26 year old Oyinkansola, from London is an actuarial consultant who has carved a profession in fitness following a health scare which lead her on her weight loss journey. Read along to learn more about her journey.
What led you to want to make a lifestyle change?
People who really know me know that I have battled with a lot of health problems over the years (most of them not directly related to my weight) and as the years went by – I was getting worse and worse. I got worse because I wasn’t taking care of myself… Eating badly, not taking my meds etc.
About a year and a half ago, everything came to a head when I went into hospital for routine surgery and ended up with complications and an extended stay in hospital, along with mounting bills. I was so unwell that I thought I was not going to make it. I looked at my mother who had been sleeping in an uncomfortable chair for 5 days straight and that was it for me. Something had to change.
At 24 years old, I wasn’t going to be this burden to my loved ones. It’s a shame that it took me landing in hospital to give myself a reality check…
Three weeks later, I was discharged and on my way to recovery. I decided to use the time off to come up with a plan. I was going to stop bad habits, surround myself with positive influences and take accountability.
How did you start?
As I stated earlier, I had about 2 and a half months of recovery time. So I decided to use the time off to come up with a plan. I identified my problems and with a copious amount of research/ self-evaluation I came up with a plan that I knew I would stick to. I was going to stop bad habits, surround myself with positive influences and take accountability.
Bad habits –
Obsession with food and a sedentary lifestyle.
I used to dream about/ plan my next meal… Anticipating the next thing I was going to put in my mouth. Social activities with friends revolved around eating/ drinking out.
Changing my relationship with food was difficult – learning that food is for sustenance and not a hobby. I would spend most of my time in my bed… Watching TV shows, sleeping late. Doing absolutely nothing active. If I was out of the house – my singular mode of transport was taking an uber.
Surrounded myself with positive influences – I found that whenever I moved 3 steps forward, it only took some negative experience/ person to take me 7 steps back.
Accountability – the spirit of procrastination is REAL. Putting things off when you can do them today. This was a big thing for me, not just in my fitness but in most aspects of my life. Taking those painful steps to be accountable is very crucial to long term success.
How did you change your habits?
The first thing I did was to get a nutritionist. As part of my ailments, I am (used to be) anaemic/ have an immune deficiency/ (used to) have a really bad ulcer/gastroenteritis and gluten/lactose intolerance. So, in order to not end up back in hospital – I had to make sure I was eating things that my body could actually digest as well as taking the right supplements.
I could not exercise for about 3 months post op so I would just walk (made sure I did at least 10000 steps a day).
I also spent my down time interviewing A LOT of personal trainers. It was important for me to work with someone I got along with (but someone who was also very strict and would whoop my ass if I was slacking). I quickly realised that there were a lot of trainers out there willing to take my money – but the heart wasn’t there. They were not as passionate about my journey as I was.
I mentioned accountability – I got a trainer and I paid 3 months upfront (I knew that I would not let the money go to waste). I also got a gym buddy. Someone that I would exercise with daily (my beautiful friend Dolly), making me also accountable to her.
Until I got to my goal weight, I trained with two AMAZING personal trainers; Gina trains Dolly and I at the same time. We SWEAT! With Gina, we focus mostly on cardio and core conditioning. I also trained with Mr Abs and we really focus mostly on weight training and toning – getting my arms, bum and abs right! I stand for them both – they are AH-MAZING. All heart, professional and were so passionate about my journey.
What was your first 2 weeks like?
My first two weeks were hell, lol. I could hardly walk and I was sore from the training. I had them both telling me – “you’ll be fine”, “your body will get used to it” blah blah. Eating right was still a struggle and with my workload, I found it difficult to eat regularly/ not eat late.
What was the first routine you did to kick off your journey?
FOOD: I had to change my relationship with food. Do not get me wrong, I still love my food but I’m just more responsible with what I put in my body. I don’t believe in diets so I didn’t go on any diet per se. I cut out alcohol, stopped skipping meals, ate more frequently and SIGNIFICANTLY reduced my portion size. I choose healthier alternatives for some things that I cannot do without. E.g: quinoa, bulgar wheat, cous cous instead of rice etc, I increased my protein intake. I log in everything I eat on to the ‘my fitness pal’ app on my phone, so one can say that I watch my calorie/ fat intake.
SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: Getting out of the house – Telling myself ‘your bed is not your friend!!!’ I started to exercise. Using my health app/ Fitbit watch I made sure that I made AT LEAST 10,000 steps a day outside of any scheduled exercise session. It does not cost any money and was a very easy way to start. I did this by deleting ALL of my cab apps and forcing myself to take public transport. Getting off a stop before my destination and walking the rest of it, walking to certain places – Just doing more. I paid for the membership at my local Virgin Active: to swim and gym. At first I started to train by myself or with my partner. As I said before, at the beginning I was not at all consistent. Going to the gym was a hard sell for me. I realised that I was finding it difficult to exercise – because I was impatient… I wanted to see results immediately and also because I did not really know what to do when I got into the gym. That is when I got a trainer. When I exercise/ walk, I log everything on to the ‘fitness pal’ app and make sure I am burning more than I am putting in.
POSITIVE INFLUENCES: I am blessed to have the most supportive friends and family. They have been my source of motivation more than anything else. I have gym/ walk/ cycle dates with friends when I know they’d rather be having dinner at Hakassan!
What was a typical workout day including your nutrition?
In the morning, I tend to have quick cook oats and a pink grapefruit – this doesn’t change much because firstly I LOVE oats and don’t really get bored of them. Also, I don’t have the time. It is quick, easy and I can eat it at my desk at work.
Midday snack – I usually have some almonds or water crackers and grapes or some salted pretzels.
