Lighter Alexander thrives with healthy food choices

·3 min read

Oct. 6—Rare is the mother who would willingly agree to see less of her son.

But Monisha Alexander knew it was best for Zay.

There was plenty of Zay to go around, too much dragging down his 6-foot-7 frame, and when Tupelo High School offensive line coach Trey Ward approached his massive left tackle with the idea of shedding extra weight, Isaiah "Zay" Alexander was on board, and so was his mother.

Monisha Alexander not only signed off on Zay's new regimen, she embraced it. She went along for the ride.

In the summer of 2021 Zay Alexander was a pizza slice from 380 pounds. Decisions were made, a plan came together, and suddenly son and mother were losing weight together.

"I also needed to lose weight. It was much easier for me to help him if I did it with him versus making his meals and him staying separate from what the rest of the household was eating," Monisha said.

The rest of the household really didn't have much say in the matter as Mom became the meal planner and weight coach.

Younger sister Niyana showed some early resistance when chips disappeared from the kitchen cabinet.

Eventually all would benefit, older brother Djuan perhaps as much as anyone.

"We all made the shift at the same time. It was easier because we were doing it together," Monisha said.

Ward initially suggested that Zay drop about 20 pounds.

Instead, Zay focused on the family's low-carb plan and lost more than 60 pounds.

Zay Alexander estimates that his mother lost between 30 and 40.

Monisha and Zay shopped together and discussed different recipes to try.

The family's air fryer was a key part of the process. Lemon chicken and buffalo chicken became favorite dishes.

Dieting was easier with his mother by his side.

"It meant a lot," he said. "She was at my first weigh-in. She was dedicated. She wanted me to do this. She knew me losing weight would help me perform better on the field, help me move better."

Zay has turned decisions from the summer of 2021 into a lifestyle.

He weighed 315 pounds this past summer and will carry 320 pounds into battle Friday night when unbeaten Tupelo plays at Starkville in a key Region 2-6A game.

Zay Alexander committed to Mississippi State in late July. He had offers from Ole Miss, Texas, Georgia, Oregon and others.

He's been intrigued at how weight loss has changed his game.

"I didn't realize it at first. When you're a certain weight you really don't realize how big you are until you lose the weight. It came over time. I seem a little faster. Just my overall blocking, kicking out, posting inside ... everything on the field is different, quicker," he said.

The calendar is racing to the end of Alexander's high school career.

There are big games to come, then a looming college transition.

For now, Alexander doesn't consider himself in diet mode. Ward's suggestion has become a lifestyle.

"Diet mode, really, I pursue that in the summer," Alexander said. "During the season I have to eat. I didn't eat that much in the summer. You've got to eat for practice, for games. I eat more than I did in the summer, but I still maintain my weight. It's really just making good decisions."

PARRISH ALFORD is the college sports editor and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him at