These oyinbo people and their over-sabi! I got a text message from my GP last week informing me that there was an outbreak of measles in Birmingham and their records showed that I had not received the MMR vaccine. I was to arrange to come for my vaccine as soon as possible. Can you blame them? When I was immunized in Kaduna State many moons ago, the only record of it was my screams and fever that followed, and even that is a figment of my imagination. My mum had us all immunized when we were infants. She was a practicing nurse at that time so she knew how important it was to get the jabs.
What I can recall however, was my first bout of measles. It is firmly etched in my memory because it came at a most inconvenient time. I had been chosen, you see, to be a flower girl at a distant cousin’s wedding. I was the right age and size and quite pleased that I wasn’t growing as fast as my older sister who was too old to be a flower girl but too young to be a bridesmaid. I had been measured for my dress and my mum had purchased my shoes possibly from Bata, only for the fever and rash to descend upon me a week to the wedding.
I am not a stubborn individual but I refused to be persuaded that I wouldn’t look good in my dress with calamine lotion covering half of me. The dress was some kind of polyester number and itched like crazy. I remember scratching away in the heat on the wedding day but I played my role as a flower girl as well as the itching allowed. I doubt I was allowed to take any pictures, at least I can’t remember ever seeing one.
So I am not going to my GP to get a measles jab. I also do not like going to my GP because anytime I go for a check-up, I have to get weighed and the scale in the GP’s surgery is racist. It doesn’t understand the effect of beans and yam on a person’s weight. It always adds a few pounds to my weight as if it is doing me a favour. However, It has the desired effect of making me watch my weight all the time and stops me from allowing my waistline and below to expand to proportions alarming to my car, my bed and more importantly, my family.
I realised my weight needed particular watching yet again when on Monday when I got to work and the lifts on one side of the building were out of service. With less than 15 minutes to my first lecture, I decided to take a set of stairs (120 steps) to the 6th floor to my office. I got to my office 5 minutes later panting like a marathon runner. I had to stop on each floor to catch my breath while pretending to look for something in my handbag as agile young students whizzed past me, taking two steps at a time. When did I become such an oldie?
But my clothes fit me…
A year ago I could take those stairs in 2 minutes. I also know that I am heavier, my cheeks are fuller and my bathroom scales have confirmed the fact. Therefore, to stem the tide of fat that is surely rising, I have committed myself to a 3 month weight loss programme to lose a stone in weight. My daughter, who has that slim firm body that many teenagers effortlessly possess, told me she didn’t think I had grown fatter in the last year. I noted she said fatter, which means she thought I was already fat. Hmmm! The truth hurt!
Nigerian ladies have the added complication of being able to make clothes to fit our size, whatever that is. If you are lucky enough to be able to have your clothes made by a tailor/ fashion designer, you may not easily notice that you are piling on the pounds. If like me, you buy your clothes off the peg and you are used to wearing a particular size, you will know there is a problem when you find that you can no longer fit into that size.
Before we blame rice and plantain or efo riro swimming in oil, it is also necessary to note that there are natural factors that may cause weight gain in women. The most significant is hormonal changes. This doesn’t mean we can blame our hormones for getting fatter, it indicates that we have to change our eating habits and lifestyle (i.e. exercise more) in response to getting older. Stress and lack of sleep are also contributory factors which will all experience and this can cause rapid weight gain in some people.
We all know the health benefits of losing weight, but how many people know that they need to lose weight? How many people know their BMI? How many people attribute the pain in the knee or hip to being too heavy? Some little known benefits of losing weight including losing seasonal allergies and improving your skin and hair ( from eating healthier foods); foods taste better; you are likely to be able to come off or reduce dosage of certain prescription medication; your love life will improve because of your renewed confidence in your appearance and agility; You are likely to enjoy your job more because you are not always tired and out of breath; your concentration improves and you can be more productive at work, possibly leading to a raise.
When all is said and done, we must remind ourselves to do all we can to stay healthy. Medical checks are good, but we have to work at keeping our bodies in the best shape possible at all times.
BTW: I plan to lose 1 pound (about 450gms) a week. That is a bit less than 6 gala sausage rolls in weight. Do-able, don’t you think? I wonder how many people can do a 1pound a week challenge for 12 weeks?
Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listen to her musings on everything.