Lessons I learnt from the Weetabix #FitbixChallenge

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A dummy Couture cover. Taken 2 weeks after challenge began. Maybe all that sweating at the gym made my skin glow. Picture courtesy of Couture Africa.
Bungee jumping. Image from http://www.raftinginkenya.com/photo-gallery.html?sid=1&gid=28
Bungee jumping. Image from http://www.raftinginkenya.com/photo-gallery.html?sid=1&gid=28

That’s me Bungee jumping over the Sagana. Yeah right. If it was a song the Sagana would tell me “this could be us, but you’re not exercising!”

Anyway bungee jumping has been on my bucket list for ages and I planned to go in 2015. I had it all planned out, I even had a group to go with but guess what I couldn’t. Why you ask? Because I was overweight, over the limit by around 7 kgs. The weight limit was 100. So I didn’t go. Then another chance came but I was still overweight. Another chance came up towards the end of the year but you guessed it I was still overweight. I kept procrastinating this fitness thing. And everybody knows when you reach the 3rd floor it gets even harder to get rid of those kgs. So I promised myself that this year I would do it. It was one of my goals.

The bad thing about working at home (yes it has disadvantages) is that if you are very busy writing or whatever work you do on the computer you can forget to come out of the house for even something as simple as getting some Vitamin D. I would be in the house for up to three days or more just sitting infront of my computer, and when I would leave the house to go for events or meetings, I had gotten so lazy I would just call an Uber. So even exercise of walking to the stage was mostly taken out of the equation. So what got me out of my slump – The Fitbix Challenge! It taught me some sweet and painful lessons on my body and how I had let it go.

The beginning.

Around 4 weeks ago we started the Weetabix #FitbixChallenge. Almost a month before Weetabix had sent a call out for people who wanted to join the #FitbixChallenge. All you had to do was take a picture of yourself with a Weetabix product, send the picture to a whatsapp number and tell Weetabix why we wanted to be part of the challenge. So I sent my application explaining how I wanted to go bungee jumping. But that wasn’t my main reason. The main reason is that I am asthmatic and the extra weight I had accumulated was affecting my chest. I would start wheezing if I had to go up a hill. The bad thing is that because of that I had to use steroid inhalers and steroid pills to get it under control. This of course was making the weight problem worse because hey steroids. So you could say I was frustrated.

Out of the applications 20 of us were chosen to participate in the challenge. We had to go get a FitBix which would be our main tool for the challenge.

The challenge was divided into two parts – The weekly and daily challenges.

The weekly challenge

The weekly challenge was to take as many steps as possible. This was between Monday and Friday. Every time we updated the Fitbit would show the groups we were in how many steps we had taken. The steps would earn points and these would be added to the daily challenges points to determine who the winner for the challenge was.

Daily challenges

Every Monday to Saturday we would get a daily challenge. This challenge would either be a mental or physical challenge. The mental challenges were questions or riddles. The first person to answer the question right would get the most points and the person who answered last would get the least points. If you got it wrong you got no points.

steps

The physical challenges were fun but challenging and tirriiiing. This involved doing a 15 sec video doing an exercise. We did pushups, star jumps, squats, lunges etc. Some challenges were supposed to be done alone and others we had to get other people to do with us. We were graded on how well the exercise was done in 15 secs and how many of the exercises we had done in that time.

At the end of the week the points were added up and we were ranked according to how well we had done that week.  After 4 weeks the points were rounded up and there was a winner. Scrap that. Everybody won because we either lost some weight or became fitter or both.

At the end of the second week we also went to the Trojan Gym in Karen and had a session with Leon Weche who was our fitness instructor for the 4 weeks. He would give us tips on how to get fit, how to deal with the pain – there was a lot of that and talk to us about nutrition.

So we finished the challenge on Saturday and here are a few lessons I learnt.

You have to push yourself beyond what you think you think you are capable. The first days were hard, I was out of shape but I was in a competition. You don’t want to be the last person so you push yourself. You also have a goal and although sometimes many times you want to give up you must keep moving. There were times I didn’t want to move but I had to push myself despite the bad muscle cramps.

Learn to measure or calculate the amount of food you need to eat in order to lose weight /gain weight/stay fit. Apparently if you want to lose weight you must eat fewer calories than the recommended daily recommended calories so that your body can burn the extra fat it has. It doesn’t mean you diet. You still have to eat healthy meals and give your body enough carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Starving your body doesn’t work in the long term you need to give your body enough fuel to run it. Also if you want to add weight you also have to watch your calories and also give your body material to build muscle.

