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MadameNoire Fitness Fridays

Source: Jasmine Satterfield / JS

As fall looms ahead of us by a few weeks, Jasmine Satterfield is happily reminiscing over the most self-assured and joyous summer she’s had in a really long time.

“I will admit I did have a hot girl summer,” the 25-year-old ATL-based flight attendant told me over the phone. “I now feel so comfortable in my skin.”

This has been the first summer season that Jasmine has been able to fully enjoy since having a vastric sleeve gastrectomy last year. After hitting her highest weight of 270, having a serious health scare when her blood pressure skyrocketed, and finding out she was on her way to having diabetes, she took her doctor’s advice and underwent bariatric surgery. It was just the beginning of a journey that has seen her through a weight loss of 140 pounds, and a gain of some serious confidence, which she exuded over these last few months.

“I wore the cute short-shorts and the crop tops. I can wear the one-piece romper type outfits, now,” she said. “Confidence radiates. I spoke up more. I found a voice and I found that internal beauty more than anything. I have gotten a lot more attention so to say, but the confidence has been improved a lot and that’s my focus. I feel so much more free and liberated and so much happier. The attention comes from me being more confident and finding my inner beauty and standing up for myself and finally taking care of myself. When you take care of yourself, nourish yourself and you commit yourself to a healthy lifestyle, that shows more than anything.”

And now that she’s been able to reach her weight-loss goals, Jasmine has a few others in mind. She wants to get her master’s in journalism, get as toned as Nicole Murphy (“She is phenomenal in everything she does”), and by her 26th birthday next year, she is hoping to be able to qualify for the 2020 Los Angeles marathon.

She is finally living life to the fullest after spending most of it obese, and all it required was taking that first step.

“Instead of saying ‘one day,’ I committed to this being ‘day one,” she said.

We talked to Jasmine about going from a bored binge eater to a vegan, cutting off people who couldn’t be supportive of her efforts, and why bariatric surgery definitely isn’t the “easy” way out.

MadameNoire: What has your relationship with food been like? Have you always been what you would call a “bored” eater?

Jasmine Satterfield: I was not only a bored eater but I was also a really big binge eater. I would be bored and just eat for no reason. I wasn’t hungry and my stomach wasn’t growling, but I would eat to kill time, I guess you could say. I would eat while at the stop sign. I would stop at vending machines on my way to class just because. I was addicted to food like some people are addicted to drugs. That was my thing. I had a very, very unhealthy relationship with food and eating. I just ate all day. Looking back, I can estimate that I ate upwards of 10,000 calories a day. That’s no exaggeration. For breakfast I would eat [fast food], get Chinese for lunch and go back to another fast food restaurant for dinner while also snacking throughout the day. I used to keep donuts and candies by my bed. I didn’t realize I had a problem then because it was the norm for me.

How did you end up considering the vertical sleeve gastrectomy?

During my senior year of college, it was actually during finals week that I passed out. I was walking to my teacher’s desk to turn in my exam and I woke up in the hospital. I had to go to the hospital because my blood pressure was so high. At the time it happened I was only 23 years old, so I’m thinking, high blood pressure? That’s for 40 and 50-year-olds. Even with my unhealthy relationship with food and alcohol, because I did a lot of drinking too and that has a lot of calories, I didn’t realize that contributed to that. So my primary care physician, she told me, “You need to get this together. You’re also pre-diabetic as well. You need to do something fast. Have you ever considered bariatric surgery?” In my 23-year-old mind, I’m thinking weight-loss surgery is liposuction or a tummy tuck, but she told me it changes your eating habits and restricts you from eating so much food. It also does some things with hormones where you lose a hunger hormone, so you’re not just grazing throughout the day. You create a schedule to eat. She said the best option for me was the gastric sleeve. I was scared. I was scared of changing, of failure. I thought, what if this doesn’t work out? I was scared to turn the page and start a new chapter, but I decided to do it. I had a pre-surgery diet to align with how I would eat after the surgery: high protein and low fat. But I had to do something fast because I was already on my way off the deep end.

