Writing this piece is a bit difficult for me. Not because I have a problem with words, but because as opposed to preaching or instructing I would rather tell you a story… My story. So if you allow be to honest and totally vulnerable here, then I promise to make it worth your while, and hopefully inspire.
I want to first state that I have NEVER been a health conscious person. I ate what I wanted at any time of the day, and was ‘lucky’ to have it all buried in my 5’11” frame. It was so easy when I was younger. I would notice clothes tighten around my frame but no one on the outside looking in would, because “You’re so tall so you carry it well”.
As the years went on, my muscle mass started disappearing… Especially around my mid-riff. My breast grew bigger (why am I complaining right?), my thighs rounded up nice, and the butt I always wanted decided to make an appearance (HELLO!). A lot of people noticed my new body ‘shape’ – especially the men of course – and as I slowly got ushered into the my 30’s I found out no pants or jeans in my closet fit anymore, and I began to live in just tights and baggy shorts. The men liked this even more.
However the “I can carry the weight ‘cos Im tall’ excuse began to fail me. My breasts became so big and combined with my now fat, bulky shoulders and arms I began to look like a line backer in an American football game. If I raised my arms up high enough, they could work as sails for a small boat.. sound familiar? Sigh
I slowly moved into the world of spanx. Dressing up became a chore as NOTHING fit anymore and I refused to buy sizes UP, promising myself I was going to ‘diet’. “I’m just Big Boned”, I told myself. My diet consisted of skipping a meal and them making up for it times TEN when the next meal time rolled by – Sound familiar.
I would go to the store to buy a shaving stick, but instead, make out like a bandit with a cart full of chocolates, biscuits, alcohol and chips… “For the house”. The treats ‘for the house’ became 1am snacks shared between my Ilasa/Terrier mix, Stewie and I. I was spiraling down and could not find any way to help myself.
Things got worse when I went on an all-inclusive packaged holiday to Barbados. It was beautiful scenery and a great backdrop to watch while everything went into my mouth. Imagine having no restrictions on food or alcohol? I can barely look at the photos now. Bikini what? I was in shorts and a baggy shirt the entire time. The more I fell into depression about my weight, the more I ate for fleeting happiness… only to be back at one… Depressed about my weight again. It was a tragic cycle.
I host a show annually “Maltina Dance All’ and I had just over a week to report to set after my Barbados vacation. I remember being in my hotel room fitting for the first shoot that evening with my stylist, BOLAJI ANIMASHAUN and a rep from the client company. It was PAINFUL!! NOTHING FIT! The first episode where I wore this beautiful canary dress was shot entirely from the front. The reason being that I could not be zipped up entirely into the dress. Even with a spanx on! How EMBARRASSING. And it was a size 10 American dress. I kept deluding myself I wasn’t past a size 10. I kept blaming the stylist that she had not gotten a proper size 10.
Fitting for the shows became such a chore. There was a silent prayer before I put on any dress. Lots of outfits were camouflaged with jackets because the zips couldn’t be pulled all the way up. I had to have multiple options for every fitting, It was a nightmare!!
The Image That Started The Journey
The nightmare didn’t end there though. After the pre-recorded episodes ran on air, my social media feeds were riddled with comments about my weight gain and people asking if I was pregnant. Have I already mentioned that this was a NIGHTMARE. The camera definitely adds pounds and I felt I looked like a WALRUS!! My thighs were humongous and flabby, my breasts had grown so much that in a bra, they looked like they were going to strangle my neck. My cheeks looked like they were playing “peekaboo” with my eyes. A small smile had my cheeks covering my eyes like shutters. My second chin had been going on dates with my collar bones. Maybe this description seems a bit extreme, but you have to understand how I felt about my body, even if it was ‘partially’ in my head. But still what did I do? How did I comfort myself.. more eating late, red wine, chocolates in bed, biscuits at 12am…the full 9yards. During the show’s finale, I wore this BEAUTIFUL slinky, sparkly dress. Packaged like a burrito in my Spanx, I looked great. At least I thought I did. Now If only I remember to ‘suck in’ I will be fine.