Making friends out of competitors. Although we were competing we also had common goal. To stay fit/lose weight/add muscles. On the whatsapp group (yes we had one) we would encourage each other as well as mourn about our fatigue. It was good to share, and learn tricks on how to manage the pain. Leon had a great tip for taking cinnamon and ginger mixed together to take care of the cramps. I already knew some people like Kawiria, Ian, and Brian so I was also competing with my friends.

Keep going even when it hurts. OMG it hurt. Let me tell you about the pain. The first week things were good. I had forced my body to perform and I was like I know it’s hard but I can do this. Saturday I started feeling a bit sore but I was good. Sunday I felt it abit more but it was a rest day it wasn’t bad. Monday I could barely walk. The back of my thighs were on fire. Every step felt like I was climbing a mountain. The pain was so bad that even going to pee I had to hold both sides of the wall so that I could move down to sit on the toilet seat.

But it was Monday, first day of the 2 week’s challenge. Life had to go on and I needed to walk 1. To walk through the pain (they say you have to get your muscles used to it so you can’t stop you have to keep pushing on) 2. Because the challenge was on and I needed to do the steps. I have to say that Monday was the hardest day of the challenge. I had to get out of the house and walk in spite of the pain. I tried remedies for muscle pain, but that day both the herbal and medical interventions did not help. It was bad.

If you want to be fit it’s all about mind over body. I have explained abit in the above about walking or exercising through the pain. It is also about pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do. The first 2 weeks were hard for me. It wasn’t easy to do at least 10,000 steps a day which was my goal. Sometimes I wanted to give up but I needed the steps so I had to force myself. Sometimes because I was working all day, and it was too hot to walk doing the day, I had to walk at night. Our house is at the end of the estate; I would walk to the other end of the estate and walk back. That was around 1,000 steps. Sometimes I would have to do it 15 times. Let me tell you it is boring when you are walking by yourself and the watchmen are like why is this chick walking up and down the estate like she is a night runner.

A dummy Couture cover. Taken 2 weeks after challenge began. Maybe all that sweating at the gym made my skin glow. Picture courtesy of Couture Africa.
A dummy Couture cover. Taken 2 weeks after challenge began. Maybe all that sweating at the gym made my skin glow. Picture courtesy of Couture Africa.

It’s easy to gain weight and so much fun (hello chocolate and potatoes) but it hurts to lose it. So think about those fries or that cake before you buy them (not before you put them in your mouth, by then it’s too late).

You don’t have to take drastic measures at the beginning. Start slow and gain momentum as you go along. Then you are less likely to have injuries, and get fatigue. The first week I pushed myself too hard and I spend the rest of the challenge trying to gain momentum after losing it because of the pain.

The biggest frustration – although some exercises are high impact they may not give you that many steps. I was doing Zumba and going on the treadmill and even though I was sweating buckets, I didn’t get that many steps. It made me opt for more working – I think this was one of the disadvantages of giving a high percentage of points to the steps. Because although I would have lost a lot more weight doing them they were tiring yet not giving me steps so I reduced on them. I think this is something Weetabix need to watch out for if there is ever another challenge.

Get your family and friends to help. One of the things you need if you want to do a fitness program is your family and friends support. You have no idea how the encouragement of my family and friends helped. My nephew who is 9 and my sister would either tape me or do a challenge with me. My nephew is competitive and at the end of the day he would want to see my standing in the group. He would walk with me in the evenings. First we helped each other because he was preparing for the run for the Bibleless. Later he would walk with me to give me morale or ride his bike as I walked. He was my cheerleader though the process and every time I would get tired I would think I don’t want to let him down. Thanks to all the friends who kept encouraging me and also as I talked about the #FitbixChallenge (I talked about it alot)

Have a goal and work back on how to achieve it. If you want to lose weight or become fit you need to have a goal. Work on both your nutrition and fitness. One without the other will not help you. Especially if you want to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why crash diets are not good. They are not good for your body and once you stop you go back to your normal weight or you even add more.

If you are going to the gym get a trainer who understands where you are at with your fitness. When we had the gym session I was less fit then the other participants and Leon the trainer showed me easier ways to do the same exercises.

In the end it was worth it. I have gone down one dress size; some of my old trousers now fit me – Awesome. The best thing is that although my weight is around the same – I guess I am turning muscle into fat – I feel better. I haven’t used my inhaler in a couple of weeks which is awesome. If I keep this up – who knows I may not have a pot by the BAKE Awards (please vote for me- I have been nominated in the entertainment/lifestyle category of the awards). My skin is also clearer – it could be the sweat or the fact that I have given up – mostly sweet sugary things that have make me add crazy weight.

Although I didn’t win I am still a winner. The #FitbixChallenge got me started on my fitness journey. Still a long way to go but I can start ticking things off my bucketlist. So end of April how about that trip to go Bungee jumping in Sagana, You in?

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