Every life-changing decision must stem from within. It may be a weight loss journey, the decision to quit smoking, quit drinking, start a business, whatever it is, only you can make the decisions for the change you desire. The drive is rarely ever external; it does not matter how many people tell you, and how often they do so to do something. If you are not convicted from the inside, you will never get the ball rolling. Neuroscience suggests that addressing the decision-making process itself is key to breaking bad habits.
Take my husband Atte for instance. He had steadily gained weight for over two years or more. He did not have bad eating habits per say, he was not eating very healthily either. In all these years I have been complaining and scolding, advising and threatening, to no avail. He had all sorts of slags to defend himself. He’d say things like, “it’s all muscle babe” or “my colleagues are asking if I am lifting weights because I look so strong”. I hated to break it to him and I never did but it was far from muscle, it shook like jelly when he moved. Jelly arms, jelly belly, jelly cheeks ( I am saying all of these in hindsight, my sarcasm is strictly for laughter and this would not have been funny two years ago).
The weight gain escalates while I am pregnant with our first son, when I complain, he goes “but we are pregnant babe”. Fun fact, I looked bloated but it was all water weight because I was suffering from Edema– So two weeks after Ikaia is born, I am back to my pre-baby weight while he looks very much pregnant, all by himself! He was not ready to make the decisions for the change I thought he needed.
It is late August of 2017, my younger sister, Lyn has been having one heck of a vacation and it is time for her to pack her bags, or as my grandmother (Mamie Celine Mbekwa, God bless that woman!) would put it, “join her cargo” and return home to Cameroon. Like every true Cameroonian, she has amassed every kind of every piece of clothing and accessories. Mind you it is the end of summer, with the mind-blowing end of summer sales.
Every town Lyn has visited on this trip, the natural thing to do has been to shop. After all, there were eye-catching dresses going for three Euros, kitchen items which she did not think she needed but with eighty percent off it was impossible to resist such deals. She almost goes stark raving mad jumping from one shop to the other. She made the decisions to change her closet and kitchen based on the sales she saw. Give both a complete a make-over.
While she is excited about the various deals she is seeing, she does not remember the airline has a maximum weight of fifty-six kilograms per passenger. Here we are at home, packing and unpacking. Reshuffling items from this box to that box to even the boxes out. Making room for “not too important items” to be at the top so that we can take them out at the airport if we encounter a “not so nice” hostess who won’t let ten extra kilograms go through. Now it is time to weigh the boxes. Of course, we do not have a proper scale. We have what we use to weigh ourselves. The problem is we can’t see the display as the boxes are too broad and are covering the entire screen of the scale.
Someone has to weigh themselves, we take note of their weight, then they carry the boxes on their head and climb on the scale, and then we take the difference of the weights (Typical Africans! what exactly is our problem with progress?). You would think that two educated people who happen to travel a lot, with A Lot of stuff would own a proper mass measuring gadget but NO. Anyway, that someone has to be Atte given Lyn and I are not strong enough to lift up the boxes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I had bought this scale two years prior to this incident purposely for Atte to weigh himself. Given he did not believe me when I said he was gaining weight, I’d hoped he’d believe the scale. He was adamant! He had refused categorically in all these years to climb on that scale. Now he was trapped! Lord was I happy. He tried to come up with an excuse but there was no escaping this time. He reluctantly climbed on, we all looked at the display. It read one hundred and twenty-nine kilograms. I screamed, one hundred and twenty-nine kilograms ???!!!”
Silence followed. I wonder what must have been going through his mind then? Maybe he was making decisions on how to go about change? He came down, lifted the first box up, and climbed on the scale once more, the scale crashed! We had no choice but pray for the best of hostesses as we headed to the airport the day Lyn travelled. The entire airport scene is a story for another day. Back to Atte and his big aha moment.
The very next day he goes down to the basement, brings up all of the work-out attires he had packed away for God knows how long. He tells me he is off to the gym. A gym he had been paying money to for over two years and had never shown up at. A couple of weeks later he tells me he is adding low carbs to his menu. I’m like “okay”. He goes to the gym four times a week. In the beginning, he is struggling, but he is seeing results. The more weight he loses, the more motivated he gets. He loses ten kilograms in the first month. Clothes are getting loose, he is feeling strong mentally and physically.
He now spends a lot of time in front of the mirror(hilarious!). Encouraged by what he sees, he works out more, six times a week. No more wines and whiskey. Before Christmas of 2017, in just four months he had lost twenty-five kilograms! It has been two years now and this man travels with his dumbbells! As in it does not matter where he is, there shall be no missing out on a workout. Two and a half years later, thirty-five kilograms down, a healthy lifestyle, a stronger mindset, and all because Lyn would not stop shopping! kidding, all because it came from within.
It did not matter that I sounded like a broken record for three whole years. Or that he had to keep changing his wardrobe by moving one or two sizes up every now and again. Or that I had to poke him most nights because neighbours from five hundred meters away could hear him snoring. None of that mattered.
I could not get him to lose that weight no matter what I did. He to get to that place of making the decisions himself to see the change he so desired. Then he took the necessary steps to get rid of the excess weight. Whatever your endeavours, the decisions to make changes are in your hands. You have the power of choice. Choose to grow, to be better, to evolve, to be the best version of yourself. Staying consistent is key, that too is a story for another day…(Click here for the sequel)