The turning point
I spent the Christmas/New Year holiday of 2011/2012 in the UK and I found that I was buying dresses in size 18. The stay-at-home period during the Occupy Nigeria strike was a time for sober reflection and I gave myself a reality check. As a 28 year old single mum the thought of what I looked and felt like was not only depressing, it was scary. I dusted off my expensive but never really worn 2-year old running shoes and started walking. It all started with walking because at 98 kg, there was not much I could do anyway.
When work resumed, I enrolled into a gym somewhere around my office. I didn’t take it seriously initially, but the turning point for me was when I changed my gym routine to the morning. I met an old trainer from my old gym and several fitness enthusiasts who did not joke with their exercises at all. You see, I have tried to lose weight many times but this is my best success story yet.
I engaged the personal trainer to walk the walk with me and he did. We started working together sometime in February and same month he insisted he thought I should move my running outdoors. Sincerely, I was quite intimidated by the people who ran outdoors at the gym as you would feel the adrenaline oozing out from them whenever they came back. When they discuss their routes, it was really the height of intimidation. I remember the days we started running, I’d installed Endomondo on my Blackberry which shows the distance covered within the period and I also opted to share the details of my run as a status on the Blackberry, I used to run about 3.5 km in 50 minutes.
Little did I know that real road runners watching me were simply smiling at my so called achievement. I did not know that a few months down the lane, I would be covering a 10 km distance for 60 minutes. I guess this came with consistency over the months. Rome was not built in a day and is still a work in progress.
Tired and exhausted
I got encouragement from everyone around me. They were not all truthful but the encouragement came and it gave me the motivation that I was on the right path. There were times when I looked at it all and said to myself ‘What is the point of all this?’ but the fact that I had to be accountable to other people pushed me.
I remember one fateful day; it was our early morning run around the gym. Unfortunately, we either started late that day- yes we ran as early at 5.30am- or we had short nights, but people were already out pursuing their daily work. I felt the eyes of passersby and as with the popular saying ‘The eyes can tear a piece of cloth’ I saw myself fall down flat on a popular road on the island. It was very embarrassing but instead of laying down there feeling sorry for myself, I simply got up, dusted the dirt off, said thanks to people saying “sorry” and continue to run. Everyone around thought I was crazy; I was very bruised and did not even know it till I finished the run at the gym. That is one experience I would never forget.
In April 2012, I had lost 17kg and coincidentally, it was the month many of my friends chose to get married. I dove into my wardrobe for some dresses I had only fantasied about but could not wear before. I bought myself a very tight size of a body magic girdle which was simply to help me say ‘NO’ to some food and drinks that were passed to my table. I called that period my “Coming Out” season. It was a surprise to a lot of my old friends who had not seen me in ages. Don’t get me wrong, my whole weight loss process was not secret; I knew I was constituting a nuisance on both my Blackberry and Facebook account because I was very eager to share my progress. If you were not close to me you would think I went for a surgery because if I have not mentioned before, I HAVE NEVER EVER BEEN SLIM IN MY LIFE.
Achieving my plateau
So back to the point, after showing off to all my friends, I realized I had reached my plateau and the weight was not going off any more. The good thing for me was I read a lot now and I know what I had to do was to change both my workout routine and diet. So, on day1 of my new ‘out of plateau plan’, I just finished a plate of wheat and some oil free vegetables and decided to go for an evening run. Not only was that a bad plan because my food was yet to digest, I suddenly developed heartburn which made me feel faint. To top it all up, half way through the run, I saw the clouds shift but I thought I could get away with it. I was only half way gone and I couldn’t run back home now. The rains started to pour and I did not know whether to laugh or cry. I simply laughed. I tried to stop some bikes (Okadas) but I guess they thought I was crazy because I kept running. I eventually ran home in the rain. As crazy as it sounds, it was very exciting. It goes with what I am known for though, getting the best out of every situation. Also I learnt from my several supports that food was 80% of the challenge so I had to clean up my diet.
Cleaning up my diet
I researched all over the internet until I could put together a sustainable and realistic Nigerian food diet plan which is what is now known as the ‘FADD Food Plan’.
Gradually, the scale moved and I saw my form change from my usual Orobo self to a curvy young lady and finally to the lepa I have now become.
The weight loss took 10 years off my age. It’s been an exciting few months. I lost all of the weight in 7 months and I have been tried maintaining my weight since then. I lost a total of 25 kg (55lbs).
Weight loss takes a lot of self-discipline. No one can decide for you to lose weight. That decision has to come from the individual, straight from the heart. It is easy to start with giving yourself some self-talk on how ‘you would like to be a better and more active mum/dad to your kids’, ‘how you would like to become a better wife or husband’, ‘how you are craving for a better health’ and so on… but the actual work is in getting the weight off. We all have reasons to give excuses but it you start with the end in mind, you can overcome them. I would never lie to anyone that it is going to be easy, but as I always say, it is most definitely worth it.
6 tips for weight loss
• Write down the reasons you want to lose weight; your most important reason is for YOURSELF because you would get a lot of criticisms along the way. You doing it for yourself would keep you going at those times.
• Start by searching for and choosing weight loss mentors; those that have towed the same path and have achieved a huge success. Mine was Jenifer Hudson, Tee Morgan and I really wanted Michelle Obama’s arm- and I think I got it. Put up their pictures on your fridge at home, or by your desk at the office, on your phone, ipad etc. Start the process with the end in mind.
• Think about it as a lifestyle change and simply embrace it; calling it a diet simply means you would end it someday. For sustainability, see it as a lifestyle overhaul that has come to stay. Even after you have lost all of the weight, you would be able to get rid of it for good on your own.
• Get involved in a weight loss support system: if you do not find one, start one yourself. Identify 2 or 3 of your friends who want to lose weight or simply keep fit. You would all motivate yourselves. Trust me, it works wonders. That was the ‘X factor’ for me.
• Be self-motivated: even with all the support you get from others, YOU are still the one that would get up and do the exercises, push yourself to the extreme, establish that there are NO BOUNDARIES, stop yourself from eating that big bowl of rice, cookies or ice-cream. It all comes down to your discipline and motivation.
• Finally, involve God all the way: weight loss can be very spiritual – at least to me. A lot of times, I break down with no will to go on or I break down in strength, I always search for spiritual motivations to carry on.
Now I go around talking and mentoring people on weight loss and healthy living through my blog www.wotugotaloose.wordpress.com, FADD bi-monthly fitness parties, our runners club and most especially through my newly founded wellness consultancy company FADD- Fitness Addict. I believe this would also help me to stay focused and sustain this new lifestyle of mine.