For as long as I can remember I have been obese, actually not just obese but morbidly obese, despite a couple of health scares, warnings from medical personnel, sarcastic comments from “friends”, being excluded by people socially etc. I still did not do anything about my weight. Well not until 2012, I had been complaining of serious knee problems, I could barely stand for more than 5 minutes without looking for something to lean over (something that would actually take off the weight from my upper body that was crippling my knees), kneeling down at the altar for communion became problematic so I stopped going forward for communion.
Being a, medical personnel, the need to perform CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) is inevitable which means regular training to update techniques is required. Now for those who don’t know, CPR has to be performed with the patient lying flat on their back on the ground and the person performing it on their knees, this was a major problem for me and I could not comply.
I then summoned up the courage to visit my doctor I use the phrase “summoning up courage” because over here in the UK, whenever you fall within the category of being slightly overweight any ailment you present the doctor with, will be attributed to your weight. The doctor decided to refer me to the surgical orthopaedic consultant (Mr Thilagarajah).
Before I even saw the doctor I was sent for an x-ray by the nurse. I knew this would be the case so I went well prepared by wearing; clean knickers (not that I don’t normally) just that these ones were brand new out of the packet, I also wore a skirt which is kind of rare to see me wearing nowadays, I decided to go for the skirt option as I did not want them to tell me to pull down my trousers or put on a hospital gown that most likely would not fit me let alone covering all the bits of my body that I would like to hide.
I said a silent prayer as I mounted the x-ray table praying that it would not collapse underneath me, as I lay there waiting patiently for them to take photographs of my bones I tried so hard not to breath worried that any slight movement might cause “katakata”(as my people say), after a few minutes it was finally done and I stood up.
I then looked at the two radiographers waiting for them to tell me I could go back to the waiting room but one of them pointed to a little ladder and asked me to climb to the second rung as they wanted to do further x-rays to determine “weight bearing”, I looked at this ladder and thought to myself “surely they cannot be serious”, one of them came over to me as if to hurry me up, I said a quick silent prayer calling all the saints and angels to come and hold me and protect me from falling, my greatest fear of falling is not the humiliation or embarrassment no far from it, nope my greatest fear is the fear of not being able to get up from the ground.. (Okay you can all stop laughing now).
So after modelling like Naomi Campbell for the radiographers to enable them get my knees in the exact angles they wanted, I went back to the waiting room. After a long wait it was finally my turn to see the consultant, as I walked in I saw this skinny man sitting in a chair take a quick glance at me from head to toe, as I sat down, without even exchanging pleasantries he went straight for the jugular and asked “so what are you doing about your weight?”, without knowing what I was doing, I looked around his consulting room to make sure I was in the orthopaedic clinic and not a weight loss clinic, when I was convinced that I was in the right place I replied, I am unable to exercise because my knees are limiting my movement, he rudely stopped me and said it’s not about exercising its more about what you eat. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable and felt my eyes welling up as I know I am fat but it hurts when someone reinforces it.
After looking at my x ray, he told me that my knees looked like the knees of an 82 year old woman and I am a candidate for knee replacement surgery in the next 5-10 years and concluded; “I doubt if you will live that long”. He requested to see me in a year’s time. I looked at him nodding my head like an “agama lizard”, he finally told me to step on the scales and I told him that I didn’t want to (haha thank God for freedom of choice), he then said he would like to see me in a year’s time and I replied “God willing”.
As I left the hospital that day, I vowed that I was going to change my eating habits and try and become more active, I promised myself that I would never give anyone any reason to look at me and just see “fat” and not see “the person within”, I made a decision that I was going do whatever I can (within reason) to make sure that the shield of fat that has been covering “me” for years would disappear.
I wrote down the reasons why I wanted to lose weight and came up with the following;
- I am tired of people not looking deeper and beyond the “layers of fat”, to see the real me;
- I am tired of only being able to buy my clothes from certain shops;
- I am tired of having every medical condition I complain of being linked to my weight;
- I am tired of having to ask for an extension belt each time I board a flight;
- I am tired of not being able to ride a motorbike aka Okada;
- I am tired of not being able to ride a horse;
- I am tired of not being able to dance all night long;
- I am tired of huffing and puffing each time I climb the stairs;
- I am tired of not being able to run for a bus or train;
- I am tired of being described as the fat lady!!!!