Lunch (I always cook my own lunch) tends to be some sort of protein – usually fish or chicken (I have never been big on red meat anyway), and a salad (I love making salads) that’s got some sort of low GI carb incorporated into it. My plate tends to be mostly protein/ veg and a small portion of carb.
Mid afternoon snack – another grapefruit and/ or crackers.
After work, I’m usually rushing to a session with Abs/ Gina. If I am not working out with them, I go to the gym at my local fitness centre to either swim or train by myself. I aim to work out between 5-6 days in the week. After the gym, I take a protein shake (pea protein as I am lactose intolerant) to help rebuild muscle.
Dinner – which I am supposed to eat before 7pm (also never ever happens). When I get home from the gym, I am usually catching up/ prepping for work the next day. I prioritize doing this over making dinner. When I eventually do eat, I tend to have a protein or a salad – NO CARBS. I also aim to sleep early, which also never ever happens. I am working on being more disciplined with these two.
How much have you lost and how long did it take?
I started out at 137.5kg and I am now 69.8kg. Initially, my goal was to get to 73kg. It took me 18 months to get to my goal weight. I have more than surpassed my goal and I am so proud of myself for doing that. I am now solely focused on toning and do not plan to lose any more weight. I do not do that much cardio any more, I am predominantly focused on working with weights – strength and resistance training. Losing that amount of weight drastically has given me a little bit of extra skin. I have NO plans to go under the knife – I would like to tighten this extra skin with exercise. I have already noticed such a dramatic difference over the last couple of months.
Favourite snack/meal and favourite workout/routine?
I am a cheese and crackers kinda girl. I used to have butter puff crackers with some cheese and grapes. Now I have the modified (low calorie) version – water crackers/ ryvita crackers (ditched the cheese) and some grapes. See what I mean, you can still eat things you love, just make them healthier.
My favourite workout routine – I love squatting. Weighted jumping squats, weighted Bulgarian lunges etc. Why? Because I feel badass doing them!
What was the hardest part about your transformation? how did you overcome it?
I would say that the hardest part of the transformation was self-acceptance. I was used to this ‘fat-body’ for most of my life so my brain just could not get around accepting the new me! The body dysmorphia was real. I refused to buy new clothes because I still saw myself as fat.
I was depressed – I hated how I looked naked, didn’t feel attractive/ sexy anymore (WEIRD RIGHT?! Lol). I would wonder whether my partner still found me attractive. I was basing my happiness on my progress and how I looked. I had a lot of baseless insecurities and had to address a lot of my fears and shortcomings.
But again, I have the best support system – they talked me through my insecurities. I paused, recalibrated, changed a few things and started to feel better. My best friend and partner took me out on a shopping trip and threw away all my ‘fat clothes’. They did not let me wallow in self-pity, they continued to reassure me. They will never know just how much their love and support helped me.
How have things changed with you in general (health, relationships, self)
I feel absolutely fabulous! Definitely a 10. I am wearing things, doing things I would not have been able to do before. I am healthier, I feel lighter, I don’t suffer from a lot of ailments/ conditions that I used to before. My self-confidence is at 100. Listen – nobody believes in my slay more than I do!
The greatest blessing throughout this whole journey is that I can confidently say that I know who I am. The real me is not cloaked any more by the ‘weight’ and I feel like I can truly be myself – someone I can be proud of: both professionally and physically. I am happy and I don’t live in fear of limitation.
I have also been able to inspire a lot of people and through that, I started my fitness company: SOFit last year. I base a lot of my teachings and practices on what worked for me. I focus on clean, sustainable living and promote accountability and discipline. I host a group work out class every Saturdays called ‘Training with Friends’ which has been very popular. I am glad to say ALL of my clients have been able to lose weight. Most have reached their goals, some are still pushing through. Through this experience, I have made a lot of new friends and new contacts. I never imagined that I would ever be passionate about exercise and healthy living, let alone make a profession out of it.
All around, I am grateful and positive about where life is taking me!
Who or what helped you along your journey?
I think I have mentioned this many times now – my friends, my family, my man! My support system has been invaluable – they have been my rock and have been through every moment of this journey. They motivate me and have been my source of inspiration.
I would also say that my faith has helped me tremendously along my journey. I was given a second chance, most people do not get to have and ever since I prayed to God for the will power and strength to see this through. Someway, somehow – I made it to the end and my life has changed in ways that I could never imagine.
Any word(s) of advice to people starting their journey? It sure would motivate them.
I have enjoyed this journey and grateful for all the highs and the lows. One thing I would say is that you have to embark on this journey on your own accord. For sustainability, it has to be a lifestyle change and not because you are feeling pressured by criticisms from someone.
I was fat for the better part of 10 years. There is no weight loss diet or plan that I did not try. I never succeeded because the will was not there and most importantly, I went with other people’s suggestions for what was best for MY LIFE.
You also have to know what you want and what works for you. Like I said before, I am unable to ‘DIET’ … all these meal replacement diets/ shakes etc (I am not knocking them, as they really work for some people) were totally wasted on me. It is when you tell me not to eat something that my whole body would crave for it, lol. I like swimming and PT (training with people) – it works with my busy schedule. You might prefer something else. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU (stop taking what other people say regarding YOUR weight loss as bible). I have a friend who has benefitted tremendously from hot bikram yoga and aerobics – TOTALLY wasted on me. What works for the next person, might not work for you. Do you!
Most importantly, (without sounding like a self-help book) self-love comes from within. Love yourself in any size, whether you have extra wobbly bits or washboard abs. Surround yourself with positivity, people who are positive and promote the good in you. Put yourself in the right environment, with the right mind set and watch yourself prosper!
Now, go forth and slay!