My weight is something that has always been a sensitive topic for me. One that I hated being brought up and I refrained from talking about.
However, with the recent success I have had with my weight loss and a lot of you asking questions about how I did it, I thought I would share with you my very, personal journey.
For years I watched myself put on weight. It wasn't really a problem socially, as I was still considered attractive by guys I found attractive. I was still a social butterfly able to entertain conversation without any side remarks (at least not to my face) made about my figure. So I just continued to live life. Eating whatever I wanted, how many times I wanted with whomever I wanted. But I couldn't help not liking how I looked.
It wasn't that I considered myself ugly, or that I was obese, I was just a long way away from the size I used to be and the size I should be to lead a healthy life. It was also very frustrating going shopping because nothing would fit me the right way. There is of course the local fashion issue to bear in mind. Stores in the UK usually tailor clothes for the European figure so even if I was a healthy weight, some clothes would still not complement my beautifully African hips and bottom. Nevertheless, the added weight did not help.
Exercise and I never really had a good relationship. I hated P.E. in school and I only started going to the gym during my A - Levels, and even then, barely. It was a session once a week and that was it.
For years I had family kindly nudging me about my weight gain and how I needed to lose it, not because I wasn't beautiful, but for general fitness and health. I just hated the fact that it was even a topic of conversation. My usual mantra was, 'thank you, I know. I am working on exercising and losing weight.'
However, my extended family, some family friends and the random guy on the street were not as kind. One Aunty as recently as December 2014 said to me, 'Gigi you are getting too fat, you do need to lose some weight!' I looked at her stunned and retorted, 'actually Aunty I have. 6kg to be exact!' She looked at me embarrassed and partly smiled. I was not amused.
I remember one day there was so much traffic heading to the Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki that I asked the driver to continue heading to the mall whilst I walked the short distance to the entrance. As I walked, this random guy shouted, 'Orobo!' I remained quite hurt and angry the rest of the day.
It's all about your mindset
What I want you do understand is that even with the snide remarks, the nudging from my family and family friends, it still did not incite me to lose weight. Partly it was because I tried and tried various diets and nothing worked, (I'll talk about that below). Which led to me giving up on the whole idea. I wasn't ready to take that leap into what I was sure would be disappointment once again.
I have become a firm believer that if you really want to do anything about your weight it has to come FROM you and it has to be FOR you and no one else. If someone or something else is your motivation it can easily deter you from your progress. Once you break up with your boo, or the occasion has come and gone or your family no longer bugs you, your motivation is gone. Make sure you are your motivation. Set a goal and work towards it.
Diets don't work
The reason why I had given up on losing weight was because I had tried diet after diet over the years, which never worked. I would get some short-term success and after a while the weight would come back with a bang. I told myself why bother? I have come to realise that diets don't work because they focus on short-term loss of weight. There is no 'what next' when a diet is over. Therefore now I focus on what I call a lifestyle change (more on that later).
Your relationship with food
I will be the first person to tell you that I am in love with food. It comforts me when I'm sad, it never judges me when I overeat, it celebrates with me with a passion, and it's just so darn yummy. My friend once made a joke that he and a few friends were checking out my Instagram and they weren't sure whether it was my Instagram or a food blog!
On a more serious note, because I had a slightly unhealthy relationship with food (using it as a stress reliever, comfort blanket and eating whatever I wanted), I broke the first rule about anything in life. Things are good in moderation. I now realise it is important to maintain balance. I still eat what I want with healthy substitutes and I portion control to stop myself from over eating. I still eat cake (with all the much needed sugar and butter) and pancakes, (I make the best pancakes if I do say so myself), but in moderation.
I took a HUGE leap on the 13th of September 2014 to change my lifestyle. From that day I consciously started portion controlling my meals, eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and working out a lot. I work out 3-4 times a week and when I get really busy during exam time I still try to get in a workout twice a week.
It was a big jump and it was incredibly difficult at first. I had to use the feeling I would get after a good workout as motivation. Other times, the moment I wouldn't feel like going to gym I would go that very second otherwise I would just do something else. Sometimes it was the direct opposite and the moment I would feel like working out I would go down to the gym as fast as I could. I would drop all my work and just go. (That works for me because I work at home and not from the library, and my gym is downstairs).
In the beginning, the loss of weight was not so obvious. I tried to plod on even though the scale was not budging as much as I wanted it to. As I have come to realise, changes like this happen gradually until bam! You don't even recognise yourself!
