I know you’ve heard/read about living a healthy lifestyle so many times. I also know how we all want to lead healthy lives! But the message ‘ live a healthy lifestyle, exercise etc ‘ is always said by people who’ve never been overweight or at least on the other side of not normal, in their lives. As dictated by the western society and the medical profession.
So have i ever been overweight and through self will, lost tremendous amounts of weight? No! Have I at least been above the normal BMI index? No!
So what authority do I have to tell people what to do? None!
But I can tell you that; my ideal body weight has always been 56 kg( not really sure where that exact number came from originally) and I went through a time where the pressures of life took me to 72 kg. I know it’s not overweight, still within the margins of normal, but it’s wasn’t for me since I had come up from 53 kg. 19 kg weight gain was a lot of weight gained over 8 months.
Then what happened? Low self-esteem and self confidence, started doubting myself in everything I did or said. And people who know me will tell you my personality is too out there for any of these insecurities!
I will also tell you how, when I got pregnant and gave birth to my son, I gained a total of 12 kg and lost 15 kg in the first week after birth. And no I don’t have good slim genes on my side.
But as African women our riddle is a little more than weight gain vs self worth, self esteem and self confidence. Life is a little more complicated! As an African woman, by African culture, you are deemed attractive when you’re bigger; bigger butt, legs, layered tummy, chubby cheeks etc. it’s a symbol of fertility, a sign you come from a good family; not a poor, starving, unable to get food on the table family. So very attractive, quite a catch! In Zulu there’s an expression ‘ Le Ntombi inyathela ngabantwana’. Literal translation: this lady is stepping with babies. I know it’s not making sense but figuratively translated: those legs are beautiful babies!!
But we now live in a society that is in transition, where all cultures, races and backgrounds now live together, with even stronger influences and the adoption of the western society’s beliefs and ideologies. Sections of society think you’re the most beautiful while the other sections think you’re the closest thing to a hippo!
Obviously very difficult and this is where self worth and good understanding of who you are, where you come from and what you stand for, come into play.
It is after all, not about how much you weigh, but how you carry yourself .
I exercise 10 hours a week, I run everyday and I’m proud of my six pack! Yes, I’m the one with a 6 pack in my marriage! I eat as healthily as I can.
I am lucky in that I don’t like fatty fast foods though, but that’s mostly because I couldn’t afford it until I graduated as a doctor and got a job. After that it became a question of, why should I start an unhealthy habit I’m not used to?
But in confession, when I got paid for the first time, i bought a tub of ‘Bar One Ice Cream’ . I had promised myself so many times, after seeing other children eating ice cream and my family not being able to afford it; when I’m big and have a job I will buy myself a big ice cream. And I had to do it. That was for me a big cheer, the ‘ Yes I Made It, finally!’ But I only lasted about 8 spoons!
When you’re not used to something you don’t miss it, so don’t start! My lesson, at least.
In conclusion, no, I have no authority in telling you what to do or not to do. But I can share with you what works for me and what I believe in. Obviously you don’t have to listen, but I urge you to try.
You can’t objectively say you don’t like something until you’ve tried it!