As a teenager in Los Angeles with a penchant for high-calorie ethnic foods, Jalil Lindsey-Lowe nearly lost an opportunity to serve in the United States Navy at 18. She just barely got her weight down to meet the military’s requirement, and off she went for the next eight years.
While serving, she maintained a healthy weight, but once retired, poor eating habits pushed her to an unhealthy 200 pounds.
“When I got out, I let myself go since there was no longer accountability to remain fit,” recalls Lindsey-Lowe, founder of The Fit Chef, a Hampton-based company that helps people achieve their desired healthy lifestyle though nutrition, fitness and accountability.
She lost the weight through food education, diet and exercise, all core tenets within the training programs she designs. Her clients’ fitness success increases when their understanding of food preparation expands.
“Fitness starts in the kitchen,” says the 37-year-old certified personal trainer who earned a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University. “You have to change the way you eat in order to get your body to respond to the exercises you’re doing. It means cooking more with real food—not stuff in a box. If you want physical results where you’re changing your body composition, you have to change what you eat, and that starts in your pantry.”
Lindsey-Lowe says that it can take up to 90 days of applying good nutritional practices to be gym ready but asserts that while counter-intuitive, this food-centric focus increases your chances of shedding unwanted weight, whether you choose to do that in a gym or by participating in other fitness activities.
“A lot of people are intimidated by the gym, so I encourage them to take the free classes first,” she says. “Since fitness is a lifestyle and not an aesthetic, go and do the things you enjoy doing. If you want to line dance, then sign up for line dancing because you know you’ll stick with that. There are also running groups and cycling groups. Ask around, be proactive and find out what fitness activities are out there that you may like.”