Years ago, when Maisha Wynn lost her mother to a myriad of health issues including high cholesterol, diabetes, sarcoidosis, sleep apnea, and more, the Chicago native knew she had to change her lifestyle.
Then one day, eight years ago, Wynn walked past a mirror and broke down in tears because of her own poor health and obesity. That day something clicked.
At that moment, she gathered her tribe, changed her diet, and vowed to break her familial cycle of obesity. She stuck with is and lost a whopping 120-pounds, and saved her own life in the process.
Now, she wants to help you do the same.
"Losing my mother was a wake-up call to me to say, ‘hey, I need to make my health a top priority and so, I made a conscious decision to really focus on my temple, which is my body, and to focus on my mind, which I like to call my universe."
Part of that wake-up call involved looking at food through a different lens--not as one that brought about harm but as something that could help sustain good health. And while the rich legacy of a penchant for starch, fats, and carbs runs deep within our culture and community, Wynn was determined to approach the food that she put into her body with affection, so that it would do the same in return.
"I look at food as life, as love, and as information," she told ESSENCE. "Oftentimes people say, 'well you can't really break that generational cycle as it relates to your lifestyle', but I'm a living breathing witness that once you change your mind, and say you know what, enough is enough. We as women, we say 'well you know, I have to take care of my kids or I have to finish that project at work or I have to take care of my husband or my significant other.' And then when you look up, you're the last person that you're honestly taking care of and I always tell my winners, how can you be great to others unless you're great to yourself first?"
To begin taking better care of yourself, Wynn suggests hopping in the kitchen and taking it slow. What you don't know, have fun with, says Wynn, because that's where the magic happens.
"I tell people all the time don't overwhelm yourself by saying, okay it has to be done in the next 30 days. No, Slow and steady always wins the race. You wanna give yourself different life goals, so maybe for the first 30 days, instead of eating fried chicken, replace it with baked chicken. Instead of eating red meat every day, eat it every other week, said Wynn. "Why not try a cooking class, go meatless on Monday or maybe just spend a day, where you're just eating fresh fruits and vegetables? I love avocados because they're packed with vitamins and they're a great source of fiber, but at the same time, it's a good source of fat. I love broccoli. It has a lot of protein in it [and] beets because they're high in immune-boosting vitamin C and they also help with the digestive process."
Along with changing her lifestyle, Wynn changed her occupation too. She went from a career in advertising to now hosting a cooking travel show called "Yummy Vegan." Heading into her first season, which kicks off in New York City, Wynn hopes to reach audiences and teach them that vegan food is nothing to be afraid of.
"[I want] to show people that you don't have to be a vegan to love and embrace vegan food," she added. "I'm headed to New York to do a city-wide tour with Whole Foods Market. Showing New Yorkers how plant-based dishes can really be tasty [with] three different types of fabulous vegan pizzas."
For more information on "Yummy Vegan," click here.