renee-michelle-harris_web.jpgWhen my weight loss journey began earlier this year, my immediate goal was to lose 30 pounds. I settled on that number because attaining it would signify that I was committed to making the changes necessary to begin the life transformation that I deeply desired.

I started in late April, early May. I told myself that if I could stick to a program long enough to drop 30, then I could probably stick to it for the long haul. Imagine my joy when my scale recently revealed a 10-pound bonus!

I have lost 40 pounds and I’m a changed person. I need to lose more weight — can’t stop now, I’m in a zone! — but I’m savoring this accomplishment because it represents not only a physically lighter me but also an emotionally lighter me. I’ve discovered that it’s nearly impossible to drop 40 pounds of fat without also dropping the habits that allowed them to accumulate.

Dropping bad habits is imperative to achieving any worthwhile goal. Replacing them with life-affirming behavior takes things to a different level.

The habits that I’ve developed with help from my life coaches, Coach T and Shakira of Charles and Shakira Unlimited, have been instrumental in my ability to connect with that part of myself that got smothered in my past. The real Renee has shown up — and I like her!

My journey has not been without its setbacks. I have gone into what Shakira calls “default mode” on more than one occasion, when I temporarily regress into a familiar habit due to stress or fear. The difference this time is that I did not remain in default.

 It helps that the solution is always the same: getting to a silent place, breathing deeply and allowing my inner wisdom to guide me. It’s even sweeter when I can head a stressful situation off at the pass and allow the Spirit to take me on an enlightened detour.

Here’s what I know for sure: Losing weight has less to do with what you’re eating than discovering what’s eating you. Far more often than not, one’s past is the culprit.

One major factor in loosening the grip that my past had on my life was reinterpreting some of the drama. Shakira calls it “meaning making.” You may recall that in my first column about this weight-loss journey I identified my brothers’ departures from my life as a pivotal experience that resulted in my weight gain. Because of the residual emotional effects of childhood sexual abuse, my brothers’ presence in my life represented a safety net that was snatched away when they left. That was my story and I stuck to it, until I allowed myself to see the bigger picture.

While it was certainly challenging to experience the death of one brother and the departure of the other two from Miami in the same year, the reality is that it wasn’t about me. Besides, I had been married for four years to a wonderful man from a wonderful family that was now my own and I had a beautiful little girl who was the joy of my life. My two brothers’ decisions were about their venturing off to better lives. My “safety” was not an issue.

Shakira helped me to reinterpret this and other stories that I had replayed to myself over and over throughout the years. “Meaning making” allowed me to see my past with new eyes, uncover the hidden treasure and shed the cloak of victimhood — and 40 pounds!

This is what freedom feels like.

Renee Michelle Harris is a filmmaker in pre-production on her first feature film, Keisha’s Journey. Learn more about it at Renee may be contacted at

Charles and Shakira Unlimited is a comprehensive, spirituality based life coaching program that helps clients to live H.I.P. (Healthy, Inspired and Purposeful) lives. Contact them at 954-591-8542. Follow them on Twitter @Hipcoaches

Photo: Renee Michelle Harris