Occupation: Pursuing Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology
Hometown: Bowie, Maryland
Q: Describe your body metamorphosis. How have you grown to love your body more now as compared to before?
A: My relationship with my body has been a very rocky one. I am 5’11” and I have always been tall. I had embraced being tall very early and even when people tried to tease me because of it, I was able to brush it off more easily than other things. Since I was always tall I would of course carry more weight, but around the age of 11, I started to gain a significant amount of weight. I never noticed there was an issue until I was ‘encouraged’ by my family to get on these various diets. I can’t tell you how many diets I’ve tried but none of them really worked. It was really hard for me to understand myself and what I looked like because I was constantly on these diets and getting certain remarks from my family, like there was something wrong with me. I eventually came to the conclusion that no matter how good I was at something, I wasn’t good enough because I was still fat.
Looking back on it at the age of 21, I’m pretty sure I was depressed throughout my adolescence. I was always the biggest person wherever I was. People would mistake me for being older, I have even been mistaken for someone’s mother a couple of times. And at 14, 15, 16 years old, that’s not something you want to be mistaken for. All I wanted was to look like a teenager but I didn’t feel like I was. I didn’t enjoy it. Every year was the same. Like everyone else, I wanted to make a change and lose weight. I wanted to come back to school a different Dziko. So many times I would try this and I’d come back to school the same, or with another 20 lbs.
These feelings of disappointment and disgust with myself definitely did not help me achieve the sense of style that I wanted either. I wouldn’t say that I aspired to be a fashionista or anything, but I definitely looked up to ladies who always had a polished look every time they stepped out of the house. I wanted to feel that way, but because I felt such anguish in my body, I didn’t feel like I deserved to dress nice. I would wear sweat suits, jeans with a hoodie, baggy clothes and just things that never were really that flattering. It wasn’t until college that I decided to make better attempts to look better and feel better about my body.
I truly believe that if you look good, you feel good! I found a lot of this inspiration when I discovered this subculture of body positivity that embraced full figured women and their passion to expand plus size fashion. I found various blogs of women who looked just like me and were flawless! (Some of the blogs Dziko found were: GarnerStlye.com, nadiaaboulhosn.com, kurvayshusb.com, TheBigGirlBlog.com, & stylechick360.com) They had style, fabulous wardrobes, and an amazing aura of confidence that i desperately wished I had. These blogs not only helped inspire me to make a better effort to dress nicer, but to take care of my body as well. A lot of these plus size bloggers that I came across debunked the myth that full-figured women were not active. I came across a lot of these blogger stores who were parallel to mine and they gained the courage to start their weight loss journeys.
I was so ecstatic to find people that I could FINALLY relate to. Being able to take control of my mind, body and spirit has most definitely helped me appreciate the body that I have. It makes me cry to think of how I wish my 11 year old self could see me now. I am definitely happier than I was 10 years ago. I didn’t think this type of confidence was possible for me. I have such a long journey ahead of me, but I am just amazed at the progress I have made. I still have a laundry list of insecurities to tackle, but I have the rest of my life to deal with them. As long as God keep waking me up every morning, I am going to make a conscious effort to be a better person than I was the day before.
Q: What are your favorite ways to stay healthy?
A: Some of the behaviors that I practice to stay healthy are sleeping, exercising, eating balanced meals, drinking water, taking breaks, enjoying myself and smiling at myself. I am a believer in maintaining good mental health in addition to physical health. There are so many stressors and obstacles in each of our lives and often our mental health takes a huge beating. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD are prominent disorders that plague millions of people and are often ignored and given the acknowledgement they need. Not only can these disorders negatively affect an individual’s mental health, but they can take a toll on physical health and disrupt daily life as well.
Simple things such as 6-8 hours of sleep, laughing, and looking at the mirror and smiling at yourself can help build and maintain a strong sense of self worth. As far as exercising goes I loveeee the elliptical. After feeling my way through different ways to get a cardio workout, I found that the elliptical was the most comfortable and I felt like i was getting the most out of my workout. I like doing an hour of cardio even though it is recommended that you only do 30 minutes.
I personally like to make the most of my time at the gym and for me, I’d rather spend an hour on the elliptical than sitting on the couch, eating something crappy. I also have found a strength training routine that works best for me. It was a bit harder to get comfortable with strength training because I knew little about it. But with the help of the internet and some friends that are more fitness savvy, I was able to find some workouts that I liked and were effective. Some of the strength training workouts that I do are bicep curls, tricep curls, weighted squats (my favorite) and lunges, and some variations of crunches (my least favorite).
Q: What advice would you give other women trying to get healthy?
A: 1. take it one day at a time. It’s not easy trying to go from being sedentary to a gym rat in one day, so don’t even try it lol. Take baby steps! Adjust something in your normal diet, like instead of fries or chips with a sandwich have a salad or some veggies instead. Include a walk a couple times a week. Start off on the treadmill or elliptical for 15 minutes and work from there.
2. LEARN TO FORGIVE YOURSELF! I feel this is so crucial to getting healthy. Maybe you’re feeling frustrated with yourself about the current state of your health. I’ve been there, and constantly reminding yourself of your mistakes is just going to set yourself up for failure. Don’t dwell on the past. Just focus on the better healthy choices you will be making and move forward.
3. Find supportive people to help you on your journey. It is hard to do by yourself and there will be people that may not understand what you’re going through so finding people that understand your journey can help you stay centered and focused on your goals.
4. Skipping meals is not going to make you skinny or healthier. you need to eat. And if you’re going hard core in the gym, not eating can end terribly. You gotta fuel your body! Focus on eating better foods. Avoid processed foods and you can never go wrong with veggies and protein!
5. STAY CONSISTENT! This is definitely something I struggle with as well so I’m saying all this to remind myself too! You gotta stay consistent with everything! Staying consistent with these healthy behaviors gets easy with time. But sometimes life happens. Stress gets the best of you or there’s a life change that occurs. Things like this may throw you off but you have to do your best to stick with it! Its sooooo easy to get off track and then get back to your old habits. Been there, done that lol So no matter what goes on in your life, stay on track. It may take a couple slip ups to figure it out but hey, they don’t call it a journey for nothing right?
6. LEARN TO LOVE THE BODY YOU HAVE! Very, very important. No matter how much weight you can lose, you can still have underlying resentment about your body and still have a lingering feeling of disappointment. This may be the toughest thing to overcome, to be honest. Take the time to appreciate you body! Do what makes you feel good! Throw on something that makes you feel nice! Slap on some make up! Give yourself some TLC! Take the time to understand yourself. Doing this makes the journey that much more worth it. And even so, you may not ever get to that specific goal but always appreciate the progress you’ve made and love the body at whatever state it is in. If you do, you’ll feel good =)
Want to get in touch with Dziko?
Facebook: Dziko Kiya
Tumblr: Zeigh-Keaux.tumblr.com or SilentDeee.tumblr.com
Next post coming next week!