Teamwork: Fat2Fierce helps people meet weight-loss goals from The Detroit News
October 4, 2021
By Darlene A. White, Special to The Detroit News
Battling weight issues for years led to bouts of depression for a Detroit woman, who decided to make it her mission to get herself healthy and help others do the same.
Sticking to a diet and holding herself accountable was hard, said 29-year-old Carenna Fields.
“I was sick and tired of being overweight,” she said. “I would start diets that always ended in a binge eating fiasco. I would order a whole pizza and eat it by myself. My whole day would consist of food. There was not any accountability in sight. I knew that if there were not any changes in my behavior, I would never lose weight.”
Then one day while scrolling through Facebook, Fields decided to create a status that saved her life. She reached out to friends and family on the app and asked them if they would join a weight-loss support group if she started it up.
The response was overwhelming. After receiving an outpouring of support, she created a Facebook group she named Fat2Fierce.
Fat2Fierce, formed in 2016, aims to encourage, uplift and motivate people to become better versions of themselves. The groups’ mission: to ensure no one walks alone on their fitness journey.
“The Facebook group I created at that time was the accountability I needed to stay on track,” said Fields, who was 332 pounds at the beginning of her weight-loss journey. “I lost 50 pounds in just five months just by being motivated by the group.
“I needed to know that I wasn’t fighting this war with food by myself,” she said. “The outpouring of support I received from creating that Facebook post ensured me that I needed to stand in my truth. It showed me that standing in my truth would not only set me free, but so many others.”
The group meets five days a week at SuperBad Boxing Gym in Detroit, which is owned and operated by brothers Tony “Superbad” Harrison, a former light middle-weight WBC World Champion and one of the last protégés of late Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, and L.J. Harrison, the head trainer.
Fields’ initial goal was to lose 200 pounds, but now she no longer pays attention to weight and instead focuses on how she feels.
Over time, Fields has noticed a tremendous improvement in her health.
“I used to get real bad headaches, now I barely even get a headache,” she said. “I can get around easier. I even noticed that I do not breathe as hard as I used to when walking up or down the stairs.
“I sleep so much better at night. Even my snoring has gotten better,” she laughed. “My mental clarity has improved, I don’t suffer from depression anymore and my anxiety has almost disappeared completely.”
Getting physical activity with a group has a positive effect, said Dr. Mark Schweitzer, dean of Wayne State University’s School of Medicine and vice president of Health Affairs.
“It has been well-established the physical activity has many positive disease-ameliorating effects, especially for heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” he said. “However, it is difficult for patients to get motivated and more importantly stay motivated. Support groups are an excellent way to develop group dynamics that help all individuals to follow exercise regimens’
Aireona Smith, a Fat2Fierce member, said she enjoys working out with people who are dealing with the same issues.
“We all live in different cities, so I have an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and work out with several people,” she said. “I definitely made new friends along the way. I thank God for this group and the founder.”
Monique Daniels, 45, of Detroit says she met Fields during a dark time in her life. Before joining the group, Daniels said she always feared others would judge her because of her weight, therefore she didn’t allow herself to have close relationships with people.
“This young lady literally brought me into the light,” she said. “Meeting her and joining her organization has taught me to love and believe in myself despite my flaws. It has also taught me transparency.
“What I love most about Fat2Fierce is that it’s a judge-free zone for people who are different but are facing the same obstacles. Even if we mess up, Carenna encourages us to get back on track.”
Fields said accountability is the key driver behind Fat2Fierce.
“Fat2Fierce is a family and we make sure no one feels alone during their fitness journey,” Fields said.
“Accountability partners are crucial in the fitness process. With Fat2fierce, people will have someone that will hold them accountable to their actions. You can come out of depression and you can fight through anxiety and any other illness that leads to overeating or under-eating. It will not be easy but it will be worth it.”