The early signs were there. Forty-one-year-old Tori Black had dealt with occasional issues with her knees and swelling over the years, but it never prevented her from living a normal life. It was something she attributed to her days as a cheerleader in high school.

But the symptoms started piling up: swelling, pain, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and skin rashes. She was hospitalized multiple times, and during one of those visits, she was finally set on the path to a diagnosis.

“One day a nurse came in and asked if I had been tested for Lupus,” says Tori. “The nurse said she was confident I had Lupus because she had it herself and could see the initial symptoms in me, including a butterfly-shaped rash that was developing on my face.”

In May 2006, tests confirmed that Tori indeed had Lupus. Then age 29, she began her journey of learning to live with the disease. She was placed on medication and bedridden for almost a year. When she got back on her feet, she was ready to get her symptoms under control.

Tori began incorporating light exercises into her weekly regime. Last year she reached out to personal trainer Roland Genesy at Transforming Bodies. He developed a rigorous fitness plan and nutrition plan that removed beef and pork from her diet. Tori cut out fast food, processed food, soda, sugar, and dairy from her diet completely. She sticks to lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Within three months of training with Roland three days per week, she lost 16 pounds.

“More important than the weight loss was that I felt good and strong on the inside for the first time in 12 years.”

Tori went back to her doctor, who informed her that her Lupus had gone into remission. After monitoring her for two more months, he took her off her medication in January 2018.

“I couldn’t believe I had overcome Lupus by changing what I ate and sticking to a workout routine. By changing my lifestyle, I improved my health!”

Inspired by her transformation, Tori went on to receive her Fitness Nutrition Certification through NASM so she could learn more about properly fueling her body. She’s added Piyo to her fitness routine and recently became a certified instructor through Beachbody Fitness.

Tori still weight trains with Roland three days per week. The alternate days are dedicated to cardio including walking, jogging, and cycling.

“I incorporate yoga into my workout routine as often as possible because it is important to stretch the muscles when you weight train,” she said.

Now in remission, Tori wants to share her story to help others who suffer from Lupus. “I have not been on social media much, but I plan to use Instagram to connect with others who are suffering. I hope my story is an inspiration.”

By Christin Yates

Photos by Philip Murphy