I remember being hurried for press photos just before the show. I felt far from confortable, talk less of sexy or ‘foooine’. I did my photo duty and went on ahead to host the show LIVE!! I did great and everything went well… at least till the photos came out online and in the papers a couple days later.. O….M….G!!! The main official photo being circulated was from such a horrible angle and a bad photo. I KNOW I had gained weight but the angle didn’t help. My face looked puffy, I looked a good ten years older than my age, my protruding gut looked like I had a secret 4 month old pregnancy I was hiding, my heels were bursting out of my shoes, I just wanted to roll up into a ball and cry. Then this blog (with obvious intentions) puts up this horrible picture, in a split screen with another lady that was OBVIOUSLY having a one off bad fashion day as well, with the caption “WHO LOOKED BETTER?”. You can imagine the comments underneath the post. Do I dare repeat? Let me share some of them. “…And I used to think this Kemi Adetiba was fine oh… Ewwww!!!”, “Kemi should be ashamed of herself. She hasn’t had kids yet, but she looks like this???”, “Kemi makes too much money to be looking like this, look at her swollen legs, her Akpu stuffed belle”.
Every comment was like a dagger, but like a train wreck, I couldn’t help going back to the page, refreshing to see the new comments underneath. This was the turning point. I had had enough. I polished off a box of chocolates. It was my goodbye to this life. I was determined to make a change. This blog post – no matter the intention – became my motivation!!
Two days later, I took out my weave, and put my hair into braids. No ‘sweating out’ weave situation was going to deter me. I joined a gym and contracted a personal trainer there, but that did not last long. After 3 sessions I was done. First of all, I did not trust the trainer’s knowledge enough to assist me on my weight loss journey, and secondly, the idea of sitting in an hour traffic for just 45minutes with the trainer at the gym was a major bolt to my determination.
Faced with these challenges I had an epiphany. I had to eliminate all the things that kept me from changing my lifestyle. I had taken out my weave and had braids done, so I eliminated the excuse of ‘sweating out my weave’. Next was the traffic to the gym killing my motivation. The next morning, I strapped on sneakers and started jogging round my estate. I started with 5 laps of brisk walking. Next day I ‘ran’ 2 laps. Day after that it was 2 laps of brisk walk and 2 laps of running. Eventually I graduated to one lap walking, one lap running. By the end of the month, I was able to run full 5 laps without any breaks. I felt like death at the end of the 5th lap but I was ABLE to do it. I did this at least 3-4 times a week.
People started noticing the weight loss, “Your face is getting slimmer”. Everyone seemed to notice but ME. The mental break for me was one day, when I was packing for a friends birthday weekend in Los Angeles. I came across this gorgeous mini-skirt I had bought 2 years before. I had ALWAYS needed to use spanx while wearing the skirt to keep from busting out of it. However, during the last year, even with spanx on, I could not get into the skirt. I looked at the skirt and said, “WHY NOT?” I slipped on the skirt and buttoned… SPANX-LESS!!!!!! OOOOOMMMMGGGG!!!! I nearly passed out. Even when I PURCHASED the skirt, when I was SLIMMER I had to wear spanx for it to fit and here was I, SPANX-LESS and no button popping. I did a numerous quick ‘sitdowns’ and ‘standups’ from my bed to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. I even did a couple jumping jacks in disbelief… IT FIT!!! And I looked mighty HOT in it too. That moment, I knew I would NEVER want to go back to the place I was weight wise a month before.
Fastforwarding 7months later I have dropped from a size 12 to a size 6. And WITHOUT any special diets. Actually, I really did not alter my eating habits. I still attack desserts, bread rice, pounded yam but all in moderation. Still LOVE my beer (liquid carbs, I know), still have days I pig out, but when I do, I gotta hit the workout HARD that evening or the next day unfailingly.
