All of her life, Olly Bey was overweight. “From the get-go,” she explains. “I even came out as a 10-pound baby.”
This is the story of how this London-based education project manager came to lose 110 pounds — through lots of stops and starts — and became something of a social media sensation … as told through her Instagram posts, of course.
“My journey’s been a lot longer than a lot of other people’s,” she says.
Most of Bey’s friends and family came to peg her as a heavy girl. And she bought into it. “I just assumed I was supposed to be fat,” she says. At her heaviest, she hit 259 pounds when she was 25 years old.
#transformationtuesday. – This was trip a to Spain I took with my friends, as usual I was fully clothed with a gurdle underneath in the heat. I honestly used to hate summer. My thighs would swell up from constantly rubbing together and I’d sweat like crazy because I insisted on wearing a gurgle instead of trying to do something about my weight. Let’s leave aesthetics aside for one moment. If your weight is causing you to be uncomfortable, messing with your quality of life and damaging your health then do something. I know how hard and overwhelming it is to start but do what you can before your forced to do something. You don’t have to start big but you have to start otherwise nothing changes. _ #bethechangeyouwant #changyourfatitude #startwhereyouare #youcandoit #youvsyou #itsnotarace #healthfirst #phukasthetics #chooseyoursmile #transformationtueaday #afrogirlfitness #changestartswithyou #positivevibes #exercise #extremeweightloss #over100lbdown #fitspo
For years, Bey tried counting calories, which worked occasionally — her weight fluctuated. But it wasn’t until three years ago that she started using MyFitnessPal consistently and began viewing food as more than just calories. She asked questions on the MyFitnessPal forums and learned about macros: protein, carbs and fat. She started reading nutritional labels and logging the specific foods she was eating (instead of guessing), and weighing portions on food scales to get an accurate idea of what she was eating.
“I didn’t realize my old eating habits were bad,” she says, recalling eating two breakfasts or drinking two liters of Coke daily. “I just thought it was normal.”
Portion size was the biggest problem: “I was eating cereal for five,” she jokes. She also didn’t want to miss out on enjoying family events, which usually centered on Nigerian food. It was a shock for some of her friends and family to see her go from partying to planning her meals.
So I’ve had a few people ask me how to make healthy Nigerian meals. Firstly YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE UP naija food in order to eat healthy. It’s all about making the right swaps with ingredients and watching portion sizes. . . If you want nutrition advice and examples for healthy Nigerian meals then check out my fitsis @fitmrsfats. Her page is packed with meal ideas, especially Nigerian food. We connected on IG some time ago, she has an amazing spirit and is full of support . . . If you want to chop efo riro and not feel guilty then my girl @fitmrsfats will show you the way without the palm oil #healthyfood #nigerianfood #eattolive #youcanatilleatthefoodyoulove #practicemoderation #portioncontrol #fitchick #nutritioniskey #weightloss #mealplansundays #instafit #foodie
Sure enough, the weight began to come off. But she still wasn’t happy, she says, because she still wasn’t in shape. That’s when she reached what she calls “phase two of being sick and tired.” Enter her exercise regimen, which didn’t come easily either.
Bey bought a Beach Body DVD, but it sat on the table in her flat for four months until she finally tried it. When she went to the gym, she didn’t know where to start or what to do. It was all men in the weight room, and she had to Google videos of the machines to learn how they worked. After trying basic aerobic exercise for a few months, she found weightlifting a year ago and her routine evolved. “It made me change my focus not on how I look, but on how I feel,” she says.
The desire to lose weight forced me to get active but it has not been what has kept me going. I talk about ‘getting waisted’ etc but my drive for showing up goes way deeper than that. I remind myself that fitness has been the one thing that allowed me to strip back all the background noise in my life and make me wake up. The discipline required made me stop indulging in certain things that were taking me no where. It made me stand still enough to realise I needed to start praying. It has shut down alot of the negative self talk and made me realise anything is possible if your willing to work for it. Getting fit is deeper than aesthetics. The lessons you learn will have a compounding effect on your life. When you start to view it this way, working out no longer becomes a chore. It becomes such apart of your lifestyle that you question why you left it took you so long to make it a priority. #ourbodiesaremadetomove #healthiswealth #healthybillonaire
Soon she began to share her journey on social media. Her sister encouraged her to set up her Instagram account. And Bey began to develop a new routine: getting up around 5 a.m. every morning to head to the gym and post: a selfie in the weight room, a motivational quote, pictures of her workout or a video of her talking through some of the challenges.
