As a Project Director for the Health-E-AME Physical-E Fit Program, Lottie McClorin trains health directors for the church’s wellness programs. She also sets an inspirational example for people who struggle with obesity and its life-threatening impacts.
McClorin, 30, has lost 70 pounds since 1995, when she was a graduate student of nutrition at South Carolina State University. Now, when she talks about a healthy diet and increased physical activity, she looks both forward and back. “Forward” to a time when South Carolinians lead healthier lives as a matter of routine. “Back” to the moment when she realized that an obese nutritionist would not be a good role model for healthier generations to come.
“I was learning about how to eat and go out into the community to talk to people about leading healthier lives, when I looked at myself in the mirror,” McClorin says. “I realized that I can’t tell people to live better lives if I’m not demonstrating how to do that. It came to me that I could be a role model. I’d be able to tell a story; not just give out information. I’d tell people of the trials I went through, and how they could make changes of their own.”
McClorin changed her behavior. She began to exercise. The between-meals snacks she had eaten as a child in the Williamsburg County community of Lane gave way to healthier alternatives. Instead of denying herself, she made “better decisions” about the frequency and portion size of her snacks. “I came to realize that, whatever goes into my body, I must work off,” she says. “Whenever I eat that sinful food, I must exercise or exert my body to work it off.”
McClorin credits God, family and friends for the motivation and support she needed to take control of her weight and health. Now 165 pounds, she’d like to lose approximately 15 more pounds a goal that requires determination, focus and dedication. While the task is significant, the rewards more than offset the effort.
“By losing weight, I have discovered more energy,” McClorin says. “I am more willing to do different things, and find myself enjoying more activities. I’m much more open to new ideas and exploring possibilities. My self-esteem is much higher now than it was then. I like my outlook. I appreciate myself and that I can help others through my struggle.”
Her position with the Health-E-AME Program offers many opportunities to do just that. The program encourages participants to increase their moderate physical activity to 30 minutes per day, at least five days a week. Dietary recommendations include five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, while decreasing portion sizes and dietary fat.
“It’s so rewarding when I go back to the community and am able to interact with people, especially youth,” she says. “I see so many young adults who are where I was overweight, unhappy, not motivated, and unsure about themselves. I encourage them to decide that they want to make a change, set realistic goals, eat in moderation and build physical activities into their daily routine. Set it in your mind, and make a healthy life style change!”
McClorin hopes that, if enough people heed her simple but direct advice, many of South Carolina’s historically high disease rates will decrease significantly.
“If we can teach the current generation the importance of healthy eating and exercise, they can teach succeeding generations the same lessons,” she says. “Maybe, someday, we won’t have the same problems with diseases and recurring health disparities that we’re facing now.”
To learn more:
(7th Episcopal District of the AME Church and the Medical University of South Carolina)
- This site is being developed to respond to the health needs of AME members. "The Web site contains a cookbook with lower fat versions of our favorite recipes, fact sheets that explain health conditions, chat rooms on a variety of health-related topics led by Church members and MUSC faculty, local health and education resources, links to other sites on the web with information on health, and a special program for children and adolescents."
- Find Out About...:Weight Management
- Links to weight management sites reviewed for Hands on Health-SC.