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If you were perusing through social media this past weekend, you might have run across this video gone viral:

It’s a clip of young woman dancing with all the ferocity, flexibility and energy that many of us wish we could muster up. That young woman is actually Brandi Mallory, a 34-year-old makeup artist and fitness instructor based out of Atlanta. And while her moves and confidence are quite the motivation for us now, it wasn’t too long ago that Mallory was seeking motivation to get up and get moving after reaching close to 400 pounds. Instead of a thematic motivational speech though, she received a wake-up call. The Delta Sigma Theta sorority member lost a sorority sister to a heart attack at the age of 29 — the same age that she was at the time — and knew she’d lived in an unhealthy way for far too long. “I started living in that fear of am I next?”

What would come next was a weight-loss journey that would include the highs of losing hundreds of pounds in front of national television audience on Extreme Weight Loss, and the lows of gaining a majority of the weight back due to work stress and personal turmoil. But with the help of fitness instructor/dancer Dwight Holt, Jr., known for his work with actress Mo’Nique, and a new outlook thanks to her faith and experiences, Mallory’s gotten back in control of her weight and her happiness, and become a dancing machine in the process. Check out her story.

Brandi Mallory Fitness Fridays


Image courtesy of Brandi Mallory

MadameNoire: How did your fitness journey begin? I read that nothing triggered your weight gain necessarily, you just found that you liked to eat. 

Brandi Mallory: I actually started gaining weight when I was 10. It was just like a fluke thing. I don’t really know what initiated the weight gain but it just started happening. I do remember binge eating as a teenager and stuff like that. I never really thought about it though, I just wanted the food. But then as I got older, I never had time to eat. So it went from me sneak eating as a teenager to me never eating because I was always doing something, which is bad on both ends. One day I realized I kept waking up with this anxious feeling of like, “Am I going to wake up tomorrow?” I had a sorority sister who passed at 29. I was 29 at the time and so I was worried. We had just turned 29 — she had turned 29 a week prior and I was two weeks older than her, so it was like, “Wait a minute…” And I was bigger than she was and she had a heart attack, so it was a wake-up call for me.

So I saw a commercial for The Biggest Loser on the television. Because they’d just left Atlanta, I booked a ticket for Cleveland, which was their last stop. I went out there, went to the casting call they had, and I didn’t make it on the show. However, in April of the following year, which was 2013, they sent my information to Extreme Weight Loss. I knew I needed somebody to show me something different in order for me to believe it. Because when you’re morbidly obese and you have to lose a whole entire person, that’s so much more to try and grasp than someone trying to lose 20 pounds. And so the road is longer, mentally you have to think so differently because no one is going through this journey but you. Everybody else is living life the same way they’ve been living it, you’re the only one who’s changed. So, a lot of times you’ll find yourself in compromising positions. And you have to kind of check your personal integrity. At that moment, what’s more important to you? What’s your “Why”? So that’s what I gained from my weight-loss journey and my experience on Extreme Weight Loss and from working with Chris and Heidi Powell. One thing they told us was to make sure in maintenance, to find something you love doing that’s going to keep you active. I came back home and I tried everything. I played kickball for a little while. I loved every type of fitness, loved it all, but it’s just something about Dwight and Dance Your Pounds Off that kept me coming back.

What would you say that is?

It’s not even the dancing part or the fitness part. It’s the energy of the class. It’s the women I’m around when I’m working out with them and we’re dancing together and pushing one another and motivating one another. It’s the energy that’s in that room that I fiend for — literally. And it’s not just me. We have a group on Instagram, and sometimes we’ll be in there on maybe a Thursday, or Friday, or a Saturday or a Sunday and there’s no class. And so we’re like, “I really needed a class today,” because when we’re having hard times, that’s our release. It’s the energy in that room and obviously the movement. Dwight is really great at pushing you to be able to be your best self. The video that went viral, that dance? When he first was teaching us the choreography, I was like, “What’s wrong with you? Who’s doing that? Nobody in this room can do that!” And he looked at me and was like, “Brandi, do it. Just do it. Just try.” So I did. With everything, practice makes perfect. I didn’t get it right. I didn’t get it perfect the first time. Sometimes I would get it and mess it up the next time, but you can’t give up on yourself. You have to keep pushing for your own personal version of perfection. So that’s what I try to do. I compete with myself. Don’t compete with anybody else. Compete with yourself.



So how did you go from just dancing to training to teach and motivate other women?

So I went through something really crazy this summer. And as one of the promises to myself — the message I was getting from God was that he was rededicating my focus basically. As part of that it was kind of like, maybe I need to go a little bit more hands-on with something I’m actually passionate about on the exercise and health side of things. So I reached out to him and I told him I wanted to be a little bit more hands-on with Dance Your Pounds Off. I actually wanted to start training and become an instructor. From that moment forward I started training and I’m taking this super serious. I’m really dedicated to motivating women to actually just believe in themselves. Sometimes it starts with that first. Once you believe you can do anything, literally, you’ll start doing anything you want to do. Those things that God puts in your head and those feelings you get of, “I really want to do this” but you’re apprehensive, you’ll stop pausing in those moments and start writing things down. It may not make sense to you in the moment, but there’s a reason why that was implanted in your head and you will circle back around to it in the future. So I just want to make sure I’m always motivating people to be the best versions of themselves, and it allows me to push myself to be that too.

