“If you are not careful, you will spend your whole life trying to gain or lose weight and *last last something will still kill a (wo)man”.
Ayyyy it’s my first post; so you know I had to hit you with a fire quote.
When I was told to be a contributor on fitness on Naomi’s Parlor, my reaction was “Eeek!! Yes! Something I love to talk about!” Now, a disclaimer – I am not a fitness coach or expert. Aisha is simply an enthusiast who likes to train her body and, by extension, her mind. I find peace at the gym and more importantly, I love the post-work-out high – the only form of drugs I partake in #SayNoToDrugsKids.
Please, note that (until I tell you I am officially a certified trainer) most of the things I write in my posts are tips and methods that have worked for ME.
Since this is an introductory post, I thought it would be great to share some insights into what I have learnt so far – some old and others pretty new – on my fitness journey. As mundane as some of the points below may seem, it is essential to pay attention, especially if you are in the early stages of your fitness journey #YouGotThisSis!
That said, ladies (and lost gentlemen), for the sake of brevity, let’s jump into it.
The first and, I believe, the most crucial point is to know your body. What does it mean to know your body?
Knowing your body helps you understand how to treat it, the type of exercises you should do, as well as what your diet should look like. Also, as you proceed further into your fitness journey, knowing your body helps you make adjustments based on your needs and the goals you have set.
Our beautiful bodies come in different magnificent shapes and sizes. As a result, what some women can achieve with little or no work at the gym, some others can’t, regardless of how much work they put in (money can help though *wink*). In an era where big booty and skinny waist is the craze, please know that you can be fit, healthy, look fantastic and still not have the body of an Instagram model. And that is perfectly okay.
Focus on pushing your own body by doing the best with what you’ve been given and watch the magic happen. Your body is most beautiful when you love and adore it (read that last part again and let it sink). Coming from someone who grew up with a lot of insecurities about her body, trust me – I know it is hard to get to that point. During my time in boarding school, I would dress up in the dark, behind a locker! I am gradually learning to love myself and even say a little “I know. I work for it :)” when I am told I have a beautiful body #HumbleFlex.
Set your goals. Is your goal to gain weight, lose weight, bulk up or maintain your size and just get healthier? Just like goals for other aspects of your life, the answer to this will help you determine and plan on how to achieve them. For example, when I started working out years ago, honestly, it was because I was bored. I had missed being active since I ran track in high school. In my naivety, I started by doing hours of mindless cardio and cutting calories drastically. You see guys, the problem with this was that I had built muscle mass, and with my fast metabolism, they had to be fed. So I was only doing myself a disservice because I had no knowledge of what I wanted from my body. When a trainer I saw at the gym recommended weights, I laughed because I presumed I would look like a bodybuilder.
Of course, I had not taken into consideration the amount of work and supplements put into this craft. Before I realised it, I lost a ridiculous amount of weight! Everybody around me had something to say about how I looked really skinny and seemed unhealthy. Frankly, in hindsight, I probably was severely malnourished, but it wasn’t in their place to say anything. One of these days, we will talk about how skinny-shaming is almost just as bad as fat-shaming, but that day is not today. Let’s move on to the next point.
Drink enough water and eat your greens. Many Instagram posts and everything social media emphasises this. Yes, Instagram tells some lies (like the posts that tell you not to text him back *side-eye at myself*) but this is not one of them. I am sure we all know the role greens play. Besides the vitamins they provide, one of their most important function is to help break down what you’ve eaten.
Meanwhile, water helps transport these around. I am not going to discuss this in-depth because a simple Google search will tell you everything you need to know. I write this because of the stress some friends put me through by drinking soda instead of water. They know themselves, and I am going to need them to drop that bottle and square up because clearly, we need to fight.
Trust the process. Hey! You are not going to undo the damage you have probably done throughout your lifetime in a month. Stop jumping on the scale every minute and quit looking for instant results. Trust the process and enjoy it; otherwise, you may lose motivation, and your journey will become a chore. A bit of advice on where to begin? Start small, don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself. For example, if you do 5 burpees today, try to do 7 the next time you do the same routine (I sometimes talk to myself at the gym like “come on, you know you have more than that in you).” You can start with 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3 times a week. Gradually work your way up and commit to it. According to Psychologist Phillippa Lally, it takes an average of 2 months to form a habit. Some people carry their braids longer than that (judging you!); so you can do it!
One thing I always say is that I have made fitness a lifestyle for me. I have never done a crash diet; not because I haven’t seen it work for people but because I feel I don’t need them. Also, I have seen people pack the pounds right back the minute they stop. Research has found that in some cases, the weight gain happens because they were either deceiving their bodies or they never really tried to build a good habit. And so it was easy for them to fall back into a bad pattern. Personally, after a weekend of eating poorly or not working out, I can get back into my routine without much guilt because I have missed it. It is my way of life.
Finally, as trivial as this may seem, get enough sleep!! (says she who was on her computer at 1am). Please and please, sleep, get rest, let your body shut down! It is good to sleep. Yes, we are all chasing dreams, but if you don’t sleep, how will you catch them? Successful people sleep, fit people sleep. Muscle fibres are torn in the gym and built in bed (*side eye* not like that). When you sleep, your body heals and repairs. Never underestimate the power of good quality sleep.
Now, I will be honest – I was a bit conflicted on the format this post would take. If you enjoyed this post, please let me know. Also, it will be great for you to stay glued to Naomi’s parlour because there will be more on the subject matter. This will allow us to explore the beautiful world of fitness from multiple angles. Also, you can leave comments, questions or topics you would want me to cover. Things I have experienced, I will share; and those I haven’t? Well, you are in luck because this crawler loves to research, and we will discover them together!
*last last – Nigerian slang for Eventually
*All posts on Noami’s Parlour are edited by Ife Agboola.