4 years ago, right after the birth of our beautiful 4-year-old daughter. We have been blessed to have two daughters. So not only did I need to address the access weight and unhealthy lifestyle from being a “new mommy” all over again, I needed to lose the access weight that I did not lose completely from our first daughter.
Lastly, I was getting closer to the age of 40 and I knew my age would play a significant role in my weight loss and health journey.
I was also motivated by many other factors, after given birth to our second daughter. I was overweight, unhealthy and not comfortable in my own skin. I was still wearing maternity clothes past the designated time to where maternity clothes and I was not happy at all with how my body, attitude or my perspective had changed toward my own personal appearance.
The biggest determining factor was the scary encounter of wearing a heart monitor because of increased pain and tightening in my chest. Knowing that my family has a history of chronic disease (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, etc.) and that my paternal grandfather has passed my heart disease and father had passed at the young age of 36 years old, I knew being close to 40 years of age, I had to do something different.
What was your beginning and current weight or measurements?
I don’t actually remember my beginning weight, let’s just say very uncomfortable in my skin, overweight, with an extremely high BMI. If I had to guess, I would say anywhere between 225-230 pounds, with a 40 (plus waist line).
Over 4 years, I have lost over 60 pounds with a waist line in the upper 20’s, my BMI is in the normal range, I have less stress, no chest pains, more balance and feeling really comfortable in my own skin.
During my journey, when I first started, I put a lot of focus on weight, measurements, etc. I learned overtime, this did not work for me, but being one with my own body, monitoring my overall wellness, my energy levels, and how I felt and looked in my clothes.
Also, encouraging myself around non-scale victories, such as being able to eat clean, more plant-based meals, being able to run a mile, increase my miles, lift weights or have a better attitude and perspective were most important during my journey.
That’s not to say that measurements and knowing where to start and setting a goal is not important, because it is and works for some people. However, I use it only as a guide and not as a “end all be all”.
I wanted to add in more of the components of complete wellness, which incorporates more than weight and measurements and so I did and redirected my energy, time and space towards doing just that!
How long did it take for your weight-loss transformation from beginning to end?
Over time it took me all of 4 years. My weight-loss transformation and holistic wellness journey was just that, a journey and not a sprint. Not a quick-fix remedy or quick turn-around. I’ve had my own ups and downs trying to figure it all out. However, making the sustainable changes you need does work and it does not happen overnight.
Following and being encouraged by people who are on the same journey you are helps tremendously.
Which physical activities did you participate in during your journey?
I diversify my physical activities quite a bit now. When I first started after the birth of our 2nd daughter, I did a lot of walking and running. Now, I do less cardio and focus on high intense interval training, more strength training, lifting weights (free weights), massage therapy, intense stretching meditation and yoga.
How did your eating habits change?
This was the most challenging aspect of my journey. I now fully practice a whole-food plant-based lifestyle and have done so incrementally over time for the last 4 years.
Due to my own personal success in embracing a whole food plant-based lifestyle, there have been some pretty dynamic things which have resulted. Some of which include, more interest from individuals who want to try this lifestyle, companies and organizations wanting me to advise on options for plant-based foods for their guests or clients.
And lastly, having established a platform to discuss how food and community should work in a way where all individuals have access.
So, I created my wellness platform with plant-based recipes, tips and motivation. I also wanted to diversify the face of “who society” deemed or saw as healthy as well as advocate that all communities should have access to plant-based options and wellness regardless of economics, where they reside or any other hindering factors.
There are women and girls of color who take this lifestyle on 100% with seriousness and sincerity. I want to contribute in a positive way by making sure that there are more faces that look exactly like me who also embrace this lifestyle and who educate and advocate for change.
Lastly, I want to make sure I am well versed and educated on plant-based nutrition, so in addition to my existing academic credentials, I went back to school and earned a couple of certifications to support me in this learning process and provide appropriate guidance and consultation for myself and others.
