In my early career as a singer, I performed all over Hollywood. I was one of the most sought after independent artists, opened up for Keyshia Cole, Nelly, Stevie Wonder, Tyrese, and other big names, and even had my own radio show. Around that time, I hired a management team. I gave them my dedication, my all. But it didn't work out, and that's when the changes began.
I was struggling financially, so I got a job and stopped singing. I was working 10 to 12-hour gigs as a brand ambassador, and I just stopped caring. I stopped watching what I ate. The food I ate, like fried food and desserts, was comforting and available to me, because it was easy. I wasn't exercising at all because I no longer cared how I felt or what I looked like. Because I was no longer performing, I lost all confidence.
I knew that I had to make a change, but I didn't know how. Then the opportunity to be on the show Revenge Body With Khloe Kardashian fell into my lap. Over the course of three and a half months, cast members work with a trainer and a nutritionist to overhaul their diet and exercise routines. On my first day filming, I met with Khloe. She was such a humble person, and took the time to mentally prepare me. She told me it was going to be hard, and I took heed to that. However, I knew I had the inner drive to do it.
The first thing my nutritionist did was put me on a 30-day diet that consisted of a high protein intake to speed up my metabolism. That first week, I had an organic protein powder shake every two hours or so, and my only meal was a dinner of lean meat and vegetables. Then, I started reintroducing complex carbs and fibrous vegetables back into my diet to build muscle, lean myself out, and fuel my body with energy to make it through intense workouts. The last three weeks of the diet consisted of four small meals per day, a shake, and a green juice.
This really changed my taste buds. Also, I learned that I hadn't been drinking enough water — that was a big reason why I felt hungry all the time. Now, I drink three litres of water a day. While on the show, I learned about healthy alternatives and how to incorporate them into my meals. For example, smart carbs like quinoa, brown rice, and even broccoli were things I didn't know anything about before. Now, a typical day of eating for me includes eggs and oatmeal with fruit on the side, nuts and salad, chicken and veggies, a protein shake (pre-workout), more chicken with rice and veggies, and a veggie juice.
Most of my workouts on the show were targeted to fat burning, which meant a lot of cardio. When we started weight lifting, it made me sore right away, so he tailored our workouts to be more cardio-based to lose the fat first, so that I could move better. I started out doing at least 30 minutes on the treadmill every day on an incline of 15, at a 3.0 speed. As I progressed, I started to increase the speed and time and eventually got up to an hour. Then I started running outside and experimenting with different types of cardio equipment, like the elliptical, to change things up.
STICKING WITH IT
By the time the show ended, I was down almost 22 kilograms. I turned what I learned on the show into a lifestyle and lost another 4.5 after the fact. My tastebuds are completely different now. Certain things just taste too sweet for my mouth. I make better food choices now that I'm aware of the healthier options. It was a big transition for me. Before, when somebody would tell me we're having salad, my face would scrunch up in disgust. Now, when I'm out to eat, I ask myself, what's the healthiest salad option I can have?
Aside from the diet, I've found ways to keep my workouts from getting repetitive and boring. I do more weight lifting now, and I like to go hiking with my friends to get my cardio in. Even if I'm going on a date, I suggest we go for a hike! It's a fun way to get to know someone while you're burning calories—I also get to see if he can keep up with me.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and I'm like, "Oh my god, you're back. You lost the weight, you're not an overweight girl anymore." Going from a size four/six to a size 15/16 was depressing, and it changed me. So coming back into that person I once was, but better, has been a cleansing mind and body experience. I feel lighter now, inside and out. The thing that makes me happy every day is singing and I had stopped doing it. Being able to get back out there and do what I was born to do after losing the weight was the ultimate achievement.
RANELLA'S NUMBER-ONE TIP
Look yourself in the mirror and say, "You're beautiful," because when you love yourself, you'll want to do what's better for you. That's the honest truth. When you're not taking care of yourself, you don't love yourself as much as you should. That's my biggest piece of advice.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US
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