When I launched this website, I had a few rules in mind. At the top of that list was no “before and after” pictures. No magic pills. Nothing to make anyone feel insecure. No suggestion that health has a final “finish-line” where all your goals are met. No one “truth” to preach. Only information and inspiration as we all link arms and dig ourselves out of this funk we’ve all been in for obvious and personal reasons since March 2020. That funk that Indian country and BIPOC communities have been in for a few centuries now. All of that weighs on people. Generational trauma is very heavy.
A few years back, I was watching Miss America on TV, shortly after I helped judged the Miss Cherokee competition. No ding here on Miss America, in fact I think it’s an awesome organization, especially under the new leadership of my dear friend and Arkansas Law alum Regina Hopper. She’s the real deal.
It just really stood out to me the stark difference between the two events. Miss America and Miss Cherokee. Both run by people I have a personal affection for and both bring out the best in young women. But if you watch the two events days apart, it’s a Venus and Mars situation. And that goes ten times over for the events leading up to the naming of the annual Miss Navajo Nation.
All this to say, societies and cultures see beauty, health and resiliency in very different and nuanced ways. When I got these photos from Kimberly, I had a good long cry and I immediately abandoned my rule about before and after pictures.
Kimberly has always been a beautiful person. But now she’s more beautiful than ever to this community and to her family. And that’s not because she lost numbers on a scale. It’s because she loved her family so much that she invested in herself, to ensure that she could love them more, and for much longer. Our ancestors loved us like that. They endured some unspeakable horrors, but they persisted so that we could just “be.”
In her own words now:
“I am not your typical full blood Keetoowah Cherokee Indian woman. And the reason I say that. It’s because I am vegan. A vegan is a person who does not eat animal products of any kind to include meats such as beef, chicken, pork, lamb or seafood, dairy products such as milk and cheese and other animal products such as eggs or honey. (Though technically honey is not an animal product, but an insect product.) My journey started when my daughter and son had an honest conversation with me regarding my weight. Which at the time I didn’t want to hear about? Even though I was 300lbs I still ate what I wanted and drank at least 16 cans of Cherry Pepsi a day.
It wasn’t until my well check at my doctor’s appointment when he said “you are pre diabetic” that is when I began to cry knowing my children were only trying to help me. At that moment realized I was killing their mom and my grandchildren’s grandmother. I promised myself that I would not be the cause of my own death and that I would take control of my destiny. I started making small changes at the beginning of my journey and I lost a couple of pounds. I was excited but I would get back into my old habits and there would go those couple of pounds I lost.
So, one day my daughter who is vegan and has been going on 3 years suggested that I try a vegan diet? At first, I was not sure. Cause I loved my Pepper Jack Cheese and crackers. So finally, I called her up and she met me at Sprouts, and I told I am going to go to transition into a vegan diet. That was over 10 months ago and I have never felt better about my health and I have been going to the gym 6 days a week. I became vegan to give myself a chance of living and to show my children and grandchildren the love I have for them by being more conscious about my health. Nothing happens over night I know that from my journey. I always set goals that I know are realistic and achievable for me. Not everyone can set the same goals so you must be honest with yourself and set them for what will work for you. I always say my journey has only began because each day I am striving to add new chapters to my story. To inspire yourself. You must inspire others.” ~ Kimberly Jumper-Brown.