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Health & Fitness

‘My Weight Loss Journey Started with a Toothache’

Allan Olingo
Allan Olingo who has lost 14 kgs in 11 months. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Last September, I had a toothache. I bought painkillers over the counter to ease the pain but a few hours after taking the medicines, I started sweating. By midnight, I was drenched in sweat and my heart was beating so fast that I felt like I was sprinting. I panicked and drove myself to the hospital.

The doctor asked what I had taken for dinner, if I had any allergies or heart related issues. He asked of any medication I had taken. Initially, I said none but later I told him about the over-the-counter painkiller.

After tests, he explained that I was having irregular heartbeats, sparked by the painkiller and which was causing the sweating.

That did not worry me much. What pained me more is that my body mass index (BMI) showed that I was living the life of a 48-year-old yet I was 15 years younger.

I was 94 kilogrammes, unfit and at risk of getting high blood pressure. I used to lift weights but never did any cardiovascular exercises.

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However, the culprit was my bad eating habits. I used to drink one litre of soda daily. I could eat breakfast, then take biscuits and half a litre of soda as a midmorning snack, eat a plate full of food for lunch and wash it down with more soda.

At 3pm, I could eat French fries daily and later have dinner. Interestingly, after eating all that food during the day, hunger pangs could wake me up at 2am.

After leaving the hospital, I vowed to start exercising. I went to a gym and the fitness instructor told me the gym could only help with 30 percent in my weight loss journey and the rest of the magic would have to happen in the kitchen or the plate.

I started by completely cutting out junk foods and sodas. I sought help from a nutritionist who insisted on food portions. She encouraged intake of white meat but six pieces of meat per meal. I increased my water intake to three litres a day. I started taking fruit salad and nuts almost daily.

I intensified the treadmill workouts and I only do elevated walks, inclining the machine up to 18 per cent incline. Because of knee pains, sparked by the excess weight, I initially opted to walk instead of running. I started walking even over lunch hour around town, seeing places and window-shopping.

After four months, I lost six kilos and over the months, I have shed a total of 14 kilos.

What I have discovered is that being overweight denied me simple pleasures. I could not sleep well, I had persistent back and knee pains which have since disappeared.

I go to the gym four times a week and exercise for three hours. I do a minimum of 300 reps of different ab exercises in 45 minutes. I lift weights for the same period and I finish on the treadmill for 40 minutes.

I also joined a cycling club, I run in Karura Forest when I am in Nairobi and I want to start hiking and swimming.

Six-pack abs

One difficult thing of the weight loss journey is that everyone has his or her own way of doing it, and reading the stories online can be confusing. I decided to stick to a workout plan that my trainer worked on.

Technology has helped me maintain the weight by tracking what I consume and how many calories I burn. My Apple watch monitors my heart rate and movement data.

When I am idle, it alerts me to stand and walk. The pedometer counts my steps. I have also installed MyFitnessPal where I log in the food I take and it does the calories count. I do the calorie deficit calculation and burn more than I consume.

However, the weight loss comes at a cost. I had to change my wardrobe including shoes. I have met people who have reintroduced themselves to me.

I would be happy to get six-pack abs, but as a bonus.

Complied by Eunice Murathe

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