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Opinion: 'I Want A Flat Tummy!' by Ellen Mimi Owusu

By Ellen Mimi Owusu
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“Mummy can you please play tag with us?” My daughter will ask anytime we went for a walk. (Tag is a game where one person chases another to mark them out of play by touching them).

Just over a year ago, during lock down, I discovered my state of unfitness during our family evening walks. Anytime we went for a walk, the kids wanted to play tag as a family. This game requires a lot of running and I always gave an excuse why I did not want to play, but deep inside me, I didn’t want to play because of my inability to run!

Thankfully our family walks turned into jogging and running and then we started going to the gym.

And now this has become a family routine. I started to post the workouts on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. I did receive some good and encouraging comments, however I also received and continue to receive some discouraging comments.

Someone told me I am just posing for the photos, and they did not believe I am lifting those barbell weights, I was told my eagerness for going to the gym will wane soon, lifting weights will make me bulky. Someone even asked if I was pregnant as my tummy looked big when am exercising! And most recently someone told they do not see any improvement in my weight loss even though am exercising!

When I started to exercise, weight loss was not part of my plan, all I just wanted was to get fit, healthier and be able to run and join in with the tag game. Before I got into exercising, I could not even run for 1 minute without stopping, taking the stairs always got me panting. Few weeks into exercising I felt my body changing.

I remember a colleague at work mentioned to me he could see a change in me, in his own words he said “mate you now walk with a purpose, you used to walk sluggishly “This was the biggest complement!

I am always reading and learning more about my body and the different forms of exercise and their benefits. Yes, I want a flat tummy! But there are no quick fixes for a flat tummy you must work your whole body to achieve that.

My husband who is a qualified Physical Training Instructor has been guiding me. He told me some home truths when we started going to the gym; he said one must do more if one wants to progress, push your body more because nothing grows in their comfort zone. He also pointed out that the body is like an elastic band, it will respond to what you put it through, of course, progressively. At the age of 41, I never imagined I will be lifting weights and doing 24-inch box jumps! I am proud of my fitness journey; I am proud of the things I can do now. I want it to be a lifestyle and to teach my children the importance of keeping and staying fit.

I will never stop preaching the benefits of exercising; apart from losing weight, exercising combats health conditions and diseases, regular exercises help prevent and manage health problems and concerns including stroke, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, type 2 diabetes etc. Exercise boots energy, personally when I do a 30-minute jog before I go to work, I am so energised to work. I see a difference in the attitude of my children when we exercise in the mornings, they are more alert, listen more, do what is expected of them during the day. (Waking them early to go for a jog is not fun though).

Exercise can be fun and a good bonding activity, is so nice when we exercise as a family together, we get to spend time together and get fit together. I also look forward to exercising together as a family, I love our family walks, no technology; just walking and admiring nature. I also love it when I am exercising with my husband because it bonds us together.

Friends ask me, how do I motivate myself to exercise all the time? The answer is simple, you must want it, you must want it badly to get up at 6am to exercise before you go to work, you must want it badly to exercise at least three times a week. My advice is find your “why” and this will help you stay on course.

To anybody out there thinking of getting fit, today is the day to start. Start small, start with a walk, if possible, get a buddy, go with a friend, if your spouse won’t go, get the children to go with you, before you realise the whole family will join in. It is difficult and tiring in the beginning, but it gets easier as you keep at it; you will eventually become stronger and fitter. More so, have patience, do not give up if you are not seeing results, remember that the last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit, the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Do not stop watering the tree just because it has not borne fruit yet!

My last piece of advice, be ready for negative comments! Denzel Washington once said “you will never be criticised by someone who is doing more than you. You will always be criticised by someone doing less, Remember that”