By the time I was 9 years old I knew I wasn’t like the other children — I was fat. I can vividly recall a time in my life where I was visible to my family, but invisible to the outside world. People would walk right past me like I was a fading reflection. Adults would tell my mother, “Your daughter has such a pretty face.” While at school, my peers would taunt me by calling me names like “Ms. Piggy!” For the average individual (from a child to an adult) hearing such derogatory words would cut deep. However, I took those negative words and turned them into a world of positivity. I made a conscious decision, as I got older, to make the necessary changes to not just exist, but to truly live!
Fifteen years later, after observing the personal effects obesity had on my life as well as the lives of my family members, I now live by the mantra, “A changed mind is a wynning mind!” For me, “Wynn” (my last name) and “Win” being a homonym of my last name is no accident because I am truly a winner. The biggest win for me, in the past year, was hearing my primary care physician say, “Maisha, you still have a clean bill of health, from your body mass index being perfect to your cholesterol level being normal.”
My journey over the past seven years has been life altering in every way imaginable! On Oct. 5, 2011, I took my beloved mother to the hospital because she was having difficulty swallowing. After running numerous tests, we learned she had stomach cancer in addition to all of her other pre-existing ailments (which included high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea). On the day my mother was scheduled for surgery, she developed pneumonia. That diagnosis changed everything for the worse; her immune system weakened, which caused her to lose her ability to be able to walk and talk. This Superwoman, who gave me life, was now depending on me for life. Watching her slowly waste away before my eyes was the most challenging thing to observe day in and day out, especially as this was a woman who was vibrant like the sun and embraced living fully. My mother’s health failed quickly and doctors did not have time to treat her cancer. On New Year’s Eve, my beloved made her transition to heaven.
There is not one day that goes by I don’t shed tears for my favorite girl. In her loving memory, I’ve made a conscious decision to live a healthier life not only for myself, but for our nation. This year, Live To Wynn has made tremendous strides around the country (from sharing our winning tips on the “Rachael Ray Show” to hosting a plant-based tour in New York City with Whole Foods Market). Our daily goal is to inspire others to live more abundantly. I’ve learned through my own self-discovery that a sound body = sound mind + spirit. When you cherish your body (temple), you cherish your universe. Your temple responds to the way you think, feel, and act. Your personal freedom comes from living a conscious lifestyle. This is coming from a young lady who has battled with her weight since childhood. I was literally a human yo-yo, going up and down the scale. The biggest I’ve ever been was a size 20 and the smallest was a size 3. At my largest, I can recall my legs rubbing together ferociously. Now, I am a happy and healthy size 4 with curves! My life no longer revolves around unhealthy eating and not being active, but instead focuses on the glorious joys of life. I find happiness in the smallest things like having the ability to see the sun rise over the skyscrapers from my window to moments of silence while embracing yoga.
As someone who has truly found a winning formula to living abundantly (mind and body), I’d love to share five “wynning” tips with you:
1. Mental fitness is critical for change. You must learn to be your biggest cheerleader. How? Learn to celebrate every victory, no matter how small. Small victories lead to bigger victories!
2. Laziness is a curable disease. It took me years to have the motivation to work out. I’ve learned an active heart is truly a healthy heart. Start getting active by doing something you love, and do it often (whether it’s twice a week or five times a week). Research suggests that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can keep you fit. The benefits are astounding — from strengthening your muscles to prolonging your life.
3. You truly are what you eat. So much of what you look like is contingent on what you put in your mouth on a daily basis. Fuel your body with healthy foods that give you energy and life. Protein should be an important component of your diet because because it plays a critical role in the development of a strong body. Fresh produce is your best friend for life — and not just for vegans like me!
4. Make time to nurture your temple. Set up a play date with yourself so you can love on you, whether it’s shopping or spending the day at the spa.
5. Wake up with a spirit of gratitude. Lay in bed for a few minutes reflecting on all the amazing opportunities and individuals you have in your life. This will help you start your day in a powerful and purposeful way.
Continue to Live Abundantly,
Maisha Wynn “WIN”
Lifestyle Specialist & Vegan Enthusiast
If you want to meet Maisha Wynn, join her on July 12 at this year’s Taste of Chicago where she will be cooking up one of her yummy vegan dishes and signing copies of her book, “The Wynning Way,” at the Lifeway Kefir Taste Kitchen in Grant Park.