My workouts have changed too. After a month of losing weight from just running, my body started to sag, especially my butt (which I had basically lost all off… HEY! I had to give up something). I needed to start sculpting my body. I started doing sport drills, weight training, rope skipping exercises with my brother, who is a licensed personal instructor in the States. I also discovered the joys of Max Interval Training workouts like Shaun T’s INSANITY workout. I graduated to INSANITY and now on INSANITY ASYLUM, STRENGTH AND AGILITY TRAINING, and ‘CORE’ FOCUS TRAINING which is NOT for kids. It’s damn near military training on there. I went from barely being able to do ‘girlie’ push-ups to now being able to do the ‘man’ pushups. I can jump REALLY high, my metabolism is the best its been in years and now I can see a six-pack mold beginning to build in my belly. YAAAAAAAY . I’m still on my journey though. I would like to get down to a big size 4 (American) then I’ll be happy. I might have to give up alcohol and sweets and naughty eating for this to happen though but I am still sooooo happy with my body now. I stand naked in the mirror and twist my top half just for kicks. Before the folds that would emerge were sad, now I barely have a crease on my sides.. WHOOOHOOO!!
My face has slimmed down and my cheeks and my eyes are no longer BFFs. My thighs have firmed up and slimmed down, my legs are RIPPED and athletic, I have lost my side boob – You know that AWFUL extra breast that sticks out from the side of your bra.. UGHHHH!! I HATED it. It used to peek out from sleeveless shirts and tank tops. Its all gone now and my breasts are a respectable size. My arms are no longer like “old Christian mother arms” as my mum fondly calls them. I’m on my “Michelle Obama” arm swag right now (Kemi flexes and poses for the audience). In short… Im HAPPPPPPPY!!!
I hope I have been able to inspire through my story. My words are unsophisticated but they detail a passionate and TRUE journey. And I must say… I am happy to be on this side. I would like to detail some things to pay attention to when you decide to start YOUR own journey.
Eating: It’s simple math… If you’re eating more calories than you are burning out you WILL gain weight. Now I am not asking you obsess and stay up counting calories, NO! But be mindful what you eat and what you are willing to pay for it. I personally really didn’t change my diet that much, but I cut down on ’empty calories’. Eat and live, but remember, it all counts. And as much as you can PLEASE try not to eat past 7 or 8pm.
Sneakers: Wearing the right sneakers is VERY important. Even if you’re just working out in the comfort of your house with a dvd. The constant jumping and fast movements can take a toll on your knees. Protect them. Basket-ball sneakers do not count. Get proper running shoes with good cushion effect. I made this mistake for the first month and developed a knee injury, and now use knee braces for cushion support while working out.
Weaves/Hair: If and when you become serious about your workout, a big deterrent for women is our hair. When we get our hair ‘did’ the last thing we want to do is ‘sweat it out’ with a workout. Some people cut off their hair and go natural, take out the weave and do braids or just leave it as is. Save for the first month I started working out, I’ve been sporting a weave. I recently discovered this new hair wrap invented by Nicole Ari Parker (Yes! Boris Kodjo’s wife) called “SAVE YOUR DO”. It is targeted at women that sweat a lot on their heads. I purchased it and it works pretty good for me, however I DO sweat a lot on my head. Many other people who have reviewed it have had even better results. Its meant to keep your hair ‘close to’ dry, in place, and preserve your ‘do’ while working out. If you dont have access to this product, invest in a blowdryer, moisturizer and tongs. What I do as well is schedule my workout towards the last 3 days of my ‘do’. Meaning the days leading up to when you need to visit the salon. This way you are still getting about 3 workouts a week in, which is real good.
The Between Workout Days: On your workout days off, still get some training in. You’ll be happy you did. Find your 3 problem spots and do one rep of 10 or 16. You wont build up a sweat (don’t worry ladies) but you’ll keep your muscles in attention. What are your problem areas?? Mine are my arms, my butt and my abs so I do 10 rep of push ups for my arms and chest, a floor routine for my abs and squats for my butt. This can all be done in no longer than 10 minutes without breaking a sweat.