Very quickly, people began flocking to her for inspiration. It’s only been a year, but Bey now has more than 9,000 followers — though she doesn’t call them followers; she calls them “slayers.”
“When I don’t post, people message me,” she says. “Actually, my story’s not my story if I can’t help people.”
Change your method…NOT your goals! I was sent this key reminder from the inspiring and SUPER encouraging @healthy_everyday_living. Keeping it low impact and getting creative with what I can do. Once my foot has healed up I’M ABOUT TO TEAR THIS PLACE UP!! #gassed #cantkeepmedown #excusesdontlivehere #lowimpact #movingon #pitypartyover
She also started a blog with a name to match her Instagram handle — Changing My Fatitude — and began offering a two-week package to help people get started, dispensing some of the basic advice she needed to get her on her way: home workouts, how to use reminders on MyFitnessPal, tips on logging food and meal planning, recipes and even a beginner’s shopping guide.
Bey says she gets emotional notes and comments from people who are struggling with their own journeys: exercise, food, even self-esteem issues, like not wanting to be in photos with their kids. She theorizes that many of her followers — women also trying to lose weight — respond to her struggles and want to share their own.
Bey also grew up in a Muslim household, but had never practiced. As she got more discipline in her life and moved away from her old partying lifestyle, she says, “I realized I was missing something.” It’s still a process, she says, but she’s building her relationship with her spirituality. A number of her followers are also young Muslim women who want tips on how to incorporate their practice with healthy eating and exercise, or have logistical questions about how to train during Ramadan.
As Ramadan approaches, I’ve had many questions from Sisters regarding exercise and nutrition during the Holy month. I’ll do my best share advice from my own experience and also point you in the direction of some other sisters who will have various tips and advice for you. Firstly Ramadan is about worship and improving ones spiritual self, we should not lose ourselves in our fitness goals and miss out on benefits of this period. Equally it does not mean that we have to over indulge in food or completely step back from physical activity. Lets talk exercise in this post, many of you have asked if you can still workout whilst fasting. Yes, you can HOWEVER you will need to make adjustments to your usual intensity and the timing of your training. Everyone is completely different, for example I prefer to train 1 hour or so before Iftar because that works for me however I know some people prefer to train just after Iftar or before Suhoor. There is no perfect time to exercise during Ramadan; Instead – listen to your body and whenever it is ready for a workout you should go for it and perform a moderate workout. Regardless of the time you train, you will need to drop the intensity (number of days and lengh of session). I drop the number of days I train to 4 days and I don’t do more than 40 to 45 minutes, the aim is to get in and get out. For example if you train just before Iftar then heavy weights or a HIIT session is not ideal because by that time you will be heavily dehydrated and tired. Opt for light weights, more reps and low intensity cardio. If you plan to train after Taraweeh prayers or before Suhoor then you may be able to train at your usual intensity because you would have eaten and have the added benefit of being able to drink water at that point. You don’t need to completely drop your fitness goals but you need to be flexible and focus on maintaining instead. You will find multi articles and advice suggesting A is the best way to train during Ramadan or B is the best way to train during Ramadan. Personally the key is to listen to your own body, because everybody responds differently. Stay tuned…
Despite her newfound notoriety, Bey doesn’t necessarily want to be a personal trainer or a nutrition coach. She thinks her value is in connecting with people who are going through challenges similar to what she’s experienced.
“I see myself as an ‘agony aunt,’” she says, using a British term for advice columnists. Her next plan is to do more Q&A videos, where she answers follower-submitted questions and asks other followers for their input.
“In my ideal world, I would love to be Oprah,” she laughs. Right now, it takes a lot of time just to answer people’s questions and to stick to her own training and food plans.
She still struggles to keep up, she says, especially in social settings, but that’s part of the journey. And it’s one of the messages she wants to pass on to others: It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s part of the journey, too.
It’s on you! if you are repeatedly making the same mistakes then take a step back to assess the situation. Mistakes are cool, because they provide a platform to learn and do better but if you are honestly starting over every Monday because you didn’t learn any lessons from the weekend before then this journey will continue to feel like groundhog day. Forgive yourself, move on but also take note of what made you fall off so your not in the same position next Monday. It’s on you! _ #nocuddlezone #wehavetodobetter #falldowngetup #yougotthis #motivation #keeppushing