Sweat for Sweet
If there is anything that is challenging, it is losing fat, especially belly fat after you have accumulated enough of it. It reaches a point where you get disgusted by the image you see in the mirror when you look at yourself because you just can’t believe how much fat you have accumulated around you. Well, I guess not everyone feels this way but I have to admit this is something I have been dealing with for the last month or so and even though I know I didn’t accumulate the Michelin tyres around my tummy in a day, I still wish I could get rid of them in one workout. But like fitness gurus say, it’s not just exercises but also what you eat that determines how fast and how easily you lose the fat.
It is for this reason that I am always glued to Citizen Tv every Friday around 10pm to watch a show called Slim Possible, the current season being season 5. Just like the name suggests, the show brings together several women who are extremely obese and for about twelve weeks, they take them through a complete lifestyle change that encapsulates eating habits, dietary ideas, workout combos etc. In a nutshell, the show helps the women realize that how they look lies within their control. Of course unless you weigh 135kgs plus you wouldn’t understand the value this program brings to the lives of these women but if you have battled with weight, then you will appreciate the show and the concept behind the show. Well, for me, I watch the show so as to get workable tips on what exercises to do for what body part, and also what foods to consume if I want the Michelin tyres around my waist to “dissolve”.
Of course when you weigh more than a sack of sugar you do look like one and for us women, a lot of that weight is carried around our midriff and our behinds. This means that when you enter a public vehicle the likelihood of you sharing a seat with someone else is very low because you take up the space of 3 people. Owing to this, the bus conductor will force you to pay for the 3 seats and if it is during rush hour, you might not even be allowed to get onto the bus because you become an obstacle to other passengers. As a result, the first thing that goes is your self-esteem and with it, your self confidence, as many of the ladies in the fitness academy pointed out. Needless to say, one of the main reasons they sited for joining the academy was so that they can regain their self-confidence. I translated this to mean that when you look nice, you feel confident and of course your confidence is seen through how you carry yourself and behave around people.
As I have been following this season of Slim Possible, I have come to appreciate the hard work those ladies have been putting in. You see, if you do not lose weight in the course of the week then the likelihood of you being eliminated from the academy is very high. If you have ever tried to lose weight especially through combining a diet and exercises, you will know that at some point you stop shedding as many kilos as you used to initially. This is because at some point, your body becomes used to the exercises you have been doing and unless you come up with others, then you stop shedding as fast as you used to before.
This being the case, and since all the ladies want to remain in the academy, it means that they have to work extra hard and be very creative in their exercising to ensure that every week they lose enough weight to ensure they remain in the academy. Needless to say, this is a tedious process, one that requires a lot of dedication, devotion, determination, discipline, focus, persistence, creativity and of course a complete lifestyle change. For instance, if you used to eat 12 sausages and 8 eggs for breakfast, you now have to do with two eggs and a cup of green tea, coupled with 2 slices of brown bread and maybe some oatmeal. Of course for someone whose breakfast could have been mistaken for a meal for 8 people, cutting down on those portions is not easy. It requires serious discipline and determination but if you can be able to do this for 21 days consecutively, then congratulations because you just succeeded in creating a new great habit. Please note that this goes for all meals not just breakfast.
Like I mentioned already, this calls for a complete lifestyle shift. If for instance you were used to sleeping for 3 hours a night, to increase your chances of losing weight you must now start sleeping for a minimum of 6 hours daily. If you were a guzzler, meaning you take in alcohol like a dry sponge soaking up water, then you need to make a decision to either stop guzzling or make a conscius decision to consume low carbs alcohol.
If you have a magnet that seems to pull chocolate and all manner of sweet stuff to your mouth, then you need to disengage that magnet from your body because there’s nothing that acts as a weight increasing catalyst like sugar does. Of course if you used to spend a lot of time sitting on the couch just watching TV, now you have to sacrifice that and instead spend that time maybe walking or skipping around your compound to burn calories. Besides, the more of a couch potato you become, the more junk you consume. Motivate yourself by getting yourself a wearable activity monitor like the Nike Fuel Band or Samsung Gear. This will help you keep tabs on how active you have been in any given day.
Needless to say, some of the choices you have to make in order to succeed in your endeavor to get back into shape can be quite tough. For instance in the case of ladies, especially those of us with African hair, you might be forced to cut your hair short because you realize that maintaining long hair is not easy when you have to workout a sweat every day. However, if you have the time and the money to visit the hair saloon every other 2nd day then you have nothing to worry about. Point of caution ladies: If you are wearing a weave then be ready to have it washed every other alternate day because after a few days of sweating it starts stinking horribly; same goes for braids.
Tough decisions have to be made in order to achieve what you want to achieve, hence my saying that keeping a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of dedication. At some point you might even realize that the friends you are keeping are not helping you achieve your goals and instead, they keep taking you back to the same practices that led you to 135kgs in the first place. In order to ensure you do not get back to that point, you might have no choice but to (nicely) cut them off your life.
Thinking about it now as I write this post, I realize that the same characteristics are required of someone who really wants to live an impactful life. You have to be dedicated to your course, focused on your goals and sometimes even having to shed off a few habits that hinder you from achieving your purpose. All this does not come easy but it requires the same characteristics that losing weight requires. You need to get to a point where you decide enough is enough and that you need to make some changes in your life. Those changes might require you to go through the pain of losing certain elements of your life, but like someone once said, no pain no gain and no sweet without sweat.
You will be required to rethink certain elements of your life that you probably hadn’t considered before such as the people you keep around you, the material you feed your mind (and body - literally), what you spend your time doing, etc. You want to change the world, how about you start by changing yourself! Like Leo Tolstoy said, “everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”.
In conclusion, what areas of your life do you think you need to work on this week? Identify them, and then determine the steps you need to take in order to make those changes real. To quote Steve Maraboli, “incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power instead of craving control over what you don’t”.
Wishing you positive change this week.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 30th November, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".