Ha! Now that I have your attention, let me tell you a story. Growing up, I was always on the skinny side. Even when my classmates started to fill out their uniforms during puberty, my body insisted on being a bag of bones consistently until I was done with school altogether.
I used to be so skinny that my friends used to tease me about using my back as a sitting apparatus. I had come to terms with forever being underweight. I could eat everything and anything I wanted to. Then one fateful day while I was
running one of my errands hassling downtown, I bumped into an old girl.
“Oh my God Nakiyemba, is that you? Nga you’re fat?!” She screamed at my backside.
“How many kids do you have?”
I stared at her, slightly offended and trying hard to put a name to a vaguely familiar face…
“You don’t remember me? It’s me! Nakigudde from S.2!” She reminded me while he thumbed her voluptuous chest.
The coin dropped.
Nakigudde was our entertainment prefect… Always on the curvy side, even more so years later.
That evening, I stood on one of those street weighing scales to discover I weighed 45 kilograms! I was the happiest girl. 45 kilograms had always been my “dream weight! I was so happy. I decided to continue what I had been doing to, you know, “maintain” the figure. By eating. Everything.
Then one sad day while I was on a boda boda minding my own business, we hit a pothole – I felt my cheeks fly and my midsection dance all over the place! I was like, WHATTT?! I quickly “felt” my stomach, sadly; I held a handful of what used to be a flat stomach. That’s when I realized that probably, I wasn’t weighing 45 kilograms anymore.
That same day, I bought my first pair of running shoes and joined a dingy gym in my neighborhood in Mutungo on Kinawataka road. It charged one thousand five hundred shillings per day. This was 2011. My trainer, Richard was the owner of the gym and a bouncer at one of the local bars. He was big, bald, shiny black and had a small voice. It was always a fascination watching him train his clients.
The gym was a shack behind a cinema shack also known as a kibanda. It had a plastic carpet, a straw curtain and it seemed to be obsessively cleaned, the mirrors glimmered and the plastic carpet was shiny. We used to leave our shoes outside. Most of the equipment was handmade but looked to be effective based on Richard’s and his clients’ impressive bodies. Right outside Richard’s Gym was Mama Dora selling porridge and roasted maize. The gym could only take 5 working clients at a time, on busy days a couple or 3 clients would sit out on a bench and fuel up with a cup of porridge with a snack of maize.
I was the only lady that trained there so I was never short of “trainers.” All the males had something important to show me and how to do it before Richard stepped in to remind them that he was my only trainer.
The place was filled with good energy, noise coming from the kibanda next door and workout music in our efficient shack gym. I always looked forward to it and before long, I settled into this new routine. Every Friday, Richard and his clients would run through the neighborhood, from Kinawataka, through Mbuya, Bugolobi and back. Back then, that seemed like an impossible feat. They invited me along but I feared for my lungs.
The first time I ran as an adult, not pretty girl jog – I mean full blown grown woman running like hell – was while in Kigali at the end of 2012. My friend Phil who lived in Kigali at the time is a big time runner. He invited me for a run one morning and 1.5 kilometres into it, I was ready to die. He found me sprawled out on the grass, tongue out and my heart gurgling in my chest. I knew I wasn’t made for running, for sure.
But he sat me down and told me everything I did wrong that morning. It was my first run, he’d been running for years and yet when we set off, I tried to run like him. Huge mistake. I had to start somewhere – small small, pole pole. That was a lesson well learned.
I finally settled into running in 2013 and like they say, the rest is history. But like with most things like life – discipline, commitment and consistence is key. The people you keep around you also help a good deal. Why, just last night one of my friends was talking about hosting the gang for a sleepover with kikalayi punctuated with a half marathon run the following morning. It isn’t surprising at all when I wake up groggy and one of my friends checks in with a photo of themselves sweaty from a workout and asking if I worked out or intending to…
If your real life friends aren’t influencing you in any way, the ones you make/follow on the various social media platforms should help. Follow accounts that inspire you to do and be great.
This healthy lifestyle thing is a no-brainer really, if you can’t watch what you eat, workout like crazy. If you can’t workout, watch what you eat. My friend Sleen figured this whole thing out, he says that exercising should be a daily routine like brushing your teeth and that daily shower. How many days can you go without showering?
Aspire to feel good about yourself and this can only happen when you take good care of yourself, this boasts confidence and self esteem. You won’t be shy to “have coffee” with the lights on. Plus if you’re ever in a bank and the robbers ask you to strip naked like they did in The Inside Man (fav movie) that will be yet another excuse for you to get naked and appreciate your work, again.
Be that person that mirrors talks to,
“Look up in the mirror
The mirror look at me
The mirror be like baby you the sh!t
Gadammit you the sh!t
You the shit, you the sh!t
Gadammit you the sh!t
Gadammit you the sh!t
You the sh!t, you the sh!t” – Feeling Myself – will.i.am ft Miley Cyrus, Whiz Khalifa and French Montana.