Health & Fitness

Fit in my 40s: I finally found a formulae

FITATFORTYA

Fitness enthusiats Njambi Kabaya with her son Jamie William Mbogo. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • Njambi Kabaya had been on one long diet for a long time.
  • She calls it the ‘Everything Goes Diet’ because she ate and drank anything edible she could lay her hands on.

Njambi Kabaya had been on one long diet for a long time. She calls it the ‘Everything Goes Diet’ because she ate and drank anything edible she could lay her hands on.

“When I went to a restaurant, for example, I ate everything that I was offered, not realising that I was harming my body bit by bit,” Ms Kabaya, an administrator says.

After giving birth to her lastborn child, she noticed extra weight but kept postponing her weight loss agenda. One day, however, she got devastating news that marked a complete turn-around in her life.

“I went to the hospital and a doctor told me that I was only a few kilogrammes away from osteoarthritis, a condition that could affect my hips, knees and thumb joints.

Excess fat places a mechanical load on cartilage and bone that “activates” those structures.

Can you imagine receiving such news and you're not yet 40 years," she says.

She was a 38 carrying around a weight of 90 kilos, excess fat that was placing an excess load on her bones. However, the worst part of her being overweight was the lack of self-confidence, the feeling that she was not beautiful enough and the struggle to get clothes her size which made shopping “a nightmare.”

They say in life that you either find motivation or motivation finds you. In Ms Kabaya’s case, motivation found her and never left. For six days a week, between 4.15am and 5.30am, you will find her drenched in sweat as she torches calories right here in her home gym. She prefers working out from home because she loves solitude.

Her healthy lifestyle began with one small swap in 2014. She replaced her huge plate with a smaller one and soon after, replaced the food on her plate with protein, vegetables, a handful of carbohydrates and copious amounts of water, getting rid of the junk she consumed. To jump-start her body into working out, she started walking, graduating to jogging before introducing workouts using jerricans, tires and light weights for strength training. To achieve her nutritional needs, she started using fitness apps where she would log in her food and see how much she was eating.

The now 45-year-old, Ms Kabaya weighs 68 kilos and says that being fit at over 40 is the greatest achievement of her life. Now that she has mastered the game of exercising regularly, she says that fitness is a journey and not a destination. Her workouts include squats, leg lifts, pushups, dumbbell rows, lunges among others.

“The journey of bidding farewell to hanging fat and low self-esteem has been one of sweat and sometimes tears. There are times where I would plateau and start doubting myself. My motivation and inspiration comes from looking at my photos before this fitness journey. I never want to go back there. This keep going,” she says.

The mum of three children, two in their 20s and the lastborn who is six years old says her confidence levels have sky-rocketed, with energy levels so high which allow her to run around with her lastborn. She can lift barbells weighing 30 kilos.

While she was struggling to lose weight, her son Jamie William Mbogo was struggling with the opposite.

“My mother was concerned that one day I’d be carried by the wind,” the 20-year-old says. He credits his mother for inspiring his fitness journey which began during the Covid-19 period.

William has watched his mother’s relentlessness over the years. He has seen how she transformed and shed years off her age. With school suspended, bored at home and wanting to take control of his fitness, he joined her.

“My mom volunteered to be my personal trainer,” the environmental student says. “I hadn’t thought she’d be a gruesome trainer. When we enter the gym, she morphs from “mum” to "fitness guru,” he says laughing.

People tend to think that losing weight is hard, William offers that gaining it is just as hard. “The only perk is that I get to eat a lot because I’m on a calories-surplus diet.”

With the help of a nutritionist, he has been able to craft a diet plan with meals high in proteins, carbohydrates which are eaten frequently because he has a high metabolism. Besides this, he has a rigorous workout plan to grow muscle.

Three months shy of one year since he started, William, who prefers to work out in the afternoon, weighs 74 kilos and has a body which has widened his career options to include modelling.

“I’m confident, I have peace of mind and my clothes fit better,” he says adding that he is glad he put in the work required.

“One has to have the right mindset. Without it, your body will show up but your mind won’t and it will be an uphill task.”

Mother and son are so fit that more often they have been referred to as a couple. “Does that mean I've gained the years my mum lost?" William asks.

To award themselves for good work, in December 2020, they bought themselves a weighty Christmas gift: a multi-gym, to add to their collection which has dumbbells, kettle bells, skipping ropes, barbells, and huge lorry tires.

To Ms Kabaya, seeing her lifestyle inspire her family is an immense gift. She is also taken to inspire women around her especially those who are over 40. Using her social media, she shares motivational stories, nutrition tips and more with like-minded individuals.

Her advice? "Fitness is investing in your future health to avert lifestyle diseases and firm up on your 'why'. As women, we're busy on a daily basis taking care of other people that we mostly forget the most important person in our lives, You! Invest in you and start small. If one is not sure of what to eat, I highly recommend finding a nutritionist to help you so that you can achieve your health goals."