Tamara Harbison, the 27 year-old North Carolinian who dropped an amazing 125 pounds in nine months, is back to fill us in on how she’s maintained her new weight and all the fabulosity that comes with it!
“I’ve maintained my weight loss by being consistent with my diet and exercise routine on a daily basis. I don’t do one day on and one day off dieting. The way I eat and exercise is my new lifestyle,” Harbison explains.
Harbison visited the ESSENCE offices in March 2009 for her initial interview about her extreme weight loss.
“Since the first [ESSENCE.com] story, literally thousands of people have contacted me. I’ve received letters, e-mails, Facebook friend requests and phone calls. It’s very humbling and gratifying to know that I’ve inspired so many people,” admits Harbison.
“Meeting Dr. Ian was great! He and his team were so impressed by my weight loss that they flew me to NYC for a press conference to help promote the 50 Million Pound Challenge. He helped me realize that I could help others. They asked me to form a team (Tamara’s Total Transformers) on the challenge Web site. I e-mail my team weekly and answer questions daily. We have collectively lost over 550 pounds to date!” Harbison exclaims.
“My family and friends have been the most impacted by my weight loss. They have watched me shrink right before their eyes. They’ve known me my entire life as a “big girl” and have had to adjust to the new “mini me,” says Harbison.
“I still work at a restaurant and I’ve never allowed that to be an excuse to break my new lifestyle changes. I’ve had a lifetime of eating what I serve to other people. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I will eat something other than fruits and veggies, but in general I’ve had enough of those kinds of food. It doesn’t bother me in the least bit to be around it. It’s food; I only need it to survive.”
One of the ways Harbison has been able to successfully maintain her weight loss is ensuring her fitness regime is diverse.
“I put exercise on the same level as brushing my teeth. I would never leave home without doing either one of those things. I make it a point to do a different exercise for each session. I don’t have a set Monday; I do this or Tuesday I do that. Some days I run, take Pilates, walk on the treadmill, take basic training classes, play tennis, skate, jump rope, swim and the list goes on,” she says.
“As a former middle school teacher, I feel child obesity is on the rise mainly due to a generation affixed on electronics, video games, TV, etc. I believe it is the parent’s responsibility to instill active lifestyles in children. Lead by example. Make exercise a fun family affair! My parents got a very late start on that with my sister and I but we enjoy our active family time just the same even though we are well into our twenties.
Harbison, who admits that french fires are still her weakness, follows a strict yet tasty diet to stay slim and trim. In addition to her nutritious and well-balanced meals, the waitress makes sure to drink plenty of water.
“Most people wouldn’t believe how much I eat. I start eating at 7 A.M. and I have my last meal at 7 P.M. I very rarely eat any later than that unless I’m going out to dinner with other people or occasionally when my schedule forces me to eat a little later,” says Harbison.
“I have started buying clothes for the summer and it’s been lots of fun. I have to start thinking like a size 4 now instead of a size 24. I’ve finally gotten used to shopping in regular stores now and the selection is huge! The problem now is controlling how much I buy,” says Harbison.
Harbison shows off new arms that could rival Mrs. Obama’s.
“I recently joined the YMCA about two months ago and I love it there! I exercise five times a week for one hour. Occasionally I exercise twice a day. It depends on if I feel like waking up at 5 A.M. for a 2-4 mile run,” Harbison reveals.
Keep clicking for the details on our Harbison shed 125 pounds in 9 months with no surgery or medication!
Tamara Harbison is a 27-year-old waitress from Morrisville, North Carolina, who recently lost a whopping 125 lbs. in 9 months. That’s right; you read correctly…125 lbs. in 9 months! No surgery, no pills; just regular exercise, a sharp change in eating habits and a little motivation from a doctor you might have heard of. Click on to learn all about Tamara’s amazing transformation.
