Kokatha/Wirangu man CHRIS WARRIOR reached a tipping point when, after years of overeating and neglecting his health as a mining worker in outback South Australia, he tipped the scales to 122 kilograms. He turned to social media for inspiration to lose weight and overhaul his lifestyle but was surprised to find very few examples of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health influencers. In 2017, he founded the @_blackfitness Instagram page to fill this gap and now has more than 5,000 followers. He shares his story.
My name is Chris Warrior, a Kokatha/Wirangu man from South Australia and the founder of Blackfitness. To be clear: I am not a personal trainer or a dietician. I simply want to share my personal health journey that has transformed my mental and physical wellbeing.
In 2012, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It was largely the result of a lack of exercise, not socialising, playing video games, and ordering food every second night. I was living alone and was beyond lazy. My heaviest was 122 kilograms and the worst part was the feeling of not wanting to lift a finger at all – unless it was to press the numbers of a fast-food delivery outlet.
There was a turning point when I realised I needed to change my lifestyle to better myself physically and mentally: the birth of my son on 16 February 2015.
I sought motivation to change my lifestyle and looked for Indigenous role models to support my health journey. I trawled social media for platforms by people who had the same lived experience as me, or anyone who was inspiring Indigenous mob within the health space. I came across Jeffrey Morgan, a Kamilaroi man from NSW who runs the popular “Jeffrey Morgan Lifestyle Program”. He had created a health transformation program, and it was so motivating to see Jeffrey provide the program in a culturally safe environment.
Jeffrey was the spark that ignited a flame in me to make positive health lifestyle choices, but also change my mentality on why it was important to do so. The other motivating factor was my newborn son – I was determined to be a positive influence for him.
You have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run. It’s the same in fitness; learning to do the basics and do them well was how I began to move forward. Walking and being active was key. So was finding a safe space to train and get healthy alongside other people, a space in which I felt comfortable to make these changes of habit. Especially since I had been a couch potato playing video games for so long.
Jeffrey was a mentor for me, and the support and contact he provided during my journey was crucial. I began to understand how changing what I was eating could impact my health. I learned what was happening to my body and how to keep my type 2 diabetes under control. Learning was my first goal – but seeing and experiencing those changes was even more motivating.
My advice for people looking to make changes to improve their quality of life is as follows:
- What is it you want to achieve? Write your goals down.
- Are there inspiring people in your community who can support you? Find people who have lived your experience if possible.
- Celebrate the milestones.
- It’s okay to make mistakes. Learn from them and start again.
- Follow @_blackfitness on Instagram for a glimpse of the inspiring health journeys Indigenous mob have taken.
I started the Blackfitness page to inspire, educate and network our mob across Australia. The goal is to share positive, life-changing stories from all backgrounds. If I can inspire or connect with even a few Indigenous people through our social media page, then I have succeeded.