Connect-Discover-Learn-Share

From fat to fit! The story of Damaris Karanja

Spread the love
I challenge you to take charge – It can be done!

She was 102kg She got it down to 72kg. And has kept it that way….

I share with you my weight loss story, not because I am special, but because I have every faith that if I could turn my life around you can too. Have faith – it can be done!

I was a tiny and skinny girl through to my teens. In high school, I was the smallest girl in the class to the extent that my seniors would carry me around and even breast feed me. I hated this as it scathed my ego but also enjoyed the protection of not being bullied.

When I began working as an accountant and doing my part time studies I would sit long hours in concentration to meet deadlines including staring at the screen over eight hours, not to mention the two hours in class. As far as I remember, this was the start of my weight problem originating from inactivity and overeating without thinking as I had no time to concentrate on myself.

By the time I hit 30 years I was overweight with a huge hanging pot belly. I have a great appetite and would eat a lot of food subconsciously. By the time I had my first born daughter, Daisy I was 85kgs at 5 feet 4 inches. Being unconscious of my weight risk I never bothered to check my meals and the baby weight never dropped. By the time I had my second daughter, Gaudy I was 98kgs. I somehow managed to shed off a little mainly due to work stress and I was 90kgs on her first birthday.

Having 2 little girls, and a very involving career, I lost purposeful control of myself and out of stress I would eat a lot of food and regret later. My weight moved from 90kgs to 102kgs in one year. By this time everyone was talking about it. People actually thought I was due for a third child!

My mum was particularly very unhappy with my weight and kept rebuking me. I just could not manage my huge body, I couldn’t walk much as my thighs would grind and cause bruises. I couldn’t take care of my children as I could hardly bend, my back was cracking. Even serious physiotherapy, didn’t help. I was forced hire two house helps to enable me sleep when I was home. This created a huge disconnect with my children and they’d turn me away when I tried to get close them. When my house helps were away, I would call in my mum to help. At 60 and diabetic she was fitter and healthier than me!

In Dec 2012, I traveled upcountry and one of my grannies who had last seen me when I was in Campus, then still a skinny small girl, screamed and tried to hug me, and said “I cannot even get round you!!” I was terribly embarrassed as this was in the presence of my cousins who were young and fit. My granny could see the danger ahead yet I pretended not to.

When back from holidays, my girls and I had a bad flu, and in the Hospital when I stepped on the scale it read 102kgs. The lady doctor looked me straight in the eye and told me, “You could be careless with your life but please stop being selfish, your kids need you. Cut this weight!” This was my 3rd and last wakeup call…………..

I hit the gym in February 2013 but dropped out after a month as the slim and fit ladies were very sarcastic and I felt ridiculed. I retreated to my cocoon and piled on another 3 kgs in one month. While in that dilemma I discovered an online support group OLTPB. I kept logging in and reading success stories of people working out hard and others posting very green and tiny meals. I was in awe at how they even managed to stay alive. I started following a few of the ladies and realized that we shared similar issues with some, and others were bigger and had worse stories of weight risks than myself.

In May 2013, I went back to the gym and now started eating smaller meals with more vegetables and fruits. I also started drinking more water, and increased to more than three litres from my previous one glass a day. I would suffer hunger pangs and eat the wrong food but still promise myself to be a good girl the following day. And although my weight hadn’t reduced two months later, I was feeling lighter and more active and so I encouraged myself to continue. I decided to walk in the mornings for 6-10km and go to the gym in the evening.

I had many questions and was shy to ask, but I realized that people asked very basic questions. I took to asking all and sundry questions that puzzled me. The page had a mix of different people including regulars like myself, nutritionists, fitness instructors, doctors and others. I decided to use their knowledge to pull myself up. I would inbox and ask questions, get advice and personal instructions. The founder of the group was and still is very supportive and is more like a mum to me. I got personal information on daily portions and food quality. I met fitness gurus who selflessly encouraged and guided me. I do sincerely thank them for making me who I am today.

In Jan 2014, my weight dropped to 88kgs and I had lost 6 inches off my waist line. I was mightily surprised as I never used to weigh myself much. That gave me a kick to move on and by May 2014 I was 75kgs having dropped 30 kgs and 8 inches in one year. I was overwhelmed and equally baffled as you can imagine.

By now I was now eating clean, of course with a few bad days but I now knew what to do. I knew how to balance my calories and get rid of them when I consume them. Calories in calories out. This has been my formula since. I had transformed and was also very active and would send off my house help to spend time with my girls. I would do all the washing, cleaning and cooking for them. My back just healed! My sleepy head just woke up! I now don’t sleep in the day as I used to do or even doze around! My kids and I have the best relationship we’ve ever had including family moments – exercising, swimming, playing, reading Bible stories and praying. My Daisy is amazed that mum can sit on the floor with her legs crossed. Before she used to describe me as ‘konono’ now she says her mum is a small, beautiful girl. She actually mistakes my clothes for hers!

This journey has taught me many things and I’ll share just a few:-

1) Accept reality and make sober decisions.