From the intense dancing you do and helping to teach it, have you seen a shift in your weight and body composition? 

Yes! So, I had actually gotten back up to 255.

Quick question: Did the weight gain have to do with the things you said happened this past summer? 

I had already kind of started trying to get things back in control but it was definitely one of the things that put my weight back on, yeah.

Would you say you gained weight after doing Extreme Weight Loss because you were in the process of trying to find an activity you really enjoyed and could commit to?

No, it was a lot of different things. I had left work for a year as a professional makeup artist and freelance makeup artist. I had given up clients and passed them to other people. So when I came back [from Extreme Weight Loss] it was really grind time for me. I need to find money, I need to find a job, I need to be working somewhere and working out was the last thing I was really worried about or thinking about. I kind of went from working out six hours a day to not working out at all and just working. And a lot of makeup work is eight to 12 hours on set, you sitting around doing a lot of nothing, but you have to be right there. So there’s not a lot of room for you to get in any physical activity, even if you wanted to stop and think about it.

I had to literally step away from it. I was working so much within the first year of me coming back that I literally had to step away from that and say, “No, I need to make both a priority.” I wasn’t happy anymore. I had put on weight. I was angry and starting to get angry again for allowing something like that to happen. I knew my personal integrity was compromised. There were a lot of things I learned from Chris and Heidi that when I came back I said that I wanted to maintain. That was a lot of work, a lot of stress — a lot of everything. Going hard for a year straight and then putting all your weight back on. Outside of that, it’s embarrassing. And unfortunately, when you sign up to do something in front of a national audience, you open yourself up to a lot of people’s opinions. You open yourself up to a lot of feedback, and you may not necessarily want it, but you put yourself out there for it and you signed up for it. For me, I was like, “Yeah, no. This isn’t a good look.” When I saw us dancing in St. Louis last year I was like, I’ve got to get this thing together. Since then I have lost 25 pounds through everything that I’ve been dealing with in my personal life and I’m still pushing forward. And really, all I had been doing was dancing. But what I decided to do was, when you become an instructor, you have to be able to dance and teach at the same time. You’re breathing, talking and moving at the same time. And you have to give it the same energy. So me, my integrity for this whole thing is to just maintain the same level of energy that Dwight gives when he’s instructing. So I had to start running again because I stopped running. I watch what I eat even more now than before. The energy we put in our bodies is the food that we eat. That’s the fuel that we give it. If we’re putting regular in ourselves, we kind of need premium [laughs]. There’s a difference in the energy you can burn off and give off when you eat a certain type of way.

As someone who’s been on TV and gone viral, as you said people are watching you — including the critics. What do you say to people who criticize you for being comfortable in the skin you’re in? For dancing without a shirt on sometimes and being confident? 

When I see stuff like that, I just go ahead and make certain assumptions. One, they probably never had to struggle with something like this, so oh well. And two, they never had the balls to take care of their problems, so I don’t really care. I genuinely don’t. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, it doesn’t make me feel a way. I’ll see somebody say something about my arms and I used to beat myself up about them. But when you beat yourself up about something so bad, you’ll never allow anybody to make you feel the way you made your self feel. I lived with a much larger body for a much longer time than I have this body. There is no way in hell I would ever feel bad about the way I look, ever. Everything about me is beautiful. And I’m Ok. If I was skinny, no one would be saying anything about me dancing in a sports bra with my shirt off. So I’m not really concerned about anybody’s shallow opinion about me or what I’m doing with my body on my social media page. Not at all.

What’s next for you? Do you have a fitness goal or is your focus on continuing to just teach and help others because it brings you fulfillment and joy?

Both. Actually, I’ll be teaching my own class called Beauty and the Beat in 2018. It will be under Dance Your Pounds Off. I’ll be the second brand ambassador for him. Brely Evans is the first one. She has a class in L.A. that he helped her set up, which is basically what he’s doing for me here. Outside of that, I do plan on having my arms done. That’s a skin removal that I’m working towards and what I promised myself when I get to 200 pounds. It will be a reward for having done so much. Because I used to weigh almost 400 pounds, so that’s no small task. That would be 200 pounds down. No, it won’t be my end goal and that’s why I’m not getting my stomach done. Because I know I can be smaller, but I’ve talked to multiple doctors, and they all told me the same thing: If I want the smallest, tightest stomach, I would have to mess with my muscle walls and I won’t be able to have kids. So if I were to have the surgery and then have kids, I would have a saggy stomach afterward. So why would I go through all of that to have “perfect” body just to mess it back up? So I’ll wait, and it will be Ok. Like I said, I lived with a much larger body that this does not matter to me. I feel great.

Follow Brandi on Instagram and be sure to check out the rest of our Fitness Friday profiles

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