“THE real pride, the real present, is your health and your longevity. My whole career, I have never done anything where competition was involved with weight loss.” Richard Simmons “After a lifetime of losing and gaining weight, I get it. No matter how you slice it, weight loss comes down to the simple formula of calories in, calories out.” Valerie Bertinelli
“Weight loss can change your whole character. That always amazed me: Shedding pounds does change your personality. It changes your philosophy of life because you recognize that you are capable of using your mind to change your body.” Jean Nidetch
The above quotes not only fittingly captured the inherent determination and ability to establish realistic goals required to change behavior, attitude, or lifestyle, but also they illuminated the utter resiliency requisite to achieving those goals. In fact, the quotes crystalized both the mental acuity as both the necessary and sufficient conditions one needs to achieve a significant transformation in life. In the same vein, they also spoke to the joy of accomplishing something significant that particularly relates to one’s long-term health—even when the initial toil did not have a veneer of appealing affect.
Similarly, I can identify with the quotes as they relate to my personal journey to weight loss, which was a decision prompted by a significant event—a situation that exposed a stark reality to me. I still remember it as if it was yesterday.
Well, my journey actually started in the sizzling summer of 2008. My brother-in-law, Hon. Kingsley Ugwu was on his way back to Nigeria after his brief summer stay with us in 2008. At the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) terminal, he began to weigh and reshuffle his luggage to meet the weight requirement of the airliner. As he was transferring some items from one luggage to another, I seized the moment to step on the giant scale.
The reading was so alarming to cause me to pulse and wonder if it was accurate. I repeated the process more than three times, but I was still getting the same value, about 260 pounds. I never knew I was carrying as much pounds as the scale indicated in a 5 feet 10.5 inches frame. There and then I became very conscious of my weight the first time in my life. That was the first step in a stunning admittance that something must be done. But how to go about dealing the issue was more troubling and confusing to say the least.
However, prior to this time, I had been getting thinly veiled admonition from my family members who had wished I could prevent my weight from exploding. At that time I didn’t want to hear anything about my weight. In fact, it was making me uncomfortable to discuss it which made me to resort to defensive mode. I was avoiding every situation that could bring up the issue of heavy-set body. Apparently, my mind was not fertile to accept the reality of my obese body. “To most people, the term “obesity” means to be very overweight. Health professionals define “overweight” as an excess amount of body weight that includes muscle, bone, fat, and water. “Obesity” specifically refers to an excess amount of body fat.”
But the airport scale revealed to me what people could not persuade me to acknowledge about my body. Also looking at the mirror unveiled a staggeringly less than a sculptured body that was there all along staring at me, but I refused to see it. Without describing the details of what the mirror revealed, one could imagine that the image had little to be desired and its admiration was totally absent. That scale was a rude awakening and a catalyst that sparked my journey to losing a whopping 70 pounds over several years.
Similarly, reading up weight-related diseases, I realized there are multiple diseases associated with obesity and physical inactivity that are now bringing about mortality all over the world thereby reducing people’s lifespan. According to the US National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Research studies have shown that obesity increases the risk of developing a number of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, colon cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, endometrial cancer, gall bladder-disease, osteoarthritis, and obstructive sleep apnea. Overweight and obesity and their associated health problems have a significant economic impact on the U.S. Health care system (USDHHS, 2001).”
So, conscious of my weight situation, I took some significant steps to reduce my size to avoid any of those diseases. I did not want to be desperate; I wanted to be deliberate and thoughtful in my actions to avoid any wafting plan. I tried to cut down on the portion size of the foods I eat, but with minimal results. Later, I incorporated some physical activities—walking for 20 minutes five times a week and reached a sudden and discouraging plateau. The snag was enough to stop me, but I did not quit. The fleeting lifestyles in the second half of 2008 and first part of 2009 laid the foundation for today’s success.
But what did I do to achieve success in my weight loss and physical fitness? For educational purposes, I will detail in the second series of this piece the steps I took, the intermittent failures, and tweaking of activities in the throes of achieving a lifestyle transformation.