Raynard Holmes, of Cleveland, Ohio, went from over 300 pounds in college to nearly 100 pounds lighter and preparing to compete in his first bodybuilding physique competition this year! Ray is proud to have embraced health and fitness as a lifestyle and looks forward to continuing his journey. Read his inspiring story below!
Growing up I was always a tall kid with a medium build. I was not a huge kid, but I was not skinny either. I was very active and always participated in sports. My main sport was basketball. My body went through serious changes between 7th and 8th grade because of two broken ankles, where I gained between 30 and 40 pounds. By time I got to high school I still played basketball, but football became my new sport. I graduated at 260lbs before heading off to college to play football at a couple of Division III schools. My position changed from high school to college, which required me to put on even more weight. Unfortunately, I did not know the healthy way to achieve this, so I simply ate any and everything I could, and by my sophomore year of college, I weighed in at a whopping 305 lbs. That was heaviest I have ever been.
By my junior year of college, I stopped playing collegiate football and was all about my academics. I stayed active in the weight room and played a lot of basketball with friends, but I was not dropping the weight I needed to. By my senior year in college I weighed in at around 280 lbs.
I simply came to the conclusion that I did not want to carry around the weight anymore. I started reading up and doing some research on how to lose weight. I found websites and testimonials from others on how they did it. The method I found most appealing was counting calories, so I gave it a shot. I learned how to read food labels and how to prep my snacks and such, so that I consumed no more than 1,500 calories in a day. I mixed the calorie counting with working out seven days a week with five days of weight training and two days for core work and cardio. I saw results fast! Seven months later I was 70 lbs. lighter than where I began. I became “addicted” to health and fitness and continued to read and research developments in the field. The best piece of information I found out was that I could actually eat a lot MORE than 1,500 calories/day and not put on body fat. I learned about eating “clean.” I discovered good, healthy foods that I could eat more of and put on muscle, which in turn would raise my metabolism, and burn even more body fat. It sounded like a win-win to me, so I took that information and ran with it.
Currently, I fluctuate between 212-219 lbs. with 10-15% body fat. I still eat clean, but I have my periods of time where I do enjoy the “finer things in life” mainly in the fall and winter months. In the spring, I like to run 5K’s and would love to do a half-marathon at some point. I am going to begin my training for my first bodybuilding physique competition soon. I’m EXTREMELY excited to begin that journey.
Health and fitness has become a part of who I am. My friends and family all know me as “the healthy guy,” and I LOVE it! I can’t imagine giving this life up for anything. Exercising does as much for me mentally as it does physically. I owe my life to fitness.
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Bernie Mac’s Widow, Rhonda McCullough, Talks Regaining Health after Loss
“In October of 2016, I made up my mind. I said, ‘This was it,’ and I’ve been committed ever since.”
Rhonda McCullough, Bernie Mac’s widow, has dealt with so many life changes over the years. After losing her husband, then her father and mother last year, Rhonda’s eating habits became increasingly unhealthy and her weight skyrocketed. It wasn’t until last year after her mother’s death, that she decided to change her eating habits, and shed the weight. Today, Rhonda has lost over 70 pounds by eating healthy and keeping a regular exercise routine. She’d like to let others know, that if she could do it, so can you!
Black Fitness Today caught up with Rhonda McCullough, to learn more about how she turned pain into triumph and how she kick-started her weight loss journey!
Describe yourself as you can remember while you were with Bernie Mac:
I was a young mother, a young wife and a stay-at-home mom for a while. That’s where I came into my weight issues; being at home, a little bored, and having a baby… I’d eat a dozen of doughnuts, then I’d say, “wow I can’t believe I ate all of that.” It was always the sweets.
So your weight problems started as a young mother, even while Bernie Mac was still living?
Oh absolutely. The weight issues started after my pregnancy. I gained close to 80lbs. After I delivered her, I lost 20lbs, then I went on a strict diet. I ended up getting back down to my original pre-pregnancy size, and I maintained that weight for a while.
How long were you able to sustain that post-pregnancy weight loss?
I was able to lose the weight, but I couldn’t sustain it for very long. Bernie Mac worked 4pm to midnight, and I’d wait for him to come home before eating dinner, and you know, you can’t eat late like that, plus I wasn’t active. As African-Americans, we’re not taught that you must exercise daily to sustain weight loss. You have to exercise, you have to move, and I didn’t do any of that. So as life went on, I ate, and I gained the weight back, especially once Bernie got sick.
After Bernie Mac got sick, how did that affect your weight loss?
Bernie was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the 80’s. As his sickness progressed, it just got worst for me. I was here taking care of him. After he died in August 2008, I could only think, “What am I going to do now?” I just didn’t care about my diet after that. Nothing was healthy, nothing was good. I remember saying to myself, “I’m going to be fat the rest of my life.”
What happened between 2008 and now?
After Bernie died in 2008, my dad died months later. In 2010, I joined Weight Watchers and ended up losing 70lbs. I got remarried at the end of 2010 on New Years Eve. From 2010 to 2013, I don’t know how, but the weight crept back on me. In 2016, my mom got sick. She was in and out the hospital, it was just so stressful and I didn’t care about my diet again. I was at my highest weight that I’d ever been. I just couldn’t stay focused on the weight loss.
What was the turning point for you?
