Unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol abuse and sticking to high-fat, salt and sugar diets have sparked an epidemic of non-communicable diseases worldwide. Diseases linked to lifestyle choices, including diabetes and some cancers; killed 138 000 people in 2014 in Zimbabwe against a global death toll of 138 million, as morbidity and mortality cases for NCDscontinue to increase at an alarming rate.
After embarking on an eating spree following emotional and physical abuse, rape, a strenuous divorce and losing her father, Ms Tariro Tandi put on weight. “I shut down completely. I didn’t want the activities of daily life,” she said.
“I felt hopeless, numb and sad and stopped caring. I turned to food as a way of coping with my emotions. With a steady diet of junk food and an increased lack of exercise, it was easy to put on the kilos.”
When she was weighing 118 kgs, she comforted herself by dreaming of owning a clothing line for big women as she was facing challenges finding sizes for her clothes. “Although I was comfortable in my size, the huffing and puffing when doing some physical work annoyed me. I knew I was not at all healthy but I took comfort in that I rocked an African body,” she said.
However, one incident made her realise that she needed to loose some weight. “One day in August 2013 as l was coming from work, I saw my clothes hanging on the washing line next to my young sister’s clothes. I could barely believe my eyes, the clothes looked so huge,” she recounted.
“This was my wake-up call, I knew right away that I needed to love and support myself. It was the beginning of the journey that I am still travelling, a journey that has been filled with so much joy, pain, tears, laughter, failures and success. It’s been a worthwhile journey and I have reaped more than what I bargained for.”
Before this, Ms Tandi had refused to take a cue from her doctor. Back then, Ms Tandi had collapsed while attending a meeting. The doctor said her sugar levels were too high and advised her to lose some weight.
“My doctor said he wouldn’t prescribe any medication for the high blood sugar levels, he simply advised me to lose weight but I thought it wasn’t really serious,” she said. When her weight loss journey began, she took baby steps into becoming the person that she is now.
“It was hard to find the right place to start. I started off by attending a gym in my neighbourhood but after about two months, I realised that if I was to win this war then I needed a personal trainer,” she said.
“Patience should be a virtue if you want to lose weight. Take baby steps. You don’t gain it all in one day, so you’re definitely not going to lose it all in one day either!” said Ms Tandi. Over a period of two years, Ms Tandi has managed to lose 50 kilograms and now weighs 68kgs, She says she owes it to healthy eating and exercising.
Ms Tandi has struck meat and sugar off her diet. “Our health is in our hands. We have to take charge in order to avoid ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, backaches and some heart conditions.
“These diseases can improve or disappear with a controlled diet and exercising,” she advised. She recommends that one must set realistic goals. “There is no need to starve yourself because you will hate the process. There are no magic pills either, no diets or quick fixes, just small, sustainable changes,” she said.
“Losing weight is a mental, psychological and emotional battle as much as it is a physical one. It is, therefore, imperative to feed one’s mind, soul, emotions and spirit with so much positivity in order to achieve resounding success.” Ms Tandi is a children’s rights activist and lawyer who grew up in Bvekerwa, Rusape.
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