- She started with Zumba classes in 2018.
- Zumba was a wonderful way to introduce her body to the rigours of exercising.
- She combined the dance classes with a healthy diet and a huge serving of consistency and self-motivation.
It is a few minutes to three o’clock when I meet Norah Musitsa at a gym. Dressed in a black top and orange leggings, she gives me a tour of the place she has come to enjoy spending time in.
“If somebody took a picture of me here today, and told me in 2017, ‘this will be you in the future’, I’d have laughed my head off,” she says.
Three years ago, Ms Musitsa weighed 120 kilogrammes.
“I’ll never forget the day I almost collapsed on the street. I was walking and suddenly, I was started struggling to breathe,” the 32-year-old recalls.
“That day, I knew I’d die if I didn’t do something about my weight.”
Growing up, Ms Musitsa was a chubby child. Through adulthood, she was big and spent a considerable amount of money and time in the hospital, treating one illness after the other. The visits to the doctors would be summed in one sentence that she knew all too well: “You need to work on your weight.”
Just like many people, she never took it seriously.
Aside from the health issues, she had to deal with low self-esteem, the murky comments as a result of being overweight. “I hated taking photos,” she says, adding that she once was accused of tearing a dress at a shop while fitting it.
“As I left, the shop attendants laughed, saying that their plan had worked. The dress was already torn but they didn’t want to fix it. Because I was overweight, they had me try it on and then accused me of tearing it. I didn’t say it wasn’t me so I paid for repair,” she says. Today, through healthy eating and sheer dedication to exercising, Ms Musitsa weighs 80 kilograms. She is as fit as a fiddle, well-toned, and confident. How did she do it?
“Losing weight is more than just turning down dessert. You have to begin by asking yourself why you want to lose weight,” she explains.
She had tried fad diets before which did not work. The ‘why’ made the difference this time. “A powerful ‘why’ will help you keep at it no matter how hard it gets. I had to embrace pain, tears, and disappointments,” Ms Musitsa says.
She started with Zumba classes in 2018. Zumba was a wonderful way to introduce her body to the rigours of exercising.
She combined the dance classes with a healthy diet and a huge serving of consistency and self-motivation. It paid off. She managed to lose 20 kilograms in less than a year. But there was a challenge; loose skin, especially on the arms.
“When I noticed this, I approached a trainer who promised to help me if I stuck to my guns,” she adds.
Her trainer incorporated strength training into her exercises. Within six to eight months, firm skin and well-defined muscles replaced the flabby skin, and the kilos continued to drop off. This kind of training also instilled in her a love for weight-lifting. She currently lifts 150 kilograms weights.
There is more to weight loss than physical changes. “Apart from losing weight, I’ve seen it play a role in my judgments. When it comes to strength, not only is it physical but also mental and emotional too. I appreciate myself more because I keep discovering the lengths my body can go to. Exercise is my therapy,” she says.
More than that, Ms Musitsa is helping other people become healthier. As a result of her transformation, she was offered a job by her trainer.
“I’m a Zumba instructor under Nikkofitti Health and Fitness and it’s always fulfilling when you get to hear of success stories on how a client has achieved his/her goals, the positive progress they are making and changes they're experiencing. It’s usually an honour to be part of it,” she says.
Her journey was not all rosy. She suffered injuries and therefore encourages people to employ a fitness instructor when beginning their journey. Then there is the aspect of being looked down on by male counterparts in the weight-lifting room. It used to be discouraging but she has learned not to let it get to her.
Three years later, Ms Musitsa is still soldering on. To maintain her lithe physique, she works out four days a week.
“My mornings are spent in the gym where I do strength training for an hour and my evenings are in the studio where I’ll either be doing Zumba or HIIT (high-intensity interval exercises) synched with music. For food, I control my portions which is better than eliminating some foods,” the fitness enthusiast says.
Ms Musitsa hopes to be a fitness model. “I want people to see me and believe in themselves.”
For those wondering how to start, she says: “Whatever you do let it be for yourself. Not because someone else is doing it or because someone forced you into it. Have an immovable ‘why’ you want to keep fit and own it.”