Fitness Fridays: Rochelle Monique Was A “Prisoner” In Her Body Until She Took Control Of It And Lost More Than 200 Pounds
Rochelle Monique Hill is on a mission to gain weight, and she’s thrilled about it.
“It’s a fun experience,” she told me over the phone. The 37-year-old DMV-area native has been working since 2016 to live the life that she wants, and part of that involved shedding quite a bit of weight. Now she’s trying to gain a small amount of it back to have enough meat on her for skin removal surgery. It hasn’t been easy though, because the healthy habits she’s adopted over the last few years have paid off greater than she expected.
“I don’t know how to gain weight. I know how to try to lose weight but I don’t know what to do to try and gain [laughs],” she said. “I went to the nutritionist and they said, ‘You have entirely changed your metabolism. You have the metabolism of one of them young boys who can eat anything and not gain weight, so it’s a struggle to gain weight.”
In comparison to where she used to be though, it’s a good struggle to have. From adolescence on through adulthood, Rochelle couldn’t seem to get rid of the weight. It wasn’t until her knees almost gave out on her that her doctor recommended she get a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in order to reverse her circumstances. She prepared for months for the surgery, losing some weight and picking up the Keto diet along the way. With those tools handy, she went on to lose around 219 pounds (at the time of our interview) since her VSG procedure, and completely overhauled her life. She stopped doing things for other people’s approval, left behind junk for natural foods for herself and her two kids, and she walked away from a marriage she realized wasn’t best serving her needs. She’s since gained a lot of happiness, a healthier lifestyle, and 88,000 followers on Instagram who’ve been following her journey. We talked to Rochelle, who goes by Rochelle Monique online and is CEO of the lifestyle brand P.O.S.H. (Purpose Only She Has), about taking many brave leaps to escape her old body and situation, and why she’s never going back.
MadameNoire: What was your relationship with food growing up? Have you always gone up and down with your weight or did having kids impact it? I know you’re a mother of two.
Rochelle Monique: Actually, I struggled with weight my entire life. I started to gain weight around 12, 13. I guess I was bored. I was an only child and food was my friend. I remember when I was younger, I would eat all of the time, so from 12 all the way to adulthood, I’ve been dealing with my weight.
What attempts had you made in the past to lose weight?
I have tried the Atkins diet, the cabbage soup diet, I’ve done diet pills. You name it, I’ve tried it. Personal trainers, the gym, I’ve tried everything.
I read that your doctor suggested surgery, but what exactly made you feel like that was the route you needed to go?
I had gotten to the point where I was so heavy that my knees were bothering me. I could barely walk up the stairs, I wasn’t able to tie my own shoes, it was hard for me to bend down and so, my doctor was like, “In order for you to get your knees better, I need you to lose some weight and I need you to lose it quick, so I’m recommending surgery.” For some reason, I wasn’t losing over 50 pounds when I would try on my own, so that’s why he said he recommended the surgery for me. I was like, okay, I’ll give it a try because I was desperate at that point. Life was just a chore.
So when you say life was a chore, what was it about your weight that made that the case?
I was having trouble moving around, I was tired and would wake up tired. Days were hard for me being that large. I lived in a three-story home so walking up the stairs, for me, took five minutes. I couldn’t get on airplanes, I couldn’t have fun with my children because I couldn’t do anything. I really felt like I was just existing and not living the life that I truly wanted to live.
What year did you have your VSG?
I found your YouTube docuseries, Losing Me. I saw you started this journey with support from your husband. Is it true that you got a divorce?
Yes, it’s true.
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What it looks like when you don’t give up! Consistently being a better me, making better choices, and caring how I feel. : : You can have the body, life, career, spouse, anything that you want. The key is to make the decision and stay consistent. Giving up is never an option. #purposeonlyshehas #wls #weightlosstranaformation #motivationalmonday
Did the commitment to your health and this journey have any impact on your relationship?
The journey itself, the losing weight part didn’t. We were having issues for a long time, before I even had surgery. I always say though, this journey was so much more than physical for me. Losing the weight really helped me see, you have to go with what you want and what makes you happy, and that situation was not making me happy, so I decided to end it. I don’t say it’s because of surgery, I just think I got the courage because I was getting my life back. I thought, you know what? This isn’t working and I’ve tried and it’s time to move on.
I appreciate you answering that. I wanted to ask because on shows centered around major weight loss, people tend to break up once the person gains their independence back because the other person can’t handle it.
I’m glad you asked because I get so many questions about it and now that it’s going to be in the article they can go ahead and read that and not ask me [laughs]. I get it all of the time.
Were you scared to make that decision?
