Patrice Clark talks about her decade long fight against fat

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Losing the belly fat is a battle that many people struggle to win, but fail.

Mississippi is the fattest state in the country. It's a bad title that has lead to hypertension, diabetes, and other health scares in so many people's lives.

But don't get discouraged, you can lose weight if you try.

It's probably hard to believe I used to weigh nearly 300 pounds. It wasn't until I realized my life's worth outweighed the snacks and sweets that I decided to make a change. I trimmed my waistline and gained a healthier lifestyle.

Before we talk about how I lost weight, let me take you back to my childhood. Growing up in New Orleans, the home of gumbo, king cakes, and fried catfish, good food was hard to resist. Through the years, eating became my hobby, and I packed on the pounds.  By high school, I was really obese, but I ignored it. Food stopped being my friend and began being my enemy.

That's until one day when I looked in the mirror and cried, because I finally realized that I was fat and unhealthy. From that day on, I said to myself, 'Patrice, it's time for a transformation.'

I started to lose weight, and I didn't use diet pills or go under the knife. I dropped the pounds thanks to willpower and determination!

The first thing I do every morning is exercise.  For 45 minutes, I work out at my apartment's gym.  I do a little cardio, and mix it with some strength training and, of course, top it off with some tunes.

For a lot of people, getting off the couch and on a treadmill takes lots of motivation, especially when you're stressed or just don't have the time. If you don't believe me, ask the millions of American adults who are overweight or obese.

Kristin Sessums is a dietitian for Singing River Health Services. She helps people like me reach their fitness goals.

"Exercise can be a great stress reliever. Exercise can get your energy up; it makes you happy. Realistic weight loss is about five pounds in a month," Sessums said about working out.

She recommends that you don't try to do too much too soon. She says working out at least 30 minutes, two to three times a week, gets the blood pumping.

"What makes you fat actually is in taking too many calories and not expending it; for example, not getting exercise. Exercise, along with eating a low calorie, low fat diet helps you lose weight," Sessums said.

After a vigorous workout I eat a healthy breakfast.  While I would love to eat pancakes and bacon, it's just not healthy for me.  I'm not a dietitian, but as a single woman this is what I eat: cereal with low sugar, and low fat or soy milk.

"Low fat milks and chesses are important to include in your diet. There have been some studies that show including dairy in your diet helps you lose weight," Sessums said.

Dietitian Sessums says to always look for food facts to find hidden calories and fats.

"The nutritional labels on most items tell you what you should have each day based on the calorie level. You can subtract the nutritional facts from that one serving size."

Lunch choices are also important to weight loss. Sometimes cheap buffets and super sized portions seem like better deals than more expensive, healthy food. But Sessums warns eating fatty food for lunch will cost your body later.

It's already squeezing the country's wallet. The U. S. Surgeon General says the obesity epidemic totals about $117 billion each year.

"If you want to eat out, that is fine. Look for things that are low fat, and look for lunch portions at restaurants. Also, ask how things are prepared. Choose things like salad as a side, or a fruit can be chosen as a side," Seassums said about dining out.  "I think it's about education, and knowing what is healthy to eat, and what foods to incorporate into your diet."

Dinner time should also have a healthy kick to it. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is cook a meal. I still fix a quick, healthy meal without slaving over the stove.  On a typical day, I eat rotisserie chicken, mixed vegetables and a small salad. The meal is satisfying and fulfilling. That's what it is all about, eating healthy and enjoying it.

Healthy living is not easy, but don't you quit. Dietitian Kristin Sessums' advice is if you fall off the weight lost wagon, get up and hop back on. No one is perfect.

"If you want those chips and you want something sweet, go ahead and do it. You are not a failure, but just stay on track. Don't look for a quick fix. You don't put the weight on overnight, and it is going take a little time to lose it. It takes time."

Remember it has taken me more than a decade to lose weight and that's because I never gave up.

I hope my story has inspired you. I would like to hear some of your weight loss successes and struggles. Also, let me know what you think about my story. E-mail me at

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