Fitness Fridays: Olivia Patrice Dropped 100 Pounds When She Realized “Losing Weight Is Hard. Being Fat Is Hard. Pick Your Hard.”

March 9, 2018  |  

French Royal, Virginia native Olivia Patrice Shanks never thought she could lose weight, let alone more than 100 pounds. Just a few years ago, the 25-year-old had every excuse in the book as to why she couldn’t lose weight and could barely get to her college classes without being exhausted and covered in sweat. It took an epiphany for her to start working on changing her lifestyle, and in turn, completely transforming her body.

More than 100 pounds down and a whole new outlook on weight loss later, Olivia is now using the resources she didn’t have years ago to encourage and motivate others on their weight-loss journey. And with nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 16,000 people watching her videos on YouTube, her journey is clearly inspiring change. So what’s her story? We talked with the gal who goes by Olivia Patrice to find out how she went from getting dangerously close to 300 pounds to choosing to take control of her life. Because as she says, “Losing weight is hard. Being fat is hard. Pick your hard.”

MadameNoire: Some people have struggled with their weight since childhood and others pick up bad eating habits due to the ups and downs of life. So how did you get to your highest weight and how did you decide that it was time for a change?

Olivia Patrice: Well I guess I kind of have a similar background as everyone else. I have been morbidly obese pretty much my whole entire life. I think I got down to the end of my junior year [of college] and I was going up a flight of stairs to go take my final exams. I was so sweaty and out of breath. I just kind of had a moment in the hallway before walking into the class where I was like, “I can’t be this out of breath, this out of shape. I’m so young. This doesn’t make any sense.” I kept making excuses as to why I couldn’t get active, why I couldn’t lose weight. You know, telling everyone, “It’s genetics. I can’t lose weight.” But I hit a moment where I was literally just sweaty and tired from literally doing nothing. I had a moment and I was like, this is a sign that I need to get my health right and do better. Just better myself. At my highest, to be honest, when I documented it, it was 256 pounds. But I’m pretty sure I was heavier than that. Pretty much around 280.

I started to use Instagram as my diary just to keep myself accountable during my journey. It’s been a blessing. I hold myself accountable and know that if people see me doing it, it’s more of a motivation to keep going for myself.

How would you say you were eating before your weight loss and how has that changed?

My eating changed completely. Some of the stuff I used to enjoy eating, now I’m like, “Why did I eat that? [laughs]” That was the number one thing for me, changing my eating habits. Getting active for me was a struggle, but really eating healthier. I was never the person to eat vegetables or fruit just because. To be honest, I never really started eating fruits and vegetables until I started losing weight. Just really doing my research and finding out what worked for me, and really just doing trials every month. I would start meal prepping, and that was a big part of my journey. Holding myself accountable so I wouldn’t binge eat and cheat or go out and buy things. So just learning what things were good for me and starting to drink more water. I literally did a 180 on my whole eating habits. But like I said, I did a lot of research, and YouTube videos helped me out a lot. Just figuring out what I liked, then I discovered low-carb eating. That’s been my staple way of eating since I started my journey. But yeah, that and finding healthy alternatives to foods you enjoy so I’m not depriving myself because I want to eat healthier.

You said that documenting everything on Instagram holds you accountable, but has it been a pain to have other people also hold you accountable and question decisions and progress you make?

It’s been interesting. That’s actually what sparked my YouTube channel. Because I always get questions, or if I post foods that are not considered healthy, because you should enjoy your life [laughs], I would get a lot of comments and messages like, “That’s not healthy! That’s not going to help you lose weight!” Everyone’s all of a sudden a dietitian. So that’s why I took to making videos on YouTube to show you can lose weight without depriving yourself of things you enjoy. I try to explain that it’s a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet plan. It’s ok to indulge and enjoy things you once liked but do it in moderation. Portion control. That’s been a fun topic [laughs].

You’ve been very small and very big and you said that you’ve fluctuated between a certain size since starting your journey. Does it frighten you a little bit?Because for a lot of people on a fitness journey who get away from their goal size, it can be incredibly stressful. 

I noticed my face starting to get more plump than usual. At first I didn’t think anything of it. But once I started noticing my clothes were getting tighter, ok, obviously I’m gaining weight. I just tried not to let that discourage me. As I said, it’s a lifestyle. As quick as I can lose it, I can gain it back, so I just try to stress that it’s a lifestyle. Just enjoy your life! Don’t stress so much over a number. I’m very fortunate that I lost 100 pounds and I gained 20+ pounds, and that I’m losing it again. So I don’t let it discourage me or let a number on the scale dictate my life. I know some people, that number will control them. I try not to focus so much on the numbers and more so on how I feel. When I do gain weight, I really just try to play it off. I know that I can lose it. And like I said, it’s a lifestyle. I’m going to fluctuate forever [laughs].

