By Liana Jacob
MEET the stunning woman who was so fed up with masking her body insecurities with her big personality that she shed more than five stone in just nine months.
Human resource professional and personal trainer, Tameika Gentles (30) from Toronto, Canada, was always the fun, jolly and overweight friend that people loved and coming from a Jamaican background, traditional food was an integral part of her life.
After her first year of university, Tameika realised she had got bigger as she had reached 15st 10lbs and a size 22. Feeling insecure and disappointed with how she looked, she decided to take action. She is now a super svelte 10st and a UK size 10.
“Being active and playing sports was never a priority. My family loves to eat, being health conscious was never a on our minds. Traditional foods were a huge part of our culture and lifestyle,” Tameika said.
“As I got older, the weight piled on, I went from being the cute, chubby Tameika to becoming severely overweight.
“After my first year of university and gaining yet another stone and six pounds, I knew it was time for a change.
“Deep down, I was very insecure, you would never know because I had a big personality, a natural zest for life and a positive spirit.
“But I never felt ok in my body, I struggled with my image constantly.”
Ten years ago when she decided to lose weight, there was no social media to help her but once the motivation kicked in, Tameika did everything she could to learn about how to lose weight. She completely reversed her lifestyle and now exercises regularly.
“I went to the library and took out books on weight loss. I studied the science of weight loss, calorie intake, macros, fitness, weight training and the psychology of obesity,” she added.
“I was basically a sponge, absorbing everything I could. I started off with making my own food and as a student it consisted of very basic and very affordable meals.
“But I knew making and preparing my own meals was the first step. Over time it evolved into making my meals fun, buying healthy cookbooks and trying new recipes.
“At the gym, it started with fitness classes. Through research, I knew how important strength training was.
“My love for training evolved. It snowballed into the weight room and planned out my workouts. I loved the results my body was experiencing and was committed to seeing where I could take this.
“Initially it started off with just cardio, but I quickly learned that if I wanted the body I dreamt of, with minimal loose skin, strength training was important.
“Fitness classes taught me the basics; what a bicep curl was, how to properly squat, how to target different muscle groups. I couldn’t afford a personal trainer back then, so learning in classes was a perfect alternative.”
After such a momentous change to her routine, Tameika now feels better than ever.
“My outward appearance finally matches how I feel about myself inside. I am happier, more energetic, more productive, and so confident,” she said.
“Once I lost the weight, I got certified. I now devote all my spare time to helping others through personal and online training.
“I’m committed to this industry and helping my clients achieve the happiness I’ve found.
“With diet, the first step was really educating myself. Cutting out processed foods, and moving more towards a whole food diet.
“Throughout my journey, I tried every trend out there. low carb, low fat, Keto, Paleo… you name it, I’ve tried it. I find just a wholesome balanced diet, high in complex carbs works best for me.”
Tameika’s transformation wasn’t without its challenges. Her addiction to food while growing up hindered her finding motivation, but the biggest challenge was keeping the weight off.
“Anyone can lose weight, but very few people can keep it off, so finding out ways to make this a sustainable journey was likely my biggest hurdle,” she said.
“Most are shocked and ask me how. I think the biggest advice I can give anyone is that you need to make this lifestyle work for you.
“Let’s face it, I will never be the girl eating no carbs, taking tons of supplements, and having salad three times a day.
“I’m a lover of food, so I’ve learned ways to make all of my favourite foods healthier. I have more restrictions, yes, but I never feel without.
“I would suggest continuing to eat the foods you love but find ways to make them healthy. I would also suggest taking the “slow and steady” approach to this journey, so you can enjoy this process.
“Always ask yourself, is what I’m doing sustainable? Can I do this five, ten, fifteen years down the road. If the answer is no, revisit your approach.
“Ditch the trend diets, trends, and things you see on social media. Just start with a healthy balanced diet and get moving. Keep it simple.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/tameikag