I have a good friend, he told me, “You know what Rhonda, you’re a beautiful person, no matter what size you are. Stop talking about yourself… if you don’t like how you look, change it, only you can change it.” I’ve been a yo-yo dieter my whole life. So this time around, because I’m turning 60 this year, I said I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to look good. So slowly but surely, I started making changes. After my mom died, months later, I knew it was time for a major change. In October of 2016, I made up my mind. I said, “This was it,” and I’ve been committed ever since.
How has your diet changed?
I cut out sugars, white foods, potatoes, sodas, I only ate lean meats and vegetables, and I did that for four months. I got tired of that so I decided to incorporate some foods back into my diet, but in moderation. You just have to learn how to compromise.
Are you happy?
I honestly am. I love the way my shirts and blouses fit; I love the way my jeans fit. I’m a size that’s suitable for me. I want to lose maybe 10-15 more pounds but I honestly am happy with the way I look now.
What are some words of encouragement that you would give someone going through the same thing you went through?
Right now in this moment, no matter how you feel, or how you look, you still have to love yourself. We always show compassion to other people, but we never show that same compassion to ourselves. Within loving ourselves, we can make a change. Start small, it doesn’t have to be big. Don’t make goals that are too big and overwhelming. Take something away for a week. Start walking everyday for 10 minutes, until you can build up and do more. Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not a diet, this is a lifestyle. Not to say you can’t enjoy some things, just not every day. We have to learn how to love ourselves and not let the food consume us. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
Rhonda McCullough plans to continue her weight loss journey while living on purpose! Follow Rhonda on IG at @mcculloghgilmore.
James Edward of Atlanta, Georgia Is Down 130 Pounds!
In roughly one year’s time, James, a professional background singer, has found a new voice in promoting healthy living. Today, he is more than 130 pounds lighter than he used to be. Showing no signs of slowing down, he is currently committed to staying active for at least 60 minutes every day for 60 days as a part of the #60for60 challenge.
Progress. I don’t think there will ever be a day where I will say “I have arrived.” I feel great. My eyes are more open now than ever before (mainly because I lost weight in my eyelids but that’s neither here nor there).
Great job James!
Follow James’ journey on Instgram at @jedsings!
Heather S. Takes Fitness From “Hobby” To NPC Bikini Competitor
This month we had the opportunity to chat with NPC competitor Heather S. about her fitness journey from getting started to how her life has changed since taking on a healthier lifestyle. Read Heather’s inspiring interview to get the lessons she has learned along the way, tips on how you can not only start your journey but also stay on track and see how what was once “just a hobby” for Heather has now become a lifestyle!
How would you describe your life before you began your health and fitness journey?
Life before my fitness journey was a normal college life. Although I majored in exercise science, I was not exactly 100% healthy. I would eat whatever I wanted, go out on the weekends and drink, and think I could exercise it away. I was never happy with my body and could not figure out how to fix it.
What led you to want to change your life?
I always read the fitness magazines and wanted to compete. After college, I wanted a hobby to occupy my new-found free time. Once I started researching about cleaning up your diet, I knew this would be a challenge but I was determined to try it. Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was going to try to compete because they knew me as the “foodie” who loved her happy hours. I was always trying some new diet and failed. This gave me more motivation to prove them wrong.
How has your life changed since your transformation and journey?
It has given me a complete change for the better. I am healthier than ever and love the way I look. I have more energy and have not been sick since I have started this in 2011. I use my knowledge to inspire others. I no longer drink alcohol and feel better for it. I have found my purpose and live my life fulfilled because I am helping others change their habits through my example.
Have you experienced any difficulties on your journey and if so, how have you been able to overcome?
At first, my friends did not like or understand that I did not want to go out anymore. I felt pressure to drink and party like my old ways and sometimes felt left out but I knew if they were really my friends they would stick around. I would also get comments about how I was too skinny and how I did not eat (even though I eat 6-7 times a day). In the black community being ‘thick” is something that is praised and people seemed offended I did not want to be like that. I just realized that people will always criticize the unfamiliar and people eventually came around when they saw this was permanent.
Many people feel they are too busy or have too many obstacles as to why they can’t make a lifestyle change or live healthier? What excuse busters or advice do you have?
It’s important to be organized. If you have to make a schedule for yourself to make the time then do it. If you want something, you will find the time. Just like you find the time to go shopping or out with friends. 1 hour of exercise is only a small part of your day. Most of the time we spend Saturdays or Sundays relaxing and watching a movie; why not take that time and prep your food for the week, which saves you even more time to finish tasks during the busy week.
Keep your gym clothes in your car to remind yourself to go before or after work. A lot of black women give me the line “I’m not trying to lose my butt!” Curves are beautiful, and exercise makes them even better. In fact, I have more curves and booty than before. Don’t make excuses on why you can’t because there are so many reasons why you can.
How do you keep your body in shape? What is your typical nutrition regimen?
I stay in shape by doing cardio consisting of running distance and sprint intervals. I also like to incorporate HIIT and plyometrics. As for resistance training, I lift weights five days a week working a different muscle group each day.
I prepare all my meals for the week on Saturday or Sunday. It is important to have a plan for becoming successful such as, I eat about 6 meals a day with a 40/30/30 split of protein, carbohydrates and fat. I eat mostly clean foods and stay away from sugar but I do allow myself to have one free meal a week.
What are your favorite indulgences?
I love peanut butter and chocolate covered almonds
What advice would you give to those who are looking to improve their health?
It’s not going to be easy at first. It will take time and you will have to make sacrifices. Be patient and don’t try to rush it. You will be thankful later.
How can people learn more about you and what you are up to?
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