I didn’t know how to start, the mention of the word “diet” petrified me, the thought of exercise scared me, I knew there were options out there that people had been doing and losing weight on them such as; Cambridge diet, lighter life etc, but I loved my food too much to live on milk shakes, soups and cereal bars, I knew these worked in the interim but I also knew that they are not sustainable. A few days later I started the journey to become healthier and in three days I lost 2 lbs (0.91kg), I reduced the amount of food I ate by cutting out EVERYTHING!!! That is fat laden or highly calorific and eating more fruits during the day and having my main meal in the evening and I believed my stomach had shrunk. One night I sat down and did a review of the week, I was beginning to become bored on this “diet”, I knew it wouldn’t last, I needed something sustainable, something that was not too regimental, something that would let me eat what I wanted, when I wanted (within reason) and still lose weight.
A few days later I went to a shop and was looking at some healthy/diet magazines, I found one that I could relate to, I read it from cover to cover and was inspired, I then signed up with them; I was officially weighed in I was given a food diary to maintain and given a list of foods that are called “Free foods” (I am allowed to eat as much of these as I want) and they guarantee that I will lose weight, I know I will find it difficult to stick to their plan as their plan involves me eating more than I would normally eat, but I will give it a try and keep on going for the weekly weighing in sessions and meetings as its all motivational. Although their menus/foods they advertised and talked about where mainly English foods, I used the principles and applied it to my way of cooking Nigerian food and surprisingly the weight started to fall off me.
I made one promise to myself and to all those who cared about me and this was; THIS IS IT!!!! This is the time I have chosen and decided to turn my life around.
I am not sure what it was that the Consultant had said to me that was so different to what others had been saying to me over the years? That, I cannot tell, I had been told before by many;
– That I was shortening my life span due to the excess weight I was carrying around.
– That I will not live to see my children grow.
– That my husband will leave me.
– That I cannot get a good job because of the way I looked.
– That my high blood pressure was due to me being morbidly obese.
As long as it was negative and sounded dooming and full of gloom, I had heard it. But I guess it was the way he spoke to me not just the fear of telling me that I will have to have my knees replaced in the next couple of years. I think it was more the fact that he told me plainly without mincing words that he did not think I would live to come back and see him in a year’s time to see him for my follow up appointment, he challenged me, I took it as a dare – “I dare you to be alive next year” and like a child who loves playing “daring games”, I decided to take him up on his challenge and made sure that I would not die and definitely go back to see him in a year.
It has not been all smooth sailing throughout my journey, to a healthier me”, at times it seemed to have “plateaued”. I felt disappointed as I know I have done so well, I “upped” the exercise and yet again, I had another gain, despite all my hard work, I felt like crying when I stepped on the scales, but I tried to “hold it together” as I did not want sympathy as I sat in group last night I felt like a failure, I was there physically but mentally my mind had wandered off.
Deep inside I began to feel, that maybe I am destined to be FAT but I made a decision to continue plodding on. I’m not trying to look perfect, I just want to feel better, look great and know I am healthy and able to rock any outfit I choose.
My first weigh in was over 160kg, I have since lost over 60kg and the weight is still falling off as I am still following the plan – Thankfully the plan is not a diet just a permanent healthy lifestyle change, I am not quite there yet, I still have a long way to go, but as they say “slow and steady wins the race”.
I have been very transparent with my journey to a healthier me via social media and a lot of people have told me how my story/chronicles of weight loss have inspired them, I have now decided to bring the secret of my weight loss to Nigeria, as I know obesity is becoming a major issue in Nigeria, I know the time is write as people are now becoming more health conscious, more informed and more aware of the health risks associated with obesity.
I am passionate about helping others fight obesity so that they don’t have to become candidates for knee replacement surgery or develop any other life threatening ailments related to obesity and that is why I have come up with the Slim with Ease plan, which is a healthy food plan that incorporates the Nigerian menu, believing strongly by my motto that states; If I can do it then so can others.
In November 2014, Slim with Ease was launched in Lagos and was a huge success, with several people signing on to the program at the launch and since then. Every single person who signed up has lost a significant amount of weight and been able to keep the weight off, despite eating their normal food and without the aid of; pills, shakes, supplements, calorie counting or portion controlling.
When Slim with Ease was started, Nina only had Nigerians living in Nigeria in mind and designed the program for them alone. Due to the huge success, sustainability of the plan, great testimonies of those who are on the plan including several medical personnel who have all signed up to the plan and are seeing results, Slim with ease has now opened its doors globally and now has several members from USA, Canada, UK, Ukraine, Ghana and Cameroon all on the plan, and enquiries from all other countries are still coming in.
Following the huge success of the Lagos launch and the positive testimonies of all those who signed up and have stuck to the plan, Nina will be at Nanet Suites, Plot 1042 Kur Mohammed Street, Abuja on the 20th of June 2015 to share her story in the hope that others will be inspired to join her on a healthy journey.