Sheila's weight loss story
This summer, I visited my cousin Sheila in Helsinki. Finland's capital was a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of NYC. It was spacious and airy like a quaint town, yet it had the buzz and culture of a large cosmopolitan city. Located near the Baltic sea, what I especially enjoyed the gorgeous cafes and restaurants on the waterfront. I wanted to walk everywhere and absorb Helsinki's beauty.
We had steaming bowls of delicious salmon soup, a national dish, and took a cruise to a nearby island for a day trip. We even found an African party to go to, seeing as we thoroughly enjoy our Afrobeats. The highlight was attending the Flow Music Festival, summer's biggest event in Helsinki. Shout out to Frank Ocean, who had the final performance!
Interesting fact about Finland: going to public saunas with friends or family is a social pastime. People even throw sauna parties. It felt rather strange to sweat with a bunch of strangers in a resting state (not while working out), in a public setting. Nevertheless, these public saunas were often wonderfully built. They have cafes/restaurants attached where you could relax and enjoy a drink if you don't care too much for the sweats. I especially liked Loyly, conveniently located 10 min from Sheila's apartment
Sight-seeing aside, Sheila has been working out for some years now and has had quite a fitness transformation. She has lost roughly 30lb or 17kg and maintained that for two years now, all through healthy eating and exercise. While I was there, I interviewed her about her fitness journey on my Snapchat account @shiro_ngige. Here's a recap:
Why did you decide to go on a fitness journey?
I wanted to be healthier and lose some weight. I had previously worked out with trainers, but none of them had told me that nutrition was the key to successful weight loss. I even did CrossFit for a few months but saw no results. You can imagine the frustration after all my hard work. Luckily, my company hired us a trainer who emphasized the importance of nutrition. He helped me see how my current eating habits were sabotaging my weight loss efforts. He asked me what my goal was and I told him that I wanted to look like Beyonce (I literally said this). He designed a plan for me to achieve this transformation.
What did you eat on this plan?
I ate a ketogenic diet in the first month. In a ketogenic diet, you essentially keep carbohydrate intake extremely low (low-carb) and focus on eating protein and healthy fats. I stopped eating all starchy carbohydrates, including rice, potatoes, sweets, sugar, cereals, bread and pasta. I ate lots of leafy green vegetables, red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and healthy fats like butter, olive oil, avocado, and nuts. After a month of this, he reintroduced complex carbohydrates into my diet like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal, which I could consume at night, after our workout sessions. Also, I didn't drink alcohol during this transformation as alcohol is a big no on a low-carb diet.
How often did you train and how did you train?
Nearly every weekday. He also told me to abandon the cardio machines and focus on strength training workouts. To sculpt curves and build muscle, you need to lift heavy weights. Running and cardio would not give me Beyonce's body. Here's an example of a full body workout that I do: I warm up for 10 minutes on the rowing machine, followed by 45 minutes of weights: 12kg kettlebell squats, 15 box step-ups per leg, 4kg standing lateral raises, 6kg slow and controlled shoulder presses, 45-second planks and 10 burpees. I cool down by walking for 10 minutes on the treadmill.
How long did your entire transformation take?
It took me about 1 year to lose 17 kg and I have maintained that weight loss. I have my days when I'm eating clean and working out 4 times per week, and my days when I'm eating everything that I'm not supposed to eat and only going to the gym once per month. But that's life, and I've learned how to get back into the clean lifestyle when I need to, without struggling to do so. I have learned to be ok with it when I fall off course, and I get back into it when I need to. I think that's what people are most afraid of, falling off the bandwagon, so they give up prematurely. My advice is to keep going and the results will follow.
Sheila's story is proof that you can transform your body with consistency and a balanced approach to health and fitness. If you liked Sheila's story and would like to see more transformations, leave a comment below and I'll keep them coming!