Porshure Richardson started her first diet when she was in 8th grade. She felt overweight and started drinking diet shakes for most meals. Finally, her mom asked her to start eating regular food again because she thought Porshure was losing too much weight.
“I was still seeing myself as overweight,” she recalls. “I probably wouldn’t have stopped if she hadn’t told me to.”
Her weight continued to fluctuate throughout her childhood, and it didn’t stop there.
“I had no clue what the ‘freshman 15’ was until I came home from college and someone called me ‘thunder thighs’ – it really hurt my feelings. That’s when I started working out, but I didn’t change my eating habits.”
Porshure was the heaviest she’d ever been when she was pregnant – getting up to 250 pounds at 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
While she was excited to become a mom, she also felt like she had an excuse to eat anything she wanted. One day she was eating pork chitlins for breakfast when her mom told her she would regret all the extra weight she gained.
“It wasn’t until I came off my last maternity leave in 2014 that I decided to get serious about my health – not just trying to lose weight. I’ve worked in offices before where I joined weight-loss programs with coworkers but always figured out a way to eat what I wanted – I lost weight but didn’t have the mindset of wanting to make healthier choices.”
A new point of view
Porshure works as a behavioral health case manager for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. When she joined the company, she had access to a registered dietitian as part of her employee benefits. Almost four years ago, after the birth of her second son, Porshure had a conversation with the dietitian that challenged her self-awareness.
“I didn’t understand what she was talking about,” Porshure laughs.
The dietitian asked her how she knew she was full as a child, but it was never about being full or hungry for her as a kid.
“I could have eaten 30 minutes ago but if I wanted something else, I could have it. There were no restrictions.”
That’s when Porshure realized she never learned about healthy eating habits or what a well-balanced meal was as a kid. Her parents didn’t have the same issues with weight that she did, so this was new territory for Porshure and her family.
“Only worry about showing up”
She credits the wellness programs and resources BlueCross offers for inspiring her to start caring about her health. It was uncomfortable to get started in a group exercise and nutrition program, but a trainer who worked at the BlueCross office in Memphis said something that stuck.
“The trainer told me to only worry about showing up and let her figure out the rest,” Porshure explained. “I was so afraid I wasn’t going to be able to do the exercises everyone else was doing because I couldn’t bend down to tie my shoes. Literally, I couldn’t bend down to tie my shoes.”
Her mom was right. She was upset with herself for gaining so much weight, and now she was uncomfortable and intimidated. But she says the trainer and nutritionist were constantly opening her eyes to new things – helping her understand why developing healthy habits and concentrating on her own wellness journey was important.
Worry about being the last one to finish a workout soon faded, and she realized just being there was what mattered. Everyone else had their own discomforts and insecurities they were struggling with, too.
Looking to others for inspiration
“I do a lot of reading online and on social media,” Porshure says. “I like reading about healthier habits, recipes and also other people’s journeys toward better health to get inspiration to continue my own.”
She says her greatest accomplishment is having an understanding of what it truly means to be a better, healthier version of herself, as she talks about the first time she took her son – who was 3 at the time – to the park. Porshure never cared much for being active outside, but her kids wanted to venture out.
“We were running up and down the hill, and he was so excited. Then he turned to me and said, ‘I’ve never seen you run! This is so fun that you can play with me!’ That moment made my heart melt, and I knew it was worth it to try to keep this healthy lifestyle going.”