By Bridgette Bartlett
“I weighed 260 lbs., and typically wore a size 24. Now I weigh 135 lbs. and can wear a size 4!” Harbison says with delight.
“I started Dr. Ian Smith’s Fat-Smash Diet on April 4, 2008. I was never a big dieter prior to that. I do remember doing Weight Watchers when I was a teenager with my mom and grandmom, but I was a little too young to understand the concept of dieting,” recalls Harbison of her former dieting habits.
“Exercise? There was none. I actually used to joke with my coworkers that the only way that I would run was if something was chasing me!” says Harbison.
“And where I live, you don’t really have the option of walking to many places. Morrisville (North Carolina) is not designed for you to use your feet and be active to get where you need to go—you drive everywhere,” she adds.
“My grandmother is plus-size and my mom has always been a heavier woman. We all had [large] hips and butts so I thought, this is how I’m genetically made,” reveals Harbison.
“I would usually eat twice a day, and there would be some days when I would only eat once a day. It was the things that I was eating. I ate a lot of fast foods. If I did cook it wasn’t anything healthy. It would be something like spaghetti or fried chicken and I would eat late. I would go long periods of time without eating. So I would wait until I was starving and then eat much larger portions than I needed to eat,” shares Harbison.
“I was at 160lbs for awhile and I was thinking, ‘Okay, 160lbs. This is where I’m gonna stay.’ But there are tools that Dr. Ian teaches you in his about what you’re supposed to do in these types of situations like changing up your exercise routine. It helps you get over that hump,” Harbison explains (pictured here at the halfway mark).
“Dr. Ian’s Fat-Smash Diet is broken into four phases. The first phase is a detox phase that lasts for nine days. You mostly eat fruits and vegetables. The second phase is when meat is added back into the diet. There were specific meat, fish and poultry that I could have but only 4 ounces a day. The next phase was when he brought more complex carbs back into rotation. And the last phase is basically the maintenance phase and he calls that the phase for life. It basically helps you transition the foods you used to eat back into your diet,” explains Harbison (pictured here during the halfway mark of her diet plan, summer 2008).
“I have a little lunchbox that I carry my snacks in, like grapes. And I always have snacks like granola bars in my trunk. I keep an apple or pear with me too. People often fall off [their diet routines] and get fast food when they don’t prepare,” warns Harbison.
“I hated exercise when I first started. It was at the very bottom of my list of things to do because I thought it was boring. Dr. Ian stresses in the 50 Million Pound Challenge and in the book (The Fat Smash Diet) that exercise shouldn’t be a chore; you should make exercise part of being active. Taking the steps instead of riding the elevator and taking the escalator, those were all small changes that I made to my lifestyle. Sometimes I purposefully park far from the mall entrance just so that I can walk a little more,” says Harbison, pictured here in summer 2008.
“Before Fat Smash, I was drinking an average of one to two glasses daily. And I was drinking a lot of juices with a high suger content. But now I drink six to eight glasses of water a day,” explains Harbison.
“I did not join a gym. I actually live in an apartment complex that has a small gym and I took advantage of that. There were times that a neighbor of mine and I would toss a football back and forth for about 30 to 40 minutes, and that was our arm workout. Dr. Ian suggests that you do something different every day and add variety to your workout plan. So if I got on the treadmill on Monday, on Tuesday I would play tennis, on Wednesday I would go ride a bike, etc.,” shares Harbison.
“I have been maintaining this weight of 135 lbs. since January 2009,” says Harbison.
Haribson shares, “I am extremely proud to say that I have made a conscious decision to continue to eat to live instead of living to eat. I reminded myself throughout this process that I’ve experienced a lifetime of eating what I wanted when I wanted with no control. It was time to give my body a new menu filled with healthier choices.”
“Before I lost the weight, I lived in fear. I was afraid of the taunting reminders of strokes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes that plague my family tree. I love my newfound energy, will, and drive to live a healthier lifestyle,” shares an excited Harbison.