My fitness love story
Hi there! I'm Shiro Ngige. I started this blog to share my love for health and wellness and to document my fitness journey. I prepared a Q&A for you to learn more about me. Enjoy!
Who am I? I'm 25 year old, and I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I currently work in financial services in New York City.
What led me to health and fitness? I was heading to the U.S. for university. Everyone told me that my move to the fast food eating nation would result in tremendous weight gain. "Everyone who goes to America grows fat," they teased. Jokes aside I was seriously worried about gaining weight. I had come to love my curvy body, and I wanted to keep it that way. That's when my fitness journey began.
How did I start? Those who know me know that I'm a prolific reader. It was 2011, and Smartphones were everything. So I googled. I googled healthy meals for fat loss and tried my best to stick to these. I was also lucky to be living in New York City, which is considered one of the fittest cities in America. The streets and parks were filled with joggers, and the 10 km or so we walked daily to and from classes was an added bonus. Healthy food bars were in abundance, and any creative fitness class that you can think of was at my disposal: twerkaerobics, pilates, yoga or kickboxing. Boring workouts would not be my excuse!
What did I eat? Lucky for me, NYU dining halls were stocked with all-you-can-eat style freshly prepared foods. I would have steel-cut oats with nuts and raisins, and a latte for breakfast. For lunch, I built large salads with lots of colorful veggies, seeds, and healthy fats. Most importantly, I made sure that I added in some lean protein like steak, fish or chicken breast. I had yogurt and a fruit as an afternoon snack and for dinner, I kept my meals light but hot, like salad and a soup or brown rice with stew. Because I ate healthily most of the time, when I ate out with friends occasionally, I allowed myself to indulge. After all, New York City has such delicious food. From crepes with strawberries and Nutella to big steaming bowls of ramen, not to mention the large Chipotle burritos that I managed finished in one seating! I found a healthy balance to my eating and stuck to it.
How did I start working out? Luckily, NYU had two large student gyms. Each gym was equipped with fitness classes, Olympic sized swimming pools, gym machines, and even rock climbing facilities. I didn't know how to weight train back then, so I started out doing cardio.I would run or go on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and finish off with 15 minutes of abs. Sometimes I went for a half-hour swim or used the Stairmaster for leg-work. I aimed to work out thrice a week.
I also took a high-intensity fitness class with Chinju and Aria (taught by some annoying yet highly effective trainer), which had me some 5 kgs lighter by the time that I went back to Kenya. You can't imagine the shock on everyone's face when I returned home, sans the kilos that they promised I'd gain. Everyone complemented me on my toned midsection and slimmer arms and legs. "You mean that you lost weight in America?" They couldn't believe it.
How has my fitness journey evolved? Google is still my best friend, and I strive to eat clean most of the time. Now that I cook my own meals, I am able to track my macros better. My workout regimen has changed drastically; I now focus on full-body muscle-sculpting workouts using weights. It's amazing how strength and resistance training allows you to transform your overall shape and literally build the body of your dreams. Currently, my favorite muscle group to train is shoulders.
What advice would I give someone looking to start their fitness journey?
Research the foods that you're eating and understand how your current nutrition choices are affecting your body. Get active, even if it's just 15 minutes of walking, to begin with- once the endorphins kick in, you'll be addicted to working out. If you don't enjoy going to the gym find an activity that you like: running outdoors, home workouts, Zumba or joining a recreational sports team. There's something out there that you will enjoy. Lastly, don't go on an extreme diet. The results will be short-lived, and you may wind up packing on the pounds you lost plus more.
Remember Consistency + Time = Long-lasting results.