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Atoke: How to Lose Weight & Keep the Weight Off… For the Poor & Lazy



IMG_3226I’ve never really thought about writing a piece on losing weight. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I have a morbid fear that I’d revert to the way I was before weight loss – thus depriving me of the locus standi to address the issue. However, I was having a conversation with a friend who is struggling with her weight issues, and I realized that I’d somehow managed to keep the weight offish for two years.

Hello Locus Standi!

In February 2014, I inadvertently found myself on the FitFam train. It was completely unplanned and I managed to drop from a UK size 16 to size 8. {Talked about it in my 2014 Epilogues} But here’s the thing that came from that journey; a lot of people asked me what I did, how I did it, and like a new convert at the altar of healthy living, I was fired up. I spread the gospel of FitFam – and how I did it on a budget.

Two things that people complain about when they’re talking about how difficult it is for them to lose weight, and keep the weight off is the cost and the fact that they can’t find motivation. Well, if that’s your challenge, I’d like to share some practical tips on how to lose weight and keep the weight off – when you’re poor and lazy… like me.

There Are So Many Free Resources That You Don’t Need to Spend a Dime
The first step in my weight loss journey was downloading the app – MyFitnessPal. It is free and it kept me accountable. Dedicatedly inputing my meals (everything that went into my mouth – even a baby carrot) helped me see how much I was eating, and how much I needed to burn. Weight loss is “Pure Mass” – as Frank Donga says. Input and Output. I utilised the resources on the Internet to learn about food, calories, energy and all ancillary information. I was on Instagram following Fitness related accounts to see what they were doing, and how they were making their meals work for them.
I adapted everything I learned and made it work for me. The Internet has so many free things that if you’re as broke as I was, you can get away without spending money. I lost 16kg in 10 months and I only joined a gym (A budget gym called The Gym with a £10 subscription fee for students) towards the end of the year. And that’s because I couldn’t get rid of my flabby arms. They’re STILL flabby.

Those arms... See how Banky was struggling

Those arms… See how Banky was struggling – February 2013

Go Big Or Go Home… Well, Not Quite
Recently, a friend asked us on a WhatsApp group, what the best kind of equipment to get for home work out. She wanted to know if to get an Elliptical, or a Treadmill. We told her that the first step was to get into a work out routine. Discover what works for you, and then decide what equipment to buy – if at all.

The only things I spent money on for the Cause

The only things I spent money on for the Cause – Outfits from Sports Direct – Budget Friendly Baby. Weights from Amazon

A lot of people rush and splurge on expensive equipment and gym subscription, thinking it will kick them off on the path of weight loss. This is not quite accurate. As cliched as it might sound, weight loss starts with you – and your determination. Once you can find a way to get off the couch, build a routine, then you can start thinking of spending money. I was in Swansea in 2014 and being a broke student, all I did was walk from place to place. I realised, with the help of my app, that if I walked faster, I’d burn more calories. In 6 months, I was running at 12 minutes per mile. The only thing I spent money on was a good pair of Addidas shoes – and this was after 8 weeks of destroying my toes with my trusty old Sketchers.

You don’t have to spend money on a 50,000Naira gym. Start with what you have. My friend, Biola, started by walking around the compound of Gbagada General Hospital on Saturdays. Then she took an interest in cycling, and hasn’t returned to walking. She now cycles from Gbagada to Ojota and does some super amazing stuff that makes me jealous. Bicycle riding isn’t for me. I’ll stick to my running. (Or walking as I’m now so lazy)

Same Dress, Different Girl - 2013 | 2014

Same Dress, Different Girl – 2013 | 2014


The first time I wore a size 8 skirt *tears of joy*

Find what works for you, before you write that heavy cheque. Remember, it’s you who will determine to lose weight. Your gym subscription or heavy home equipment won’t do it.

How Will I Live Without Rice?
Every time someone asked me how to lose weight, and I talked to them about proteins, greens, complex and simple carbs, they usually walked away sad. The reaction is always akin to what I imagine it was like in the Bible story – the one where the rich man asked Jesus what it would take to get into the kingdom of heaven and Jesus said, “Go sell all your belongings”. People want to lose weight but they can’t imagine life without rice, Eba, Semovita, Amala?

