Sometime in December 2014 I told myself the truth;I had become overweight in a way that wasn’t cute anymore. So I’m naturally big-boned, but I remember looking at myself in a mirror and agreeing with myself that what I was seeing wasn’t big bones, it was fat.
I didn’t like what I saw.
It was difficult to ‘take action’ though, I was in America (Houston to be precise, where everything is bigger), and I remember that beyond one run, and maximum four hours in the gym, I didn’t do anything closely or remotely related to keeping fit, eating right, or working out.
And did it show or what! By the time I came back in January (of course I spent a bit of time in England as well), I was… big (the nicest way to refer to it).
That January I attended an event in Lagos, and a friend of mine who now runs a magazine saw me and my friend Omojuwa and took photos of us for his magazine. I was tagged in the photos and pretty as they are, I haven’t accepted them on my wall because…
I didn’t like what I saw.
I still didn’t take action. Till April, when I woke up one day, and said I was going to hire a popular dietician on Instagram to work me through meals. After the initial conversation and she telling me how much it would cost per month, I spent the next three days trying to get her to take my call. She was either busy, or busy, or busy. I kinda lost count of how many “I’ll call you back” texts I got.
One week Bestie and I decided to go on a fruits and vegetables fast; I don’t even think I was eating any fruits past plums whenever I could find them in Lagos or Abuja, so it was quite the challenge. But we did it! By the sixth day our bellies were running, we were literally living in the loo (sorry) but we went on to the 7th day. No work out at all.
That 7th day I felt different. Something I’d bought in January which couldn’t fit anymore (in April), managed to zip. And all of a sudden, there wasn’t anything I wanted as bad as all my old trad attires (going back to 2012) to fit. By this time I was a size 14, and in the gang of people who blame ‘different cuts by different brands’ for their clothes not fitting.
So I started walking, started going to the gym, and I discovered My Fitness Pal somehow, and I started counting calories. I walked, A LOT. I have a bum right knee so jogging and skipping give me a lot of trouble (except I want to wear a knee brace the next day) so I walked. I remember one day I walked 3 hours at a stretch. Interestingly, I had malaria, I’d just come back from a number of trips rolled in one, so I was exhausted. But I clocked about 19 kilometres that day, and over 26, 000 steps.
That’s true, I got a pedometer (step counter) too – Accupedo; this I downloaded on my phone. Can I just say that calorie counting outside Nigeria is a lot easier for me? Simply because there’s a lot more labelling on foods and so it’s easy to scan bar codes and just move on. Here I have to estimate, but I’m getting the hang of that too.
Here’s the thing, and this probably differentiates me from a number of people on a fitness journey – I still ate (and eat) everything I like, but in moderation. And I work hard to stay under my calorie limit per day. I’ll give you an example. So I have a 1200calorie limit per day yeah. I can have a snickers bar during the day, but because that’s 242kcal, I know that I have less than a thousand left for the whole day. Plus, I know that eating it just before I go to bed is a bad idea, better to eat it in the morning and walk/work it off somehow during the day. Also, the day I eat a snickers bar is the day I must go to the gym. Get my drift?
I think I went for 70 days straight, calorie counting and sometimes these days I don’t count anymore. But I am unconsciously conscious of what goes into my mouth, and whether I need to balance it out or not. E.g yesterday I had a bottle of schweppes (my first in weeks) which is 100kcal, I had moimoi and garri with milk in the morning (I was craving that), and I had coconut rice with cantonese chicken for lunch. I was still well under my 1200 calorie limit but I went to the gym, clocked just under 600kcal with my workout, and had a fruit platter for dinner. So by the time I clicked submit for the day, I was good. Very good.
Then I had cause to go to Lagos a lot and so a friend would take me to the National Stadium, and I picked up boxing. All I can say is, don’t look for my trouble, I can fight now! I also attended gym classes wherever I could find them in whatever city I was in. Lol… There are videos on my Instagram that are as painful as they are oh-so-effective!
By June, the compliments started rolling in. Which was great because I wasn’t seeing any dramatic changes yet, but I wanted the compliments to continue, so I kept on. More like I was feeding off them; some days it was the motivation I needed to keep going on.
Can I say a big God bless you to my mom as well? Each time I visited, she would cook me veggie heavy meals, and stay up with me while I worked out. God bless you maman!
I bought a Polar I think in July when I went to England, and tested it out with a one hour walk/jog under the intense summer sun. I think I clocked over 1000kcal with that, and I fell in love with it! You won’t find me working out anywhere without my Polar now.
Another thing I did? I danced! Oh boy I love dancing, and when I found out how much I lose per dance session, my feet wouldn’t stay in one place! I also got a nice selection of high energy songs that I listen to while I work out especially at the gym – can’t entrust my fitness or energy levels into someone else’s hands please.
It’s been a long time from that week in April, and I’m officially 12kg lighter, and a size 10. My statistics have changed dramatically too, and I’ve recently sent off a whole suitcase of traditional attires (some of them dating back to 2010) off to be refitted because I’m swimming in them!
Are you trying to lose weight? I’d say moderation over cutting out foods completely, and no, do not work out EVERY day. Your body will break down sooner than later, and it is simply unsustainable. Find stuff you love to do, and increase the intensity as you go. Eat the things you love to eat, but in moderation or as rewards to yourself. Otherwise you’ll get tired too soon, and start to pile it back on. There was a time when I told myself I could only have a soda on an international flight, so I looked forward to those.
Also, acknowledge there will be some bad days, and it’s ok. There was the day in New York (this September) I was so tired and hungry I had stir fry with all sorts of things on brown rice, then I had a slice of chocolate cake with some cream, and I went to bed immediately after. Kai! I felt so guilty the next morning, you’d think I’d killed someone. But, I just picked up with breakfast, and tried to do better that day.
More important, and I’m afraid this is one of the cliché tips, look at your body. Like, stand before a mirror, and look at yourself. The bits you want to change? Look at them long and hard. And then work towards the picture of them you would rather look at.
I have 8kg more to lose (because I want to convince myself that it is possible for me to be that size), and hopefully, the next time I ever write about this journey, there’ll be a photo of rock-hard abs to boot.