Those include certifications from the T. Collins Campbell, Center of Nutrition at Cornell University (New York) and Emory University (Georgia) in plant-based nutrition and diabetes management
What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner?
My typically breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner are all whole food plant-based options. Very limited processed (in packages), meals or snacks.
You will see lots fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, peas, tubers like yams and sweet potatoes; nuts and peanuts; rice on my blog and website, Plate It Healthy.
I do not have a staple breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner picks, because I feel and practice that you can eat any plant-based option any time of the day, so I do! And I feel great about it, its’ proven to work well for me and so many others who practice a whole food plant-based lifestyle.
What is your favorite fitness activity?
Here lately, I have really been getting into hot yoga! However, I would not say it is my favorite.
I do really enjoy the calm music, manipulating and moving my body in new ways, sweating profusely (because you have not really worked out unless you are sweating, right?) and the cold towel with a quick massage at the end is the absolute best!
What do you do now to maintain your physique?
Above all things I eat a whole food plant-based diet and practice the lifestyle. Eating healthy is over 80% to any wellness journey or to maintain physique.
You can work out 7 days a week, but if what you consume it not nourishing for the body, you will not see or feel the results.
Additionally, I do high intense interval training, more strength training, lifting weights (free weights), massage therapy, intense stretching meditation and yoga. I do a mix of all these activities at least 5-6 days a week with 1 to 2 rest days.
How did you develop and sustain the willpower to avoid the bad stuff (i.e. junk food, bad drinks, lack of activity, etc.)?
A few tips that I follow:
Understand your personal relationship with food, first and foremost. If you are eating food when you are not hungry, then something is going on emotionally. Identify it and if you are not hungry do something else.
Know there are reasons why we like to eat certain foods over others. Food is addictive, it is meant to taste good for a reason, know this and start making the necessary steps to break the addiction to unhealthy foods, snacks and beverages.
Again, understand your personal relationship with food.
Understand the sole purpose of food and liquid, which is to provide the body with nourishment. If what you are consuming is not doing that then it is obviously doing something else.
Know that you have gotten to this place because you do not fully understand nor practice “moderation”. This word is over used in so many ways.
Practice mindful eating. So many times, we eat while we are doing something else so we are distracting and not paying attention to what we are putting in our mouths nor how much. Be still, eat slow and just eat without doing anything else. This is not the time to multitask.
If you feel you are not strong enough to be in social settings that will stop or hinder you on your journey, do not attend. This is hard for some people, but why put yourself around temptation.
On the opposite, if you feel that you are strong enough to be in social settings that will stop or hinder you on your journey, please do attend, and offer to bring the healthy option.
Be around people, networks and places that support your journey and transition, even if your only support is yourself or if your only support is a virtual community. This is very important. On this journey your actions and changes will be questioned or maybe even discouraged, but just you keep going, because you are doing this for you and that’s an excellent thing!
What advice do you have for someone looking to get started with their fitness journey but not sure where to begin?
No other advice than just to start! Start now, start today, start this second while you are reading this right now. And start, follow and be inspired by those who are actually meeting the goals you want to meet for a healthy transformation.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about this journey?
The biggest misconception about my journey in practicing a whole food plant-based lifestyle is that it is not something for all people to practice or more specifically for people of color to practice (e.g. African Americans, Latino’s, etc.). This is simply not true for so many reasons, one being that this lifestyle is dominate and practiced in a number of ways in many countries outside of the United States.
A second misconception about the overall wellness journey is that it can be done with success overnight, within a week or a month. This journey takes time and that maybe a year. It took years for me to put on access weight and not practice holistic living, why on earth would it take less than that to reverse what was done? Remember, practice makes perfect and we all have to practice something over and over before it becomes a habit.
Although, everyone is different, it takes time and patience to find out what works for you. However, it can be done.
Do you have any fitness inspirations? Who are they?
How can readers learn more about your transformation and journey online (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)?
Readers can learn more about my transformation and journey through all of my social media handles:
Plate It Healthy-Facebook