Kicking My Bad Habits: How I Got Fit. Plus: Join Me Today For a GoogleChat W/ MomsRising!

I was tired all the time, my energy was crap, the scale was showing numbers I’d never seen before and my pants—well, they were starting to scream, “Now you know you’re just one more pasta bowl from having to buy an entire new wardrobe.”

I was miserable.

And then I saw a miracle: an African American woman, grown and curvy and fit, exercising in the parking lot of the gym I pass every day while taking my daughters to school. Her trainer stood tall, commanding, instructing and encouraging her as she did lunges up and down the asphalt. They were beautiful. Inspiring.

And so, for my 44th birthday, I gave myself a gift: I walked into that gym, introduced myself to celebrity trainer Cliff “Hollywood” Boyce and vowed to take control of my body and get healthy.

This much I know is true: I needed to make that change. For myself. For my family. Especially for my daughters. See, I know that I’ve aged and that my body has changed and that weight and all the complications that come from having it in excess is more dangerous than ever to my health. I can’t eat fully-loaded bagels for breakfast and rainbow sherbet and popcorn for dinner, stay up until 2 a.m., and do 20 sit-ups and five minutes worth of jumping jacks and lose five pounds, easy. Everything I put in my mouth goes straight to my stomach and lower body and it sits there—putting me at risk not only for gaining weight, but increasing my chances for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and draining my metabolism. And I was feeling it, big time.

I borrow liberally from Sweet Brown when I say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So with Hollywood’s help, last October, just days after I turned 44, I took control of my body and made the decision to get healthy. Note that I said, “healthy.” Not skinny. Not muscular. Not obsessed. Just healthy. Hollywood measured me up from neck to calf, weighed me, measured my body fat and then sat me down to discuss my ultimate health and fitness goals. He then used all of that info to craft a nutrition and exercise plan designed to boost my metabolism, build up my lean muscle, burn excess fat and get me back to a healthy weight.

I promise you, when I first started working with him, I thought for sure I would die on that treadmill—that my legs would fall off in the middle of those lunges and my arms would never, ever stop shaking and quivering from lifting those weights.

But here we are, seven months later, and I’m training with Hollywood twice a week, going to Zumba two days a week and taking Hollywood’s Tabata class at least once, sometimes twice, per week. I’m stronger. I have more energy. I got them grown woman curves fitting into clothes a size smaller than when I started. I’m eating more vegetables, fruit, seafood and lean meats, drinking more water, and cutting back drastically on the carbs and processed foods. Desserts still call me like the rock did Pookie in The Carter, but I’m better.

So much better.

And I’m proud of me.

This post was written as part of a blog carnival to celebrate National Women’s Health Week. Today at 2 p.m. EST, I’ll be joining MomsRising and DubyaWife in a GoogleChat to talk about our health, fitness and nutrition journeys and our quest to take care of our bodies. Join us! I’ll Tweet and Facebook the link to the chat about 15 minutes before we get started, with the hashtags #HealthyHabits. Or you can watch here on YouTube. See you then!


2. The Attack Against Black Girl Beauty
3. Celebrating—and Finally Loving!—My Curves
3. Happy Birthday To Meeeeee!
4. Get Heart Smart: Show Your Support For African American Women’s Heart Health

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Good for you! Way to go!

  2. Artis Harrison

    Way to go! You are indeed an inspiration!

  3. Thank you!! I really needed to read this. Trying to fight my cravings as I write this. You are inspiration!

  4. Victoria Sanders

    yea D.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I needed to read this, I am baby stepping towards better health but I need to start toddling. Thank you.

  6. You go!!!! Proud of you too!

  7. How inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

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