Good old faithful Tesco £1 Salad with Grilled Salmon

Good old faithful Tesco £1 Salad with Grilled Salmon

Some concoction...with broccoli and peppers

Some concoction…with broccoli and peppers

Akara - pancake style

Akara – pancake style

“Ah what will my life be without rice? And all these fruits and vegetables are too expensive, Atoke”
I strongly believe that a lot of what we say we cannot NOT eat is psychological.
“Can you imagine beans without palm oil? How will it now taste? It won’t be red now” (Use Bell Peppers – Tatase and Habaneros – Ata Rodo if you can’t live without colour)
‘So, I won’t put stew in the Couscous? Just eat it like that? Nyama!” (Spice and garnish that stuff!)

Quinoa and sea food mix

Quinoa and sea food mix

When I joined the FitFam train, I experimented a LOT and I stalked so many Fitness and Food accounts on Instagram. It helped that I LOVE cooking and trying new things, so that wasn’t an issue for me. Once I realised how many calories were in one cup of white rice, and I juxtaposed it against how many minutes of running I had to do to burn it, nobody told me when I found CousCous. I then learned how to design any thing I wanted with greens. I became a GREEN FREAK! Remember, I was coming to this FitFam Faith with all the enthusiasm of a new convert. Always armed with my Cameroon pepper, I made every meal exciting for me. It was no longer important that I wasn’t eating rice, or Ogbono,or Egusi.

"Can you find a way to crop that belly?"

“Can you find a way to crop that belly?” – October 2015

Find replacements, adapt them to work for your taste buds, and remember portion control. Cabbage, Spinach, Okra, brown rice… in measured quantities. Remember: input…output.

As long as I was satisfied, and had enough energy to go about my day, I stopped fixating on food. I learned that food was meant to serve me and not the other way round.

You Cannot Afford To Be Lazy
I know I said this article was about how to lose weight for poor and lazy people, but I lied. You cannot lose weight and keep it off if you’re lazy.

You have to be dogged, and determined and dedicated. You have to work hard for the lifestyle you want to maintain. Having reached a desirable size and weight, I got comfortable. I stopped running everyday, and cut it back to 5 days a week. Then, when winter came last year, I stopped running completely. “It’s cold na!” I would say to my sister. I was still very good with my food, because, you can’t give me palm oil soup and I’ll take it from you. (Nasty visions of that Maltex bottle keeps rising to the fore)

I gained a good 8 pounds. Okay, I lie, I gained like 10 pounds in 2015. I still smiled when people called me “Small Shanko” and I still embraced that vain feeling when people who haven’t seen me in a while gasp and say “Oh, My God! what did you do?” But, I knew in my heart that I had fallen off the wagon. My jacket was having slight difficulty coming off. But it wasn’t until I saw my cheeks in a photograph that I told myself, “You have to keep the weight off, Girl!”

Christmas Day

I’m never throwing this dress away! Christmas day, 2015

I have dropped 8 pounds since November and trust me when I say it is not easy. But it is not impossible.

Live Strong.
Live Healthy.
Live Beautifully.

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. X-Factor

    January 25, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    “Nasty visions of that Maltex bottle keeps rising to the fore”….LOL, This “geh” will not kill me with laughter ooo….
    Truly Inspiring Journey Well-done!!!

  2. Mz Socially Awkward...

    January 25, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Toksy… Sports direct is the absolute truth… ahhhh! The bottom dollar (abi pound) prices those people sell brand-name sports gear for makes you wonder if they stole it off the back of a lorry.

    And all that walking as a student – I dearly wish I could relive those days. Was reading that humorous article BN posted last week about the writer’s adjustment to student life in the UK and it brought back special memories of saving on bus fares by trekking everywhere. And that was born out of pure stinginess, rather than any intention of losing any weight… but damn, the result of my inadvertent fitness! *Deep sigh* 3-6 mile walks almost everyday (I always joke that I discovered every section/nook of this city by foot), heart rate on a high, body permanently buzzing with endorphins… I stayed a size 6 for a long time after I graduated… until I passed my driving test. *Side eyes*

    However, Aunty A, our mutual agreement will part ways on the matter of giving up eba. Why? Or soup cooked with palmoil… Abomination. I can happily live without rice, stew, yam and bread (can’t even readily recall the last time I ate any of the foregoing) but I must have my garri. Or unripe plantain fufu (Dooney style) at the very least, with some good soup. Portion control – ehen, now we can talk.

    P.S: I still don’t get Quinoa … but maybe that’s because I don’t like rice and its related brethren (case in point is the unopened jar of cous-cous gathering dust in my kitchen)

    • X-Factor

      January 25, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      LOL…@ Atoke and Mz Socially Awkward, Sports Direct offers good deals oooo but errrrmmmmm….I have got a cheaper option for Atoke’s market segment…Three pieces of skipping ropes from One Pound Shop,(5-15 minutes work out sessions using the ropes on a daily basis) and you can save your gym subscription for one year (especially if you live in Lagos where there are no wooden floors and where traffic dynamics is a potential principality and power to your consistency at the gym)

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      January 25, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Brethren! Your reference to wooden floors means that you know the struggle all too well.