Why weren’t you able to change your diet and exercise habits in the past to lose weight? I know you said you felt some shame when you would go to the gym.

It was many things. I was scared of change because I had been big, I had been obese all of my life. My whole family has always had obesity-related issues, so for some reason, I don’t want to say I embraced it, but I did because I was lazy. I didn’t like sweating, I was self-conscious about sweating. I just had a very unhealthy relationship with food and with change. I wanted to stay the same.

I would go to the gym on occasion and I felt so uncomfortable. I felt like people were looking at me like, “What is she doing here?” People don’t believe it and I know public gyms are trying to encourage inclusion, but me personally, I just felt so unwelcome. I would literally do 10 minutes on the treadmill and leave because I just didn’t feel right. I remember I went on a diet and I picked up some exercise about five years ago and I dropped like 15 pounds over the summer. I gained it right back plus some. I was like, f–k this sh-t, I’m just going to be fat forever. I’m just going to be big. I’m just going to embrace it. I’m never going to slim down. That was my mindset up until the health scare.

How did you change your mindset and desire for certain foods after surgery? Surgery changes the stomach, or body that is, but the mind is a whole other story. So what was it?

The will to live and the will to be a success story. I had done my research on weight-loss surgery and I saw the success stories, and I wanted to be a success story. This surgery, like you said, it changes your stomach. My stomach is literally the size of two index fingers now. It’s very, very tiny. Prior to surgery, I met with a psychologist who specifically deals with patients of bariatric surgery, and we talked things over. I told her that I do like to eat, I love food, I love the way it tastes and the feeling of burping after a good meal. We had to address those issues. Mentally, I found alternatives. So instead of deep-fried catfish, I would have grilled cod or grilled tilapia. I had heard about people going vegan and trying plant-based diets for years, and I just started, step-by-step, trying it. Instead of a regular burger, I would say, let me try a black bean burger, just opening up my mind to new things. I would do so because I was just so grateful and gracious that I got a second chance and a new beginning. Addressing the food addiction head on and admitting that I had a problem is what really helped me with this head hunger, so to say. Addressing and admitting my issues with food and eating is what aided me and that was the first step. Finding alternatives was the second step.

You have said, as a heads-up to others trying to go on a fitness journey, that there are going to be people who aren’t accepting of what you’re doing. Have you encountered this on your own journey?

I have had friends who don’t understand. For a year after surgery, you can’t drink alcohol. You can’t drink it at all because it can mess up your stomach and make you really sick. They weren’t understanding that I can’t drink and so they would say, “You’re being a prude. Why don’t you want to go out?” They weren’t being understanding and empathetic to that. People have also DM’d me and told me that their husbands don’t understand them wanting to lose weight and “My husband likes bigger women.” I say, at the end of the day, you just have to drop them like you dropped the weight. I can’t beg people to be in my life anymore. I’m on a new chapter, it’s a new page and you’re going to roll with me or you’re going to go. I have to focus on me and my health now. If you’re having friends or a boyfriend that’s skeptical or not supportive, you’ve got to let them go, but they’ll be back. Trust me, they’ll be back. They always come back. So that was my thing. But my immediate family has been really helpful and really supportive and I’m so grateful to have that support system.

And what do you say to those people who might say you didn’t really need surgery and that VSG was taking the “easy” way out?

The easy way out of what? What are we talking about? The easy way out of an early grave? The easy way out of taking 10 pills a day to control your blood pressure? What is the easy way out? What does that mean? This is absolutely not an easy way out. I work out five to six days a week. I do strength training and I eat on a schedule now. It takes a lot of discipline and it takes a lot of dedication. People don’t understand that. You have to have that mental epiphany to change. For the first two weeks after surgery I had to go on a full liquid diet so my stomach could heal. That was mentally a challenge on its own. I’m drinking broth all day when I wanted some chicken from Popeye’s. You know how hard that was? It’s definitely, definitely not an easy way out at all.

Be sure to follow Jasmine on Instagram, and check out the rest of our inspiring Fitness Fridays profiles here

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