(NEW YORK) — A new mom who was worried about her health during the height of the coronavirus pandemic has lost nearly 130 pounds over the past year.
Brianna Oyewo, 33, of Buffalo, New York, said she tipped the scales at 281 pounds last spring, just a few months after giving birth to her daughter, Olivia, in December 2019.
When Oyewo learned that obesity was considered a high-risk factor for COVID-19, she says she committed to making a change.
“I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh I’m morbidly obese,” Oyewo told “Good Morning America.” “I knew that when that pandemic started that I needed to do something quick to turn things around for my daughter.”
Oyewo described herself as a lifelong overeater who did not pay much attention to her diet until she became pregnant.
“I ate when I was happy. I ate when I was bored. I ate when I was excited. I ate when I was anxious and overwhelmed,” she said of her former habits. “It just felt like I had an insatiable appetite.”
To start her weight loss journey, Oyewo said she began to exercise, following cardio dance workouts on YouTube and increasing the length of her workouts when she needed a challenge.
She also changed her diet dramatically, cutting back on sugar and no longer eating out or eating processed foods.
“I just removed the things from my diet that I knew were holding me back,” said Oyewo. “So I cut out the carbs, potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, fried foods.”
Oyewo also doubled down on the plant-based diet she had been following since 2012, which likely boosted her health profile, according to Maya Feller, a registered dietitian and nutritionist.
“When people engage in eating high quantities of plants, we see that there’s this improvement of what we refer to as the non-communicable conditions — high blood pressure, high blood sugar and elevated lipids,” said Feller, who does not work with Oyewo. “With plants, all of that is improved.”
Oyewo, whose weight loss journey is featured in People magazine, said she not only experienced weight loss from her lifestyle changes, but also a change in her mental health.
“I have so much more energy. I have so much more confidence. I feel so much more disciplined,” she said.
Oyewo also credits working from home during the pandemic with helping her transform her health.
“Work was the place that I ate the most. We had a restaurant right inside of our building and it was just me snacking all day long,” she said. “But I feel like being home and not having access to those snacks, being too ashamed really embarrassed to just sit there and overeat like that all day in front my daughter in front of my husband, really, really helped me.”
Oyewo’s commitment to her fitness also sparked a change in another part of her life. She became a certified personal trainer and is now working with clients.
“I don’t care how many times that you tried before and you’ve failed,” Oyewo said of her advice to others. “I’ve tried this journey, countless times, and failed.”
“I just want to say that you can do it, you can do it. Believe in yourself,” she said.
The issue of People magazine featuring Oyewo’s story is available on newsstands now.
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