• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lifestyle coaching is not just a career it is a calling for me -Kwavi Agbeyegbe

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Don’t we all wish it is easy to lose weight as it is to gain weight? Haven’t you met people with large appetite and after they have eaten, you look at them and wonder where on earth the meal went to?  “Active metabolism” I hear you say. On the other hand, there are some who will take perhaps a bar of chocolate…ok let’s be realistic and say two bars of chocolate and in no time, they begin to observe changes in their body and the next point of visit is the gym…it reminds me of my friend whose name I will call Kimberly for the purpose of this ‘gist’. Every time she goes for a party, she heads for the gym the next day “Kemi, you know I love food and I find it hard to resist sweet stuff so every time I indulge, the calories must go the next day, size 10 I am, size 10 I want to remain” she says. Somehow, it works for her because she is consistent with it aside her regular exercise at weekends.

We all handle weight issues differently and for women, it is often challenging especially when it comes to burning the ‘baby fat’.

My date for this week is a guru in terms of helping you lose that weight that has held you ‘captive’ thus far… She resides in the US but was recently in Nigeria to speak at the ‘Inspire the Champion Within’ conference organised by Udo Okonjo, C.E.O of Fine and Country International, where she spoke to the attendees about living a vibrant life. “I was very impressed to find some Nigerians were very much on track (eating right and exercising regularly) while others were on the other end of the spectrum (not exercising or eating healthy food but wanted to and didn’t know how to begin).  A lot of them are using local food to maintain a healthy lifestyle.” She tells me.

The amiable and vivacious Kwavi Agbeyegbe is my date for this week. She is a life style coach, health and vitality expert.

Kwavi Agbeyegbe
Kwavi Agbeyegbe

Kwavi was the only girl in the middle of two boys and enjoyed the role of the only daughter immensely. As a child growing up, her parents always stressed the importance of a good education and always emphasized that a good education once acquired could not be taken away from you.

They moved to Benin-city from London in the late 70’s and being an only girl, Kwavi spent a lot of time around her dad, who she tells me was very organized. “He never once told me I had to be a doctor or a lawyer, my dad was content on me being whatever I wanted to be as long as it was something I enjoyed because he believed if it was something I enjoyed I would put the effort into it to make it successful.” She tells me.

While in University in the UK, Kwavi came across a documentary that highlighted the deplorable and filthy conditions of cows in a farm in the UK. She was nineteen years old at the time, and the documentary had a profound effect on her and she immediately made a decision to stop eating beef and chicken. In her words, “I did further research on healthy food and subsequently eliminated packaged foods and fizzy drinks from my diet. I decided to eat only fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables. Evian and Perrier became a familiar sight in my refrigerator. My journey into healthy living began in my late teens and has continued over the years. I must admit in the late 80’s healthy living was not very popular and finding healthy options to eat was rather difficult even in the UK.” I am writing this and I am saying to myself “No meat? No chicken…at all? For real? Come on Kwavi, there has to be a ‘healthy’ way around this… like emmm, eating lean meat, skinless chicken e.t.c.”  I will let you read on and somewhere along the line, Kwavi will surely have a response for meat lovers.

Before long, Kwavi’s friends and family members noticed the difference, her skin looked clearer and they said she had a certain glow. Family, friends and classmates began to ask her how they could lose weight. “I would design customized menus for them and recommend certain exercises and over time they would lose weight. Essentially my first clients (non-paying) were friends and family members. I didn’t envision it as a career it was just something I enjoyed.  Once I graduated I pursued a career in Information Technology.” She says.

Kwavi went on to obtain a Masters from Northwester University in Medical Informatics and gradually moved into the area of technology and healthcare. As much as she loved technology, she felt something was missing and she needed to do more.

It finally dawned on Kwavi that in order to pursue her dream career fully, she had to leave the Information Technology field.  According to her, “pursuing my dream was one thing; I also had to figure out how to make money while doing it. I did research on schools and settled on training with the Well Coaches School of Coaching, a program endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine and Harvard University. I also went on to study with Brook Castillo of the Life Coach School to gain a specialty in weight loss coaching.”

