A time comes in a woman’s life when she has to make decisions. Difficult or not. January 17th, 2017, I embarked on a personal journey to embrace clean eating in its totality.
Following intense research on various diets and consultation with my doctor, I felt I was on the marked path to eating consciously, fully aware that my health was at stake.
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I chose not to work with any nutritionist but rather do it on my own at my own pace.
Today, I am almost 30 kilos lighter and the journey is still going on. I am doing it slowly. It is no longer a struggle or an exercise I dread. It is a way of life.
How did I do it you may ask? I dropped sugar, cut out dairy and carbohydrates, and eat more of proteins and vegetables. That is a personal choice informed by my own truths.
Where it Began
My mother says I was always chubby since I was a baby. Indeed, looking at my childhood photos, one sees this rotund little girl with round cheeks, the kind that is irresistible to pinch. As a little girl, my relatives referred to me, as ‘esindii’ which loosely translates to the little girl with ‘the waist’.
In my mother tongue, that phrase makes sense. When translated to the Queen’s language it is lost in translation.
I had a big backside. It was big and round. It became a point of reference ever since I was a child.I became the girl with the small waist and big hips. The curvaceous nature of my body meant I got away with carrying a lot of weight.
Because my hips were big and round, somehow, nature compensated with a small upper body. Or so I felt. It was yet another added costume in the theatre of my life.
I wore my curves with pride. I soaked in the praise about my curves, “at least you have a good shape” I would be told. As some of my friends would fret about their weight, mine was never an issue all through to university. However, after I graduated and attended a friend’s wedding I freaked out when I saw the photos that had been taken of me.
You know how paparazzi’s crash on an event, take photos and display them? That is what happened. I could not recognize the person looking back at me.
Still, I would get compliments on my shape. I would gladly smile and nod a thank you. Beneath, was a woman burdened by the excessive weight she carried with her. Some battles are so intimidatingly personal, they can crush you by their sheer viciousness.
No matter how hard I tried, the kilos would not go. Then medical issues set in. I started having challenges with my menses, I would bleed non-stop for weeks on end.
After several trips to different doctors, I was finally told, I had fibroids and needed to urgently remove them. A second opinion from a Gynecologist stopped me from going under the knife and instead, I decided it was time to have my first child.
The pregnancy was bumpy with various health challenges, and finally, I delivered my baby via C-Section. Lo and behold, my menses went back to normal, and I lost significant weight, coming down to a size 12, something that I had not experienced most of my adult life.
The second baby came along. Some kilos piled back during my second pregnancy. When I delivered, I also lost quite a bit of weight, not as much as the first baby, but at least I was down to a size 14. I wanted to shed it off.
I tried different diets. My self-esteem was on a downward spiral. I even tried slimming pills and somewhere in between my hormones went crazy. I always had challenges with acne, but this time around I got the most severe attack. So bad that at some point I had to work from home because my face was simply horrific.
Health, Hurt, Re-awakening
Fast forward to 2016, I noticed that the size of my tummy was growing by the day, and within no time, I looked like I was about five months pregnant. My weight shot up from an average of 80 kgs to shot to 99 kgs.
With the weight gain, down went my self-confidence. In the face of everyone though, I would pretend to be okay with my size and proudly carry my weight. As I struggled to figure out why my tummy was growing by the day, irregularity with my menses returned with a bang.
One month, there was no sign of my menses, and when it came it was sparse and would only last a day. Then one day, the menses came with a vengeance and simply never stopped. All through this, I kept postponing a visit to my gynaecologist until one day I decided enough was enough.
I had a scan and it appeared that while the fibroids were present they were not that big that they would cause me so many problems. So, we set on to try different treatments, including getting off birth control, to try and regularize my hormone levels.
Nothing worked. And with time, the bleeding became worse and the cramps became unbearable.
2016 was the worst year of my life. I prayed, I cried, I panicked, and almost went crazy. One night I remember kneeling in my living room asking myself, why is this happening to me. I cried to God and asked him to heal me the way he healed that woman who bled for 12 years.
One morning, in November 2016, I woke to get ready for work, but felt like one side of my face was heavy. I rushed to the mirror, and the reflection that looked back at me was strange. One side of my face didn’t look right. The Nanny who was the only person awake at that time looked at me and said one side of my face was drooping. I freaked out. I had an urgent meeting I was hosting in the office, so staying home was not an option. I got dressed covered my head and part of my face with a scarf and off I went.
When the meeting came to an end, I attempted to stand up to see my guests off, and realized, I was bleeding heavily. I notified my boss and left. The drive home was the longest ever. I called my doctor and when I told him what was going on he instructed that I see him immediately. He suspected, due to the continued loss of blood, I was at risk of suffering a stroke.
In the end, I had an emergency hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus), my blood level was low, and I was told to have people ready to donate. I thank God it did not get to that, I did not need a blood transfusion. The pain and agony I had gone through came to an end after the surgery.
Having a hysterectomy is a difficult decision to make for any woman. It was hard for me because, when you are young, you still want the possibility of having another child available to you.
During the review, the surgeon told me, that following the surgery it would be easy to lose weight.
I learnt that I had a serious hormonal imbalance, but what was worse, following the surgery, is that they discovered I was developing uterine cancer.
This revelation jolted me. One of the doctor’s strict prescriptions was that I watch my weight, what I eat and generally to adopt a healthy lifestyle. He said it would help in keeping cancer at bay.
I was advised to have regular checks. Again, this is advise I had always heard, read about but never quite embraced. It took a broken me to hear it again and this time there was no choice on whether to take it on or not.
The hysterectomy ensured that I ruled out Uterine and Cervical Cancer, but I was cautioned that I can still develop Ovarian Cancer or any other for that matter.
Out with Poor Eating Habits, In with Clean Eating
This whole experience was a wake-up call for me. I made a choice there and then that I would do better for me. I would do better for my family. I made a deliberate decision to be there for them and be an example that I can live a healthy and fulfilling life.
The journey has been eventful. I am 30kgs lighter, I feel and look awesome if I may say so myself. Clean eating is now a way of life for me. The dividends are amazing. Now when I look at my reflection in the mirror, I am proud of the woman I have become. Confident, in charge and healthy.
There is something that clean eating does to you that is difficult to define but there is a newness in it, a refreshing light that illuminates and rejuvenates the body. I treat my body with ultimate respect, taking care of it as best as I can so that it can honour me in return. Do not wait to go through a similar journey to live a healthy life.