Fitness Fridays: Tanique Johnson Went From Being Told She Was “Pretty For A Big Girl” To Losing 130 Pounds
Tanique Johnson was overweight for most of her life, but for most of that time, she didn’t really care. The Jamaican-born New Jersey resident felt like her size was a part of who she was. It may have come with some awkward moments and comments from time to time, but she didn’t see a reason to try and change her body.
It wasn’t until she went to graduate school in the Miami heat that Tanique started to notice that she felt uncomfortable. Despite being forced to walk around in the sweltering sun, she was covered up because she couldn’t really dress as everyone else seemed to. And then, when she obtained her master’s and found herself unemployed for longer than expected, she ate to the point where her weight was hard to ignore.
“I was just depressed and just eating,” she said. “I became an emotional eater and that’s how I think I picked up more weight. Life in general was just not being what I wanted it to be so that made me eat more.”
By 2017, she peaked at 286 pounds and realized it was time for that change to be made. She slowly but surely altered her diet.
“My first change was just drinking water; not sodas, juices. Those were the first things that had to go,” she said. “I started walking daily. It’s about starting off small.”
When she made a full commitment and overhaul in 2018, she found that the weight started to fall off. Now the 26-year-old has lost 130 pounds with the help of intermittent fasting, a low-carb diet, and a workout regimen of five to six days a week for at least an hour.
Though she is smaller than she’s ever been in her adult life, Tanique admits that she still has her insecurities when it comes to having looser skin. It also doesn’t help that some people tell her she’s gotten too small. But Tanique went on this journey for herself, and not only is she ecstatic about the results (including eliminated knee pain), but she also loves on herself a lot more.
So we talked to Tanique about what it took for her to finally embrace her body (and it wasn’t the weight loss), why she doesn’t care about the opinions of those who think she’s too skinny now, and how she manages to be full when she fasts for 18 hours a day.
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Me at 16 vs 26. I’m literally in the best shape ☺️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ (Who told me it was okay to wear my hair like that in high school?! 😂 yikes) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #weightloss #fitness #weightlossjourney #healthy #healthylifestyle #health #gym #workout #fit #diet #fitfam #fitnessmotivation #motivation #nutrition #fatloss #weightlossmotivation #weightlosstransformation #ad #lifestyle #food #fitspo #goals #fitnessjourney #eatclean #inspiration #IF #trusttheprocess #curvy #waistbeads #FIT4FALL
MadameNoire: When did your weight start to become an issue for you?
Tanique Johnson: I’ve always been big. Probably the only time I’ve been small is when I was a kid, about five or six years old. I’ve always struggled with weight issues. I’ve always heard, “Oh my gosh, you’re so pretty for a big girl!” Even in Jamaica I heard that. But I didn’t know my weight was an issue until I started living in America and I’m seeing women, you know, beautiful, and thinking, one day my body will look like that. But it wasn’t an issue for me, personally. It wasn’t like, oh my gosh I’m so overweight, I need to do something about it. That’s just how it was. It wasn’t an issue, I had no problems, but I would still mentally know that, okay, I need to lose some weight.
When I was in college in Miami, it was hot and I was still covering up wearing jean jackets while everybody else was in strapless dresses and light clothes, dressing for the weather. I was not [dressed like that] because I started to feel insecure living in Miami. This was 2015. When I was getting my master’s I lived in Miami so it was just like, hmm, alright, it’s becoming an issue because everyone in Miami is naked and I’m uncomfortable because I can’t be like that. So that’s when I started to take note of my weight being an issue.
So was that when you started your journey?
I was walking around but there was no real commitment, no diet changes. I just knew I wanted to lose weight. When I graduated in 2015, I went to see my doctor and he told me I was 286. Of course, it was embarrassing. Of course, I knew that I wanted to lose weight, but at that moment, I still wasn’t really making a commitment. As I moved forward, I never noticed my knees cracking before, but my knees started to crack. This was 2017 and that was painful. Not only was I embarrassed that every time I walked it cracked, but it really hurt. So that was hindering me from actually wanting to work out. I would have to take pills to work out. So that’s when I wanted to take control and do something about it.
You decided to finally commit and overhaul your diet last year. What are your meals like now?
Currently I do low carb, but I don’t say I’m on a diet. I’m not limited in what I eat. Say I’m in the mood for fries, I will go get a medium fry with no salt maybe once a week or every other week. I don’t restrict myself, but I’m definitely disciplined. I still fast, I only drink water or maybe black coffee on the weekends. It’s so much of a lifestyle that it doesn’t feel like a diet or it doesn’t feel like work. I now naturally love to eat low carb. I naturally love to drink black coffee and I naturally love to drink water. This is something that I never used to do. I’m Caribbean! It’s not easy to not eat rice and peas and dumpling and green banana with everybody else, but you know, I just had to make adjustments. I still eat everything, just not all of the time.
