So, I have a friend. His name is Deola. If you’re on my BBM or Facebook contact list, then you’d probably be privy to my frequent updates about some TV series that I watch. Deola is the guy who furnishes me with those series.
And then last week, a mutual friend brought my attention to an Instagram post on Deola’s page. I saw the photo and my jaw dropped. It was a ‘Before and After’ picture which showed the most incredible transformation of my good friend from a size-something to a size-another-thing.
Now, how far down has your own jaw dropped? This wasn’t some Oprah-esque TV show, where American wonders are televised for us to see how ounces of fat have been spirited away from the bodies of the Westerners. No. This was my own friend, someone I saw last about a month ago. And even then, he didn’t look exactly the way the man on the Right looks. When I asked him, he said the photo on the Left was taken in October last year, and the Right this month, April.
So in a space of six months or so, he’d transformed himself from flab to fab (Sorry, Dee). How did he do it? I wanted to know. And so did a number of people on my BBM contact list who gasped with incredulity at the photo, when I made it my display picture.
I asked Deola. And here’s what he had to say. Check on it below. And sound off your opinions in the comments section below.
Well, here it goes. I started having weight issues right from primary school. I don’t know exactly what prompted it, but it kind of just happened. I remember when I had to get my PE shorts then, and they couldn’t get my size. I didn’t think much of it though. I was little and people would always say I’d outgrow the weight or grow into it. I didn’t play much sport then either. Plus chubby kids are kinda cute, right?
Anyway, I got into Secondary School, and naturally I continued growing bigger. I was at a boarding school, so I had access to all the candy and fattening stuff from our canteen that I really didn’t have access to back home.
And then the teasing started, you know, just little things that kids say, and you’d think it doesn’t get to you. But it slowly chips away at your self confidence and self esteem. They called me a lot of names. My hostel wears and uniforms were always too small. So they weren’t flattering at all.
I was a fun kid growing up, but the whole ordeal just made me enter a shell and I stopped being lively. I kept to myself as much as possible. I also developed a thick skin. I just turned deaf ears to whatever anyone said about my weight. Even when my parents started getting worried and would talk to me about it, I would just think they were against me or something, so I ignored all their warnings. My weight wasn’t too bad then; I was the fattest kid in class, but if I had taken control then, losing the weight would have been much easier.
Secondary School came and went, and I got into university. My school had a dress code; it was either suits, shirts and ties (tucked in), or traditional wears, also jalabiyas. And so jalabiyas became my uniform; I couldn’t wear corporate clothes because I knew how unflattering I looked in them. So I wore jalabiyas for my entire four years in school. The jalabiyas covered all the lumps and rolls, and my insecurities too.
My weight in university however skyrocketed. I felt bad most of the time, so I ate. And then, I would feel good, but that wouldn’t last long, because I would then feel really shitty for eating that much. And then I would eat some more – it was a sad, vicious cycle.
Noodles were my friend. I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And of course, I got fatter, so fat even my jalabiyas stopped fitting. I had to get new ones.
All the while this was happening, I would get warnings from my mum especially, but I was too far gone to listen to her. When I did listen, I would try and change. I would exercise really hard, even change my diet. And at the end of the week, I’d get on the scale and – guess what?! – I had lost no weight. And so I’d go back to my regular unhealthy lifestyle.
I mean, the word ‘Fat’ was created for a reason, right? Some people aren’t meant to be lean, I’d say to comfort myself. And then, I’d feel guilty that I wasn’t listening to my mother; and I even went further than I had one time, I went three weeks, eating healthy and exercising, but I got on the scale and nothing. And so I gave up again.
University came and went, and it was during this time I started to reflect. My back hurt most of the time, and I wasn’t even 20 yet! I felt like a 70-year-old!
And then my turning point came. I think every former fatty has a turning point – one of those moments when you just look and be like, Hell naw, I have had enough.
Well that moment came when I went for a checkup and the results were abysmal. My blood sugar was astronomically high, my blood pressure was also high, and my doctor said to me, “You’re almost diabetic. If you keep going this way, you’ll be diabetic by the year’s end.” He said I was at a risk of suffering heart related diseases too.
Diabetes is actually hereditary in my family. My dad was with me when I got my results. When we left the hospital, he spoke to me like he’d never done before. He didn’t yell. He didn’t storm. He pleaded and begged me to get better. There were tears in his eyes. And for the first time his message got through.
And so my weight loss journey started. First off, from what I have learned, everyone’s weight loss journey is different, because everyone is different. So don’t compare yourself with someone else. Doing that is a recipe for failure.
Secondly, I have learned that the key to weight loss is actually 80% of a healthy diet, 15% of exercise and 5% good rest aka sleep for recovery. That means, no matter how hard you kill it at the gym, if after you’re done, you go to the buka and have eba with efo riro, washed down with a tall glass of beer, I pirry you, because you’re on a very long thing.
