Your name, Ufa Dania is lovely. Is it your birthname or a social media variation?
My birthname, thank you.
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I am from Edo State. I grew up in Kaduna but moved to abuja when I was in my early teens.
What do you do for a living?
I am a student in AUN, first year.
Oh nice. What are you studying?
Telecoms Engineering but I’m transfering University of North Texas to start a major in Electrical Engineering.
That’s awesome. Congratulations!
(Laughs) thank you!
Now, to the tweet that set Twitter on fire…
How did you manage to lose so much weight?
What first set me on fire may sound petty but… I graduated and had my prom in 2016. On January 2017 I was playing around one day and tried on my prom dress. I was already big as it was but I couldn’t fit in the dress anymore, meaning I became super sized.
That was my wake-up call.
All my life I’ve been struggling with weight. Each year I give a resolution. After two weeks the resolution gives it back to me.
I never kept to my goals, but that 2017 I don’t know what just happened. I became serious. I told my parents that I didn’t want to go to university yet. That they should give me a year to work on myself because all my life I’ve always been the biggest kid in the class and the whole school, getting picked on by teachers and students. I didn’t want a repeat of just hating my high school experience again in uni, so I enrolled in a gym.
I did all my research myself, never consulted anyone about what to eat cause I’ve tried diet before and failed. So I just stuck to reducing my food intake and eliminating some things completely.
“…all my life I’ve always been the biggest kid in the class…”
So you took a year off to work on yourself. That’s quite some determination.
Was there any point where you lost motivation? And what kept you going?
Not really no, I did not.
But I also felt discouraged because after 1 month the differences weren’t as much as I expected. But a friend spoke to me and told me I should be realistic with myself, that even though I may start to lose weight, my eyes may not be open to it.
It was from month 3 that it happened magically. It was just like yesterday I was size 22 and today I’m just realising I’m now a size 18/16.
Did you get any negative vibes from family and friends? People telling you it can’t be done?
When I first started, I never told anyone about my journey asides my family and my best friend, because I too was sceptical at first. What if I told people I’m working out and i don’t see changes? So I kept it to myself.
My family is absolutely supportive.
Aww… It helps to have a support base, doesn’t it?
It does definitely. Cause even when you feel you’re not achieving they encourage you and tell you they see it, even if they don’t.
Were you ever ridiculed or disadvantaged because of your size?
Absolutely! Especially when I lived in Kaduna. So many terrible insults, people think you don’t have feelings.
Sorry you had to go through that. It’s sad that overweight people are often targets of bullying and mean words.
Would you want to pursue a career in coaching other people to lose weight? Are you working on any such project now?
Yes I would, but something at the side. I coach people at my gym now and it’s amazing. Just having to workout that often, at a point you grow to love it.
Do you do it for free or you run a paid program?
For people around me, that is, my mom, sister, bestfriend it’s for free. But other people get a paid program
How long did it take you to get to your current size?
Just a year. Infact at 6 months I was already the size I wanted to be. So what I do now is lift weights and build muscle to tone.
“…At 6 months, I was already the size I wanted to be…”
Okay, so your workouts now are basically to tone and maintain your current weight.
Is there anything you miss about being your former size?
Do you have any advice for others looking to lose weight?
Not so much to say. I’d just tell them that there is no “secret” to losing weight cause I’ve been getting a lot of messages asking what the secret is.
There’s no secret. Every thing you’ve always heard- exercise and eat right is all you need. Discipline adds a difference and knowing what you’re working for.
“…anything you put your mind to, you’d always achieve it.”
I also went online searching for weight loss stories of people with my kind of my body then and their after pictures. Seeing what they achieved prompted to keep going because I knew that anything you put your mind to, you’d always achieve it. A basic law.
Alright! Thanks a lot for this interview, Ufa.
To see more of Ufa, follow her Instagram page @ufadania