Texas college student loses 200 pounds by walking daily

When Shenisha Armealine found no way out, she started walking.

“Even if I could run for a maximum of 15 minutes – and had to take seven breaks – I made it,” she recalled.

By this time, Armealine had reached her peak weight of 442 pounds. But that was just one of the challenges she faced.

She has struggled with her weight since childhood and was constantly bullied by other students.

When she was a senior at North Shore High School, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. The bullying only seemed to get worse and affect her more.

Armealine started taking medication for her mental health, but nothing helped. She spent wards in psychiatric hospitals. She thought about suicide.

And then, right in the middle, Hurricane Harvey hit. Three feet of water rushed into the apartment where she lived with her family.

NEWSLETTER

Join the conversation with HouWeAre


We want to encourage conversation and highlight the intersection of race, identity and culture in one of America’s most diverse cities. Sign up for the HouWeAre newsletter here.


“I walked out the gate and the water was up to my knees,” said Armealine. “I stopped an army truck.”

She went to two different shelters with her mother and grandmother before settling down at NRG Stadium for nearly two weeks. After that, they moved from the east side of Houston to the Northwest, near Spring.

Armealine felt defeated.

“I lost everything,” she said. “What else could I do? I prayed but I heard nothing.”

That’s when she decided to go to the sidewalk.

“I started running and it became ritualistic,” she said. “Every day I walked 15 minutes.”

She was so determined that when she didn’t have the energy to work out, she would even cheer for herself. “You have to walk. You have to do it,” she said to herself.

Before: Shenisha Armyline

decency

Armealine explained that her therapy sessions have taught her to be proactive about her health. She was given tools and was eventually able to stop taking her medication.

She turned to reading, writing, and poetry, which improved her emotional well-being.

“I was given steps toward self-love,” said Armealine.

She drew from the same well when she started walking.

She soon began improving her diet, adding supplements and protein shakes. Then jumping jacks. squats. She started jogging and weighed 375 pounds as of September 2018.

It didn’t take long for Armealine to develop an at-home workout routine that combined cardio exercises and stretches. “I did that every week,” she said.

In 2019, she lost another 75 pounds. She started working out at her apartment gym and walked 30 minutes on the treadmill.

Shenisha Armyline's <a class=weight loss began after Hurricane Harvey. Now the Houston college student has lost 200 pounds.”/>

Shenisha Armyline’s weight loss began after Hurricane Harvey. Now the Houston college student has lost 200 pounds.

Melissa Phillip / Staff Photographer

Eventually, Armealine decided to venture into Planet Fitness. At first she was intimidated.

“I was nervous,” she said. “I don’t usually step out of my comfort zone, but I knew I was doing it for my spirit.”

But the gym proved to be a welcoming environment.

“I didn’t know where to start,” she said. “And they wanted to help.”

In 2020, as she continued her health journey, she released more negative forces in her life, including “friends” who were critical or didn’t want her to succeed.

“I started writing a lot,” she says. “I put everything I felt on paper.”

She also delved into health research. “I learned a lot about weight,” she said.

Armealine realized it wasn’t just about movement. Instead, a whole new picture of health emerged – mentally, emotionally and physically.

“I went through a period where my mind wasn’t working with me and my weight was going up and down,” she said. “I had to realize that weight loss is for my health — not my looks.”

By 2021, she was ready to put everything she learned into practice.

“It was about time,” she said.

Armealine bought a bicycle, roller skates and a skipping rope.

“I started exploring parks in my area,” she said.

Due to her weight loss, she had extra skin that resulted in rashes and had a panniculectomy in February 2021 to surgically remove it.

Now 27, Armealine weighs 224 pounds — down from 200 pounds in five years. She is a sophomore at Grace Christian University Online studying Psychology.

Shenisha Armyline's weight loss began after Hurricane Harvey.  Now the Houston college student has lost 200 pounds.

Shenisha Armyline’s weight loss began after Hurricane Harvey. Now the Houston college student has lost 200 pounds.

Melissa Phillip / Staff Photographer

“I want to learn so I can help other people,” she says. “There are people who see no light. But I can help you see it. I know the darkness from experience.”

Already now, Armealine supports her friend Patrick Ervin with his strength training.

“It’s a good motivator,” he said. “She helps people all the time. That’s just how she is.”

She was also a cheerleader for her mother, Shenica Zachary, during her weight loss journey.

“She encourages me now. She’s like, ‘Mom, keep trusting in God,'” Zachary explained. “I will not give up. It is her daily contact with me that helps me move forward and not look back on the past.”

Armealine sets a good example.

“I’m so proud of her,” Zachary said. “She never gave up.”

Zachary saw her daughter struggling to stay healthy.

Shenisha Armyline's weight loss began after Hurricane Harvey.  Now the Houston college student has lost 200 pounds.

Shenisha Armyline’s weight loss began after Hurricane Harvey. Now the Houston college student has lost 200 pounds.

Melissa Phillip / Staff Photographer

“It’s her energy to keep going no matter what people say,” she said. “She had setbacks and challenges in her life, but she pushed on. She will encourage someone else even as she deals with her own problems.”

Armealine documented her journey — and created a weight loss video that went viral on TikTok. She hopes this is just the beginning of using her own experiences to help others.

“I think I have a lot of love to give,” she said. “My purpose in life is to inspire others.”

Armealine wants others struggling with weight to know “it’s not going to happen overnight.”

It’s a process — one that takes time and mental health attention. Believing in yourself is key, Armealine said.

“You can change your life,” she said.

Lindsay Peyton is a Houston-based freelance writer.



Comments are closed.