      Wooden floors and a downstair neighbour are the reasons why I can’t do any meaningful workout in my flat. All the “Insanity” and “Hip-Hop Abs” craze just flew clear over my head because how I wan take dey jump 50 burpees at night time without getting angry knocks on my door? Na only gym I fit carry your skipping rope go ohhhh… Chai. And it’s definitely ££ cheaper than my monthly membership…. Chai. ?

    • Kokoro Dudu

      January 25, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      I remember my days in university, I could walk miles after miles and it was fashionable. Fast forward to working in Nigeria, crossing the road became a challenge – either I get run down by a car or get robbed. Dude, what can the son of man do?

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      January 25, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      Thou also knoweth the struggle. Used to live at least a half-hour walk from my nearest ASDA& could readily waka there in rain or sunshine. Now? I’m a mere 10min walk away (6-7mins if I pick up the pace) & my lazy behind picks up the car keys every damn time. Every time. ??

  3. Fattie

    January 25, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    You went from a size 16 to 8? That’s a feat!!! My weight has always been around 73_76kg no matter how I diet or exercise. My problem now though is persistent bloating. Got worse when I moved to Lagos so I am thinking it’s stress related. It’s manageable in the morning, but as the day progresses my stomach swells. By the time I get home it is visibly protuding and I just fart all night. I don’t eat at night, drink lots of water, eat fruits and veggies, been to the hospital…now I want to start wearing shape wear to at least stop people from talking. Please does anyone know what I can do about this? Atoke, don’t mean to divert attention please…

    • eagle

      January 25, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Eat your fruits on an empty stomach , 30 mins before a meal or 3 hours after a meal.. also eat your food slowly and chew properly before swallowing. If you are fit and healthy,your weight on scale doesn’t really matter .check for non scale victories (clothes getting loose,firmer bod and all).

    • slice

      January 25, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Talk to your doctor. Your body may be telling u sthg

    • Authentic Sunshine

      January 25, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      My dear your symptoms are akin to an IBS ( Irritable Bowel Syndrome) sufferer. Read about it. There are so many good treatments out there.

    • Manny

      January 26, 2016 at 4:08 am

      Apple cider vinegar might help. It helped with my bloating.

    • Chinazar

      January 26, 2016 at 8:22 am

      You’ll need digestive enzymes. Readily available at any good pharmacy.

    • Kokoro Dudu

      January 27, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      There is something you are doing wrong. Usual culprits are milk (coffee anyone?), baked beans and some other random things. Bloat is usually from gas not fat

  4. Oluwabusola Adedire

    January 25, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Tea!!! I drink a lot of tea.. Green tea, Twinings… normal tea and I can’t say it hasn’t helped me somehow.

    • Oluwabusola Adedire

      January 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      *Tea without sugar*

  5. nunulicious

    January 25, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Atoke, when I grow up, I want to be like you. =motivated

    • nornor

      January 26, 2016 at 9:07 am

      so you still haven’t grown up?…continue!

  6. Amara

    January 25, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    @Fattie this was exactly my story until I visited a doctor in Canada and he gave me a food map. He advised that I avoid certain foods and reintroduced them one after the other to single out the culprit ….low and behold It was milk …I found out I was lactose intolerant . I avoid any thing lactose now and I am perfectly healthy, no more gas no more blouting …it was like magic. I googled lactose intolerance and found out it occurs mostly in adulthood . So don’t rule it out thinking you’ve always had milk as a kid and didn’t have issues. Wish you all the best.

  7. Amara

    January 25, 2016 at 7:45 pm


  8. Jagbajantis

    January 25, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    The most important thing needed for effective weight management are perseverance and desire. If you have never felt bad because a danfo conductor wanted to charge your double due to your huge size which has taken up 3 seats, then you are not ready. If you have never sadly had to shun certain clothing brands (A&F, Express, Topmans, Hollister, I am looking at you all), because they nor carry your size, you are not ready. If the occupiers have never gasped when they see you approaching a packed elevator, you are not ready. If you have never been embarrassed because a Nigerian bank’s entry “capsule” refused to allow you enter the bank without a manual override because it thinks your weight is for 2 persons, you are not ready either.

