Photos of Cledra McCullers running at her heaviest, and then standing radiant in heels less 57 pounds have been circulating the internet. The images of her transformation are remarkable. The emotion and expression in both before and after photos tell a human story or overcoming hardship. They are simply inspiring. We caught up with the now life coach to get the story in full.
In terms of your life change, when was “Before”?
In 2007 I found out my baby’s heart stopped the day after Mother’s Day. I had been told that I had a 90% chance of going to term with my baby but that ended in shattered dreams. So instead of giving birth on December 19th I had a memorial service the week before Thanksgiving. The “before” picture is one week after the memorial service. At that service I made a promise that I would run the race of life for the both of us until God called me home. So at 246 lb. I started jogging.
Current Weight: 189 lb.
Hometown: Knightdale, NC
What was your lifestyle like before you made the change?
I have been working out consistently for the last 20 years but my eating habits were very out of control. My portions were large and I responded to the stress of life with excess amounts of food. I was a living example that you cannot exercise enough to compensate for a poor diet. I kept trying to approach my weight loss the traditional way by focusing on the food when I really needed to focus on the root cause of what was making me overeat when stress in my life was really high. It’s because of my frustration of going through countless therapists, life coaches, joining so many programs and reading hundreds of books that I created the concept of PlanBe where I integrate ALL of the components needed to change my life.
Losing weight this time wasn’t about how I looked. It was about how I lived.
What made you want to lose weight? What were the feelings and factors that drove you?
After my baby passed away and I lost my marriage I felt hopeless. Weight was all I felt I did have control over and so I became determined to find a way to drop it …ALL OF IT… the pain of my divorce, the tragedy of losing my baby, and the physical weight. It ALL needed to be dropped and the reoccuring dream I had of my baby telling me “Mommy go back go back” as I was trying to swim across the ocean to get him still plays in my mind. Also the sanctity of life became so much more apparent to me during this very dark time in my life. Losing weight this time wasn’t about how I looked. It was about how I lived. I wanted to LIVE as fully as I could because I knew that life was a precious gift from God and I didn’t have a right to destroy it by abusing food.
What did you do, eat, etc differently?
I learned along the way that portions matter more than anything else. I don’t believe in eliminating anything. I believe in having what you want just not having it every time you want it! I believe strongly in journaling your food and water intake, and not so much for the reasons you read about in any fitness magazine but I do it to have something to CELEBRATE each day. It’s VERY challenging to lose weight and wait on the results, so it’s important to have things to celebrate along the way.
What advice do you have for people who want to change their lives like you did?
The first thing is to believe. I know that may sound simple but it really starts with a deep belief that change IS in fact possible, independent of how many times you’ve tried in the past. The next thing is LOVE. Make the change because of an act of LOVE and not hatred. I hear clients tell me how they hate their thighs or they hate their abs. Hatred isn’t a long term motivator. Eat well and live well because of LOVE. Also expect to be imperfect. Having unrealistic expectations is poison to a new lifestyle. It takes time to unravel bad habits so give yourself the space to unravel those habits and be gentle along the way. Last thing is accountability. Don’t try to do this alone. I felt SO alone trying to recover from so much loss. It was harder than it needed to be because I was doing it by myself in a lot of ways. I may have somone helping me with nutrition but then I’d have to go to another person to get help with the grief. Then another person to get help with exercise. A great life coach can help you integrate all the pieces. It’s kind of a one stop shop to stimulate lasting change.
Cledra is a now a coach and strategist for people looking to make healthy lifestyle changes. Find her at www.planbecoach.com
About the author
Alumni Wellness is dedicated to maximizing health, fun and happiness for the long term. We experiment cooking with whole foods, discover exciting heart pumping activities, and play with cool gym and kitchen gadgets. You know… Fun stuff!