China Panion

China Headshot

The happiest woman on earth or at least one of them. China is bubbly, funny and a joy to be around. With a permanent smile on her face, we start our conversation…

 Who is China?

“I call myself a marketer by passion and a motivator by purpose.” After spending eight years in corporate America as a digital marker, she decided that she wanted to help grow small businesses through digital marketing. The motivator aspect of her life is what helped her start her online wellness group Soul by The Pound which she founded to empower women to live their best lives mentally, physically and emotionally.

Born in Evanston, Illinois China is the first child of her parents. She attended elementary school and high school in Evanston and went off to University of Tennessee for college she got home sick and came back home to finish her degree at DePaul University after which she attended Roosevelt University for her Masters. While completing her degree at DePaul, her dad asked what she wanted to do with her communications degree and she had no idea but she kept applying to different jobs. All she knew at the time was she loved to talk and she loved to help people. She got an offer from JP Morgan Chase for a full time position at the same time, she got an internship opportunity from Flowers Communications Group which was unpaid.  She took the job with Flowers Communications Group and everyone had the same question for her which was, “how are you going to eat?” During her time at Flowers, she oversaw sponsorship and she worked on big accounts where she  learned how corporations could give back. At the same time, China was battling her personal issues with weight loss which was taking a toll on her. When she reached her breaking point, she invited a bunch of friends over and they decided to challenge themselves by putting $25 in a jar and agreeing that the ‘biggest loser’ takes all the money. Each week, China and her friends would gather at her house and they will work on meal plans, obstacle courses, they will come up with their grocery shopping list and from there, it started growing and that was the birth of Soul by The Pound. As it grew, she noticed the need for mental health wellness so she started to focus on that as well. China started events where she would put together a mental health panel for black and Latino men and women. They discussed hard topics in relation to mental health that people in both black and Latino communities often ignored and/or suppressed.

China has done several events to empower women to live their best lives and educate women on health matters. Her biggest event is Break a Sweat for Breast Cancer which was featured on FOX local news.

The Soul by The Pound crew on Chicago’s local Fox News.

With her events, she  discovers more about minority women’s health especially breast cancer. She says, “There is a correlation between obesity and breast cancer that a lot of people don’t know. Your chances of getting breast cancer as a woman increase if obese and in addition to that, out of four women diagnosed, only one will be black however, the black woman is more likely to die.” China says the reason for this is because black women are not at the forefront of health care experiments. She says, “This all goes down to the lack of policy adjustments where during experiments with drugs, there are no women of color represented.”   Based on this fact, China has made it her mission to educate minority women on the risks they face and how important it is to control your health by working out and eating healthy. She puts together workout events where she invites trainers from all over to come and workout with women and a portion of the profit goes towards Chicago organizations.  She’s currently in the process of planning the next Break a Sweat for Breast Cancer.

sbp-break a sweat
A Break a Sweat for Breast Cancer event

When I asked China what her driving force is, she says, “I’ve just always known what my passion is and I’ve also known that I never wanted a ‘job’ I wanted to work for myself so every day, I try to find a way to merge my passion and purpose to my profit.” China’s father and grandmother have also been her greatest motivators. Both have been active and pay great attention to what they eat. Shortly after she started Soul by The Pound, her grandma had a stroke and two weeks later her dad had to have his leg amputated. For China, that was a wake up call because she watched her dad work himself to the ground for a company and when he went through his amputation, she realized the company could not offer him much. He had to figure it out on his own. This further affirmed China’s thoughts on not having a job but rather creating your own path. In addition, during this time, her father never complained. He began to take his health more seriously and got himself off any medication by working out and watching everything he put in his body. She says, “when people see my father they are shocked at how he is able to be so active with a prosthetic leg. I see him and I realize I have no excuses.”

break a sweat 2
A Break a Sweat for Breast Cancer event.

China’s biggest challenge has been herself. When she started Soul by The Pound, she was 260 lbs. She dropped down to 190 lbs and she’s up to 215 lbs. Her end goal is 180 lbs and she has set a goal for herself to reach it all while documenting her process to motivate other women with similar struggles.  China has always been transparent with her weight loss process as she documents all aspects of it and she has testimonials from people who have joined her process but she never wants to get so caught up in her organization and helping others get better while neglecting her own health. Part of her social media documentation included her meal preps and workouts and it was through that she created Soul Star Jar which are prepped salads in jars. She says, “When I meal prepped, I would put my salads in a jar. Now, I may not know how to cook anything but I can make a mean salad. [Laughs] My friends tried it and people on social media requested for it. I saw a need, so I created Soul Star Jars.” China took samples of the salad jars to different office buildings and with the feedback she received, she knew she had to continue making them.

What’s next for China?

She plans on taking her Break a Sweat for Breast Cancer initiative on the road. First stop will be Atlanta then Washington D.C. She wants to partner with more nationally recognized trainers for events and conferences on minority women’s health and balance. Her end goal is to break away from marketing and focus on Soul by the Pound full time. With Soul Star Jar, she wants to take it commercial. Her dream is to walk into stores like Whole Foods and see a section for her products.

China’s story shows that there is nothing you set your mind to you cannot achieve. You may fail a few times but the reward is, the next time you try, you know how not to do it. Not everyone wakes up motivated but a huge part of being successful is self-motivation, wanting more for yourself and being willing to do what needs to be done to get what you want out of life. China wakes up every day with a positive attitude and even on the days she does not feel like it, she lets her end goal motivate her. She looks at her vision board and she knows laying around throwing a pity party for any failure isn’t doing her any favors.

What do you want to do? Do you have a vision board? Have you given up because you tried and it failed so you think it’s not for you? If that’s the case, you’ve only failed because you stopped trying SO GET UP AND GET TO WORK!


Have a great week.


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