Community blogger Tahira Nyabinghi, 40, of Greensboro writes:
Starting weight on Jan. 1, 2011: 230
Current weight: 160
What was your goal weight? 120
What prompted you to start a weight-loss program? My medical condition – I have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, an autoimmune disease
How did you shed the pounds? I transformed to a raw foods lifestyle from a carnivorous one
What were your biggest weight-loss stumbling blocks during the year and how did you overcome them? My biggest stumbling blocks were those who were supposed to by my support network. When I achieved a weight loss goal, they pushed my old food choices. To defend myself against these pitfalls, I kept my losses quiet, thereby keeping them from knowing my true weight.
What did you learn during this process? I learned that I have the power to change my life. I can control my own destiny.
What's next for you? Will you continue losing -- if so, will you use the same strategy or something new? If you're looking to maintain, how will you go about that? I will continue to lose until I reach my goal weight and then will incorporate a personal trainer in my regular routine to maintain the weight loss and really focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle.
For you, what has been the biggest benefit of losing weight? The biggest benefit that I have realized is to reclaim the woman that I am. I was a hidden butterfly and have learned to spread my natural wings.
What advice do you have for others who are embarking on their own weight-loss journey in 2012? Do not let others control your destiny, you are your best supporter and have the power within your spirit to achieve your goals.
Final thoughts: Joy is my new middle name and confidence my new armor. I celebrated my 40th birthday on Dec. 26 with peace and tranquility, not fanfare and noise. I awoke crashing waves against the sand, glowing embers of sunrise and solitude of spirit. I have learned over the past year that it is OK to be alone, to enjoy my own company, to have strength in my beliefs and to hold my head up high.
Through this magnificent journey of rediscovery, I have managed to triumph over food, be bulldozed by hot wings and succumb to mouth-watering cheese cake. Along the road, I have picked up a genuine friend or two to walk this path with me. My spiritual home has not been written yet but I am open to beginnings, texts, prayers, rituals and nature. No longer am I bound to chains that would cage my emotions or stifle my questions. I am able to take flight and stretch my wings.
The raw food path is not right for everyone but it is right for me and I have no regrets forgoing sustenance that I used to engorge upon. I will miss the hot wings, cheesecakes, pizzas and occasional burgers, if only in a mental phase. The benefits that I have achieved allow me to overcome those minor cravings as I focus on my bigger picture, true health, true peace of mind and soul, true patience with myself and others. Truth.