The first words a senior from my university told me when he saw me exercising and sharing my weight-loss journey on my social media channels were: “you nor go fit lose weight nah, since I know you, na so you take fat” (you cannot lose weight, you have always been fat).
To my credit, I was dead set on losing the extra weight (I had just found out I was weighing 98kg which was too much for my brain to fathom) and his words made me say: “I will prove you wrong! What rubbish! Are you the commander or owner of my destiny and body?”
His comment did not deter me one bit; it only served to make me raving mad as I set out to prove him and many others wrong. And prove them wrong I did!
By the time I was done with my weight-loss journey, I was down to 74/72kg. My journey did not begin from trying to prove anyone wrong, I just found out after coming out from a wrong relationship that I was 98kg and grossly overweight. I couldn’t understand why I should be less than 20 years old and weigh that much. So I set out to do something about it.
My weight loss journey has taught me a few things and today – almost seven years later – I find myself ruminating on this journey. If you have ever been on a weight loss journey, you would agree with me that it is usually full of life lessons we may never have learned.
Here are a few lessons I have learned on my journey:
Never write yourself off:
In my final year in the university in 2013, a classmate showed my picture to a ‘cousin’ of hers who was looking for a girlfriend and her response when she came back with a report was “he said you are too fat, go and lose the weight”.
I still cannot believe that someone said that to me and I let it slide without correcting her. But I was a very naive girl and so I just took it in stride. It never occurred to me that I should never give anyone permission to put me down like that. If this is something “so-called friends” do to you, then you shouldn’t allow such behavior because that is not friendship.
But a greater lesson would be to never ever write yourself off and this applies to more than just your weight. Losing weight has taught me that things change and seasons turn. The size of my body can change with the passage of time and so also can tides change for the best. Sometimes, someone can go to bed in a prison and wakes up the next day to become a prime minister – ask Joseph in the Bible.
The fact that you are down today doesn’t mean that you won’t be up tomorrow. Sometimes these things may sound like clichés, but I hope that this is a ray of hope to someone out there.
Most times, our minds are our worst enemies. We write ourselves off before anyone else does. Some of us call it self-preservation but I call it ‘giving up on you’. Never give up on yourself. As I have learned from my own experience, the orobo (fat girl) of yesterday can always become lekpa (slim girl) of today. The rejected stone of yesterday can always become the cornerstone of today. The dullard yesterday can always become the smart and highly intelligent dude today. Never write anyone off, including yourself.
Most people look at my weight loss pictures and see the sexy Hephzibah of today. But I look at my pictures and I see the girl who says ‘no’ when everyone else around her is munching on delicious Nigerian food.
The girl who wakes up at 5am to get exercises done.
The girl who didn’t give up when the scale refused to budge for weeks on end.
The girl who went through the “you can never slim down, you have always been fat” talks.
The girl who, time and time again, believed that she could – even when it didn’t look like it.
Being on a weight-loss journey drills you. It tests you and places you on an all-time discipline high. You pray and pray for temptations to pass you by. You rise up time and time again after you fall. But in the midst of all that, the resounding lesson you get is yes, you can.
Sometimes I add some weight, especially after a few months of staying off consistent exercising and watching what I eat. This has happened a few times and even right now, I am currently on a weight loss journey after the holidays. But because I have my track record of being able to achieve my goals, I know that I can lose weight again.
The truth is, there is a certain level of confidence that achieving your weight-loss goals springs on you. It’s like having a track record of success you can always look back on and gain an inner propelling and motivating factor even for the other goals you need to achieve.
This decade, it’s important to not let the failures of the past hang over you. Have the right mindset.
Can I change this situation, this habit, this behavior, this mentality that keeps sabotaging my efforts and results? Yes, I can! Is it all over for me? No, it is not.
This new year, pick and set your sights and vision on something you have to do in the next one month, something you want really badly (your desire for it has to be on a level that agrees with your deep conviction). Decide to work on it and draw up the plans you need to get it done. For example, I made a plan to jog every day and skip snacks on weekdays (I had just one day to eat a cheat meal per week). You need a plan to align with your deep desire to get what you need to get done.
Align yourself to that plan while merging it with the positive mindset that you can do it. Then create a roadmap to work alongside your great desire to do what you need to do. It is only a matter of time before it becomes yours with the help of God.
It would be great to, not just read my lessons from my weight loss journey, but tie it to something you can indeed do this year. The same roadmap of merging your desire, putting in the work , along with a change of mentality, would work for anything we need to do and get done this year.
Believe in yourself and never write yourself off – no matter what happens.
Yes, you can!