You asked and I listened. Only my Friend Effanga would get this joke.
Sometime last year, either in August or September, I went to my cousin’s pharmacy to check my Body Mass Index (BMI). Before that day, my mum had sent me an article that said overweight women tend to have difficulty birthing children and my doctor friend confirmed it was true. At the pharmacy, my BMI was shown to be 35.2 — a class 2 (moderate-risk) obesity range. An ideal BMI for most healthy adults is in the 18 to 24.9 range (source: NHS.uk here). When I got home, I used an online BMI calculator to know what my ideal healthy weight ought to be according to the ideal BMI range for healthy adults. The result showed that I needed to weigh between 47 kg — 63.6 kg. As I have no intention to weigh as little as 47 kg, I aimed to weigh not more than 63 kg and hopefully maintain this weight. On September 5, I recorded my heaviest weight in the year 2020 as 87.9 kg. In the last four months since then, I have lost 18.2 kg. I currently weigh 69.7 kg — 6.7 kg shy of my target weight. I have achieved this by adopting a healthy lifestyle and I am sharing the lessons I have learned on my weight loss journey in this article. I am of the opinion that everyone’s fitness and weight loss journey is different so I do not expect you to do the exact things I did — instead tailor the lessons to suit you.
Lesson 1 — Your Why is the most important part of your fitness journey
The most important factor when embarking on a weight-loss or fitness journey in my opinion is your motivation. It’s your why — the reason behind your decision to lose weight or become fit. In 2019, I went from 92 kg in mid-august to 75 kg by December 31— a total loss of 17 kg. My primary reason for losing weight at the time was to look good and that reason kept me motivated until the lockdown happened and I no longer had places to wear my clothes to. I became complacent and slipped back into my old eating and lifestyle habits until my weight rose to 87.9 kg. Now, I am losing weight not just to look good but to be fit and healthy for the rest of my life so that my body can serve me on my life’s journey and so I don’t have any health issues that are born out of being overweight. Being class 2 obese initiated my fitness journey but it’s no longer the main motivation. I have realized that just like you never arrive when it comes to spiritual and mental growth, you also never arrive at your healthy lifestyle goals — they are all life long journeys. Weight Loss is just a small component of being healthy and fit — it shouldn’t be the primary reason for adopting a healthy lifestyle because it’s easy to slip back into your old habits and pile back on all the weight once you reach your weight loss goal. Let your decision to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits be so that you can be healthy and fit for the rest of your life so your body can serve you well for however long you spend on this earth not just to drop a few pounds.
Lesson 2 — Start with the end in mind
You need to visualize your end goal from the onset. What goal do you want to achieve? If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to get lost on the way or never arrive at your destination. It’s very important to have a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve in terms of fitness. For now, my goal is to get my weight down to 63kg and maintain an active heart rate. Once I attain that goal, my focus would shift to maintaining the weight and getting a more defined muscle tone. Your fitness goal would inform your food and exercise choices. A person whose goal is to build 6 packs or develop muscles eats and exercises differently from the person whose goal is simply to lose weight. I currently eat very little protein and carbs and do mostly cardio exercises because those would help with losing weight. However, I would soon start eating more protein and doing more muscle-building exercises that involve weights, and cycling. The skin around my arms and thighs have become flabby so I need to firm them up through muscle-building exercises. This is the reason why when people say I’ve done well I counter that statement with “I’m doing well — I would only have done well when I reach my goal.” Having a clear, measurable goal keeps you focused and prevents you from becoming complacent when you lose a little weight, your old clothes fit, and you look much better. I’m fine with my looks now but I’m still not in my healthy weight zone so if I was driven by my need to, simply look good, and fit into my old clothes instead of attaining my 63 kg healthy weight goal, I’d have probably stopped being disciplined about fitness. Knowing what you want to achieve and starting with the end in mind drives your decisions. Having my weight loss goal always at the forefront of my mind guides my eating and exercising habits. That’s why a clear goal and a compelling reason are very important in losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Lesson 3 — Fitness builds character in you by helping you become disciplined and consistent
