One woman, powered by research and a strong resolve, lost over 20 kilos in just two years. Here’s how Carol did it.
When 40-year-old Carol Mgenge was young, she thought that being big was natural for her body, taking the cue from her big-boned family. “I think it was [in] high school where I realized that no, it’s not normal for me to be this size,” she recalls. During her time at school, she started becoming interested in fashion but felt left out when clothes didn’t fit the way they were supposed to. “So I tried in school to get into sports, but I couldn’t get into any sport because of my size,” she says.
She kept struggling along, trying different forms of exercise to lose weight. “I tried weightlifting, [but] nothing worked, actually,” she says. As time went on, she started accepting her weight but wasn’t happy with it. “And then I started realizing ‘No, you know what, maybe they are right. Maybe I’m born this way and that’s that,” she says.
The turning point
At the age of 36, Carol finished her studies and was about to graduate. As is custom, she wanted to look her best on stage, so she sought out the perfect graduation dress. “There was this pretty dress that I wanted and it couldn’t fit me,” she recalls. “I was so broken.” Carol resorted to asking someone to custom-make the dress for her, but it wasn’t what she wanted. She resorted to going back to the gym to try and shift kilos, but it took her two years to lose only two kilograms.
“I wanted to quit but I said to myself, ‘You know what, let me just do this and break the myth that says that in my family, we are big’,” she explains. From then on, Carol made more of an effort and started doing research. “You’ll be surprised by all the wrong information you are given online,” Carol notes. She tried different diets in an effort to really shed some weight, even opting for something called the egg diet, where she ate tiny portions, including an egg and lots of citruses. While it worked, it wasn’t sustainable and once she stopped, the kilos piled back on. “I started doing my research and going for 20-minute walks every day, then doing park runs on Saturdays. But I was not losing any weight,” she says.
Carol, like most of us, scrolls through Instagram and follows weight loss and wellness pages as inspiration. It was there that she came across a Women’s Health live workout. Carol joined in and was struck by something the trainer said at the end. “You don’t have to be strict on yourself; put yourself under pressure for weight loss. Just take your time,” the trainer had said, adding, “80% of weight loss is down to what you eat and the other 20% is exercise.” This stuck out to Carol. At the time, she realized that she’d been eating lots of junk food for comfort. She decided to try something new. She opted for healthier, nourishing meals and stocked up on protein sources. “It works for me. I eat lots of protein now,” she adds. “I started watching what I each and followed the recipes that are published in Women’s Health magazine, which help me a great deal and improved my cooking as well.”
Carol opted for filling smoothies for breakfast, then a healthy snack at around 11 am, like avocado. She’d have fish for lunch and get more exercise. Dinner would be protein-packed, with veggies. She also loves weightlifting and adds in cardio and dancing.
Carol Mgenge’s weight loss results
Over the course of two years, Carol lost more weight than she’d ever lost before. When she started, she weighed in at 98kg. Now, she weighs 74kg and can fit into clothes she couldn’t wear before. “I now wear a size 36, and I’d never worn a size 36 in my life,” she marvels. Now, Carol is training for a marathon. She also established a positive dialogue with her body. “Another thing I discovered is that your body talks to you. If I need water, my body tells me, and I drink water, not cooldrink,” she notes.
To her, her journey is as much about weight loss as it is about demystifying cultural norms. “When you are a big, thick woman, they give you this impression that that’s how a woman is supposed to be,” Carol says. “And then you forget about what you want, how do you feel? And then how is going to affect you in the long run especially when you are a teen, going into womanhood.” Carol says her journey has impacted her life in many ways, including boosting her confidence. She’s now able to stand up in church and speak more confidently in ways she didn’t before. “I got into leadership; I’m able to stand in the pulpit and say something and I’m more comfortable now,” she says. And what better reward is there than that, really?