By Josfyn Uba
Adedamola Ladejobi is a nutritionist and weight management expert. She is the founder/CEO of AskDamz, a weight management company. She has built her platform on her passion to help people achieve their desired weight loss/gain and nutritional goals. Daily Sun spoke to her recently in her Lagos office.
What was your trajectory before you veered into weight management and wellness?
I am a trained lawyer and I worked at the Ministry of Justice, but I felt empty, as if there was more to me than being a lawyer.
Before I got into the university, I wanted to be a pharmacist or doctor but I ended up studying law. After graduating, I got bored with the idea of being a lawyer. I toyed with a lot of ideas. I even took up a teaching job. But later I realised I did not really like teaching kids. It did not make any sense so I was in a quagmire.
I literally became one of those that people call NFA (No Future Ambition). I tried to get back into the legal field but at that point in time I was already doing AskDamz on my own and making a lot of money.
Prior to your involvement, what was your view about weight loss and, as an expert, what is the big change between then and now?
Before I became a weight loss expert, I was one of those who wanted to do anything and everything to lose weight. Even in the university, the moment I heard of any slimming tea or new diet, I literally would spend my last pocket money on it. I didn’t know that there was actually no drink to melt fat, otherwise, nobody would be overweight, you would just drink the tea; but I realised that, like all everything in life, to be a success, you need to stay in your own lane. So, even with weight loss, it is very important to walk your own path. It is not about diet, you have to find what works for you as an individual. If you don’t find what works for you, you will continue to run from pillar to post.
What were the things you did trying to lose weight?
I used to have a diet mentality and thought that if you eat bread, you would not lose weight. If you eat rice, you will not lose weight; so, I was always on fruits for about three or four days but I got sick and tired. At that point in time, I decided to do something for myself, my health and also with a sprinkle of vanity because I really love the good things of life, but I realised that clothes were not fitting me anymore.
I decided to make a change at my own pace. Nobody told me to lose weight. My husband married me big. So, when I even hear things like ‘I have to lose weight so I can get married or get a man,’ I wonder, because it shouldn’t be the reason. It should be for your health.
What do you think people should do in the process to lose weight?
The moment you begin to see food as mediation, there is something that it does to your body. When your body is getting optimum nutrition and, if the quality of food you are eat is good enough, it will have positive effects on you and affect everything about you, your mind, as well as your mood.
You are no longer cranky because your body is getting all the vitamins that it needs, all the macro and micro nutrients that it needs, and in doing so you find out that your mood, your appetite, your sleep is regulated and you become stable on your weight loss journey.
What motivated you to build an organisation out of it, because you could have moved on after achieving your weight loss?
I would go out to birthday parties where people would talk to me about weight loss. People kept asking how I did it. In fact, there were times I did not really feel like going to parties because I was feeling uncomfortable when people asked me about weight loss. My husband then suggested I start making money from it, but again I wondered who was going to pay me for weight loss. I just let the suggestion slide. Then a group of people, my sisters-in-law and some other people, 13 of them, came and asked me to coach them.
I was so passionate about it. After that, sometimes in the middle of the day, I would drop tips for weight loss for other people.
Did you feel ashamed that you failed as a lawyer, only to become a nutritionist, compared to being a big-time legal practitioner?
I am truly the definition of when God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wisdom of the wise. Initially, I used to be ashamed to say I was a weight loss coach. That was in the first few months when people questioned my decision.
My mum was puzzled and she wondered why I would leave law profession to do that, “After all the money I spent to train you in England,” she couldn’t make sense of what weight loss had in connection with law.
But before one year, my mum changed her tune. She became my biggest fan and advertiser. My mum was surprised and at the same time proud of me.
What do you make of the distrust about weight loss, diets and all, as some say the field is filled with charlatans?
This is why I always say that it is very important to find what works for you, because the weight loss and fitness industry is a multitrillion-dollar industry; and it is unfortunate because we are marketing to a bunch of people who are extremely desperate.
What are your big entrepreneurship lessons?
If you want to go far as an entrepreneur, focus on the quality of your goods or service. If you focus on the quality and the presentation, money will come. But a lot of us in business are so focused on hitting monetary targets and goals and end up rendering bad service and products.
I have a long way to go with regard to honesty, integrity, customer service, giving value for money. If you give value for money, people will come.
What is your advice to young women to avoid weight-related health issues as they go into adulthood?
First of all, you have to love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle. People like to see exercise as a tool for weight loss, it is actually not. I realised that the theory of when you exercise, you are able to release happy hormones, dopamine, serotonin, endorphins in general, happy hormone, is true, after all. Each time I do it, I get a breath of happiness. I always say that exercise needs to be rebranded as a tool for wellness, not weight loss.
Young ladies, eat healthy as best as you can and this does not mean you should take only fruits and vegetables. There needs to be a balance, and love yourself enough to live a healthier lifestyle.
What do you think society can do to further awaken consciousness about the importance of weight management to the overall wellbeing?
I think government has a huge role to play. The truth of the matter is, a lot needs to be done about the healthcare system in Nigeria. Before all the reformation, we need to start sensitizing the common man on what to eat and what not to eat. Government should sensitize people on health matters like high blood pressure issues. What does it take for government to put together a team to test for eye checks, blood pressure issues and diabetes regularly? We need to start sensitizing people about the importance of eating healthy. Let’s start from the basics. All hands must be on deck to save the situation.
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