Florence Ilo: My Weight Loss StoryBy Florence Ilo
Published: April 27, 2015
Health + Wellness
My name is Florence Ilo, and I live in Abuja, Nigeria. I am a wife and a mother to three lovely kids, and I am also a major loser – of weight! I had a slim figure all through my twenties, but as I got older and life grew busier, I slowly gained weight. In March 2014, I decided I’d had enough and it was time to change my life.
A Stranger to Myself
For years I had suffered from obesity-induced depression. I used to be carefree, but as the weight crept on I became stressed, grumpy, sad and sulky. I’d go to bed feeling bad and wake up feeling bad. I felt like no clothes fit me, and I could rarely find anything trendy in my size. A late friend used to talk about my joy, euphoria and freedom. I wanted the old me back!
At my biggest, I was a UK size 20 and weighed 110 kg. A former colleague even thought I was pregnant! I was active to a point – if “active” meant walking from my bedroom to my fridge. And I was lazy, though not when it came to food! I was the female version of “Chidi afo nri” (glutton) mixed with “kama o ga dolu n’ite ka o dolu na afo” (no leftover food; all must be eaten).
At this point, I had lost interest in going out. Anyone who truly wanted to see me was invited to come meet me at home, as I couldn’t drag myself away from my bed long enough to go visiting. I stopped taking care myself, rarely even getting made up. And I avoided photographs like a disease (they were evidence of my situation), but if they couldn’t be avoided, they had to be taken only from my chest up.
Hitting Rock Bottom
In August 2013, my elder sister, who lives in the US, asked me to help her get some tailor-made Ankara dresses. For some reason, I thought they should be in size 14 or 16 even though she said she was a size 12 (I thought she was exaggerating). So I got my tailor to make the dresses using my own measurements (I thought I was a size 16).
Shortly after ordering the dresses, I attended a close friend’s wedding. Even though I was part of the aso ebi, I didn’t participate in the bridal train or anything; I just sat in the reception hall waiting for “Item 7.” My weight was killing me. I had stopped wearing heels because I couldn’t lift myself anymore, so I wore mostly flip-flops and made sure my clothes were long enough to hide my feet.
At the wedding, I sat with my friend and we took pictures, believe me! I posed in ways that shielded my folds and bulges and made sure I looked good in case my friends put the photos on social media. Gosh! When I see those pictures, I realize I looked like a stuffed roasted turkey – and the Body Magic girdle I wore wasn’t helping!
Not long after the wedding, my sister’s dresses were ready, so I sent them to her. She called to thank me on how lovely they were but said that they way too big and needed lots of alterations. My elder sister always had been on the chubby side since childhood! And because she is the type who will tell it like it is, I kept my mouth shut about the true source of the measurements.
These events made me feel deeply ashamed and totally defeated, so I decided to do something about my weight. I registered with a gym and started workouts that same month – but three months later, the weight still hadn’t budged. I was not happy!
“If She Can Do That, I Can Too!”
Then one day I ran into my friend Maria in church, and my eyes grew wide in disbelief – she had gone from a UK size 26 to a size 12! I asked what she’d done to get her amazing bod. She’d used no fad diets or pills, and the most amazing part was that she worked out at home and outdoors. ”If she can do that, I can too,” I thought as I went home that day. But even though I was motivated to start dieting, I still wasn’t watching my calories, because I still didn’t know a thing about them!
Then, in March 2014, I saw a before-and-after weight loss photo on Facebook of Maria’s elder sister, Ifunanya. My eyes popped so hard I almost had to pick them up off the floor – the change was incredible! She had been way, way bigger than Maria. In her post, Ifunanya wrote a long comment about how she had achieved such a slender figure. She talked about calories, caloric allowances, weight loss apps and healthy eating. I took it from there and researched online how to go about losing weight the healthy way.
I finally started eating right. After a month, I hadn’t lost as much as I’d hoped, but I was determined – the images of Maria and ifunanya kept flashing in my head, spurring me on. I was never a veggie fan, but I started eating them more, as well as more fruits. Dieting often makes people think of tasteless and boring meals, but naa – eating healthy brought out the foodie in me! I prepare our Nigerian meals and other foods in a healthy way now – low in calories but not in taste.
By the end of week eight, I had lost 17 kg! I felt encouraged and inspired to go on. I revved up my exercises and included swimming (perfecting my swimming in the process), aerobics, strength workouts, and walking instead of driving whenever possible.
To make a long story short, in 12 weeks I lost 30 kg and dropped from a size 20 to size 14! I have become very energetic, tripled my confidence level and, I admit, have become a little “photo crazy” – I can’t seem to pass up any opportunity to show off my amazing and, might I say, sexier-than-ever bod!
One of the most significant changes I have made is being consistent about leading a healthy lifestyle. Losing major weight feels great, but it takes persistence to maintain the results! As of today, I have lost 34 kg. I now weigh 77 kg and wear a UK size 12/10. And the weight drop isn’t over!
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To learn more about Florence Ilo and her fitness tips visit her blog Florence’s Weigh at www.florencesweigh.blogspot.com.