“I felt the formal training combined with my experience would provide me with the confidence I needed starting a new career and provide my clients with the exceptional service needed to help them overcome their weight or health issues. Lifestyle coaching is not just a career it is a calling for me. My 11-year old son, Weyimi told me a few weeks ago, ‘Mum you are so lucky to be able to do something you enjoy as your everyday job’. I smiled and said ‘Yes, you can do the same when you grow up’ ”. She tells me

As a daughter, wife and mother, Kwavi understands how hard it is as a woman, to juggle the different responsibilities expected and also the need to find time to take care of oneself. Hear her speak more her passion for women. “I truly believe women are the backbone of the community.  Women continually give to others, and in a lot of cases keep on giving until there is nothing left to give. Women are daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts and grandmothers and are in some cases one or more of these roles depending on the phase of life they are in. I do understand these demanding roles hence the creation of Kwavi.com. I started Kwavi.com to help successful women over the age of 35 that are challenged with weight and health problems. I created one-on-one and group online coaching programs that inspire women all over the world to transform their lives and bodies.  I created various programs customized to the busy lives of women.”

“Most of my clients are busy successful women who are searching for a solution that’s not overwhelming and complicated. They have tried numerous diets in the past with no success and often, they admit to me they believe that they are destined to be overweight and unhealthy because it is in their DNA – they believe they will never succeed because they were born to be overweight. Fad diets and deprivation are not the solution, and they do more harm than good. I believe anyone can adopt a healthy life style with the right tools and support system. Every woman deserves to feel energized, confident and fiercely happy in her life.” She quips.

Have you had challenges with losing that weight? Perhaps it is time for you to let go some old habits. This Kwavi agrees to and adds “Old habits that don’t serve you well, those habits have to be broken and replaced with new habits that are customized for you and your schedule. In order to become consistent, fitness training has to be like any other type of appointment and scheduled on your calendar. Consistency plays a big role in the likelihood of your success. Habits are powerful. They are your best friend. When you experience pain or pleasure your brain wants to duplicate the experience of pleasure and avoid the experience of pain. There is a nerve connection in the brain. The more you repeat the habit, the more the connection gets stronger until it becomes automatic. This behaviour chain has to be broken in order to break a habit that no longer serves you.” She admonishes.

Kwavi Agbeyegbe
Kwavi Agbeyegbe

With regards to peculiar traits common to Africans and their genes, Kwavi has this to say “The genes that have passed down from generations haven’t really changed. Studies have shown that certain groups like Africans are more pre-disposed towards weight gain and the metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high cholesterol. The waist-circumference ratio is also a predictor for being overweight and obese. When there is a caloric in-balance (over-eating or lack of exercise) the excess calories are stored as fat and unfortunately become more difficult to lose. With that said exercise and a healthy diet can help to combat this and place you on the path to your healthy goal weight.”

I wanted to know if Kwavi became passionate about weight loss because she also had challenges with her weight and her response said it all. “No, I have never had weight issues; however I did suffer from body image issues. In my 20’s I was not very comfortable with my body, which stemmed from comments being made about how skinny or thin I looked.  Over time I began to believe the statements being made and I started to do different things to gain weight from eating desserts daily to using protein drinks to gain weight. Over time I became increasingly unhappy with myself and my usual sunny disposition changed to frequent bouts of unhappiness. I finally realized that this was the body God had given to me and I needed to take care of it, despite what others thought.”

“Besides, you can’t please everyone and I believe the only opinion about my body that matters is mine. I went back to eating my healthy meals and started to feel much better about myself and my body.  This prompted me to create the ‘Everybody is different’ module for my coaching program. In all my programs, making peace with your own body is always the first step. At the foundation of my work as a speaker and a Lifestyle Coach is the belief that there has to be a deep love for oneself, an intimate and positive relationship has to be cultivated.”

Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent and control many health problems. Concluding the interview, Kwavi speaks on this as she stresses the importance of healthy diets. “A healthy diet helps to improve your overall health. It is important to note that going on a diet is not the same as a healthy diet. A diet is temporary while a healthy diet is a major component of a healthy lifestyle. A poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death. By making smart food choices, you can help protect yourself from the health issues such as stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, hypertension (High blood Pressure), coronary artery disease and osteoporosis. By taking steps to eat healthy, you’ll be on your way to getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, active, and strong. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be accomplished by making smart & creative food choices combined with physical exercise.”  Health they say is wealth, and obviously, living a healthy life is surely the best in every way. Nice one Kwavi, I am off to burn some calories like my friend ‘Kimberly’ would do, I confess I indulged not too long ago during my friend Linda Ochugbua’s birthday party (gosh! That chocolate cake with cream cheese, I just couldn’t resist”.)  And in ‘Kimberley’s’ words, I say to myself, “…size 10 I am, size 10 I always want to be.”

KEMI AJUMOBI