3 Reasons Why I Stopped Power Walking on the Main Road

When I started my weight loss journey, I exercised only in my compound.

Wearing a pedometer, I aimed for 10, 000 steps every morning, and the remaining steps I needed would be spread over the rest of the day (you need to walk about 10, 000 steps a day to stay fit and more than that if you want to lose weight). As a beginner a good day was 14,000 steps total and as time went on, about 20, 000 steps.

The funny thing is, these steps were all inside my compound. I would walk round and round and round my building for an hour every morning, six days a week. I never tried to jog or run, I simply power-walked. I didn’t give up any food. I simply combined exercise with reduced portions and I lost the 10kg I needed to lose.

After this, I came down to an hour every morning, three days a week, just for maintenance, but I decided I would start doing it on the road. I lasted only a week before I came back into my estate, and eventually back into my compound. Why?

  1. I realised I don’t like people all that much. All this time I thought I was a lover of people, I didn’t realise it was just the love of Christ. I have no patience for nonsense wey no join the matter at all. Some Nigerians don’t mind their business and it’s so annoying. They see you more than once a week and y’all are now chummy all of a sudden. Then there were the ones in their cars obviously gossiping about why a slim girl is exercising. One actually leaned out of his bus and told me I was “okay like this” and did I want “everything to disappear?” He actually thought he was advising me. SMH.
  2. I don’t like cars. Horns, fumes, people in them… Enough said.
  3. I’m a music freak. I’m almost always listening to music, whether I’m showering, cooking, or exercising. So for my walks I got one of those wireless headphones last year and loaded an SD card for it. Now, I didn’t realise the luxury that power-walking to music in the privacy of my own compound affords me. When Korede Bello’s Godwin or D’Prince’s Amarachi comes on? The music lover in me gives way to the music freak and my hands and body are doing their thing. Then Asa’s Baby Gone comes on and I’m suddenly all in my feelings. I have no idea what my face looks like. I don’t want anyone looking at me in any of the aforementioned states.

So yeah, I’m back in my compound. I’m glad I ventured out, however. I always thought of the distance between my house and a certain roundabout as faaaar but it’s only 30 minutes both ways. Just imagine. The same one hour (10,000 steps) I had been doing in my compound! It’s encouraging to know I walked that far daily.

I’ve flipped my routine and I’m happier with 30 minutes six days a week (that three days a week thing wasn’t making me happy) and I’m staying as far away from the road as I can!

A Joyful Road to Fitness

Power-walking is my favourite exercise. However, when we moved house, I couldn’t do it anymore because of the way the roads where I now live are constructed. Many years ago, I didn’t even power-walk; I just walked to my office and back home every day (22 mins in the morning, 22 mins in the evening), and I never had to worry about my weight.

Just before my wedding, I took up skipping. I tried to resume when we moved, but then I saw somewhere online that skipping hurts the knees. Bye-bye skipping rope.

These days, though I can’t be called fat, I’m rounder than I used to be. Pregnancy and breastfeeding played a small part in my weight gain. The main culprits are my sedentary lifestyle (I work from home and spend hours sitting with my laptop), and my new-found love for food.

When I chased my toddler around the house one day, and started panting after a few minutes, I knew I had to find a way to not just lose a little weight, but be fit.

Here are a few things that have helped me:

1. A question: @SirZuma asked me on Twitter, “you can’t walk around your rooms and your house?” My answer was no at the time, but I later realised I could power-walk round the compound. Soft ground is preferable to concrete, but I have to make do with what I have for now. I’m loving it!

2. The Sportrate App: Thanks to @Ms_Isioma, I now have the Sportrate fitness app on my Blackberry. It tells me how long I’ve been walking, how many kilometres I’ve covered, and how many calories I’ve burned, among other things. I’ve gone from 2km, to 3.5km, to 4km every morning, and my goal is to power-walk 10km every day, considering how much time I spend sitting at my desk editing and writing every day.

3. Smaller portions: She may not have known it, but @chikaunigwe encouraged me to try reducing my portions. Prior to this, I was skipping meals (esp dinner). Smaller portions have helped me eat less, and I feel healthier than when I was skipping meals. My friend @UgochinyeluA selected a small bowl for me start using, and brethren, it was PAINFUL. Now that I’m used to it, I wonder how I was demolishing those mountains of food before.

In addition to these, I spend my power-walking time listening to Bible teaching. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be losing weight where I don’t need it, and gaining weight where it really matters. I’m a very happy woman.

The Power of Small Changes

It doesn’t always have to be big changes. Every little change to your daily routine counts. Here are 5 small things you can do today for your tomorrow:

1. Drink more water: Use a timer to remind you if you need it. Your brain, hair, skin, hormones…your entire body in fact, will be better for it.

2. Skip body lotions: Go for body oils instead. Did you know that body lotions are 70%water? Your lotion is basically water + oil. The reason you can’t see that is because an emulsifier is used to bind them together, giving the final product a creamy consistency. So when you apply oil on your wet skin, you get a lotion- without the emulsifier, which you don’t need as it does absolutely nothing for your skin, anyway.

3. Exercise: The main thing that scares us about exercise is it appears to be something we need to put on gym clothes and go to the gym to do. Get a dance video and work up a sweat in your living room. Buy a skipping rope. Or simply go for a brisk walk- my favourite any day. Don’t forget your music: get good earphones and go!

