“My goal is to make a difference–whether others just need someone to share their experiences in order to avoid making the same mistakes as I have, or whether others just have no motivation and need to see my natural drive in order to get empowered.” – These are the words of a young lady who decided to work hard at changing what she looked like. Weighing 260 pounds, Yinka Rufai knew she was overweight. However, she had tried all sorts of diets and weight loss programs because of what people said and how everyone thought it was a good idea for her to lose weight. When Yinka decided to do it FOR HERSELF, she began to see the difference. She worked hard and tirelessly to get to the weight she desired. She has gone on to pay it forward, encouraging others and sharing her story to all who feel like giving up on their quest. We were really inspired by Yinka’s story of how she walked the road to her goal and we hope you are too.
Who I Am
My name is Yinka Rufai. I am a 25-year-old young adult from Chicago, IL. I currently work as an actuarial consultant for one of the big four accounting and consulting firms in the nation. I am aspiring to become a credentialed actuary. I am a nerd at heart and I love numbers. I have two older brothers, one younger sister and two of the most amazing parents. I love my parents so much for being so supportive throughout my life. They pushed me to focus on education and to always accomplish my goals. I was 260 pounds. I was clearly overweight. I ate a lot and as a result I constantly gained weight from that. My family and friends used to pick at me all the time about my size. I tried so many unhealthy extreme fad diets in my past as a result of that. And of course they never worked.
Why I Decided to Lose Weight
I always tried to lose weight in high school. I tried all types of unnecessarily extreme and short-term things. I tried weight watchers during one summer and lost 10 pounds. I gained all of the weight back quickly. I tried plenty of kooky fad diets. All of the diets I attempted in high school were done because of what people used to say about my size. I did not do any for myself at the time. I was never able to lose weight consistently until I began college. It started at end of my sophomore year when I was in summer school. I thought to myself “Hey, I have nothing else to do. There is a gym right across the street that I am paying for with my tuition money. Why not take advantage of this opportunity?” This was the first time that I considered losing weight for myself as opposed to pleasing others. Since I had plenty of time on my hands, I decided to use that summer to create a schedule where I could go to class, work, and work out. So I did that.
My biggest challenge was myself. I am my own worst critic. I put myself on an extreme bar at everything I do. Sometimes I let myself down. When this happens I just hurt for a little while and then I get back up and keep going. Other times I exceed my expectations and get excited about the fact that I set a goal and overcame it. During my weight loss journey over all, I would experienced both of those feelings. I used to get angry when I didn’t see progress on the scale. So I stopped weighing myself obsessively. I thought about it differently–instead of obsessing about numbers on the scale I just continued to follow my workout regimen and took it a day at a time. Before and after photos are what helped me overcome this challenge. Rather than focus on the fact that my weight fluctuated I focused on progress pictures. That is what kept reigniting my desire to lose weight.
Encouragement from Every Frontier
Absolutely. I think everyone needs some type of external strength to determine to help with continuing on the weight loss journey, since it is an such an overwhelming and long-term process. For me, that strength was Christ. Everything works into place for a reason. As I mentioned before, I am my own worst critic–and when I let myself down I really feel it. Having the strength, endurance and mental capacity to keep going despite gaining weight in the process is not me. I know I am not functioning on my own strength. On my own I am not that resilient of a person. It is entirely God.
The first time I saw a significant change in my weight was after two weeks of working out consistently. When I compared the picture I took on day 14 to the picture I took on day 1,. I actually noticed the reduction in my thighs and stomach. I would not have noticed had I not compared them side by side.
The Temptation to Give Up
I was tempted to give up several times. Prior to analyzing my pictures over time I was ready to give up. I figured I might as well stop because I did not see for myself that anything significant was happening. I was trying to give myself a reason to stop. When I started comparing my pictures I got more excited to keep going on.
I did not have any weightloss buddy. I think having a weight loss buddy depends on the person. I like to handle things internally. I rely on the drive that God gave me to push myself through everything. Workout buddies didn’t work for me. My schedule was (and is) all over the place, so it was just easier for me to go to the gym on my own. I do encourage weight loss buddies, however, because they hold you accountable. A lot of people function on accountability. Having an accountability partner in weight loss heightens your chances of losing weight.
I was 260 pounds. My targets were split up into pieces. When I was 260 pounds I couldn’t even fathom being in the 100s, So I chose 220. When I was at 220 pounds my goal was 200. And then it was 180. Once I got to 180 I started to notice that I was getting lean. At that point I did not focus on numbers on the scale. My goals were then to build muscles in certain categories. In the beginning my final destination was to be within a normal BMI range for my height (5’8.5”), but as I started to get to know my body I adjusted accordingly. Technically the high weight range for my height 169 pounds. I reached that weight one summer and I personally did not like the way I looked. So I did less cardio and got back into the 170s. Now I just focus on building and maintaining muscle.