Fitness is more than losing weight and being healthy. It’s also about discipline, consistency, and intentionality. My fitness journey has taught me to be disciplined and consistent like nothing else has done in a long time. It has helped me develop habits that have enabled me to stay consistent on this journey. It has helped me wean my appetite off some foods and taught me that besides water, there is no specific food I can’t live without. I have learned to exercise no matter how late in the day it is just to tick it off in my tracking sheet that I worked out that day. I have learned to carry my own bottles of water wherever I go even to parties so I am not tempted to drink sugary drinks. I have learned to eat only healthy options of food served at parties and/or eat from home to prevent eating things that would mess up my diet. It might seem like extreme measures to some but it is what I need to do in this season and the results I am seeing make the self-denial more than worth it. As someone who never considered herself to be particularly disciplined, fitness has changed that narrative about how I see myself. And it’s especially important because success principles are transferable and I have been able to transfer the discipline, consistency, and self-denial learned from my fitness journey to other areas of my life like my spirituality, finances, and work.
Lesson 4 — You can train your body and appetite
If you ever feel like you can’t do without some food items like sugar in your diet or you can’t work up the energy to walk beyond a certain distance or run or do any other form of exercise, I have come to challenge that mindset — your body and taste buds are trainable and there is no food item except water you can’t do without. You can also train your body or push it to exercise more. You need to believe you can do without certain foods or reduce the portions of those foods and you can exercise otherwise those limiting beliefs would wreck your fitness journey before you even begin. I have gone from a sweet tooth and a soda addict to a drinker of primarily water. I have not eaten yam which used to rank high on my list of favorite foods in months and I no longer miss it because I have lost the taste for it. Its calorific content doesn’t justify the benefit derived from eating it. I realized some foods caused my weight to spike and whenever I ate them the work I needed to do to lose the weight that resulted from eating them wasn’t worth the satisfaction derived from the food, and since I haven’t yet learned to eat those foods in moderation, I decided to eliminate them from my diet until I have weaned myself off them. I am likely to reintroduce them into my diet and start to learn to control my portions in the future. Plantain is my favorite food and I used to eat it several times a week but I realized I had to eat not less than three pieces when I grilled it which is way too many calories so I cut it from my diet and didn’t eat it for almost 2 months and here I am still alive. I have also eliminated bread, sugar, and small chops from my diet for some months now and only had sugar and small chops during the Christmas break and it was in moderation. Like I told one of my friends, the Israelites ate mostly manna and quail for 40 years and did not die so if I never eat some food items again I won’t die. However, I am not ruled by this decision to not eat certain foods. If I feel like eating them, I will eat them. Eating them doesn’t defile me. I have just chosen at this time to abstain from eating them. You don’t have to be this drastic but this is what has worked for me so I am applying it to social media and certain kinds of movies and books. Because I could cut off those foods that weren’t beneficial to my fitness journey, I can cut off all these entertainment sources too if they are no longer beneficial to my mental well-being.
