The importance of health and fitness cannot be overemphasized as it has a lot to do with an individual’s general well-being. Despite its importance, a lot of people struggle with it – I personally struggle with the weight loss part of it… As a result of this, I’m always impressed whenever I meet someone that is fully into it. Oge is not just a fitness enthusiast, she has taken it up as a career.
Was this the plan from the on-set? As she always liked health and fitness? So many questions in my head, let’s find out together as Oge has opened up to me about her fascinating journey into health and fitness.
Let’s get right into it…
We got to know a little about you in the ‘How we met’ post, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself
My name is Oge Akinola. I am a wife and a mother of four young, beautiful, blessed children that I call my congregation. I am doing an executive MBA (EMBA) at the moment, but also currently run a business called Bump and Chic, a lifestyle and wellbeing consultancy firm.
I was born in the UK. and then after a couple of years, we went back to Nigeria. I did part of my primary school, secondary school, and university in Nigeria, I’m a proud Nigerian chic – I’m Igbo. After I graduated, I was going to start my national service and got posted to the north. There was just a lot of things going on at the time. I had the option of either doing that, or leaving the country and leaving the country was the preferred option. I came back to the UK and I’ve been here now, for almost 20 years.
I did my masters at the University of Bradford and I studied Peace and Conflict Resolution – major in Peace Studies. Then I went on to do other qualifications around project management and change management, which obviously enabled me to work. I did a bit within the humanitarian sector, where I worked on projects that were really close to my heart around HIV and AIDS, education, nutrition, health, and probably that was at the point where I started to nurture this thing for health. From the humanitarian sector, I worked with Tearfund, Christian aid and Save the Children. I then moved into the private sector. It was from there I kind of exited – when the children started coming – you know with children comes sacrifices.
I co-founded another health outfit with my husband which is called body praise. We have our first ever fitness workout on YouTube for Africans. I have been around health and wellbeing for a couple of years. It really started off as a passion after I had my first child.
I had stopped working so health became my thing. I really work towards empowering women, I know that word is thrown around quite a bit, but it is really to inspire women through my own story as a mum of four trying to kind of still keep it together. I don’t believe necessarily in life/work balance because I don’t see anything there. But I believe in intentional imbalance, that, I think, makes it work. You apply yourself a little bit to every area of your life and that’s how you know what makes it worth it. One morning, a child could come up with something else, another child comes up with another and you’re thrown out of your so-called plan. I believe in a life of intention, being very intentional about the things that I do, as a family, that’s how we get through.
I also run a mastermind class, which obviously in the future, (not too long from now) will be run as a course. I’ve done two sessions of that and it’s around my intentional life. It’s a place for women to evolve, and just become who God has called them to be. It covers areas of the spirit and body, everything about a woman! My passion is really helping mums understand that they are more than a mum, you’re not just a mom, you’re much more than that.
How did you get into health and fitness, has it always been an area of interest for you?
No, I only started after I had my second child, it was then that I got the training required and got into it fully. After I had my first child, I had put on some weight and I had my youngest sister’s wedding coming up. Apart from the wedding, I just didn’t like the way I looked because I had always been petite. So came the joy of motherhood and everything and then after that, you get this mass and I was like, ‘Oh no’ this wasn’t quite what I had in mind! I became frustrated and desperate. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t depressed but I was just unhappy about my weight.
My husband has always been a fitness enthusiast but at the time, he was doing it to look good, that was his thing. You know how they say you don’t actually acknowledge your own prophet, the prophet in your own village, you don’t acknowledge them. He always said, Oh, do it this way, why don’t you try this? My response was always no, ‘NO’, it’s not going to work.
Well, because I had my sister’s wedding he noticed that I was really frustrated so he said to me, “if you lose weight, I will buy you a special gift”. I love gifts, that’s my love language. Gifts, words of affirmation, touch, those are my things! The gift was something I really wanted, it was a pair of shoes. Immediately I heard that, it was a do or die affair. I had to get ‘the’ pair of shoes. I did it. I mean, I tried. I did the weight loss thing using the quick fixes and I lost a stone and so we went to my sister’s wedding.
Very quickly after that, I got pregnant with number two and I got bigger with her. Then I thought, Okay, this is not even happening – remembering the stress that I went through during the first time. That was when I went back to God. My husband tried to teach me, but it was after I went back to God with it, and started to understand it that I allowed him to come in. People started to see the changes too and started to ask questions, they wanted to know what I was doing to lose the weight. So that was where the passion started. I started to talk about it, share my experience and my husband was like, why don’t you start up something? No! That was my response, I’m going back to London to continue working. But, that wasn’t happening, I had 2 babies, my oldest was three months when I got pregnant again. So I was not going back to London.