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Just because 🤷🏽‍♀️💕😎

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You’re naturally curvy and hippy. What moves have you done to maintain your curves as your weight has decreased?

Weightlifting. I’ve always been naturally curvy, I’ve always had the waist and hip ration that people talk about. But I’ve really started to see an enhancement in my curves when I started lifting weights. I focus a lot on back exercises, because that also gives you the illusion of a smaller waist when your back is bigger. And really just focusing on my eating as well. You are what you eat, so if you want to look like Beyoncé [laughs], then stop eating off of the dollar menu. But weightlifting really helped me lift my curves, in general. If you don’t really want to get into weightlifting, I know a lot of people are very cardio based. I was pretty cardio based at the beginning of my journey. Doing moves like Russian twists and toe touches and just any core exercises. Planks are really good, bicycles, hip bridges. There are so many exercises you can do to incorporate strength and get a smaller waist. So it’s a matter of your motivation, your willpower, and how consistent you are in wanting to achieve your goal or body type goal.

Something smart you do and encourage other people to do is focus on measurements as opposed to watching the scale. Can you elaborate on the importance of shifting to measurements?

I lost 100 pounds and I had this goal weight in mind. I felt like once you lose a certain amount of weight, you’re going to look a certain way. That wasn’t the case, so that’s when I started to get more into measurements.  Focusing more on losing inches rather than losing weight so you can figure out where you’re losing the fat on your body. For me, that was easier for me to do so I know, ok, the fat is in my arms or my legs. That was a good way to hold myself accountable because I would look forward to taking my measurements at the end of the month or every so many weeks. The scale is the devil’s work [laughs]. Your weight can fluctuate to the point where you gain weight but lose inches. So I tend to focus more on losing inches and really just applying that as opposed to focusing on the scale so much. That’s why I tell people, “Don’t let the scale stress you out. You could possibly be losing fat but not losing weight.” Water weight fluctuates as well. So I always say, take your measurements and that will track your progress overall. You can look back on that and be like, “I am losing weight. I am losing fat.” Some people will see the scale and see that they only lost three pounds in a month and be devastated and want to quit. But if you take your measurements, you’d be shocked. You could have lost 10 inches and not even know it.

You’ve also talked about losing weight but still having a “fat girl mentality” at times. Have you gotten better about working through that?

I think I’m at a place now where I have my moments where I have a fat girl mentality, but for the most part, it doesn’t really bother me anymore. Once I honestly stopped worrying about the scale so much, that’s when my mentality decreased. I still have my moments. I’m normal. I’m human. In the beginning of my journey, it took me almost six months for me to see results. Everyone else saw my results before I was seeing them, so that’s part of the mentality. Thinking I look one way when I really look another way. And I really think progress pictures helped me to put it into perspective and to visually see, ok, you’re not this fat. You’re not a size 22 anymore. So taking pictures and tracking my measurements and comparing my old pictures to now kept me motivated. I am putting in work and losing the weight and the fat. I’m no longer focusing on being that big girl that I’ve always been.

Can you also elaborate on this really deep quote you have where you say, “Being big is hard. Losing weight is hard. Pick your hard”?

I was the person who thought I was just genetically big and there was no way I could lose weight. There was no way I could get fit. That’s how I ran across, “Losing weight is hard, and being fat is hard,” which is the truth. You’re going to encounter something hard. Being overweight, I had a lot of days where I was out of breath, I couldn’t walk, I was sweaty. I was always complaining about how I looked and how I felt but I never really took action on it. So that’s why I say losing weight is hard. Yes, it’s very hard. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it and it’s rewarding in the end. It’s a mental thing as well. So that’s why I say losing weight is hard. Being fat is hard. You can sit around and complain about being big all you want, but what are you doing to implement change in your life to make it better? If you want it, you can go get it. It really comes down to your motivation and how bad you want it. Yes it sucks. Yes, there are days where you don’t want to work out or eat healthy. But in the end, you’re not going to wake up overnight and look the way you want to look. You have to put in the work for it. So you need to pick your hard. I let that be my motto for a minute.

My last question for you is, as someone with nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram alone, you motivate a lot of people. Who motivates you?

I was thinking about this the other day. Once you hit your goal weight, you kind of stop looking at other people as your motivation. But now, I kind of get motivated by people who are just starting their journey and are trying to lose weight, because I have flashbacks where I remember, that’s where I was once. When I started my weight loss, I wasn’t that into Instagram so I didn’t look up people. I didn’t really have any of those resources. But now there are a lot of people sharing their journey and you can find motivation easily. Now my motivation is people reaching out to me trying to lose weight, just trying to do better. I get motivated when they message me and say, “Because of you I started losing weight.” To me, that’s my motivation and the fire that keeps me going because I know people are inspired by my story. So that’s what motivates me. The people.

Be sure to follow Olivia on her Instagram page, her fitness IG, Slimthickfitness_, and her YouTube channel. Also check out the rest of our Fitness Fridays profiles

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