Through fitness, Nakisha Ramsey gained the strength to fight back against abuse.
Often, unhappiness and fear beget binge eating, and it was this exact scenario that compelled Nakisha Ramsey to sequester herself in her car and consume a gallon of ice cream and a pack of Oreos on the reg. “I was having babies back-to-back, was in an abusive relationship, and no matter how much I prayed for happiness, I couldn’t seem to grasp it,” Ramsey says. Before she knew it, she had lost her identity and had swelled to 220 pounds.
Taking hold of her self-esteem began, ironically, when her father told her she couldn’t in 2004. Ramsey opened up about wanting to leave her abusive marriage and raise her children on her own, and he insisted there was no way she could do it alone. “From that moment, I started to plan my ‘how to,’” she says. “It didn’t happen overnight or even a year after that, but it did happen.”
Finding a Fitness Family
Without the support of her actual family, Ramsey found sanctuary within the fitness community. “I remember the first time I picked up a copy of Oxygen at Walmart — I was in awe of the cover,” she says. “I wanted to look like that and learn how to transform my body and be healthy.” Her first workouts came straight from the pages of that magazine, and even though her husband regularly mocked her efforts, Ramsey kept at it and slowly gained confidence.
But Ramsey and her children — now there were six — were still in peril, and in 2007 when her youngest son was only 4 weeks old, her husband threatened their lives. That was the final straw; Ramsey took her children and left. They lived out of their van until Ramsey could land a job and find a place to live, but as soon as they were settled, they all began to thrive.
Food for Thought
Though working out had become a lifestyle for Ramsey, eating right was still a challenge. She journaled everything she ate, yet those nefarious ice cream binges persisted. Because as much as she was healing on the outside, Ramsey’s emotional issues remained unresolved. But just as she had done with exercise, Ramsey studied all she could about nutrition and soon found that the better she ate, the better she felt and vice versa.
Fast-forward 15 years and Ramsey is 70 pounds lighter, has a degree in nutrition and is a vegan. She shares her home with her new husband — also a bodybuilder — and all her children, now ages 19, 17, 15, 13, 12 and 8. “This journey of getting physically fit is about more than just your body, it forces you to heal on the inside, too,” she says. “I believe each day, month and year is getting better, and you can never stop growing or learning.”
Location: Rocky Mount, Virginia
Weight before: 220
Weight after: 150
Occupation: Mom, fitness trainer and life coach
Fitness inspirations: Tosca Reno and Jamie Eason Middleton
Favorite healthy recipe: Mushroom burgers with vegan cheese
Ultimate mom multitasking moments: “I would host dance parties for my kids while I was working out, or I would breast-feed while walking on my treadmill.”
Favorite mantra: “Redeem your life and decide your worth.”
Nakisha’s Weekly Training Split
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday Back
- Wednesday Hamstrings/glutes
- Thursday Chest/ triceps
- Friday Back/shoulders/biceps
- Saturday Quads/glutes
Did you lose a ton of weight? Overcome insurmountable obstacles and come out the other side fit and healthy? Then we want to hear from you! The Oxygen Transform section is dedicated to giving women a chance to share their journeys with others who may also be struggling with weight loss, and give them the hope and motivation to continue forward and succeed as well. Apply here.