Absolutely! Oh my God, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. He wasn’t happy about it and it was a journey. That’s why I didn’t really talk about it because it wasn’t the nicest journey. It was kind of mean and nasty, not on my part, but I could understand. I hurt him and I wasn’t trying to. I was just trying to get to a happy place.
After that major life-changing decision, you were already losing weight, you already had surgery. How did you stay on track at a time where you could have turned back to food to deal with the mixed bag of feelings and emotions you had about your choice to end your marriage?
Before you have surgery, I know I had to go through six months of intense nutritionists, therapists, and it was a lot of work. I told myself, if I do this — because surgery is not easy — I am dedicating my all. I call myself the serial quitter because everything I did in my teens and twenties, I quit. Hair school: started, quit. Medical [inaudible]: started, quit. I said this I will not quit. Even when the weight started to come off and I was thinking, this feels amazing, I tell people, I was motivated because I never want to feel that way again. I was a prisoner in my body and now I’m free and I never want to go back. That was my tagline that I used to tell all of my friends and clients. No matter what your circumstances are, your goal has to matter more. My goal, that was important to me. This journey, this was for me and not for anybody else.
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We all deal with insecurities. After this amazing transformation, my biggest insecurity has been my loose skin. I don’t like to wear shorts or bathing suits because I don’t really like the way my skin hangs. I don’t really wearing short skirts, or dresses. I’ve been having some insecurities thinking how my boyfriend must feel to see all my sagging skin. I never really said much, but would say things here and there about my distaste for my skin. Well, when they say get you a man who can lift you up. I did just that. He told me to wear my loose skin like a badge of honor. He told me my skin hangs because of all the hard work I put in. When he looks at me all he sees is the hard work and dedication that I put in and he is so proud of me. I cried so hard, because it was truly what I needed to hear and it helped me so much. Today, I wear my loose skin as a badge of honor. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and this skin can easily be fixed. This journey has been about embracing me, and I’m fully doing just that. Embrace yourself flaws and all at all stages in life. Thank you babe for pushing me and believing in me! @cigarb_the_great #purposeonlyshehas #motivation #motivationmonday #extremeweightloss
How do you maintain your confidence while dealing with loose skin? Though you’ve lost so much weight, does the skin provide you with any physical pain or difficulties?
It is hard. I have my days. Sometimes I’m like, I don’t care. Then at one point I wasn’t wearing skirts. My boyfriend was actually the one who one day was like — because I would cover up. It’s a trip because you feel like, you’ve lost all of this weight, but your body still doesn’t look the way you want it to look. You’ve got saggy skin on your stomach, your arms, your thighs and sometimes you have rashes and things like that. But as far as confidence, it’s not that bad. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to because I know I’m going to get it removed. But [my boyfriend] told me, “Those are your battle scars. I look at you and I see someone whose lost a lot of weight. You’ve lost 219 pounds, be proud of that!” He really encouraged me to look at my skin as a badge of honor; I’ve got this skin because I succeeded. So now, that’s the way I look at it, and it doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t bother me from activity or anything. It’s just a little bit of skin, and I’m going to get it removed soon — hopefully.
How has this process changed the way you eat and care for your body overall? And how do you respond to people who would say weight-loss surgery seems to be an “easy” route to take?
With the six months [of prep for surgery], you’re actually in a class and they’re telling you what you shouldn’t eat, what’s healthy, stay away from this, stay away from that. You meet with a therapist and you actually talk about your relationship with food, so that really prepared me. Because I was a serial dieter, I knew where I wanted to go with my journey once I had surgery. In the class they’re telling you, stay away from rice, stay away from bread, and so after surgery, I didn’t even know things were going to be so intense. Literally, you don’t eat for a month or maybe more after you have surgery because you have to introduce yourself to new foods and your stomach doesn’t like the same things it used to. It’s pretty much starting all over again, and that’s really hard. You get sick, you’re throwing up, so it’s not easy. I tell people that all of the time, that it’s not easy. Once you get past that beginning stage, your stomach is so small so things like bread are so heavy. It just doesn’t feel good, so it’s not easy. It forces you to eat the healthy food because those are the things that make you feel good. If you eat a burger and fries, something greasy, I guarantee you’re going to feel sick. A lot of people say, “You have this small stomach, you can eat whatever you want!” If I eat ice cream or a whole bunch of sugar, I’m going to be sick! I can not eat that anymore. You can’t tolerate certain things anymore. I’m not forced to eat healthy, because I’ve changed my mindset and I eat what makes me feel good, but now I’m focused on the wholeness of it all. I’m more natural, I use more natural products because it really is all about feeling good. You want to make sure you’re on track, because if you don’t eat healthy, you’re stretching your stomach out, you’re gaining weight, and you’re making yourself feel like crap. Who wants to put in all of that time just to go back to making yourself feel like crap? I don’t want to do that.