Part 1: The Journey
Writing this piece is a bit difficult for me. Not because I have a problem with words, but because as opposed to preaching or instructing I would rather tell you a story… My story. So if you allow me to honest and totally vulnerable here, then I promise to make it worth your while, and hopefully inspire.
I want to first state that I have NEVER been a health conscious person. I ate what I wanted at any time of the day, and was ‘lucky’ to have it all buried in my 5’11” frame. It was so easy when I was younger. I would notice clothes tighten around my frame but no one on the outside looking in would, because “You’re so tall so you carry it well”.
As the years went on, my muscle mass started disappearing—especially around my midriff. My breasts grew bigger (why am I complaining right?), my thighs rounded up nice, and the butt I always wanted decided to make an appearance (HELLO!). A lot of people noticed my new body shape—especially the men of course—and as I slowly got ushered into the my thirties I found out no pants or jeans in my closet fit anymore, and I began to live in just tights and baggy shorts. The men liked this even more.
However the “I can carry the weight ‘cos I’m tall’ excuse began to fail me. My breasts became so big and combined with my now fat, bulky shoulders and arms I began to look like an American football line backer. If I raised my arms up high enough, they could work as sails for a small boat
I slowly moved into the world of Spanx™. Dressing up became a chore as NOTHING fit anymore and I refused to buy sizes UP, promising myself I was going to ‘diet’. “I’m just big-boned”, I told myself. My diet consisted of skipping a meal and then making up for it times TEN when the next meal time rolled by.
I would go to the store to buy a shaving stick, but instead, make out like a bandit with a cart full of chocolates, biscuits, alcohol and chips “for the house”. The treats ‘for the house’ became 1am snacks shared between my Ilasa/Terrier mix, Stewie and I. I was spiralling down and could not find any way to help myself.
Things got worse when I went on an all-inclusive packaged holiday to Barbados. It was beautiful scenery and a great backdrop to watch while everything went into my mouth. Imagine having no restrictions on food or alcohol? I can barely look at the photos now. Bikini what? I was in shorts and a baggy shirt the entire time. The more I fell into depression about my weight, the more I ate for fleeting happiness… only to be back at one… Depressed about my weight again. It was a tragic cycle.
I host the ‘Maltina Dance All’ show every year, and I had just over a week to report to set after my Barbados vacation. I remember being in my hotel room fitting for the first shoot that evening with my stylist, Bolaji Animashaun and a rep from the client company. It was painful. NOTHING FIT! The first episode where I wore this beautiful canary dress was shot entirely from the front, because I could not be zipped up entirely into the dress. Even with Spanx™ on. How EMBARRASSING. And it was a size 10 American dress. I kept deluding myself I wasn’t past a size 10. I kept blaming the stylist that she had not gotten a proper size 10.
Fitting for the shows became such a chore. There was a silent prayer before I put on any dress. Lots of outfits were camouflaged with jackets because the zips couldn’t be pulled all the way up. I had to have multiple options for every fitting. It was a nightmare!!
The nightmare didn’t end there though. After the pre-recorded episodes ran on air, my social media feeds were riddled with comments about my weight gain and people asking if I was pregnant. Have I already mentioned that this was a NIGHTMARE?! The camera definitely adds pounds and I felt I looked like a WALRUS!! My thighs were humongous and flabby, my breasts had grown so much that in a bra, they looked like they were going to strangle my neck. My cheeks looked like they were playing “peekaboo” with my eyes. A small smile had my cheeks covering my eyes like shutters. My second chin had been going on dates with my collar bones. Maybe this description seems a bit extreme, but you have to understand how I felt about my body, even if it was ‘partially’ in my head. But still what did I do? How did I comfort myself? More eating late, red wine, chocolates in bed, biscuits at 12am…the whole 9 yards. During the show’s finale, I wore this BEAUTIFUL slinky, sparkly dress. Packaged like a burrito in my Spanx™, I looked great. At least I thought I did.
I remember being hurried for press photos just before the show. I felt far from comfortable, talk less of sexy or ‘foooine’. I did my photo duty and went on ahead to host the show LIVE!! I did great and everything went well… at least till the photos came out online and in the papers a couple days later. O….M….G!!! The main official photo being circulated was from such a horrible angle and a bad photo.
I KNOW I had gained weight but the angle didn’t help. My face looked puffy, I looked a good ten years older than my age, my protruding gut looked like I had a secret 4 month old pregnancy I was hiding, my heels were bursting out of my shoes, I just wanted to roll up into a ball and cry. Then this blog (with obvious intentions) puts up this horrible picture, in a split screen with another lady that was OBVIOUSLY having a one off bad fashion day as well, with the caption “WHO LOOKED BETTER?”. You can imagine the comments underneath the post.
Do I dare repeat? Let me share some of them. “…And I used to think this Kemi Adetiba was fine oh… Ewwww!!!”, “Kemi should be ashamed of herself. She hasn’t had kids yet, but she looks like this???”, “Kemi makes too much money to be looking like this, look at her swollen legs, her akpu stuffed belle”.
Every comment was like a dagger, but like a train wreck, I couldn’t help going back to the page, refreshing to see the new comments underneath. This was the turning point. I had had enough. I polished off a box of chocolates. It was my goodbye to this life. I was determined to make a change. This blog post – no matter the intention – became my motivation!!
Two days later, I took out my weave, and put my hair into braids. No ‘sweating out’ weave situation was going to deter me. I joined a gym and contracted a personal trainer there, but that did not last long. After 3 sessions I was done. First of all, I did not trust the trainer’s knowledge enough to assist me on my weight loss journey, and secondly, the idea of sitting in traffic for an hour to spend 45 minutes with the trainer at the gym.
Faced with these challenges I had an epiphany. I had to eliminate all the things that kept me from changing my lifestyle. I had taken out my weave and had braids done, so I eliminated the excuse of ‘sweating out my weave’. Next was the traffic to the gym killing my motivation. The next morning, I strapped on sneakers and started jogging round my estate. I started with 5 laps of brisk walking. Next day I ‘ran’ 2 laps. Day after that it was 2 laps of brisk walk and 2 laps of running. Eventually I graduated to one lap walking, one lap running. By the end of the month, I was able to run full 5 laps without any breaks. I felt like death at the end of the 5th lap but I was ABLE to do it. I did this at least 3-4 times a week.
People started noticing the weight loss, “Your face is getting slimmer”. Everyone seemed to notice but ME. The mental break for me was one day, when I was packing for a friend’s birthday weekend in Los Angeles. I came across this gorgeous mini-skirt I had bought 2 years before. I had ALWAYS needed to use Spanx™ while wearing the skirt to keep from busting out of it. However, during the last year, even with Spanx™ on, I could not get into the skirt. I looked at the skirt and said, “WHY NOT?” I slipped on the skirt and buttoned… Spanx™-less.
OOOOOMMMMGGGG!!!! I nearly passed out. Even when I PURCHASED the skirt, when I was SLIMMER I had to wear Spanx™ for it to fit and here was I, Spanx™-LESS and no button popping. I did a numerous quick ‘sit-downs’ and ‘stand-ups’ from my bed to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. I even did a couple jumping jacks in disbelief… IT FIT!!! And I looked mighty HOT in it too. That moment, I knew I would NEVER want to go back to the place I was weight wise a month before.
This was used with permission from Eden Lifestyle. Part 2 is up tomorrow!