Partner Workouts: It’s great if you can work out as a group but I have found that I get motivated better when I do not rely on another person’s motivation. If you get used to working out in groups, the day one person loses interest or doesn’t ‘feel like working out today’, it will severely affect your motivation as well. I do not wait for anyone. I just do what I gotta do, when I need to.
Traffic/Gym: The journey to the gym can put a lot of folks off their workout. I can be very lazy in this respect, so I eliminated a potential excuse. I don’t do gyms. I run around my estate (in Lagos) or down my avenue (in New York). I do a lot of rope skipping and utilize workout dvds. I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVE the INSANITY/INSANITY ASYLUM workouts. But this particular workout is EXTREMELY difficult to keep up with. Even the kind folks instructing in the dvd can barely keep up with their routines, so lets not talk of us on the other side of the tv. DON’T try the INSANITY ASYLUM if you cant handle the normal INSANITY. There is also TURBO FIRE, P90x, 10 minute trainer. Go to www.beachbody.com (that houses these workouts mentioned) and do some research, watch the videos on there and make an advised decision. Google reviews from everyday people using these workouts and find one that fits your lifestyle. Or you could just hire a HOME personal trainer, but PLEASE make sure he knows what he is talking about. Asking you to do some sit ups and squats alone will not cut it. Weight loss is a science and whomever you trust needs to be able to keep up his/her own end of the bargain. From my experience, if you are not breaking out a sweat and your heart rate is not up, you are NOT losing weight.
STAY MOTIVATED: It did not take you ONE day to pile that weight on, so it wont take you one day to take it off. Stay on course. Try not to weigh yourself for the first month. That seems to be where people get demoralized. You wonder why you haven’t lost 10lbs in a week and you’ve been putting in work. Give. . . It. . . Time!! I haven’t weighed myself to this day, I just notice size ‘small’ outfits slither easy onto my body now 😉
Supplements: I’ve started paying more attention to my general health as well. I take a lot of supplements now. Calcium pills, Vitamin D3 pills (to help the body absorb the calcium), probiotics for my metabolic health, Fish oil supplements and Glucosamine for my joints. These days someone could look healthy one day and die in his sleep that night. As much as we want to believe it to be caused by some disgruntled relative in the village, we have to start looking at our lifestyles as a cause. We have to start taking our health more serious and working out – even if it’s not necessarily to lose weight- is a big part of keeping fit.
Heart Rate Monitor: Invest in a heart rate monitor. This will aid in keeping your heart rate in safe levels while working out. Remember to ALWAYS be safe. PUSH YOURSELF…BUT KNOW YOUR LIMIT
Water: Stay hydrated!! Drinks looooots of water. Water aids your metabolism, and when you start working out heavy, you lose a lot of water through sweat. You have to replenish and keep yourself hydrated in healthy levels.
Treats At Home: Why tempt yourself?? The best way to keep from eating treats is NOT to buy them. Keep away from buying cakes, sweets, soft drinks, biscuits, chocolates for “the house” YOU will snack on it. If you need to stock up for an occasion or the kids, make same-day purchases and just in the right quantity. No left-overs for later.
Whatever workout you choose, remember to stay focused, Set a goal and create forms of motivation. Find something that motivates you for those days you feel lazy to work out. It could be a horrible picture of yourself, a skirt you would like to fit into again, or just being fit and healthy. For me it is that HORRID picture I mentioned before and Jennifer Hudson’s BEFORE and AFTER pictures for some reason. Not only did she lose weight, but now, the girl is SKINNY!! YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!
Hit me up on twitter @kemiadetiba if you would like to ask more questions or just so we can motivate ourselves. Remember, YOU CAN DO IT!! Now go get your sneakers on!!
Kemi Adetiba’s TV Diaries Is Coming Soon