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Life and Religion

Shedding pounds and pain
Charlotte woman’s journey from fat to fit and fabulous
 
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:28 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

 

Weight was always an issue for DeAnna Taylor.

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PHOTO/CALVIN FERGUSON
NOW: DeAnna Taylor, a Charlotte lawyer, is a size 4 after dropping 80 pounds. “I was just ready to shed everything that I had been through in life and start over,” she said.


As a child, she was a “chubby kid” who loved fast food. At her heaviest, Taylor, 27, weighed 230 pounds and wore size 16 pants.


Growing up, she found herself on the receiving end of several disparaging comments about her size. The most hurtful remarks, she says, came from her mother, who constantly called her “fat” and taunted her for not being skinny like “the other girls.”


Taylor, now a size 4, recalls her junior year in high school when she made the cheerleading squad. Her mother sat silently through most of her first game. At the end of the night, Taylor asked her mom why she was not cheering. Her mother’s response was that she was embarrassed by Taylor’s appearance because the other kids were talking about how “fat and nasty” she looked during the game.


Naturally, Taylor was hurt.


“I had made it,” she said. “I worked just as hard as all of the other smaller girls, and I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t be happy for me.”


Get used to it
Taylor says being put down by her mother was a common occurrence. After her father was incarcerated, Taylor’s mother slipped into a deep depression and began lashing out at her about everything from her grades to her weight. Over time, the constant verbal assaults took a toll on Taylor’s self-esteem and wore away at her confidence.

When Taylor moved away to attend Norfolk State University in Virginia, she got into what she describes as a “terrible relationship” with a guy who cheated on her and got another woman pregnant.

“I stayed through the pregnancy,” she said. “I stayed through the birth of the child and everything. At that weight, I felt like nobody else would want to be with me because of the way I looked. I thought that if I left him, then I would be alone for the rest of my life.”

After the child was born, Taylor’s troubled relationship grew progressively worse. She and her boyfriend argued daily. She was also constantly getting into fights with the child’s mother, who she says was constantly coming onto campus and causing trouble.

“I spent a lot of nights crying,” Taylor said. “I never wanted to go to class. I would just lock myself up in my room. That’s when I gained the most weight.”

Taylor missed classes. Her grades slipped, and she nearly lost her academic scholarship.

After an argument on campus with her boyfriend turned physical, school officials threatened to kick Taylor out of school. She stayed in the relationship until her junior year and things got so bad she considered suicide.

“I felt like I just wanted to take myself out,” she said.

When she finally broke the relationship off, she called her mother to share the news. Her mother’s response was that she better get used to it because all men would cheat and treat her badly.


 A game changer
In 2009, Taylor decided to make a change.

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COURTESY DEANNA TAYLOR
THEN: DeAnna Taylor at 230 pounds wore size 16 clothes. She was routinely criticized for her size as a youngster.


“Somehow, I found my relationship with God,” she said. “From there, I felt like I had to prove all of these people wrong who brought me down.”

Taylor says a simple Christmas present made all the difference. She received a Nintendo Wii and purchased a personal trainer game that included a 30-day fitness challenge, which she began early in 2010.

“I got into the habit of exercising,” she said. “I just enjoyed it, and from there I never stopped.”

By the end of the summer, Taylor lost about 30 pounds and dropped from size 16 to 10. She has lost an additional 50 pounds and says she now wears size 4 pants.

Taylor said the hardest part was getting started because she felt so discouraged.

“I was thinking, ‘All my life, I have been big,’” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m never going to lose the weight.’ People teased me… I figured it was time for me to do something to see if I could prove the naysayers wrong.”

While working out was something Taylor enjoyed, changing her eating habits proved to be much more difficult.

“Growing up, I didn’t really have a lot of home-cooked meals,” she said. “My mom never really cooked. My meals consisted of Happy Meals and other fast foods or whatever she could make quickly for me. So taking myself out of the whole fast food thing and learning how to eat healthy and cook for myself was the biggest challenge for me.”

Losing to gain
Taylor's weight loss gave her a new beginning.


“I was just ready to shed everything that I had been through in life and start over,” she said.


Taylor says she is in a much better place now. After earning her degree from Norfolk State, she studied law at North Carolina Central University, graduated and passed the Bar Exam on her first attempt. Taylor is a document reviewer for an Uptown law firm and embarking on a career in entertainment and personal injury law.

She is also working to repair her relationship with her mother, who is now receiving professional help for her mental health issues.

Taylor says that although she does not want to lose more weight, she continues to work out for about 45 minutes three to four days a week.

“Exercise now is like my release,” she said. “It’s my time to myself. It’s my stress relief.”

One of the biggest adjustments she has had to make is getting used to her new self.

“Even to this day, I still look at myself as a bigger girl,” she said. “My friends have to tell me, ‘DeAnna you’re small.’ It’s still a struggle every day to get used to it and realize that I’m not that person that I used to be.”

 

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