Gradually, I allowed myself to get into it, registered the company but didn’t do anything with it for years. I retrained and started to do all of the things that came with it and that was it. So I was never that fitness person before.
Do you plan to continue with Bump and Chic after your EMBA.
Bump and chic is not going anywhere. I know the assignment that I have. It’s funny, you asked that because this morning after my 5 Am workout, I was talking to God. I was like I haven’t trained in a while and I feel like there’s something missing. I was asking, ‘Should I do it Should I not’? Bump and chic is not going anywhere. I’m trying to obviously consolidate the things that I have done with the things that I want to do. So a lot of it now will become much more structured courses and people can just register and do their thing online. I love the interaction with people though, so every now and again, I think I will still have my programs where I actually train people face to face.
What the EMBA is doing for me is it’s opening up opportunities. I want to be able to train women and most especially mums in the workplace. So this whole thing of ‘life of balance’, you’re not balancing anything! I want to help women to acknowledge the fact that you’ve got to apply yourself a little bit here a little bit there, just been able to have structure. If COVID hasn’t taught anybody anything, it has taught us that we have to look inward a little bit when it comes to our health.
Companies and organizations are trying to incorporate some form of well-being training activities for their employees and that’s where I want to go. It’s a little bit daunting but by God’s grace we would get there. The tribe for moms, it’s still in the works but I have to allow myself get to do that at some point. I’m trying to find someone to help me who understands this assignment as well. It’s a lot and I’m not a supermom, I’m appreciating every phase that I find myself in, doing the best that I can do so that I can apply myself to do the things I have to do properly and not be all over the place. My husband says if It’s your studies you want to face right now just face it and everything else can wait. If you’ve noticed, I haven’t quite been that active on socials, I just put things on my story just here and there.
I’m very passionate about childhood obesity and I’ve been doing other training alongside the EMBA. I’m trying to get all my recipes together, put them out there, just becoming a little bit more structured. It’s a business, it’s not a passion, it’s not a hobby. Then body praise is there as well, hubby and I are very, passionate about that aspect of things.
Your main clients are women, what would you advise women who want to lose weight but are on birth control some of which many believe inhibits weight loss?
I don’t use any and I think it’s for my own mental well being. To be honest, I probably will go crazy if I had to use anything and it will make me blow up whilst I’m working to improve my health. My youngest sister had one and she reacted to it. Then I had a friend who used one and it got missing inside her body making her really sick! She was getting bigger and bigger and all of a sudden she goes, I think it is this thing! Eventually, she had to go under the knife, it was removed by surgery. So since then, I knew I wasn’t going to use it.
I do not know if I have the best advice for this since I don’t use it. However, for anybody who comes to me, I’ll say, if it is something that would make me react or change the natural course of how things should go, in my mind, I would say No.
I don’t use it. People say so how do you do it. How do you not get pregnant? Well, I never say never that I wouldn’t get pregnant again. It could happen right now. But at least we’re being careful. I never just know, I’m not able to count my period. I don’t know those things. My friend had to give me an app, which I had to download. That is my saving grace, an app.
So I don’t know if it’s okay. But, some of them really do affect your health, and I would not recommend it and the side effects are crazy. So I’m of the school of thoughts that says, I’m not going to put anything into my body that would go against what should be happening in my body. That’s me, somebody else may have a different opinion. Family planning is important, but then it requires that you also take responsibility. You have to be very careful if you’re going without any contraceptive device.
What’s you opinion about ‘Genes’ and how it affects weight loss.
Yes, genes do come into play, but, I believe that everything can be corrected.
I think people should try finding the types of foods that work for their bodies. It’s not everything that is good for your body. It’s identifying the kinds of foods that work for you.
The thing is because we don’t have that much free access to food in its real state, we’re not sure that most of the foodstuff we buy is in its initial form! There are things that have been added to some foodstuff, for example, some vegetables have had things sprayed on them, this might be something that is working against your body even as much as you’re trying to eat right! So it’s finding exactly what works for your body.
