When I look at the clothes I used to wear in University, I always laugh first, and then, I feel a fleeting sadness, a longing for things to be the way they were in 2007.
Then I was in 300 Level, I was a happening babe, and best of all, I was ‘Lepa’, the perfect size 8. Those were the days when I could eat a big loaf of bread and egg in the morning, a steaming bowl of rice, and beans in the afternoon and twenty fingers of fried yam accompanied with succulent chicken suya in the evenings without thinking about my weight. Those were the days when I could slip easily into my jeans without any struggle. Those were the days when my stomach was so flat and taut, you could place a sheet of paper and do your homework on it.
Those days are gone.
Somewhere between 2007 and 2017, I went up as far as a size 16. And the funny thing is that the weight pilled on so slowly, I didn’t even notice it.
It started in 2011 when I had this searing pain in my stomach that could only be quenched when I ate. For a while, I ignored it, until I went to see the Doctor. When he told me I had Stomach Ulcer, I looked at him like he had teeth embedded in his forehead.
How can I have Ulcer? I eat a lot of food! Ulcer is for people who don’t eat!
Then he asked me some questions, and I found out that all my numerous days of skipping meals in the mornings had finally caught up with me – back then, on some days, I would eat my breakfast at 3.00pm!
So, with a bag filled with Ulcer medication, I walked out of the hospital wearing a thick layer of hope on my skin.
I will be fine. It will all be okay. This Ulcer won’t make me fat. All will be well.
But no one ever told me I will always get what I want.
My stomach continued hurting, and I continued eating to stop the pain. When the pain subsided in 2012, I was already a size 12. Then I travelled to Aberdeen for two years, and that was when ‘all hell broke loose’.
Chocolates. Chips. Burgers. Fried Chicken. Smoothies (not the healthy ones). Biscuits. Kebabs. Pastries. Ice Cream.
I ate anything and everything. I was cold. I was lonely. I was borderline depressed. Food became my best friend, and it was good to my heart, but toxic to my waist line. I didn’t even notice what was happening until I went to Primark one fine afternoon in Summer and I couldn’t fit into a size 14 pair of trousers. I looked at myself in the changing room mirror, at my swollen lower belly, at my fat hands, at my healthy cheeks.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It was 2013 and I was a size sixteen.
I walked home that day with a burning sense of purpose. I was going to lose the weight. I was going to become a ‘Lepa’ again. I downloaded Insanity and 30 Day Shred. I bought gym clothes. I bought exercise equipment. I started buying vegetables. I stopped eating junk food.
It all worked.
I went down to a size 14, and though my neighbours downstairs were probably frustrated because of my constant stomping during my exercise routines, I was happy. I knew that size 8 was just around the corner; all I had to do was sweat more and I would be there in no time. But then a fresh wave of problems hit me and my weight became the last thing on my mind. So, I stopped my weight loss journey.
Now it is 2017 and I am still a size 14.
I am still working on losing the weight (I really am). I don’t eat junk food; I monitor my portions; and I walk for about thirty minutes every day. My goal used to be to get back to that glorious size 8, when my buttocks had a nice small curve, when I could see my collar bones pushing defiantly through my skin.
But now I realise that even then, I still had insecurities about my body. Some people used to call me a log of wood. Some people used to say that I looked ‘dry’. I even started drinking a mixture of peak milk and malt because I wanted to gain weight so I could please these people. And now the funny thing is that these are the same people who now call me ‘Orobo’. They say things like, “Ha! Elizabeth you have added o! You looked better before!” Human beings are so impossible to please.
So, my goal now is to be healthy. My present BMI says I am overweight so I am definitely not healthy. If I am a size 8 and healthy, then that’s perfect. If I am a size 12 and healthy, then that’s perfect, too.
So, I am still on my weight loss journey. Hopefully, I will write a sequel to this soon. It will be titled “It Happened To Me: Becoming Healthy”.