Also when starting a diet, I used a trial by error method. I didn’t just stop eating all the bad foods I was eating before. That’s too sudden a change, and chances are you’ll fail if you do that. Instead, take the bad foods out slowly, and one after the other. For me the first of the list was sugar. And that was the hardest to kick out. Then came fried foods. I had to say goodbye to bae – fried, soggy dodo. It wasn’t easy at all.
And then all my swallows. That meant no eba, semo, amala, pounded yam – all gone! Carbonated sugar drinks, all those energy drinks, minerals – all thrown out! And then flour products and pastries – pizza, white bread, buns, egg rolls, meat pies, puff-puff, you get the gist, I didn’t touch them again oh. And then came beef; now beef isn’t exactly unhealthy, but I liked mine deep-fried with a lot of kpomo; so that had to go too. And then followed pasta, spaghetti, macaroni and the rest – all gone! And then the mother of all of them – Indomie; it was hard, mehn, I no go lie. But I slowly kicked this one off as well.
Now it would seem I have kicked out all the food wey person fit chop for Naija. But that isn’t the case. I eat bread still, but its whole wheat without any sugar or salt. And I eat it in little quantity. I used to have about 10 slices before; now, I eat two or one. The trick is to find healthy alternatives for your favorite foods. These alternatives will never taste as good. Like, never! But you’ll get used to them.
The stuff I do eat include whole wheat bread, ofada rice, beans, chicken breasts, egg whites, almond nuts, cashew nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, fish, oats, sweet potatoes, lots of fruits and vegetables. Nuts are fatty too, but they contain the good fat that your body needs. So if you need to snack on something, grab some nuts. But don’t overdo it. Proteins are your friends too. Eat lots of protein. Lean proteins. No red meat with fat and kpomo oh! Lean chicken and turkey too.
Always control your portions. Finding healthy stuff to buy is quite challenging and can make one lose motivation, but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier.
I also followed a lot of health and fitness pages on Instagram, and I got a lot of tips from there.
My favorite tip I got off instagram is not to rely on the scale to tell you if you’ve lost weight or not. You shouldn’t let what number that scale gives out define you. Non-scale victories are what you should look out for. Whether it’s an old shirt or pair of trousers that didn’t fit that suddenly fits, or your clothes feeling looser, or you feeling lighter. Cherish these moments; that was what kept me going. I knew my weight when I started my weight loss journey. But I haven’t checked it since then. I don’t plan to until I have completed a full year of this journey.
Another one was this. I have learned to eat – not three times a day but – six times a day. The trick here is to eat small portions of healthy foods throughout the day. This is so as to keep your metabolic rate firing on all cylinders. So don’t wait until you are really hungry before you eat. Your body recognizes when you start starving; I mean, it even tells you by making noises in your stomach. Don’t allow it to get to this point because your metabolism grinds to a halt.
Also chances are when you wait till you’re really hungry, you’ll over eat and give your body more than it needs, which will cause weight gain. So eat small portions throughout the day. Also don’t eat late into the night. And don’t eat heavy stuff too. Eat something light. And if you do wake up at night and need to snack, or you’re an insomniac like me and you have to eat, then grab a carrot or cucumber for heavenssake! Thou shalt not stuff Nutella or fried meat down your throat.
It’s all about the type of food you eat, the amount, and when you eat it. If you can get that right, then you’re set. Also water is your best friend. If you think you’re drinking enough water now, multiply that quantity by two, and then drink some more. Sure, you’ll visit the loo like a crazed person as a result of this, but hey, na you wan lose weight.
There is this thing called a cheat meal, where people allow themselves one ‘bad’ meal per week. It might work for you. It doesn’t for me because I live on the extreme. If I do try and cheat, my cheat meal would become a cheat year. So know what works for and what doesn’t. Try your hands on different methods; keep trying till you find what works best for you.
Now exercise – Exercising should be done at your own pace. I didn’t go to the gym. I always felt intimidated and insecure. So I worked out from home. I walked, downloaded and worked with zumba videos, I jogged, I jumped, and I did – and still do – all that 3-5 times a week. Don’t punish yourself when your exercise doesn’t go as planned. You’ll get tired and it will hurt and you’ll be sore. Just pace yourself and ride it out. Simply make sure you’re doing something physical; don’t lie about on the couch. Walk, run, dance, anything…as long as you’re eating right and you aren’t starving yourself, the weight will fall off.
Also sleep. Your body needs time to recover. Sleep. Rest. That is very important.
Most importantly, remember that it’s your journey. No one can do it for you. Don’t compare your stage one to someone else’s stage five. Own your mistake and try as much as possible to correct them.
Also remember that this is a lifestyle that you adopt. Not one you change into for six months, and then you revert back to old habits. So, when you make this change, stick to it. It’s a journey and hopefully, we’ll all get to our respective destinations.