Remedies For The Season

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

Hello. I’d like to introduce myself. I am the average Nigerian woman. Like many ladies across  Africa I fluctuate between a size 12 and 14, I work, raise children, have a spouse, and every holiday season, I completely overindulge in delicious, homemade seasonal treats.

Each end-of-November the cycle of holiday weight gain begins, and by the New Year, I am curled in the fetal position, resolving to lose the seven kilogramme I gained since festivities. This fluctuation in my size and self esteem are as predictable as a chorus, and this time, I’m determined to change my tune.

The Challenge

That is why this season I’ve given myself the challenge to not gain a single kilogramme  during the holidays. Not one. This will be tricky, since I genuinely love to eat, especially all the tasty holiday foods so popular during the season. I figured this goal would be challenging enough, without adding the stress of trying to also lose weight during this time of plenty. If I succeed, I can focus on getting into better shape come the New Year without feeling gluttonous and slothful at the start.

The How-To

How will I accomplish this mighty goal of zero weight gain? Since food seems to be my kryptonite, I plan on researching some of my favourites– pounded yam and egusi soup, cat fish pepper soup and more of fried foods. I will do more  of vegetables and fruit filled desserts–and attempt to recreate them with healthier, more figure-friendly ingredients. Then, I’ll share my recipe results, and my journey, with you. Over the next few weeks, I will check in frequently to let you know how I’m progressing, where I’m struggling, and what recipe swaps taste as good as the real thing. I hope you’ll stay with me, and maybe you’ll decide to take the challenge to keep the extra holiday weight off, too.

Getting Started

My journey with you begins today. For the record, and to hold myself accountable to you all, I will break protocol and share my weight. Currently my  weight is not something I’m very proud of, although am still within a safe range, but it took a lot of courage for me to write that last sentence.

As I’m writing this, it’s just three weeks  and few days to Christmas  and if you read my previous post, I’ve already come up with a few exotic side dishes that are lighter in calories but full of delicious flavour. This year, I  will be  hosting some of my friends to a well planned dinner. There’s a lot of pressure to provide delicious, traditional food for everyone to enjoy. I am nervous that my recipe swaps won’t be accepted, and I can feel the lure to cave-in and make all the oily  veggies, and full-fat sides I know my friends will adore. I resolve to stand firm and provide at least a few healthier options. We’ll see how that goes.

Every year after the sugar-rush of festivities I embark on a seven-week journey of my favourite bitters. This year, with my sons’ support, I have tested and tasted several varieties  and found a recipe that is less than 200 calories per cup, extremely rich, and easy to make.

For the baked goods department, I played around with a few so called healthy pastries  recipes, and found a winner. This super moist, dense and filling muffin recipe is sweet but not cloyingly so, and it absolutely hit the holiday-flavor notes I was looking for. Plus, since I swapped out wheat flour for ground oat flour, the muffins are now gluten-free and for someone with a chronically aching belly, that makes them even more delicious.

The Exercise

As far as exercise goes, I haven’t found the motivation to get up from my desk and move. I’m hoping to change that soon. Sometimes it feels like shopping, housework and making dinner are exercise and maybe I rely too heavily on that excuse. I hope to report back to you in a few weeks, after Christmas and let you know I’ve overcome my fitness-phobia and stayed strong on the dinner-table home front. Until then, I wish you all a wonderful Festive season and the best of luck on your own healthy-lifestyle journeys.

For some weeks now I have been on a new workout program- let me share with you:

Abdominal Toning

Step 1

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I perform the standard crunch by lying on my back with my legs slightly bent, feet on the floor and arms crossed over my chest. Slowly lift my shoulder blades off the floor, keeping my chin off of my chest to avoid straining my neck. I hold the position for two seconds and return to my starting position. As I  lift my shoulders off of the floor, my abdominal muscles will contract, toning my stomach muscles.

Step 2

I tone my lower abdominals by doing the reverse crunch. I lie on my back with my legs straight up and feet pointed toward the ceiling. Slowly, and in a controlled motion, I  lift my butt off of the floor while keeping my legs straight up. I  hold this position for two seconds before lowering my  butt down to the floor.

Step 3

I do the V-sit. I begin by lying on my mat with my arms over my head and legs fully extended. Keeping my arms over my head and legs straight, I lift both my upper body and feet off the floor into a V-shape. Hold for five seconds and slowly return to my starting position. As I lift my upper body and feet off the floor, both my upper and lower abdominal muscles contract to hold my body in the V position. This contraction tones my stomach muscles.

Hip Toning

Step 1

I perform the standing side kick by standing with my feet hip-width apart and slowly extending my right leg to hip height on my right side. My knee  faces forward and my inner thigh parallel to the floor. I hold the position for two seconds and return to my starting position.I Repeat with my left leg. As I  hold this position, my outer thigh and hip muscles are contracting and toning.

Step 2

I side jump by standing with my hands on hips and hopping 3 feet to my left, landing on my left foot with my knee slightly bent. I slowly bring my right foot to the floor. I repeat on my right side. This exercise uses all of my muscles from my hips down to my calves.

Step 3

I perform the hip raise. I begin by lying on the floor with my knees bent and feet on the floor. I slowly lift my hips and extend my right leg, pointing my toes to the wall in front of me. I hold  for two seconds, then move my right leg to my right side at a 90-degree angle. Hold for two seconds. Return my leg to the center and lower to my starting position. I repeat with my left leg. Holding my hips and leg off the floor contracts and tones my butt, hip and thigh muscles. Guess what? It’s working……..

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