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Firecracker Toyeen: Lessons I Learned from Achieving My 63 kg Weight Goal (1)

Lessons I Learned from Achieving My 63 kg Weight Goal is a 2-part series and this is the first of it.

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In September 2020, I checked my Body Mass Index (BMI) at a pharmacy, and 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. Before that day, my mum had sent me an article that said overweight women tend to have difficulty birthing children and my friend who’s a doctor confirmed it was true. 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 48 kg  —  64.8 kg. As I have no intention to weigh as little as 48 kg, I aimed to weigh 63 kg.

On September 5, I recorded my heaviest weight in the year 2020 as 87.9 kg. I began a weight loss journey at the beginning of November to weigh, which I tagged #journeyto63kg. I achieved my goal on March 13, 2021, and I have been in maintenance mode since then. I have achieved this by adopting a healthy and fit 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. You can, instead, tailor the lessons to suit you.

 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; 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. This time, I embarked on a health and fitness journey not only to lose weight, but also 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 realised 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 lifelong 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 borne out of the desire to be healthy and fit for the rest of your life so your body can serve you well during your time on earth.

 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. My initial goal was to get my weight down to 63kg and maintain an active heart rate. Now that I have achieved that goal, my focus is to maintain 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. While I was losing weight, I ate very little protein and carbs and did mostly cardio exercises because those would help with losing weight. Now that I am in maintenance mode, I eat more carbs simply because I still do cardio exercises like walking and running which would ensure I continued to lose weight if I stuck to my old diet. The skin around my arms and thighs has become flabby so I need to firm them up through muscle-building exercises.

Prior to achieving my goal, when people said I had done well, I countered their 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. 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 the minute I started to look good even when I wasn’t in my healthy weight zone.

Knowing what you want to achieve and starting with the end in mind drives your decisions. Having my fitness goal at the forefront of my mind guides my eating and exercising habits and it would do the same for you if you have a clear goal and a compelling reason for losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

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. In the 6-month period it took me to attain my goal, fitness 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 learned to exercise no matter how late in the day it was just to tick it off in my tracking sheet that I worked out that day. I learned to carry bottles of water with me everywhere I went including parties so I wouldn’t get tempted to drink sugary drinks. I 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 needed to do in that season and the results made 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.

You can train your body and appetite

If you ever feel like you can’t do without some food items like having sugar in your diet, or you can’t work up the energy to walk beyond a certain distance, 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, that 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.

In the six months it took to attain my goal, I went from a sweet tooth and a soda addict to a drinker of primarily water. I did not eat yam, which used to rank high on my list of favourite foods in months, because its calorific content doesn’t justify the benefit derived from eating it, and I no longer miss it because I have lost the taste for 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 gained from eating them wasn’t worth the satisfaction derived from the food, and since I hadn’t yet learned to eat those foods in moderation, I decided to eliminate them from my diet.

Plantain is my favourite food and I used to eat it several times a week but I realised 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 also eliminated bread, sugar, and small chops from my diet and only had sugar and small chops during the Christmas break and it was in moderation. I reintroduced a few of them into my diet now that I have learned to control my portions and I have achieved my goal but there are some I still do not eat.

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. You don’t have to be this drastic but this is what worked for me so I applied the principle to some social handles and certain kinds of movies and books. Because I could cut off foods that weren’t beneficial to my fitness journey, I could cut off all those entertainment sources too that were no longer beneficial to my mental well-being.

To be continued…

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