By virtue of their natural reproductive role, women often have to deal with weight they do not want or cannot afford at one point in their lives. With the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of the urban woman, weight is becoming harder to lose. This has led some Ugandan women to consider all manner of options in a desperate bid to shed the unwanted weight. While some efforts have not worked, there are some women who finally found their remedies.
BBIRA KAFUMBE’s story
Bbira Kafumbe, popularly known as Bbira, is a Ugandan IT Project Manager, residing in Atlanta Georgia, USA, with her husband, a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. She is also the founder of Lose It Africa, a weight loss programme; www.loseitafrica.com or https://www.facebook.com/loseitafrica . She shares her story;
“I gained a significant amount of weight while pregnant with my first child. After my first pregnancy, I continued to struggle with weight and taking the baby weight off. Initially I was so desperate to lose weight fast; I tried quick fix diets, which never gave me long lasting results.
I would lose weight but regain it due to relapsing to old unhealthy eating habits. I tried getting a personal trainer, but did not get any changes as I now realise I was not eating right, consuming foods high in sugar like processed juices, chocolates, deep fried foods like samosas, doughnuts, bad carbohydrates like chapati, etc.
I continued to be frustrated and unhappy as my self-esteem was low. I was struggling with clothes in my wardrobe fitting too tightly resulting in a lack of confidence in myself. I almost gave up on weight loss, but I decided to give it one more shot by doing what I had not done before. I substituted unhealthy foods for healthier ones, reduced my food portions, tracked what I ate, and exercised almost on a daily basis (High Intensity Interval Training).
How I started my journey
I was talking with a friend who was just starting her weight loss journey and trying to beat her cravings for ice cream and pasta. As we spoke, she made a statement that changed my life for good. She said, “Bbira, we are what we eat”. I realised how I sabotage every little effort I put in losing weight after exercising so hard in the gym with what I eat. This was in the past before I started my weight loss journey.
That is when I realised I did not have the right foods on my daily menu (things like fruits and vegetables).
I also started researching on people who have lost weight and what had worked for them and became highly interested in living a healthy lifestyle.
• Setting realistic and achievable goals e.g. I started jogging five minutes a day then increased to 15 minutes. Within three months I was preparing for my first five kilometre run.
• I have a high drive when it comes to exercises. I push hard and try to challenge myself from time to time with alternate new workouts.
• Portion control. I started to be more mindful of the serving sizes I consumed and tracking what I eat.
• Support from friends with the same goal and always surrounding myself with people who provide a positive environment for weight loss.
• Substituting unhealthy foods for healthy ones. Substitute sodas with sparkling water, for instance.
• It is key to reward yourself during weight loss to acknowledge your success, for example, buy yourself a new outfit.
• Be accountable, weigh in weekly.
What does not work
• Diets provide short-term weight loss but soon get boring and hard to stick with and that’s why the relapse rate is high.
• Depriving yourself of the foods you love. Occasionally, it is okay to indulge in foods you love. I use the 80/20 rule. 80 per cent of the time I eat healthy and I leave room for flexibility 20 per cent of the time to be able to indulge without guilt or worries.
Eating right 100 per cent of the time is not realistic and you can easily get discouraged trying to maintain this.
The crazy things I have tried out
Quick fix diets, weight loss pills and slimming tea offer short-term results for weight loss but fail in the long run. Others have side effects to our health, for example, slimming tea when consumed in excessive amounts can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, chronic constipation and fainting due to dehydration.
How much weight did you lose and how long did it take?
I lost more than 20kgs within six months from the time I started my weight loss journey. I am now maintaining a healthy body weight that I enjoy with the same techniques I used to shed off the weight.”
David Kavuma of Adonai Counselling Services explains why issues of body weight are more important to women.
Why does the issue of weight gain and loss such a big deal to more women than men?
In most cases, research has shown that women are very conscious when it comes to health issues. Even if you visited any health centre, you would probably find there more women than men. Women are more likely to get involved in and adhere to weight loss measures in order to improve their health.
Why does it seem more popular today for women to lead healthy lifestyles and maintain healthy weight gain? Where is this trend coming from?
A number of factors have led more women to go in for weight loss, among them;
• The increased awareness due to the increase in number of service providers like gyms.
• Peer pressure, where someone wants to look like another person who has lost weight
• Health workers are advocating for it.
• Often, excessive weight impacts sexual performance so there is a need to perform better sexually.
• Women strive to lose weight in order to have better hygiene.
There is also a higher tendency towards obesity and thus the resulting need to lose weight. Factors contributing to obesity include:
• Stress: Some people say that when they are stressed, it affects their diet and they tend to overeat or eat junk food.
• High level of inactivity/sedentary lifestyle: People spend more time travelling in cars and riding on boda bodas and they hardly walk. Women are living comfortable and exotic lifestyle.