My name is Donesha Bolden, and I am a 33-year-old educator in Atlanta, Georgia. I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey and later moved to Alabama where I finished high school. I attended Alabama State University for a year and a half and later transferred to Troy University (Dothan Campus) where I graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in elementary education.
I relocated to North Carolina and started my first teaching job. I was very comfortable living in North Carolina until my mother was diagnosed with cancer and was given a time frame to live. At the time, I was attending North Carolina Central University and working on my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction so I would travel more than 600 miles back and forth to help my family care for my mother.
Life was hard, but I was making the best of a bad situation. I had joined the local YMCA and started taking part in Zumba and high-impact aerobic classes. I started gradually losing weight. I had weighed 220 pounds, and I had gotten down to 190 pounds. My plans were to finish school and move to Atlanta so that I could be closer to my mother, but she didn’t live long enough for that to happen.
A year after my mother passed I made the move to Atlanta without a job or any prospects. I was living with my aunt in Alabama and spending nights with my best friend in Atlanta when I was able to search for a job. I was away from the gym all summer and didn’t take notice of the fact that I was gaining all of the weight I had worked so hard to get rid of.
School started, and I still didn’t have a job but that didn’t stop me. I had a nephew to care for so there was no such thing as quitting! I had been raising Nehemiah since he was 5 years old. A week after school started, I was asked to interview for a job in Bankhead, and I was hired. At that point, I weighed 215 pounds and so much into fashion that I didn’t see my weight climbing out of control.
At the age of 37, my cousin was found dead in her bed one morning by her three children, and two days later, my grandfather lost his battle with prostate cancer. It was a year later that my aunt found out that her daughter died from hypertension. When I was working on my undergraduate degree, my uncle fell dead in church of a heart attack, and last year my 36-year-old cousin started her battle with breast cancer and won. But my aunt lost her battle to lung cancer. Several of my aunts have diabetes and/or high blood pressure as well as my younger sister. At that point, I decided that enough was enough!
My coworker placed a flyer in my box that gave educators a special on joining her sister Tissilli Rogers IFBB Pro’s Boot Camp and that was the turning point of my life. I was located in Decatur at the time, but I worked all day in Atlanta, drove home, cared for my nephew and then drove back to Atlanta to train with Tiss. I was halfway determined to lose the weight.
I was attending the workouts, but I was not changing my lifestyle outside of the gym as Tiss had suggested. I would lose three pounds here and five pounds there, but it wasn’t consistent. Thinking about the illnesses that had attacked my family and wanting to be around to raise my nephew, I started to get serious about training with Tiss. In October 2011, I allowed Tiss to take the most embarrassing photos of me and place me on her detox. I felt bad when I saw the photos of how I looked when she was assessing me and knew that it was time to “Train 4 My LIFE!”
I gave Tiss 110 percent inside the gym and decided to start doing "insanity" outside of the gym. I completed the insanity 60-day program and worked with Tiss at the same time, and I lost 30 pounds. I was really feeling great about myself, but I had set a goal of 160. I wasn’t there just yet. Tiss set a weight goal of 150 for me — 10 pounds lighter than my goal.
There were days that I wanted to give up, but I focused on why I started and that kept me going. I started following meal plans designed by Tiss especially for me, and I started to see results. My family and my coworkers were excited about my accomplishments.