It’s interesting, you asked this question. Now, I don’t take cow’s milk because cow’s milk just doesn’t sit very well, so I take plants milk – I don’t give it to the kids either. My husband on the other hand takes cows milk. So he stopped taking it for a while, and just this morning he says to me ‘I think since I stopped taking cows milk, my weight loss has actually become a little bit more rapid’. This is because of the hormone in cow’s milk.
It’s doing your best, and then having that to present back to God. I’m a believer that everything can be laid out before God. It might sound a bit too spiritual but I honestly believe in taking it to God. “God, if this is going against what you have said, then you’ve got to step in and do something about it, I’m playing my part”. This is a line I use all the time. ‘I am playing my own part father, you’ve got to show and play your own part. It can’t be that you have said it this way and it’s happening that way, so something has to change’. He says, ‘Come let us reason together’. I commit everything to God. Before I work out in the morning. I say, Father, I need strength, because you know me, I don’t want to do this, help me to preserve this body. It’s amazing how scripture covers everything – the way you should speak, the way you should eat – it’s all there.
Your gene is not meant to work against you, you have to find what works well with the genes so that you’re in a comfortable place. Especially if you’re just working hard and not seeing results. The thing is, we are always more comfortable talking to God about our needs, – I need money, I need to heal my body, I need to protect my children, all those kinds of things. But we also forget that he’s interested in the other details, he is interested in everything going on with us like even the food we eat. If you’re not excited about life and excited about yourself what are you going to do with the money when you get it?
Why do you think it’s more difficult for some people to achieve their weight loss goals?
People give up so quickly, It’s in the giving up! You try for a week and then you give up. People give up way too quickly. But what I say is, you’ve got to ask yourself why you want to do it, there has to be a deeper meaning to wanting it. If it is just about weight loss, it’s going to be short-lived. The thing is, you lose a pound in a week and you’re excited, over the weekend you gorge and you gain the pound back with some village members! There has to be an intention to do it. For me, I do it because I want to be able to complete my assignment. You might say that sounds spiritual, but let’s bring it home, I want to be here to see my children grow, see my children’s children. I want to be able to run with my kids just like I did yesterday morning with my daughter. I want to be able to do things with my children, be energetic enough to do that. I want to be able to have the energy to make love to my husband, for goodness sake! There has to be a deeper meaning.
In fact, it’s interesting, you asked this, last week I just felt this impression to talk about health and just move away from weight loss. The thing about weight loss is once you have disciplined yourself to look after ‘you’, weight loss becomes automatic. What about ‘I want to look after myself so that I don’t get sick’. That must mean something. We can’t be servicing that negativity with our money. Why will you be using the precious money that you can use for other great things or to buy a pair of shoes to be paying for medicals? So there is much more to it but we give up so easily.
Now, my husband always says this, “the same principles you use for financial stewardship is the same principles you need for temple stewardship”. Your money – you want to protect it, you want to save it, you don’t want to overspend. That’s exactly the same thing you need for your health. You need to stay disciplined, you need to stay committed, be mindful of what you’re eating. You can’t always be saying, ‘Oh, I can’t’, the day that it hits and they give you that report, all of a sudden you will realize that you need to make changes but we don’t have to get to that.
I often say to young mums, quit using your kids as your excuse because the thing is, if you don’t look after yourself and you drop today, there’s a real possibility that man will find somebody else and they will look after your kids. The kids that you gave birth to, that must mean something to you! If You don’t want to exercise, be mindful of how you’re eating, at least pay attention to what you’re eating. Sometimes when I speak everyone says you can be harsh and I say, it’s because of the way I want you, I want us to rock this life. I want you to get it. It’s not even about me. You’ll probably come thank me later or not, that doesn’t even matter. It’s our right, it’s our right to be healthy. It’s our right because the devil wants the same thing. He’s also fighting for the same thing. So if you’re not making an effort, then you’re making it easy for him.
That’s where I stand with it. And you know, involving God just makes the process easier. I believe that knowing God gives us an advantage because when it’s difficult, you’re not just slaving yourself, you ask for help, Okay, Holy Spirit, If I can believe you in this, surely, I can believe you for my health. I’m not saying that you wouldn’t have days where you fall on your face, but it’s in the getting up, it’s that getting up that matters! It’s not a race, we’re not running anywhere. It’s for your whole life so you do it at your pace. Do what works for you, every week you find out what’s not working. Okay, I’m going to stop this, I’m going to do this and then replace this, just cultivate the habit that will work for you , your kids will see what’s happening and it’s a teaching moment. It’s not about weight loss, it’s about you.