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I learned that transformation is real. Transformation is a deep look from within. You must look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not everyone wants to do that because it requires some heavy soul searching.

Transformation starts first with the mind. For me, I knew that transforming my life meant losing weight. But what I realized on my fitness journey was that I was holding onto decades of hurt as a child and a young adult and work-related stress. I knew that I had to deal with that and really let go to become a better me.

Any transformation whether physical or mental starts with the mental toughness. The mental toughness will enable you to start the journey and to stay on the journey regardless of how rocky the road gets. The mental toughness to weather the storm will prove just how strong you are. This is how I was able to lose 50 pounds in six months the natural way. I was determined. I was not going to let anything stop me. I was focused. I was going to make it to that finish line, and then I realized that there was no finish line. The journey is never-ending. You keep learning, growing, and evolving. Then you repeat the process all over again.

What is the trick to losing weight? Hundreds of women ask me this question all the time. It’s simple. There is no trick. I get so frustrated when I see these celebrities with the “snap back comeback.” They don’t reveal their strategy. However, I am an open book, and I am going to share, because I lived it. I am living proof that real transformation exists. There is no quick fix. There is no magic diet pill. You can get all the surgery in the world, but if you don’t deal with what’s going on in your head – you won’t be successful on any journey. I’m sorry, some people don’t want to hear that, but I must keep it real…

So, take out a pen and a piece of paper and take some notes, ladies and gentlemen. A transformation requires the following:

1.) Mental toughness – the mental toughness to start and stay on the journey.

2.) Positive Affirmation – start your day and meditate. Say each morning “I can, and I will.” Watch what the power of your words manifest in your life.

3.) Your circle is paramount to the success of your journey. When you align with those of a like mind who uplift and support you during your journey, success will eventually come.

4.) On your transformation, particularly if it is a fitness journey, do what you like to do. I was successful, because I swapped the treadmill, the elliptical machine, the bike, and boot camp classes, for things that I liked to do such as dancing, walking, and swimming.

5.) Consistency is key. Keep going. Do not fall off. Even if you don’t see results initially, as long as you stay at it, the results will come. And when you start to achieve results, it will just make you aim even higher.

Many watched my transformation, as I documented it on social media over two years ago. I was fully transparent. I talked about my struggles. I talked about losing myself and having to reflect on my youth, back to that 17-year-old teenage girl who was the most confident person in the world. I needed her strength on this journey. I am now 70 pounds down in weight loss, and I have kept the weight off for two years. I got my sexy back. I am more confident than I have ever been in my life. When people see me they say, “You look like the Dionne from high school.” My skin is glowing. I have the same energy that I had as a teenager. Transformation has restored my soul. I don’t doubt myself. I no longer hide because of my insecurities. I am alive. I am free.

Women cry out to me. They call me. They text. They send direct messages. They say I inspire them. They say that because of me they are now motivated to change their lives. Little ole me. I still can’t believe the type of impact that I have. All I did was tell the truth and show the blood, sweat, and tears of my transformative journey. I am so thankful that I can share my story to help hundreds of others on their road to transformation.

Anyone can say that they want to change, but actionable steps are required to make change. It starts first with you. You have to say it and believe it. Say “I can, and I will” each day and do it. The confidence is going to keep you going. I say this all the time, “If I can do it, you can too.”

This feature was submitted by Dionne Johnson Calhoun

Dionne Johnson Calhoun is the proud owner of Calhoun Communications, a strategic communications shop with a focus on developing brand identity, social media strategy and campaigns, and media coaching. During her distinguished career, Dionne has elevated the professional brand of her employers on Capitol Hill and City Hall. Dionne is skilled at designing multi-platform communications to drive lawmakers, organizations, and personal brands visibility and constituent engagement. She proactively places them in front of the media thanks to her strong rapport with reporters. As an influencer, Dionne empowers women through her health and wellness program “DancerFitbyDionne,” A fun Way to get Fit.

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