One trip to the dermatologist changed Caroline Jhingory’s life for the better. Initially seeing her dermatologist to get treatment for dark blotches on her cheekbone area and neck, that she believed could be treated with skin lightening cream, turned out to be an indicator that Caroline was pre-diabetic. At 22-years-old, Caroline weighed approximately 307 pounds. That was 10 years ago. Ten years later, Caroline Jhingory is now half the size she used to be, a published author of Half My Size: How I Ate to Lose 150 LBS, and she has given health tips on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, and Goodmorning America. Get to know her story.
Tell me when your weight loss journey began.
My weight loss journey began when I was about 22- years- old. Just a little back story, my highest weight was a little over 307 pounds, and I had always been big, heavy. The fat kid, the ugly kid. I had been that probably since the second grade. I always tell people, I looked at my first grade class picture, and I was skinny, then I looked at my second grade picture, and I was fat. From until I was in second grade, until I was about 22 years old, I was a morbidly obese child.
…for some reason when I was twenty-two all those painful experiences of being teased when I was in the second grade, it just hit me like a brick. I decided at that moment, I was going to make the rest of my life, the best of my life.
I didn’t do any diets or special weight loss plans. I was in college. I didn’t have any money. I called it the poor man’s diet, because I did nothing but (at the advice of my doctor) cut out all white foods, bread, pasta, sugar and dairy; and I did nothing, but walked outside. When I [began] walking, because I was so heavy, and I never exercised, I could only walk for ten minutes, then I worked my way up to twenty. In the first two months of doing that, I lost close to thirty pounds. Within a year and a half, I lost 150 pounds. I’m thirty-two now, I kept it off for ten years.
What were some factors that contributed to your weight gain.
I tell people it was a combination of things. My parents’ cultural differences led to them having a lot of arguing and conflicts, and just seeing that, I constantly turned to food. I think in terms of being the fat kid, my family members thought they were being supportive, and they weren’t. They were saying things like, you would be so pretty if you’d just lose weight. They were destructive, instead of constructive. Being teased at school, being teased by kids in the neighborhood.
During your weight loss journey, how did other things change in your life? People, self-esteem, your outlook on life.
My outlook became more positive. I can’t say I became a more religious person, but I definitely became a more spiritual person. I feel like a sense of clarity, and somehow it brings me closer to God. With everything that went on with my cousins, losing weight, constantly exercising, taking better care of myself physically and mentally, I just have this peace now. God and I have made peace with each other.
My self-esteem, my self -worth has definitely boosted. A medical doctor told me, in terms of being a black, American woman to keep off over 100 pounds for ten years, you’re the real one percent. He was like a woman like me makes up one percent of the population.
Tell me about your book, Half My Size.
My book, Half My Size: How I Ate to Lose 150 lbs is about exactly what the title says. What I ate, and why I ate it to lose 150 pounds. I talk about [how] weight loss is not a one size fits all approach. This is what worked for me, as a woman, a woman of color, and I also talk about how certain diets work for some ethnic groups or populations of people, may not work for other people as well. I give people realistic tips they can use when they go out to eat, on personal or work vacations.
At what point did you become a health super star.
I say this humbly, but none of my success is based off a PR agent, who I went to school with, who I slept with, who I pledged with, or me being black. All of it is 100% my own efforts, and I really just have to believe there is something greater that wants me to get my message out there. The opportunities, sometimes they do come to me. I’m not afraid to go to the top and ask people for what I want. In politics I never dealt with middle men. When I was on the Today Show, I went to the top person on NBC, and I’m pretty sure he was like how did you get my email address-[but] he just forwarded it through the appropriate chain.
You went from 300lbs to half your size, and inspiring people to take control of their health. What does this feel like.
It feels amazing. I mean the TV part is great. I am grateful, but I think the biggest blessing is when people send me messages and tweets like, thank you for the advice, I lost seven pounds, I lost ten pounds. I think one lady told me, in one week, she lost eight pounds. One thing I think is probably my best PR strategy is that I treat my PR strategy, like a customer service strategy. I make an effort to respond to every tweet, email, Facebook message, [and] Instagram messages that people send me.