You have spoken about people who’ve told you that you look better smaller, as well as your dad asking why you go to the gym so often now. How do you deal with those kinds of comments?
Well, when people comment, I don’t let it bother me because I actually lost weight for me. I was in a relationship before this and I’m still in the same one, so I’m not searching for any approval. I don’t regret it because this was 100 percent for me. I don’t let it bother me because I really don’t care. This was really for me, and to be honest, I didn’t know that I was going to get to 155 pounds. That was a goal I had out there. I really didn’t think I would get to it because I tried to lose weight before, multiple times, but I never made the real commitment to see it through. It’s so exciting for me that I actually did it. My knees don’t hurt anymore! So no, I don’t care what you think [laughs].
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My goal was never to get abs, I just wanted my stomach on flat flat LOL but now that I know it’s possible I want them. I don’t need a 6-pack or a 4-pack I’ll be satisfied with 2😤 #weightloss #fitness #weightlossjourney #healthy #healthylifestyle #health #gym #workout #fit #diet #fitfam #fitnessmotivation #motivation #nutrition #fatloss #weightlossmotivation #weightlosstransformation #ad #lifestyle #food #fitspo #goals #fitnessjourney #eatclean #inspiration #IF #trusttheprocess #curvy
As someone who started with knee pain, how were you able to get through training in the beginning?
Honestly, I would take ibuprofen before every workout. That was the only way I could work out. I was going through ibuprofen like every month and getting a new bottle because I was trying to make that commitment, but my knees were hindering me. It was really painful. Not like “Oh I can push through it!” No, I literally woke up and took pills every morning to the point that my boyfriend was like, “Please stop taking ibuprofen!”
How has the intermittent fasting helped you to reach your goals?
It helped me curb my appetite. I’ve been fasting for over a year. When I eat something, I know exactly how my body is going to react because I only have, let’s say, a six-hour window or something like that to eat. I fast 18 hours a day now, and half of that time I’m sleeping.
So what are the meals you are eating in the six hours you have left?
I usually eat like two and a half meals every day if I can actually even consume that much. So what would happen is, I would break my fast with eggs, avocado, maybe bacon, some veggies. I’m eating low-carb keto. Then I would have a snack, which would be my protein shake, and then I would have dinner. I would be completely stuffed at the end of that, because if you eat more protein, you know it’s going to keep you fuller for a longer time. This way I’m not snacking. I’m eating protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I’m fuller and I drink a lot of water. I don’t even really “snack” anymore. I don’t even crave chips. Intermittent fasting has helped because now it’s like a detox every day. Who told us that we need to eat all around the clock? Your body needs time to process the food. It’s all mental. Sometimes we eat but we’re not hungry. Once you start fasting you’ll see, “I can go 12 hours without eating. Okay, now I can go 13.” Plus, after 13 hours, your body kicks into overdrive to burn extra calories.
Would you say that you loved your body before this journey?
I loved it-ish. It was my body, but we all find things we can criticize. I loved myself but I wasn’t secure in loving my body.
With that being said, how did cultivating self-love help you on this journey to surpass your goals?
Before going in, I was just like everybody else, thinking losing weight was going to make everything better. I know about self-love and I’m fully aware, but going in, I wanted results and that’s what my focus was. It wasn’t about being healthier, stronger or more fit. I wanted to lose weight because “suns out, buns out.” I wanted to do that. After I lost my first 50 pounds I realized nothing changed for me. I still felt the same, I lost the weight, but nothing significant happened for me to feel like, “Wow!” And then I went to the doctor and he told me what I needed to hear about how my body changed. The pain went away in my knees, and after talking about it, I realized I really changed my body.
When that happened, I started to look at my body differently. After all the things that I put it through — eating badly, not working out, not sleeping, drinking, all these things — it still reversed major health issues. At that point, I then started to look at myself different. I started to change my focus. I started loving every curve. I started realizing that this is what I have to do to take care of myself and unfortunately that’s not the idea I went in with. I just wanted results and I wanted it quick. But after going through the process and talking badly to myself, standing in the mirror squeezing my belly, and asking “What’s the point?” I started talking to myself positively every day. I started talking to myself in the way that I would talk to my friends or how they would talk to me. I really had to become my best friend and my accountability partner. That’s how I got into self-love. Every time I don’t lose one or two pounds, I can’t beat myself up about it. That’s just going to make me spiral back into the cycle I’m trying to get away from. So I decided to start trying to approach it all differently. You have to talk to yourself on this journey. It’s not a thing where you only talk to yourself when you’re not happy. You have to do it the whole time. Once I stopped talking down to myself, the love just started blossoming because I was no longer fighting with my body. I was just like, “You’re a work in progress.” Self-love came over time for me. The weight loss wasn’t going to automatically get me self-love. You have to do the work on yourself, too.