By Maryam Sheikh Abdikhadir:
Often times we have resolutions especially at the beginning of every year. The Hijra calendar is almost ending and those who follow this calendar may be setting their next New Year resolutions now. The Gregorian still has a few months to end and of course those who follow it too will have their share of a ‘to do’ list. Unfortunately most of these resolutions do not see light of day, and we carry them over and over again each New Year.
One resolution that is never met by most people is that of losing weight. Yes weight loss. We are slowly becoming aware that the desire to be suxulbaruur is of no use to our life style today and we must invest in weight loss. In most of our communities, being endowed or plus size was seen as a sign of being well taken care of or of riches. We carried that desire from our nomadic lifestyle into our sedentary lifestyle, and we now have to contend with a lot of weight issues. It is true that most of the diseases and illnesses we see today are lifestyle driven. Obesity and related complications, diabetics, heart disease, high blood pressure and the seldom addressed (by Somalis) depression. Our sitting at home or desk bound lifestyle has become harmful to our health, and it is time to examine and change.
For example our sugar intake has always been high. This was good for the nomadic lifestyle, where people walked throughout the day because they needed energy to move around. In the process they burnt all the calories out. We have taken the same sugar intake into our town life, and this means we have excess sugar in our bodies. The excess sugar is turned into fat that is then stored in our bellies, hips and thighs thus adding to our weight gain. Excess sugar in our blood stream results in high blood sugar hence diabetes. The same for all the refined carbohydrates that we eat (wheat, rice and maize flour) and not forgetting the large amounts of oil we consume in our food. In as much this result in a much ‘celebrated’ weight gain, it is rather obvious that we have now to deal with weight issues and the complications thereafter.
So as we watch the world go crazy about weight loss, some of us also make New Year resolutions too to achieve leaner bodies and less weight. Of course it is a new phenomenon which is slowly but surely catching up with us as well. Initially shunned as a Western culture, but obviously a much needed venture, weight loss is a must do if we are to live quality life. Gaining weight is easier than loosing because all the sweet things we love add onto our kilos or pounds. Our food is basically unhealthy; made up of refined foods, sugars and oil. Hardly do we eat fruits and vegetables.
The reason why many of the resolutions on weight loss are not achieved is not unique to us and our community but to most people. Weight loss is taken as a burden so to speak. So please get up and do it today. Start the process and that journey before it is too late. You do not have to wait for such an eventuality to address weight issues.
Some tips for weight loss:
Wake up and do it now.
No need to postpone and wait for another twelve months to scribble your intention to regain your health. The year is not new just because it is January or Muharram. If nothing has changed in your life and in your mind, the year is as old as your mindset. Get up and just do it.
Do not expect miracle overnight.
Many of us expect drastic changes and overnight results. When these seem not forthcoming, we give up. This is a process that needs investment of time and patience. Perseverance is a must and remember there are no short cuts and quick fixes.
Seek expert advice.
In a world where we google everything and get ‘answers’, we are at risk of becoming nutritional ‘experts’ and or medical ‘doctors’ and sometimes end up confusing our bodies even further. It is always wise to seek expert opinion. Go and get a human touch to your quest.
Discipline and dedication
Sticking and following a set diet for example, or a set of activities, is important for this journey. That is why sticking with your expert advice is important so you do not get swayed from laid down steps that are meant to help you. Commitment is core and the vision of what you want to achieve and where you want to go should always guide you.
Do what you love
There are different ways to lose weight and there is none more effective than what you love doing. If it is walking, please walk. Walk till you feel your thighs are burning and your arms are heavy. If that is what you enjoy, do it. You will not tire and give up. If it is dancing, yes dancing, please join that dance group you have always wanted. There are men only and women only dance classes especially in Nairobi. Swimming is also great and the good news is there are women or men only swimming pools and classes. Please enroll to burn away that fat in the most interesting way since this activity that you are passionate about will ensure your commitment and continuation of the exercise.
Get a dedicated friend or partner
We are social human beings and it is always good to have that friend or partner who is also equally committed to the course. For example as you do your walking exercise. There is no better way for couples to bond, and talk than in walking together. You gain much more when you do this together.
Laughter is important
There is sweat and tears in this journey. Pain is a sure companion as you do those exercises and stretching yourself to the limit is not a walk in the park. Just laugh amidst all this. Laughter is magical in this endeavour and is a sure remedy. It magically lessens the pain. Try it out. Keep smiling.
Do not have a defeatist mind. “I cannot do it. It is hard. I will never lose weight’ these are the poisons that you must never have. Burn these out just as the fat. Change that mind set with a positive, active one. “I can do it. This is easy and fun. I am losing weight and I will lose some more” is all you need. Focus on your vision and let your mind have that picture. Was it when you were in college? That beautiful photo you took that now does not look like you in any way? Yes you can get that youthful look and size back. Just feed your mind with positivity and the possibility. You will find your body following suit.
Instead of ‘I must do list’ just have ‘I want to do’ list. It has a profound effect on how much you achieve. It is very empowering to have the list of what you want to do.
Avoid Negative people
Do not surround yourself with negative people who give up easily and or who discourage you.I know a friend who gave up on her weight loss journey because her family started talking and insinuating that it is maseer(jealousy) that was driving her. Do not listen to them.
When all is said and done, this is a personal journey. If you do not get a friend or a partner or if that friend has dropped off etc, that should not lead to your stoppage of the exercise as well. It is for you first and foremost. Set your own goals and targets and go for those. Remember all other people are just cheerers and supporters at best, and at worst your critics. So go for it even if you do it alone!
Praise and pat yourself
Even when others do not notice the changes, including your loved ones, look in the mirror and congratulate the face and body you see. Tell yourself you can do more. Gift yourself for the targets and goals you achieved. It is not insane to wrap a gift and present it to yourself. In fact do it just as you would have loved done for you. If it is in your bedroom, or your in favourite restaurant, go for it. You deserve it!
Prayer is important and putting your trust, faith and hope in the almighty is great for this journey
Remember choices have consequences. When we spend all our life stashing all those sweets and oils into our bodies and end up storing fat as a result; we then end up using all our hard earned money to meet resultant medical bills. Take heed my people.
Maryam is a social scientist and a development practitioner who worked with the UN for many years on socio-economic issues. Follow her on twitter @maryamdeeqa