In the beginning the changes I made were more so about what I needed to do differently in order to start a healthy lifestyle. The changes were along the lines of not eating fast food, eating more fruits and veggies, drinking more water and working out longer every day. Within the past two years I got a trainer. Since I now focus on being fit, there were a number of things I had to do to my nutrition in order to build muscle and lose fat. My trainer helped me think of it as a lifestyle. Once I started to focus on the nutritional aspect of being healthy and not just the fitness aspect I started to open up my eyes to the way I did things. I removed processed food from my diet, eat a lot of fruits and veggies, detox when necessary, and drink a gallon of water a day.
The biggest lifestyle I made was when I began to cook my own meals and measure my salt intake. It was very difficult because I used to love eating processed foods. I did not realize how much salt I consumed until I began measuring. After I got into the hang of it I lost interest in eating processed foods. This change helped me understand the importance of natural foods and making your own foods from scratch. It was a lifestyle change worth doing because I never saw my body change so much for the better since I began cooking my own food.
The Lure of Unhealthy Food
I’m going to start by saying that I absolutely love bread and cheese! During lent this past summer I challenged myself to stop eating bread,cheese and other dairy-based things. Honestly, if it wasn’t for lent and God then I probably would not have given those things up. My trainer told me that all of the starch I was eating was going to my major problematic areas–particularly my thighs. When I gave up bread, cheese and other starchy and dairy foods I realized she was right. I noticed over time that these foods impacted my fat storage.
My Current Weight
I weigh 175 pounds. I get a lot of comments saying that I don’t look like I weigh 175 pounds and that I look smaller. People fail to acknowledge my height. I am 5’8.5”. Also, I do have a lot of muscle mass which contributes to my weight. I advise to not focus on solely BMI. Although 169 pounds is technically the high range for height I feel fine and fit at my current weight. Obviously I’m still a work in progress and I am continually challenging myself to exceed certain fitness goals. It doesn’t matter about your number–it is about how healthy you feel. The most important thing is to get to know your body in order to realize where you feel most comfortable.
When I used to walk down the street in my old neighborhood, people that I knew for years walked past me as if I were a stranger–that’s when I knew it was real! I used to have to wave frantically and say “Hey! It’s Yinka. Remember me?” in order to get their attention. And then people would say things like “Oh my gosh! You look so different!” That was the biggest and funniest thing for me.
Practical Tips for Weightloss
The main tips I have are to keep a food journal, read every food label and monitor the calories of each of your meals and snacks, eat smaller meals and snacks more frequently, drink a gallon of water a day, consume little or no salt, and most importantly, get to know your body. You have to be committed to this! If you don’t have the right mindset–-that is, if you lack patience or aren’t diligent with the initial stages of being healthy–-then you will keep getting discouraged. There is no fast process to this! Once you accept that and force that into your subconscious you can begin with a clean mental state and be able to be content with taking things one day at a time.
The Benefit of the Journey
My self-esteem and self-awareness has grown tremendously. I have gotten to see how people treated before and after my weight loss journey. I personally have always considered myself to be attractive regardless of my size, but through other peoples’ opinions about my physical changes I’ve realized how physical and superficial the world is. I have relied on God more for strength. I recognize why God wanted me to go through the journey I went through in order to see results. I noticed how beneficial it is to have a weight loss journey.
At first I started off thinking my change would solely be a physical transformation. I was very wrong. I changed for the better not only physically, but mentally, socially and spiritually as well. I lost a couple of friends in the process that I thought were close. It did put a damper on me at first, but it also helped me realize what it means to have genuine friends. I am fortunate enough to currently have great friends that are supportive of me. Ultimately I will say that my change was for the greater. I am blessed and grateful for this journey. I look forward to having other transformations and journeys in my life and sharing them with the world on my website, YinkaRufai.com.
My desire is to help others reach their maximum potential. I want to encourage others to strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle–whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual. I truly find joy in teaching others to embrace change and to accept that there are temporary discomforts for lifelong satisfactions. There is no getting around it. But once you accept it and embrace it, you become a force to be reckoned with.
I created the YinkaRufai.com website because I wanted to use myself and my experiences as a form of inspiration to others that are embarking on a similar journey. The content on my site varies from before & after photos to nutrition tips and detailed meal plans. I made sure to construct my website to define me in a way that is transparent as possible for my viewers. I want others to view my entire lifestyle, what I embody, and my character as I continue forward with my life.
Throughout my entire journey I trusted in God for my strength and for navigating my life path on earth; and I continue to do so today. So far I have gone through a series of transitions and life-changing markers in life that I feel I can share with others in order to inspire hope.
Watch the video of Yinka’s weight loss journey here