Dr. Ro, America’s nutrition coach and author of Lose Your Final 15, is on a mission “to help 1 million people lose 15 million pounds, collectively.”
An award-winning health journalist and television personality known for her easy-to-apply diet, fitness, and health advice for women and families, she’s penned Lose Your Final 15: Eat 15 Servings, Dr. Ro’s Plan To Eat 15 Servings A Day, Lose 15 Pounds At A Time and Ten Secrets To Livin’ Healthy. She has been a leading nutrition coach for over two decades.
If you remember, she served as nutrition coach on “The View,” helping co-host Sherri Shepherd lose weight for her infamous on-camera swimsuit reveal. Having lost her mother to stomach cancer at age nine, Dr. Ro has researched and written extensively about ways to break bad health habits.
Read what she has to say.
Tell us about your education.
I have a B.S. in Foods and Nutrition from Virginia State University; a double M. S. degree in Community Nutrition and broadcast journalism and a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, both from Howard University. I received the Patricia Roberts Harris Doctoral Fellowship for hard sciences, which allowed me to earn the Ph.D. degree for free.
Tell us about your new book and what you would like to accomplish with it.
Lose Your Final 15 is my offering to help stem the tide of obesity in our community and the country. I developed a comprehensive program to help others lose weight, just 15 doable pounds at a time, regardless of weight goal.
The book includes 45 days of meal plans, over 45 tasty recipes. Many of the recipes can be made in just 15 minutes, 15-minute workouts, and because dieting can be stressful, 15-minute stress-reducing, walking and prayerful meditations to help readers through the process.
With this book, I hope to help 1 million people lose 15 million pounds, collectively. It’s the book I wish my relatives who died prematurely, including my mother who died of stomach cancer when I just nine years old, of diseases related to diet and lifestyle, could have read and used. It’s too late for them, so I offer it now to the collective to change our fate.
What have you found to have been the most challenging obstacle you had to overcome?
Believing that I was good enough. I’m a dark-skinned woman who grew up in a world where my ethnic features were not appreciated. To add insult to injury, I never knew who my father was and after losing my mother, was forced to move to the Southeast projects in Washington, D.C. Living in that environment I was judged harshly by other people of two-parent households and who lived in middle- and upper-middle class communities. As a young person, that kind of negative reinforcement can permeate your spirit. It took a long time to internalize that I was more than my circumstances.
What advice would you give someone who’s interested in getting into the health and fitness industry?
Do this work with the intention of helping others and the money will come. prepare, do the work by getting the needed and respected education and credentials. Don’t enter this field with the mindset of taking shortcuts. You can do amazing things and have a huge impact on the world when you do. Get mentors. They are valuable to your success they can open doors for you. Study the success habits of those who’ve gone before you. Don’t believe you have all the answers, you don’t. Those who’ve braved the trail you have to follow do know. Learn from them. Keep up to date on new developments in the field and don’t limit yourself to one facet of this profession. I created my own path. Set out to help and God was and remains the finisher.
What separates you from other health and fitness experts?
I do this work because it’s not just a profession for me. It’s literally my calling. That means I’m tasked with the work from a higher place. I also have a personal story of weight loss myself. I lost three dress sizes and have kept the weight off for about 20 years, using my own advice. What’s more, I have a family history of obesity and its attendant diseases. I have a personal responsibility to help those whom I love, which has morphed into my community, and eventually my country and the world. Finally, I’m also more than just fruits and vegetables. I’m a spoken word poet since college, who uses her gift to inspire.
How do you motivate the population that are members of AARP?
I tell them the things I wish I could tell my clients but don’t, like we have to cut calories and portions as we age because the body requires fewer calories as we get older. Most people don’t want to hear that. I follow up with the fact that doing so can literally extend your life. I add that cutting added sugar is necessary too, because aging people may experience more aches and pains in joints due to arthritis especially if they become inactive. Moving and keeping active is imperative. The aging population usually gets on board with me when we get to the part of the conversation where I remind them that their age is not nor should it be a barrier to their success nor to living their lives fully. They have more experience, often more money and more wisdom than they had as younger people. The world is and should be their oyster taken by storm with all of those attributes on their side. And if that’s not enough, they have a license to be sexually active without the guilt or risk if getting pregnant being responsible protecting themselves of course. What’s not to love about that?
What does success look like to you?
It occurred to me once on a train ride from New York to D.C. that if I was doing the work of my calling I was already successful. There was nothing else I had to do to “become successful.” So success looks like doing the work of my calling and living out my purpose.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Alive, prayerfully. In great physical and hopefully mental health, living the life of my dreams while helping others. I see myself as a writer, speaker, hosting and producing my own television and radio shows and I hope to be a performer. Bottomline, I see myself as a woman of great influence, charting her own course and being completely comfortable with and grateful for every step.