Some of my readers that have followed my blog and articles know that I have a passion for all things fitness, and this includes Africans that are making a conscious effort to stay fit and healthy. And since inspiration is important, I love when people can share their own experiences of how they stay fit on a practical daily basis. This week, I decided to tap into the mind of an upcoming Nigerian musician, Yesi, to tell us how he incorporates health and fitness into his busy daily life. Yesi has a crazy life with a full-time day job, and his work as a musician. So for all of those who say you have no time to work out or eat right, no more excuses. And note that I did a little work out with him at the gym, so I can honestly say he lives what he preaches.
We get down to business with me fishing for something in my purse as usual, and him, obviously calmly emitting that Yesi swagger.
Suzanne: Everyone that looks at you can tell that you obviously work out.
Yesi: Why thank you, Ms Brume. (He laughs) Firstly, thank you for taking time out to speak with me.
Suzanne: People that stay fit inspire me so it really is my pleasure.
Suzanne: I have seen you in the gym working on those biceps so I know you do strength training on your arms. But can you expand on the details of your workout routine?
Yesi: I think of exercise as part of my daily routine. As a force of habit, my weekday mornings tend to go the same way: wake up, pray, go to the gym, shower, and eat breakfast. I guess I have incorporated my exercise routine into that daily morning ritual.
Suzanne: How often do you work out, and what does your program entail?
Yesi: I do a mix of cardio and weight training. Sometimes, people see regular gym-goers and assume they live in the gym. I don’t get too crazy really. I just keep it to 30 to 45 minutes Monday through Friday. The only days I skip are the days I play football. But I do switch up my workout program.
Suzanne: And how many years have you been hitting the gym?
Yesi: About 4 years.
Suzanne: So you basically have two full-time jobs, and yet you find the time to work out. A lot of readers have a hard time with one job, a social life, and the gym. How do you approach working out on a tight schedule?
Yesi: Well, the reason I work out is to help me handle all the stuff on my schedule. Exercise definitely helps me focus, clear my mind, and prioritize my ‘to-dos’ before I start my day. When I’m at the gym, I’m away from my Blackberry, my computer, and whatever upcoming deadline is upon me. Gym time is my quiet time. My approach is that exercise is both for my physical well being as well as my mental well being, so every day, I check into ‘Gym-Psychotherapy’. So far, so good!
Suzanne: (I laugh) I guess only time will tell the success of this ‘Gym-Psychotherapy’. But your approach to exercise seems to be spot on. So in these ‘therapy’ sessions, what wisdom have you gained? What practical advice can you give to people trying to stay fit? I mean every day things that readers may not see in magazines, DVDs or the gym.
Yesi: The biggest thing I have learned is that staying fit is a lifestyle change and thus requires commitment. In reality, it is not as daunting as it seems. A friend once told me it takes 21 days to form a habit. So my advice would be to set a 21-day goal. Start by dropping your TV remote and commit to going to the gym for 30 minutes every day for 21 days straight. (He pauses like he is waiting for a reaction. You can tell he is probably used to preaching to skeptics. And then he continues.)
Set a reasonable goal like, “At the end of this 21-day target, I want to run 2 miles in 15 minutes”. Trust me, you will amaze yourself. Once you get into a rhythm, it becomes hard to fall off. Just as I have re-discovered with my music project, thinking of doing something is way harder than actually doing it. So to quote the Nike slogan, just do it.
Suzanne: Just go ahead and start somewhere, right? I like that.
Suzanne: Alright, on to food. We all know exercise cannot have a great impact if we do not maintain a proper nutrition routine, right? What are some nutrition tips you have learned over the years that have really helped you stay healthy?
Yesi: First, as a proper Naija boy, I LOVE food. (You can hear the emphasis on the ‘love’) In the song ‘I.B. City’, I said “Whatchu know about Sade Eleja and Na-straight? Mama Ope too. Men, the chops na first rate”. Ibadan folks know that’s proper eating right there. But to be honest, most Naija foods are loaded with calories. The biggest advice I can give is to eat everything in moderation. Don’t eat till your heart is content; eat till your stomach is. And I must say, for some of us, it won’t hurt to eat a salad once in a while too.
Suzanne: I hear you on that. We keep singing ‘everything in moderation’. Now, if only we’d all apply it.
Suzanne: Now, of course, as a performer, you need to stay very physical and very active. Several individuals have asked me about what they can do to keep their energy level up. Are there exercises and foods that help you perform better, and give you the energy you need?
Yesi: 5 hour energy! No crash later! (If you don’t get this joke, click here. 5 hour energy is an energy shot. It’s slogan is “5 hour energy. No crash later”)
But seriously, I find I’m most energetic when I’m eating a balanced diet. We all did JSS1 Home Economics. What did we learn about a balanced diet? Try to get as many food groups as possible into each meal. I don’t get all those crazy diets, from the maple syrup diet to the ‘no carbs’ diet. It seems like a pretty sad way to live life. What I say is eat what you love (just eat less of it), get some veggies into your diet to stay strong, reduce all that sugary caffeine stuff, and when in doubt, drink palm wine. More than anything though, to get that rush of energy, just go out and live life. There’s nothing more energizing than the feeling of taking on the world. Ya dig? (I couldn’t leave out the ‘Ya dig’, right?)
Suzanne: Are there any other ways your approach to your health has helped you become a better performer?
Yesi: My exercise routine has helped me learn repetition and consistency. It has also helped me gain confidence. My confidence level directly impacts my performance, be it in sports, music, or even in life. The only real way you can get that confidence is to continuously repeat the same actions until you’ve mastered them.
Suzanne: Yep, it is funny how without realizing it, exercise can bring so much positivity to your life.
Suzanne: So give us a taste of Yesi. What would your listeners be surprised to know about you in terms of fitness? Do you do something outside the ordinary, like surfing, yoga, maybe even salsa?
Yesi: Ha ha! No, no yoga. But before I got into music, I was playing in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, a semi-pro league in New York. I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so back in University, I did my fair share of rock climbing and kayaking. I’m pretty much up for any physical activity.
Suzanne: Lastly, it’s really important to understand that fitness is not all about looking good, but staying healthy and feeling good, hence my beloved term ‘Healthy and Happy’. So I just want to know, do you consider yourself healthy and happy? If yes, what has been your journey to get here?
Yesi: (He smiles) Absolutely! Life is about the constant pursuit of happiness. I think fundamentally to be happy, you need to have self-worth, acceptance from the significant people in your life, and a purpose. The first two are probably directly correlated to how you look and feel, but the latter just makes it fifty times easier to get up every morning. As for me, I have always tried to follow my heart. I haven’t always had the answers, and I sure don’t know what comes next, but I do make sure that I’m enjoying the road I’m on, and I’m chasing my happiness. So whether it is music, a 9 to 5, or science, whatever it is that makes you happy, chase it.
Yesi has just dropped the second single ‘Aura’ from his new album ‘Coronation‘. To listen to songs from his album or stay up to date on his upcoming performances, visit www.yesimusic.com or follow him on twitter @yesimusic.
Suzanne also blogs about practical health and fitness at http://eightsandweights.blogspot.com. For regular fitness tips, follow her on twitter at @eightsnweights.