In order to help yourself along please do not use your weight on the scales as a measure of how much weight you have lost especially at the start. It is quite unreliable. Firstly you have to ensure you weigh yourself at the same time everyday. Secondly, everyday you naturally gain or lose about 1kg, which fluctuates depending on how much water retention you have in your body. Furthermore, when you gain muscle, your weight will naturally increase.
The most accurate way to measure weight loss in my opinion, is your actual body changes (loss of cellulite, fat in certain places, defined jawline and cheeks, collar bone saying 'Hi!') etc.
I think using scales as a determination should either be monthly or every three months. For body changes, the clear difference shows up about every three months or so. Do not be disheartened.
I absolutely love how far I have come. I can't believe it myself. I am the lightest I have ever been in years and I wouldn't change this for the world. My general health is great, my fitness is great, I feel great and I am so much happier about myself inside and out!
For anyone who has ever struggled with weight loss, I hope my story speaks to you and I hope I can encourage you to undergo a lifestyle change, not for anyone, but for yourself - to make much a happier and healthier you.
Here are my handy tips for the early buds:
1. Start slow with substitutions!
Start with making small substitutions in the food you eat (brown rice, brown pasta, skimmed milk, low fat yogurt, dark chocolate) etc.
2. The big chop!
Cut out the obvious baddies (fizzy drinks, juice from concentrate, excessive eating out/takeaway (high in calories and sodium), lots of cake and biscuits, milk chocolate) start with a few and keep building up. I stopped drinking fizzy drinks almost three or four years ago now, that was a personal choice nothing to do with health (it just made me really gassy) *covers face* but it's paid of in the end.
3. Portion Control
The next step is to portion control. This part is very unique to each individual. I used to eat a lot, like A LOT at a time and I used to enjoy seconds because the food was so yummy. I would suggest if you are that person that loves seconds like me, cook a certain amount and only eat that certain amount. Therefore no matter whether you have seconds or thirds it is still within that amount you cooked. That should help start you off.
When you have the hang of that, cook that certain amount, go have your first serving, which should be smaller than your usual portion, eat it. If you are not full, go back for seconds, this time even smaller or equivalent to your first portion. You'll find that by then your brain has registered to your stomach that you have eaten. After a while you won't need to eat as much as you used to.
4. Take your time eating
Eat slower than normal. Your brain needs to tell your stomach that you've eaten. So try not to eat when you are dying of hunger because you tend to overeat because you are famished. Try snacking two to three times a day (depending on each individual). Try eating raisins, fruit, yogurt, bagels, nuts, etc.
MyFitnessPal should be your best friend. Some people use another monitoring device but this app has really helped me. It has given me great awareness of not only the amount of calories in foods but also the nutritional value in what I eat. What might be high in sodium, in saturated fat, protein etc. After a while you will get used to it. It's also really handy to monitor how much you've lost and the App tells you if you are not eating enough or if you are losing weight too quickly. With how much I exercise and how much weight I've lost I've had to increase my calorie intake daily.
6. Exercise, exercise, exercise!
Make sure you do 20-30 minutes of high intensity cardio in the gym. For me interval training worked wonders and the cross trainer is my bae. A good 20 minutes helps you to burn fat during the day without you even realising. Also, take time to incorporate weight training in your workout. In order to burn fat you need to build muscle. The more muscle you have in your body the better! Women you will not turn into WWE woman I promise you. You will look leaner, more toned. For women who naturally have a lot of muscle tone, don't over do it on the weight machines. Do enough to just keep you toned.
7. Sis/Bro Fitness Circle
Get friends to motivate you. It helps if they are on the journey with you. Make sure they are the right people so that you form a positive support unit. It's not everyday that you feel part of FitFam nation, get them to make sure you stay on the straight and narrow. I cannot tell you how many times I have called my bestie to report myself or get her to stop me from ordering Papa Johns which brings me on nicely to my last point.
8. Where the cake at?
We all have cravings. I have very specific cravings. Sometimes it is steak, sushi, banana cake, chicken teriyaki, pizza from Papa J or Chinese. It is fine, you are human and you are allowed to indulge once in a while. Again it is all about moderation.
I hope you have found my tips helpful. You can always message me with any questions you may have. I am not a qualified nutritionist or a fitness expert. I am merely detailing my experiences to you and what I have found has worked. I still have a little way to go – the final nip and tuck the healthy way!
Before you begin any fitness program please consult your doctor who will be better able to advise you.
Much love from a 14kg lighter recent FitFam member,