Meet The Sigma Who Lost 162 Pounds
Written by Tanay Hudson
Students go off to college to gain knowledge, but most end up gaining weight as well. According to a 2012 study by researchers at Auburn University, 70 percent of students packed on the pounds during their four-year college career. The University of Southern Mississippi alumnus Brandon Nabors can relate to those students. He gained over 100pounds while at college.
“I was eating at least a thousand calories or more per meal,” Nabors said about his college diet. He said he consumed between 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day. The recommended daily caloric intake is 2,000 calories.
Nabors, 30, entered college at 240 pounds in 2003. The school cafeteria was buffet-style and he made sure to take full advantage and indulged in a carb-heavy diet. After joining Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. his sophomore year in 2005, he added alcoholic beverages to the grubbery, which also made the number on the scale skyrocket.
“I love to eat and then with drinking and partying, you don’t care what you take in,” said the Holly Springs, MS native. “Every night was a party night my neo year.”
A cheap buffet-style pizza spot was also a part of his food fest: Cici’s Pizza.
“I love pizza, pizza, pizza and more pizza,” he said when talking about the pizza buffet. “It’s not the best pizza but when you’re a college student it’s ideal for $5.”
After graduating from undergrad with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and entering the professional world, Nabors realized that his weight was a health risk.
“A lot of the people in my family are overweight. I was like I’m too young and I have to do something about this.”
Eating fast food three times a day and drinking a few times a week plus routine trips to the school cafeteria caused Nabors’ weight to soar to 350 pounds. In March of 2012, he decided to take his talents to the nearest gym.
Within his first month of exercise, “the weight just started falling off.”
“That first month I lost [between] 20 to 25 pounds.”
He didn’t do it alone, though. After seeing his Facebook posts, he enlisted the help of fellow Sigma, personal trainer Eric Cook.
Since Cook was also a member of his PBS, Nabors says he didn’t treat him like a typical client.
“It wasn’t that typical trainer-client relationship. It actually helped me out because he held me accountable.”
Cook said Nabors was easy to train because he was so focused and committed to changing his lifestyle.
“People like him are very rare,” he told me over the phone. “At one point when he started training I had to tell him to take a break. I had to tell him ‘Look, man, I’m getting in too many training sessions. I know you want it, but you [have to] give your body time to rest.’ When he started seeing results and changes in his body, he started going extra hard.”
Nabors lowered his caloric intake to 1,500 to 2,000 and consistently trained with Cook at JayLo Fitness in Olive Branch, MS. He also made sure to eat clean, but it wasn’t easy.
“That’s the hardest thing,” he said about transitioning from junk food to healthy eating. “Once I started seeing results I had to stick to it.”
He traded his beloved pizza for dishes like salad, turkey burgers and steamed fish. Fast forward to 2015 and he has lost 162 pounds.
Cook said he was not only surprised by Nabors’ weight loss but also by his determination while dropping the weight.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “Going through it really surprised me because I was like ‘wow this dude is really listening to everything I’m saying.”
Though he remains motivated, Nabors said he experiences bouts of discouragement now that he has shed the weight.
“[I feel more discouraged] now, which people find hard to believe,” he said. “Losing the weight is just as hard as being overweight because you can be your own worst critic at times.”
Reactions from friends and family weren’t always helpful either.
“‘You’re not going to maintain that.’ I heard that a lot,” he said. “When I went back for homecoming I was almost unrecognizable to some people and they were like ‘oh you’re too small.’” He added, “That’s why you have to encourage yourself because people are so evil. Some people are waiting for you to gain the weight back…You gotta look at the positive aspect of it all. If I am discouraged it is because of something someone else might say but I don’t let it get to me.”
Nabors now visits a gym owned by Cook, Xpress Fitness also in Olive Branch, MS, and attends group classes twice a week. He also runs three to four times a week with Black Men Run, a group of African-American men who run to maintain their healthy lifestyle.
The gym isn’t the only place Nabors likes to spend his free time.
“I shop a hell of a lot more,” he said. “I live in the stores.”
Nabors’ weight loss journey didn’t only teach him about living a healthier lifestyle, but he also learned about the importance of self-worth.
“A lot of people go through changes to please others or base their successes on how someone might perceive them. The reaction that I got from others, both good and some bad, helped me identify with what was most important, which was my happiness.”