    If you are ready, read on.

    Tools needed, which you will not need to pay a dime to acquire (apart from the food of course):

    – A fitness app. I use MyFitnessPal, like Atoke does. It is wonderful as it allows you put in your statistics so that it could build a calorie max for you, which if kept to will allow you lose weight There is a food database in there, that includes Nigerian food. I found out yesterday that Moi Moi which weighs 140g per serving is an incredible 239 calories. Yeah, but they have not reckoned with those super-sized ones they sell in Onitsha nicknamed “Mai Mai”.

    But you could also download the FitBit app on your Iphone (if you don’t have a FitBit or Garmin) or pedometer, or use Iphone’s health app to monitor your physical activities and calories. Aim to take at least a 10,000 steps per day.

    – Portion Control. What you eat is more important than time at the gym. It is an 85% to 15% balance. Try eating foods which have a balance of carbs, protein, fat and vegetables. Eat complex carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice, black eyed peas, whole grain bread.
    Mind your consumption of milk if you have serious weight issues. Almond milk or plant based milks are a good substitute. People complain about the taste of quinoa. Personally if you could afford it, I really recommend Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice. It is brilliant. Just add a tiny bit of Olive/Canola oil to lightly stir fry vegetables and brown rice. White rice on its on tastes terrible anyway. Rice or pasta is only as good as the spices and condiments used to cook or serve it.

    I also recommend protein shakes. Get one of those Whey Protein Powders like Pure Protein or Jay Robb. Blend it with ice cubes and some sliced fruit. Looks and tastes like milkshake, and is an awesome body fuel for your morning. Goes well on Oats too.

    – Work out. Walking for me, is the best form of exercise. That and stair climbing, swimming, running, biking. I would recommend Leslie Sansone’s Walk work-out. It is free on You-Tube. It is hella awesome. Watch the weight drop till you look like Mighty Igor.

    – Heart and Patience. This does not cost money, but are the most dear virtues. ALLOW THE PROCESS WORK. Rome was not built in a day. Your massive pot belly and huge backside was not created in 2 days. Gradual weight loss is the healthiest and easiest to keep off. Shun fad diets that promise you quick results. There is a rule that says it takes 1 month for you to see changes, family notice your weight loss from 2 months, co-workers and friends notice in 3 months. Player Haters may never see it at all. Or never allow themselves see it. If the scales are not moving, then try measuring inches. Get a good tape measure from Sura your tailor, and measure your waist over your belly button, and your thigh from 6 inches above your knee cap. And your hips – if you are a chick. Or a short man devil. Keep going.

  9. TayJay

    January 25, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    16 to 8 is commendable. Well done girl. I have struggled for close to 4 years now but I have only gone from a 16 to a 12 and I achieved it mostly by fasting. My target size is 10 but I have been stuck on 12. The scale jusy wouldn’t budge *crying**. I am a die hard rice lover …. After reading this I have made up my mind to cut it off. God help me . please wish me luck …thank you ..

  10. Ifeyinwa Mic

    January 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Nice one, Atoke. It’s hard to fall into a routine but so annoyingly easy to fall back to being lazy. This holiday season has been so cruel to me (I’ve been cruel to myself) and I also gained 10lbs. That was the shock of my life when I went to my doctor a couple of weeks ago for my annual checkup. I ran a half marathon last year, two in 2014, but I’ve been so lazy these last few months. The weather is such a convenient excuse, but I have dumbbells, resistant bands, and an exercise ball at home. There’s NO excuse. The weight must come off. The chips and ice cream have to stay out of my house. Must actually use my gym membership that I pay for every month. Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. Honeycrown

    January 26, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Good job on your weight loss. I agree that MyfitnessPal App really works. I used it about 3 years ago when I lost some weight. I did a little bit of walking but cutting carbs (mainly rice) was the big thing. Now I’m just too lazy and I don’t understand why.

  12. atoke is back

    January 26, 2016 at 5:43 am


  13. SEEN ALL

    January 26, 2016 at 10:20 am

    If only my bank balance was as high as my daily calorie intake, I would be the 63rd billionaire in the world. Am okay with my size but never satisfied with my tummy too big.

  14. Laila Donohue

    January 26, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Losing weight is actually easy if you get the right support or guide , i was searching online and came upon this website and found out that many had success in losing weight, i am also seeing wonderful results, here is that site, hope it will help those who really want to lose weight ,

  15. Free Spirit

    February 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Same here. I’m a perfect size 10 but I wish my tummy could be flat. That’s all *sob*

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