Lesson 5 — Tools are very necessary for adopting a healthy lifestyle
You need tools to succeed in almost every endeavor and fitness is not left out. Google sheets is one of the tools that has helped me on this journey. I use google sheets to track my weight, the food I eat, and the exercises I do daily. The purpose of this is to track my progress and also to figure out what is working and what isn’t working so I can make necessary adjustments that would help ensure I achieve tangible results. Also, tracking my meals and fitness activities in 2019 made it easier to show people what I did to lose weight and also helped me lose weight in 2020 as I merely repeated most of the things I previously did. It was from tracking I knew the foods that caused my weight to spike, that exercising beyond a certain km wasn’t very productive, and that my weight was reducing. My Fitbit watch was also very useful for tracking my weight, runs, and heart rate. The Nike Run Club app helped to track my walks/runs. Listening to worship music on the Amazon music app and listening to sermons as I walked or ran made exercising not only physically rewarding but also mentally rewarding. Listening to Worship music energizes me during my walk/run and turns exercising which I find rather boring (except cycling) into a very enjoyable activity. Work out clothes too are very important. I couldn’t run for a long time until I had a firm sports bra. A little thing like an un-firm sports bra can ruin your exercise routine. Running shoes are equally important as I have had shoes that caused blisters on my feet in the past. Well-fitting and attractive workout clothes that I looked good in also incentivized me to work out if I am being honest. I sweat a lot so I need to always have a face towel on me whenever I am exercising. On days when I realize after I have left the house that I forgot my face towel at home, I go back home to get it before continuing my exercise. Water bottles and food warmers to carry cold water have also been beneficial on my fitness journey so yea tools, which I define as anything that makes your fitness journey easier and better are very important.
Lesson 6 — Having accountability partners helps in adopting a healthy and fit lifestyle
My Accountability group on WhatsApp and the Nike Run Club app have been very beneficial on this journey. I most likely would not have progressed as far and as fast as I have if I did not belong to groups of like-minded individuals who served as accountability partners. I joined a WhatsApp accountability group where we post screenshots of the exercises we do. Knowing I had to take a screenshot of my exercise was a huge motivation to get up to exercise even on days I didn’t feel like it. Also, when I decided to start exercising in the morning instead of in the evening, two people from the group would call my phone in the morning until I picked up. Participating in challenges on the Nike run club app was also a strong source of motivation to exercise. Seeing how much distance others in the challenge had covered would sometimes motivate me to get up and cover my distance for the day.
Lesson 7 — Results are very motivating
It may take a while for you to start seeing results once you change your diet to healthier food options and start exercising but don’t be discouraged because I promise you that once you start to see results in form of more energy and less tiredness, lower numbers on the scale, old clothes fitting, inches lost around your body, etc you’d be so much more motivated to continue. So it’s kinda like inertia — it can be difficult to get the body in motion but once it’s in motion, it is a lot easier for it to remain in motion. There’s an African proverb that goes “if you pee on the same spot continuously, it would eventually foam”. It means that if you keep at anything long enough, you would eventually see results. Those results would in turn motivate you to continue your fitness journey so do not give up.
Lesson 8 — Tweak, Tweak, and Tweak some more
You can’t figure out everything at the beginning of your fitness journey — you start and make adjustments on the way and keep tweaking things until you find what works for you. I tried different foods until I arrived at those foods that are favorable to my weight loss. I also ate several portions until I arrived at the specific portion and quantity of food that’s just enough for my body daily. At some point, I was walking/running 10km daily but reduced it to 7 km when I realized that the additional 3 km didn’t burn as many calories as the first 7 km. I tried HIIT workouts and going to the gym until I realized those do not work for me so I had to find exercises that work for me which are walking, running, and cycling.
6–8 hours of deep sleep does wonders for your body and helps in weight loss.
These are the major lessons I have learned on my fitness journey. The things I did and I am still doing on this journey might seem like a lot to do just to become fit and healthy but remember man is a spirit being who has a soul and lives in a body. All three components are very important. If you are growing spiritually and mentally but unfit you won’t be optimally productive. You need your body to carry out your assignment on earth and as you invest in your spiritual and mental growth and development, you must also invest in your body’s growth and development. Fitness requires time, effort, resources, and knowledge just like the other 2 aspects of your life. So don’t neglect your body and health at the expense of your spirit and soul. I read a quote once that said “it’s easier to maintain your health than it is to regain it”. Being healthy and fit is a huge part of your life!
I think this post answers the “how did you lose weight” question I got from a few people but if you still want me to outline the specific things I do daily, kindly let me know.
Also if you have any questions for me, please ask them in the comments below and I’ll answer them as best as I can.