I have read so much weight loss stories and never thought I would be writing one.
Many of those stories are best imagined than real. I had also tried several strategies to reduce my almost 100kg (220 lb)weight. I had tried fasting, diets, herbal teas, Gym etc. Some actually worked but within a couple of months I was back to my old weight and sometimes would have gained additional kgs.
Of course I was not always “fat” even though I felt fat all my life. Now when I look at my pre-wedding pictures I realized that my weight problem also had to do with my mindset. It became worse after I had my first child. I had different sizes of clothes in my wardrobe; some for when I lost weight and some when I gained weight. There are some clothes that I could only wear in February after the 21 days annual fasting of my church. How funny?
So I grew up battling weight problem. In my time it was difficult to get those cute dresses that would fit my size. So shopping for readymade designs was quite frustrating. Comments like “we don’t have this in your size” or “Please try the Plus corner of the mall” were common. Sometimes, I ended up with maternity gowns (smiles). This however is not the gist today.
This is my story.
Between the Covid 19 year and 2021 something happened that triggered a need to change my life style. I call it the Covid 19 year because that was the year I experienced the greatest morbidity and inactivity. Work from home became a norm and my life generally became sedentary. I realized I was frequenting the hospital for funny ailments like neck pain, headaches, instability in blood pressure etc. All the tests I ran said all was well except for high level cholesterol. I was placed on Atorvastatin for 3 months. I hated drugs even though the doctor said it was harmless. For me the only harmless thing was food. A week into the treatment, I returned to the hospital with complaints about side effects of the drug. My Doctor (God bless him) said I had no choice unless I was ready to begin rigorous exercise to lose the bad level cholesterol in my system.
I left the hospital sad but determined to do something about the excess fat that was threatening my life. So I continued with the treatment but also began a process to change my lifestyle. I realized that losing weight and controlling what I ate was no longer an option. It’s either that or a life of statins and other regulators. So I sat down and advised my body and spirit.
Prior to this time I ate all I desired to eat and (I am ashamed to admit) in large portions. I like….. No! I loved fries like a young girl would love her crush. So if it was fried plantain, fried yam (Yorubas call it dundu) akara, samosa, French fries, pizza, all kinds of pastries, potato chips, I was in. Anything fried or baked just appealed to me. I had no portion control. I also loved chocolates, ice creams, candies and the likes.
Please note that I am neither a dietician nor a nutritionist and I really don’t know much about the theories but I know that the only way to get fat and have excess calories is firstly by what we eat, how we eat it and when we eat it. That is the honest truth from my personal experience. Almost everyone battling with weight problem who is sincere will agree that he or she also has a food problem.
After my visit to the doctor and his verdict, I examined my life style and took the following decisions.
- Reduce fries to the barest minimum (I didn’t take any fries in the first three months of this decision)
- Consistent work-out. I do a minimum of 3-4 km daily except Saturdays and Sundays. I volunteer to clean in my church on Saturdays and that also burn out some calories.
- Opted for non-cholesterol oil to make my stew using very little quantity. As a typical Yoruba woman that like to see plenty oil in her stew, I reduced the quantity of cooking oil to about 20% of what I previously used. Today, you will never see oil on my stew and the truth is the stew is still sweet.
- No more late night meals (I try to eat my last meal between 5-6pm with very few exceptions on fasting days)
- Invested in air fryer and air-fried my fish, plantain and chicken instead of deep oil frying.
- Replaced fried plantain and potatoes with boiled plantain and potatoes
- Eliminated red meats (only very rarely but none in the first 3 months)
- Reduce carbohydrate (Less of rice, bread, yam)
- Reduce portion of food and substitute with more water
- Increase fruit intake
- Increase vegetable intake
- Avoid pastries (only take occasionally, like once in two or three weeks but in small portion)
- Because I like sweet things, I avoid food that needs sugar like oats, cornflakes etc. I replaced them with my green tea, natural fruits.
- Eliminated dairy products like milk, eggs, butter and only take once in a very long while
- For my tea, I opted for green tea and would squeeze into it fresh oranges to sweeten it. It tastes good once its served hot.
- Made my juice naturally
- For snacks (I love snacking in between meals) I introduced fruits and peanuts. Rather than buy processed bottled or packaged groundnut, I buy the unpeeled roasted or boiled one and the process of peeling as I eat soon reduced my appetite and the quantity I consumed.
- I reduced my salt intake. Now I cook my white rice without salt and even yam. I never knew I could, but guys it’s actually sweet once your sauce is well seasoned.
- I also read labels to check the composition of what I eat.