4. Read: Again, books scare people. Start by reading articles. Pick a good blog and read one post a day. Subscribe to a magazine (@barows21 will deliver to your door if you live in Lagos). Join a book club and read a few chapters each week. Reading is life-changing.

5. Speak God’s Word to yourself: Take a closer look at Psalm 23, or 27, or 91. David wasn’t praying, he was simply declaring what he believed. I use God’fessions by Goke Coker, it has the Bible verses on one side and the confessions on the other. Tell God you believe His Word. I can’t tell you how starting your day this way will infuse your spirit with light and power. Let there be a “yes, Lord!” in your belly each morning!

 

Do you have a small life-changing tip that has worked for you? Please leave a comment!

Fitness Friday- Spiritual Workouts

I love power walks. Jogging used to be my favourite, and for a period my skipping rope and I were inseparable, but since I discovered power walking, nothing has been able to take its place.

The Bible tells us that physical exercise has value. However, it also tells us in that same verse, “but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8)

We are exhorted to exercise ourselves unto godliness. Your body won’t automatically get into shape and stay that way unless you train it, and neither will your inner man. So, pay attention to your spiritual fitness, otherwise you’ll be out of shape before you know it. That’s the default.

D.A Carson writes in For The Love of God:

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to scripture, faith and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith.

We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

Selah…

Spiritus Sanus In Corpore Sano

I’ve been in pain for the past five days. I can’t run or squat without wincing, neither can I walk normally, even though folks don’t seem to notice, and I brought it all on myself. How? It’s a short story. I spent the New Year with my boyfriend’s family, and my short stay there included visits to his grandpa, Omooba Johnson Adeboye Omololu (of blessed memory) who was ill. He actually started getting better before my return to Lagos, so I was half surprised to hear in mid-January that he had passed- half surprised because he was 105, and who gets to live that long these days?

My desire to go and pay my last respects was however tempered with my trepidation at the thought of meeting his extended family for the first time. In my mind, it was one thing to be fussed over and pampered by his mum, dad and siblings, and quite another to be scrutinized by aunts, uncles and cousins, especially since I’m “omo ibo”. I was more than nervous; I was petrified. Anyway, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, so the day came and off we went.

Now those of us from the Niger Delta know that if you choose, you can be ramrod straight while greeting an older person (except, of course, he or she has gray hair, and then you only alter your position slightly in which ever direction, as long as you moved, lol) and that if you already greeted them once, say in the morning, you really can’t be bothered till it’s time to go to bed. As a matter of fact, the Urhobo greeting, “mi gwo” literally means “I am on my knees”, but are we ever? So when I realized I wanted to spend forever with this Yoruba boy, I actually had to practice bringing my two knees to the ground morning, afternoon, evening and night, and every other time in between- greeting for sitting down, for staying at home, for breaking wind and of course for just being.

To the glory of God, the burial ceremony went well and I had an interesting time! Everyone was warm and welcoming and funny and sweet and despite the fact that I couldn’t understand their language, God’s favour was constantly with me. But of course, I had to go and do something silly. Instead of me to continue my normal kneeling style, which is putting one knee down and then the other, I got carried away by the sight of other girls going down with both knees in one swift move and getting back up just as fast. It didn’t occur to me that they’d been doing it all their lives. So I tried it. And I was immediately sorry, but not as sorry as I would later be when I had to go up and down stairs. It hurt so bad, it was truly a shame. I regretted letting Lagos life take me away from my workouts which used to be so important to me. I knew I had to return to my exercise mat and my skipping rope as soon as possible.

But just as those thoughts went through my mind, one of my beau’s cousins called me to come and look at Baba as he lay in state. I went there and looked in, and perhaps because I had never stood so close to a lifeless body, it hit me like a ton of bricks- he wasn’t there. Baba was just not there. It was a body, dressed in nice clothes, but the man wasn’t there. And I wondered, why do we go through all this, keeping an empty container around and calling it a person and even talking to it, when the one we loved, who ate and drank and laughed with us just isn’t there anymore? And if this is how we will all end up, why bother? Why spend time and money on a covering we will leave behind? No wonder the Bible says that we have “this treasure in earthen vessels”, or as another translation puts it, in “jars of clay”.

So can we forget all about being fit, since we are only in these bodies temporarily anyway? Perish the thought. Three days after, I can still feel the pain in my poor legs, and that tells me something; I owe it to myself and to the Holy Spirit whose temple my body is, to be a good caretaker of my body as long as I’m here, by the things I choose to do, and the things I choose not to do. But I will also exercise myself unto godliness by studying my Bible, praying, meditating, and the hard part- OBEYING. I will monitor and censor the things I accept through my eyes and ears like a model watches her diet, and in the war against sin I will push myself beyond the limits of my natural man like an athlete running as to win the prize.

Striving for a healthy spirit in a healthy body will not be easy. I know my body will ache for the first few days when I resume my workouts. I also know that my natural self will cry out and protest being denied the indulgence and sensual pleasures it has grown accustomed to. There will inevitably be mornings when thirty minutes will seem to hold more promise spent in bed instead of working out or praying. There will always be gorgeous eyes and lips to tempt me; as willing as the spirit is, this treacherous body of mine is what it is, after all. God help me then, and forbid that I give up altogether, or lose sight of what is most important. Balance is key, because when it’s all been said and done, the words in 1st Timothy 4:8 (The Message) remain true; “Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”

As good as being physically fit feels, it would not do to get carried away with it. I’d rather remember my Creator in the days when I have strength, because youth and beauty fade away and in the end, the body is put back in the same ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it…