You cannot have it both ways, you’re either in or out. Realization of one’s need is the first step to deciding to seek for solutions.

2) Associate with like-minded people.

I lost many friends as I didn’t have the time to socialize over drinks any more. However, I have made very many good friends online and in real life, who share my ambitions and are working towards the same goals as me.

3) Discipline Discipline Discipline.

Changing habits that you have grown and lived with for 35 years is no mean feat. I had to change from: big plate to a side plate; a lot of starch and fatty meats to lots of vegetables; 3 meals to 6 meals; eating at the company restaurant to carrying clean food from home; little water to a bottle permanently on my desk, to hydrate enough. I would run down the stairs 6-8 times a day to the toilet and a few times I messed myself as I couldn’t hold back the short calls. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.

4) Patience Patience Patience.

The weight wasn’t gained in a day and so expecting it to drop in a few days/months is being over ambitious. My first 6 months was a complete plateau. It took a lot of patience to start seeing results and when it started Oh My, I have never received such a great gift. I am at my post high school size!

5) Sacrifice. With weight loss comes sacrifice.

I would eat a full chicken. I stopped purchasing broilers and now catch road runners. I have had to reduce wine no near nothing and now take water and tea. I sacrificed many friendships, but I have gained tenfold.

6) Love yourself.

Many people compliment huge African bodies with huge booties. I have since realized they are either ignorant or misinformed. The big body is pretty from outside but very weak from inside. I choose to be beautiful inside out.

7) Be confident and firm in your decisions.

I have received lots of criticism including negative comments when jogging on the streets, comments on the food I eat, and finally on my smaller body which is generally taken as a sign of stress or sickness. I am now more confident and happier than before. It really doesn’t matter what the people say. I am healthy enough now to take care of myself and my kids. My granny can hug me warmly and with a great smile. I no longer ask my mum to step in for me as I used to. Not to mention my employer is happier as I used to drag my feet into the office at 9.30am, and I am now very energetic and fresh at 7.30am. My kids don’t have to take the school bus at dawn as I lazily sleep. We’re up early, I prepare everyone, we bond on the road and the kisses at drop off zone are just precious.

8) Plan and create routines.

I plan my meals and exercises well in advance. I shop once a week, clean, pack and store. I have a timetable for my weekly meals. I plan my exercise for 6 days in advance and plan the workouts including my daily weight and cardio training routines. I plan my work and make sure that I achieve maximum in 9 hours of the day. I plan what time to break for my meals and not eat unconsciously. Planning helps me not carry work home as I used to do before. I have regained myself in this journey. I am in full control of myself and my surroundings.

9) Consult.

No one is an island of knowledge. Ask the right questions to the right people, research and confirm findings with experts before you appoint yourself as a guinea pig.

10) Do not lose your identity or focus.

Please do not forget that you are your own original piece. Please remain true to yourself. Do not do things because others are doing them. Take in what you are comfortable with and suits your lifestyle. Expensive recipes don’t work for me as a country girl, I work with what suits me. I have achieved equilibrium on meals so that my family doesn’t suffer in the process. I still eat Ugali only now I mill my unga. My daughters and I love Chapati so I changed from white to brown ones and I make them more nutritive by adding eggs, milk, pumpkin etc. My daughter loves pancakes and I now make very yummy oats, banana, honey and eggs pancakes and waffles. Mukimo and Githeri are still prominent in my meals, I only ration how much and when to eat.

11) Set goals and targets.

No battle is won from shooting into the air. Decide what you want, pen it down with time frames and road maps. Set high, realistic but attainable goals. I have learnt in this journey not to set short term goals, you will disappoint yourself and end up frustrated. Set medium to long term goals. Weight loss is not a sprint that you win after dashing to the finishing line, it is a lifestyle. Brace yourself to make changes and decisions you are able to stick with the rest of your life, only then you will enjoy the fruits. Quick fixes and fad diets never work. You want a fit and healthy body? You’ve got to work for it, and work very hard.

Lastly, now that I have achieved my ideal weight at 72-75kgs what is the plan? I intend to work hard in the New Year to tone my body and make it stronger. I will incorporate more strength training and eating healthier. My meals are now at 25:35:40 Starch, proteins and vegetables. This is against the recommended ratios of 25:25:50 but I need more proteins now to keep me full from the intensive workouts and build my muscles that are being strained now. I have chosen a fitness instructor that suits my needs and she’s kicking me big time, I love to hate this dynamite. I also have online support from my experienced guru friends with whom in keep in constant touch for support and guidance.

I intend to invest in a home gym so I can work out any time. This is my prayer for 2015.

My advice to everyone out there, you do not need to be irrelevant with age and after bearing children. Do not let yourself fade off, you can remain beautiful, fit and healthy at advanced aged. I clocked 41 years few days ago but I feel 16. Chasing my kids, dancing and playing is my oxygen. Life is never that serious, love yourself, make yourself happy and do what you love to do. I challenge you to Take Charge Now!

Thank you and God bless!

Damaris.

Leave a Comment