- I use more of the stairs and do enjoy activity that involves walking
All of these and many more that I cannot remember now soon became a lifestyle. I have done them consistently for about a year and now I am so used to them. Today, when I try to do otherwise like eat too much of sweet things or pastries I do not only feel uncomfortable but also feel sick. I have waited to go a whole year before sharing this experience and I am indeed happy to do so especially having being encouraged by my daughter who I now wear the same size with.
It is also important to mention that I am not obliged not to eat anything. So I try not to tell people to abstain completely from any particular food. Rather portion control and moderation is the key. Also exercise is not negotiable. Walking out should be a daily routine. No matter how busy you are, you must create time and be consistent no matter how little. It’s not enough to do 20 km in a day and nothing until another two weeks.
For people who work late as I used to and sometimes do, you must make conscious effort to have an early dinner. Most often the late food do not digest and remain in our belly and are later converted to belly fats. You must therefore change your lifestyle of late meals.
The good thing about changing your lifestyle to change your life is that it is not a quick fix. You don’t just drop the weight in a month. It is a consistent and gradual process. My greatest motivation was myself, my health and the fact that I do not want to live a life of daily drugs intake when there is an option.
Now what are the outcome of my decision.
- I lost 13kg in the first 3 months. The exciting thing about this is that I didn’t even know I was losing weight in the process until I noticed that I didn’t fit into my clothes again and was being asked by people if I was Ok. There was no pressure of deprivation that I used to feel in past weight loss exercises.
- I felt lighter. I could stoop without getting tired. I could walk up the stairs without breathing heavily.
- My health improved tremendously; my blood pressure became stable without regulation, all the earlier discomforts and ailments left on their own. I didn’t even know when they did.
- I ended up not completing the statin tabs and do not need them or any other medication anymore.
- I sleep better. No more turns and frequent waking up at night.
The gradual weight loss ensures proportional weight loss across your body mass. Every part in your body adjust well. When I started, I was on a UK size 18-20. Today I wear 14-16. I even wear my daughter’s dress. I recalled how I took a picture and sent it to her and she screamed “Mummy where are your thighs?”It was that dramatic.
Am I there? No not yet but I thank God for the grace released to me to get to where I am. I never in my wildest imagination thought this was possible. I have had people stop me on the way to ask what happened to me? I have had comments like “you look good but this weight loss is too much”. Well guys that’s the new me. I am not sick. I only changed my lifestyle to change my life from going down.
Reading through this one would think it was so easy. But not so. Changing your life styles involves great discipline, your ability to say No to wrong desires, and be consistent in your approach. It is not a one year treat. It is a lifelong journey. So even when you fail, you must learn to get up and go again. Gradually you are bound to lose the wrong appetites and a reversal of desires become the norm.
Were there challenges?
Yes there were many challenges:
There were days I was really tempted to eat some pastries, fried meat. They just look so appealing sometimes. But I kept reminding myself of the consequences.
There were mornings I feel reluctant and lazy for a work-out but somehow I knew I had to keep going. I cannot return to where I was coming from. I must never go back to a size 20.
There were nights that I would really love to eat late and would actually go to the fridge like many people do but would opt for water and go to sleep.
There were days I look at the clothes in my wardrobe and can’t find a fitting one to wear. I have had to pack them in bags to my tailor to adjust. So the truth is I need money for a complete makeover or change of wardrobe at least.
There are also lots of explanations to friends and family who cannot understand why you must drop some excess weight. I hope now they know.
Did I ever fail?
Yes there were days I failed and would sneak in a snicker or another chocolate bar or a large portion of cake. I would console myself that once in a while was not bad. But sometimes once in a while goes into twice or more and then I begin to feel guilty as if I was caught stealing. But I always bring myself back to the prize and that prize is healthy living.
Somehow I wish I had done this earlier in life. It would have afforded me the opportunity to wear those lovely dresses that I saw on some of my very slim friends. For someone however, it is never too late to live healthy. Maybe someday soon I will share my experience with an expert for improvement and also help people who are battling with the weight challenge.
My final word is that I find out from this experience that there is no quick fix rule to weight loss. I also discovered; that you are fat does not automatically mean you are unhealthy as long as you watch what you eat. Similarly that you are slim does not automatically equals low cholesterol. You need to do a test as you may be slim and yet have the wrong cholesterol composition.
Don’t be like me who once thought the only harmless thing was food whereas some of the food we eat are poisons. Be wiser take a step. Change your life style, change your life.
Thank You, Faith Iyinoluwa for encouraging me to do this. I hope it helps someone.
PS: I have chosen not share personal pictures because I am a private person but those who know me have my testimony.