Chasi Jernigan’s presence fills any room she walks into. She exudes confidence, but that was not always the case.
“I’ve always been plus size my whole life,” Chasi said.
“I tell people that I was born 9 pounds and 10 ounces—that’s a plus size baby.”
After the birth of her oldest son, her weight reached an all-time high: 345 pounds. Chasi’s health was declining quickly until she decided to take charge of her health in 2011.
“I just decided to be disciplined—no pills, no surgery, no trainer. And I lost 130 pounds in a year and a half,” she said.
“Once I started working out, it became part of me. It became who I was.”
Chasi’s success became a story of hope for others hoping to get fit. She realized that her journey was unique. With countless opportunities to take the easy way out, Chasi had stayed the course and lost the weight naturally. All it required was that she change her life.
“I started out just trying to get the discipline of working out at least four to five days a week. I figured if I could start, I could gradually change and do new things,” she said.
“When I started to see results, I would think, ‘Hey, I’m not going to eat that.’ It’s almost like your mind automatically shifts. You start to be more disciplined in every area.”
Chasi was surprised to find that the transformation started on the inside and worked its way out.
“The biggest thing is if you don’t love who you are before you start working out, you’re not going to love yourself when you reach your goal. There’s always going to be something wrong with you,” she said.
“You’ve got to know you’re enough right where you are and then you make steps to get better.”
With that in mind, she created “Healthy Curves with Chasi,” an online movement to encourage like-minded women to reach their fitness goals, and most importantly, to do it with a healthy mindset.
In 2012, Chasi got certified to be a fitness instructor. Since, she’s been teaching Zumba at her church. The group, which started with five women, now regularly sees 40 attendees that run the gamut of races, ages and body types. Undoubtedly, it’s her infectious positivity that keeps them coming back.
“I tell people, ‘You may not be able to dance, but just don’t stop moving,’” Chasi said.
“You just come in, move at your own pace, take it at your own speed. You’re not intimidated. We just have fun together.”
Chasi’s influence doesn’t end there. Her blog, Sweatin’ Mascara, revolves around fitness, plus-size fashion and body positivity. She fills social media with encouragement and beauty and fashion tips.
“Just because you’re plus size, that’s not a disability. You’re still beautiful. You can still dress up and look good in your clothes,” Chasi said.
“I like to say, ‘Don’t wait on the weight.’ You can live an amazing life right now. If I have to wait until I’m a certain size to have fun, that’s a big chunk of my life that I have wasted.”
And Chasi’s life is full to the brim. She’s a mother of two, a pastor’s wife and assistant special education teacher in addition to her full-time gig as leader of a health movement. For her, fitness is spiritual. It’s her calling.
“I’ve been able to share about my journey on a mission trip in Sri Lanka. Just a couple months ago, a woman called and wants to fly me out to Dallas to teach a class,” Chasi said.
“I know what I was able to do was me and God because of the opportunities that I have now.”
Chasi’s vision for the future of the Health Curves movement is to flood Tupelo—and the state—with positivity and inspiration. She hopes to convince others that all that they need to get in shape is pure will power, with her personal story as evidence.
“I want to empower women in Mississippi to lose the weight. Since this is such an obese state, I want to inspire them to get healthy, no matter their size,” Chasi said.
“I believe that’s my God-given purpose, and that’s what I’ll be doing whether it’s in a class, on my blog, in this city or around the world.”