Gbotemi Aloro is a dear friend. This is a post by her about her weight-loss journey. You’d be touched; I was.
I have struggled with my weight and stature all my life. I remember how Tope Olowookere and Kamar Alesinloye (my classmates in primary school) gave me a nickname: Mrs. Bakare; a fat, ugly character from one of our story books, and how they bullied me and made the whole class laugh at me. I would get so angry, cry and I even fought them a couple of times (Kamar has a permanent scar on his arm from one of the fights). I was the biggest in my class, and I was always very embarrassed because I looked much older than my class mates. This, I would say, robbed me of my self-esteem; I was that timid, sad little girl with very few friends.
My stature was hereditary; both mum and dad were on the big side (they’ve also lost so much weight now). I watched my dad struggle with his weight and he would sing the impact of weight gain on one’s health to my ears every time, and each time I complained of any little health condition, he would attribute it to my weight. “Watch what you eat” was his constant admonition to me each time. God knows I tried everything possible, from portion control to starving myself, I even developed stomach ulcer all in the struggle to lose weight. I prayed and fasted about it particularly, and it remained on my prayer request list until very recently.
Secondary school wasn’t so bad, but I continued to be the biggest girl in each class I found myself and got used to being unhappy. My weight blew out of proportion during the long break between SS3 and Pre-degree. It was like I gained weight with every meal and I was adding every single day. I got into Pre-degree with a battered self-esteem and, unfortunately, Chemistry and Mathematics started showing me flames. To cut the long story short, I became depressed. I struggled, I would cry at any little discomfort, and I lost interest in virtually everything. The only thing I seemed to know how to do properly then was cooking and eating (I’m a good cook, for the record. Lol!).
I got into OAU after Pre-degree, and another phase of life began. People around me were getting into relationships but I wasn’t, and I concluded it was because my size wasn’t attractive. Apparently, I attribute everything that went wrong in my life to my body size. I eventually got into one that didn’t work due to some irreconcilable issues, low self-worth also contributed. I thought I wasn’t treated right because I wasn’t attractive. I remember loving this guy so deeply, but we had an agreement to keep it private because he didn’t want to be embarrassed. Let me just stop on relationships, or I would go on and on.
Cooking remained my favourite hobby. I derived so much pleasure from eating my home-made sumptuous meals with all the assorted stuff (Kunle Koledoye and Isaac Aire can relate; they owe me). All along, I tried all sorts just to lose weight, but my first major breakthrough happened in Part 4 when I met Mosh Aloaye at the squash court. He agreed to be my trainer and we would meet at sport centre every morning to exercise. The result was awesome, would have been mind-blowing if only I started early and maintained the lifestyle. I went back home in 2012 after my final exams, and stayed at home for about six months. I tried so hard not to gain weight; I starved myself so much that the stomach ulcer became severe, but it didn’t work. I still gained. I developed a phobia for weighing scales because I started developing all kinds of health conditions, and each time I went to the hospital, I was forced to stand on the scale and the doctors will go, “You are overweight (obese, even) which is not healthy. You need to lose some weight”, like I didn’t know.
Then service year came. I was one of those people who could not find their uniform sizes, so I had to take the largest size I found to Mami market for extension (the irony!). Finding my size in shops was another issue; I would walk the length and breadth of Oshodi market and Idumota to find jean skirts and dresses, and it got more difficult by the day.
Fast forward to April 2015, I uploaded a picture on Facebook and people started commenting that I had lost weight, although I wasn’t doing anything serious about my weight at that time but I guess school stress and a change of environment helped. I was inspired by the likes and comments, and so I made an open commitment to lose more weight. I found the school gym and I became a regular visitor there. I remember the first time I went there: I stepped on the scale and my heart skipped as usual as the numbers ran so quickly until it stopped at about 95.7kg, but I was motivated I had lost some kgs ( don’t ask what I was weighing before then). I started doing 30mins on the treadmill every day and I started seeing results, it was slow though cause I hadn’t changed my eating habit. I started meeting people at the gym, and I was inspired by their stories, from achieving their target size to relapsing, so I set a target size for myself (70kg). By July 2015, I had lost only about 5kg, but I was encouraged although I knew I still had a long way to go. I tried some shortcuts; I started checking for how to lose weight online, subscribed to this site that was advertising Garcinia cambogia. Then, I ordered a pack, and it cost a fortune. I followed the prescription strictly until I finished the whole pack, but my weight didn’t move an inch. I was sad I had wasted money. Then I visited my uncle and his family during the holiday and his wife taught me some detox recipe, and that was the beginning of my breakthrough. She also recommended a green tea product, I devised my own recipe and it worked! I started seeing obvious results in a few weeks. I was getting my confidence back, so I intensified my work out.
After the holiday, I met Zanele Thobela, an amazing friend. She was on a no-carbs diet at that time, and she made me realise the kinds of food I eat will slow down the rate at which the weight drops off me. Luckily, she moved in with me and I started imitating her diet. I had to devise my own recipe again, I gradually removed carbs until I got used to vegetables. It was a very strict diet I must say: you have to weigh your food on a scale, count calories, etc. which I knew wouldn’t work for me. So I had to think about the eating styles that would suit me. I ensured my food portion reduced every passing day until I got just the right portion I needed to maintain the weight loss. I stopped eating rice (my best food, I never knew I could let go of rice) and all carbs, beef, carbonated drinks, sugar in all its forms, fried foods, I even removed oil at a point. I started eating beans, vegetable roast, couscous in place of rice etc. This was a serious phase of the weight loss journey for me, my body was struggling to adjust, I get tired easily and people would complain I was looking pale and sick, but I soon got over that stage, and my body adjusted. I tried other weight loss products in between (Herbex weight loss/fat burn pack), but I realised my weight loss was a function of my diet and exercise. I do not mean that these products doesn’t work but a change in diet and exercise is all you need to experience the miracle.
It’s been a year and four months since I started this journey. My initial weight goal was 70kg; I later increased to 65kg when the weight started dropping off. A friend’s mum then advised I make it 60kg, so 60kg became the target weight. Today I weigh 62kg. I have dropped 33kgs so far, and I still press on towards the goal.
To everyone out there struggling to lose weight, I advise that you love and accept yourself first. Don’t allow your size rob you of your joy. Remember you are beautifully and fearfully made no matter what you weigh. All you need to do is take charge of your eating habit and life style, and remember you can do all things. If I could come this far, then trust me, you can.
Tips for everyone who has been asking; (these are some of the things that worked for me; it’s not a general rule).
The First stage was detoxing: one of my recipes; spinach, cucumber, apple, garlic, ginger, lemon and a bit of cayenne pepper (blend all) for breakfast.
Second stage: reduce your carbs if you can, cut it for a while. Reduce your fat and oil consumption, cut all soft/cold drinks. Stop taking anything that contains sugar; replace all snacks with fruits and vegetables like apple and carrot.
Third stage: look for a good brand of green tea, add a bit of honey or lime/lemon, and drink as often as you can.
Fourth stage: check for healthy smoothies recipes, you can replace your heavy dinner with an healthy smoothie
Fifth stage: consistent indoor and outdoor exercise.
Change your habits and the excess weight will drop off.
Gbotemi has offered to mentor three ladies in their mid/late twenties weighing over 90kg and struggling with weight loss. If you fall into this category, or know someone who does, holler. Contact her on Facebook