The Big Fat Me!
‘When you refuse to settle for less than the best...the best tends to track you down.’ ~ Mandy Hale
Never arrive, never allow yourself to arrive. Never thrive in your comfort zone. The consequences will catch up with you sooner than you know.
This was I at 90kgs! I was as fat as a porpoise, but life was good. I was not where I wanted to be, but I had most of the things I needed in life. So there was nothing to worry about. I didn’t care much. Dieting and keeping fit were not my vocabulary. Life was about eating, drinking and sleeping – doesn’t get better than that right?
Back then, I used to work in the field (in a remote part of northern Kenya, away from the city). Life was just about work, eating and drinking in the same confinement. It was a humanitarian kind of prison. When things got tough, I would get consolation from food and drinking. Boy, did I love my bottle of beer! Cold Tusker Lite under the melting northern sun to be specific! Little did I know of the harm I was doing to my body. That is how slowly I developed bad eating habits and became a hard drinker.
Up there in the hot and arid north, fresh fruits and vegetables was not easy to come by on a daily basis. The menu was full of oily and spicy starch and meat, and we would only get fruits and vegetables once a week. Complaining about food is a no-no in African culture (or at least the part of Africa where I come from). Therefore, we ate what was served and looked forward with excitement and longing to the one day in the weekday that fruits and vegetables would show up on our plates. In addition, in true African tradition (at least in the part of Africa where I come from) we would water it down the balanced meal with alcohol, while listening to some good music. The truth is, life in the bundus was extremely boring and every little thing would call for celebration.
Anyway, how then did I make a turnaround in my life?
One day I came back to Nairobi for few days of rest and relaxation and needed to catch up a few friends before going back. On this particular day, I was to meet Redempta in Eastlands. It was morning hours and the weather was warm and bright. We had not seen each other for quite a while. She was the first to spot me across the road along a busy market and for some reason she seemed shocked at my appearance and screamed in dismay! Upon reaching her, she said that she was only able to recognise me through my face but not my body because that was not me. She said I was a moving mass! That I was big and looked like a drum! Now Redempta is an old close friend and I value her honest opinions, but her reaction gave me mixed feelings. I was taken aback. I did not know how to react, and in my confusion, I stood glued to ground, deeply perplexed. Redempta’s loud reaction had drawn the attention of the people around us!
Later, when we got into her car, she asked me what the problem was. As far as I was concerned, I was fine and healthy. I could not understand all the fuss she was making about my weight. The previous month, I had traveled to my motherland in Pokot. The reaction of my momma’s clan when they saw me was different. They turned to her and whispered ….’’your daughter is doing well!…’’ and my momma clearly agreed, telling me I looked good and seemed healthy and happy. In traditional African culture, fatness was associated with having a good life, being rich and wealthy. Being thin meant, you were either sick or suffering from something or were poor.
Fast forward to when I got home that evening. I replayed the whole ordeal with Redempta and it got me thinking hard. I started questioning my lifestyle and everything about me, and that is when I realised I was actually doing badly. I needed to change my lifestyle. But did I do something about it, right there and then? Of course not! I let it pass and resigned myself to fate….
A year later, I changed jobs and came back to the city. Life was good as usual. I was enjoying everything it was offering to me. One morning, I was sent for the routine medical tests before signing contracts. After few days, my medical report was out. The doctor looked at me and said ‘Madam, everything is okay with you but…..’ Before he completed his sentence, I interjected, ‘But what?’ I was so tense! It sounded like he was about to read my death sentence. My mind started racing wildly. ‘Did I mess up somewhere?’ I don’t know about you but medical tests always drive some chills in my spine- whether I have reason to fear or not!
When the doctor realised I was in shock, he calmed me down and explained everything bit by bit. My medical report was perfect but my cholesterol level had hit the red mark. I was in the danger zone and if I didn’t do something, I was at high risk of getting life style diseases like diabetes type 2 , high blood pressure, cancer etc. This was a wake-up call for me! Then I remembered Redempta’s reaction by the roadside, how I dismissed it! Probably because she was not a doctor… I felt guilty.
I was put under observation for about 3 months and had to slowly make changes in my life whether I liked it or not. Did I have an option? I wish I had, but no, I was under obligation to change my eating habits, reduce my calorie intake, reduce my drinking and start exercising. In short, I had to start living a healthy and responsible life.
I started changing little by little. I started walking and could sometimes run round around our court. It was a struggle in the beginning. Changing old habits is not easy. You need to be patient with yourself. I started appreciating one of my friends who loved exercising. Caro used to (up to now) go to the gym and run. Karura Forest was and is still her thing! One day she invited me to Karura and I decided to join her. It was hard the first day. Afterwards, I would go but not so often. I would struggle to keep up with her pace but wapi! I finally decided to take it slow and maintain my pace.
That was some time in 2014. With time, things started changing. I didn’t rush to make a huge difference in a short span. I allowed time to take its effect. I was not consistent in the beginning. I kept falling down along the way. I would give up, but after a while get back on track. By 2016, I had developed some consistency, slowly by slowly. I also met more people who took exercising seriously and I got more motivated. I enrolled in a gym and did more running in Karura Forest. In 2017, what had seemed impossible at some point happened. I moved from 90kgs to 65kg. (My target is 60kgs and rest it there) I was elated!
How long did I achieve this? Not over night! It was a gradual process within a period of about 2 to 3 years. If I did it, you can also do it. Are you ready? Are you inspired enough?
One of my colleagues friend Amor, who is so passionate about food and living healthy, bought me a book called The First Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer. This was a gift to me when I narrated to her my weight loss journey. She could not believe it. From this book, I learned something about intermittent fasting that am trying to practice. Amor has been doing it for some time and it seems it has worked for her. I just started and so far so good!
Internment fasting is a weight loss strategy that works by simply cutting out snacks and one meal a day. It involves eating fewer calories 2 days in a week; 5:2 diet without a pain. The rest of the days, you just eat normally but proportionally. Therefore, you are not on a calories restriction mode that can be brutal. The day you are fasting, you are supposed to take only 600 calories within 12 hours but you can split it in two. Breakfast 250 calories and Supper 350 calories.
What are the benefit of intermittent fasting?
According to the book ~ The First Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer
- When you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Your cells also initiate important cellular and gene repair processes. Reduced insulin also lowers blood sugar levels especially in men.
- It helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting metabolism. It is a very effective tool to lose weight and belly fat.
- Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidation damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases.
Your body is what you generally eat and the moderate exercises that you like doing on a frequent basis period. There is no super magic behind it.
Try this and let me know the outcome after 3 to 6 months!
“No matter how good you get you can always get better, and that's the exciting part.” ~ Tiger Wood