Life after Slimpossible

Norah Odundo Clementine Mauka and Maggie Muiruri all participated in various seasons of popular weightloss show Slimpossible. PHOTOS| COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Today, Clementine is a weight loss ambassador and wellness coach. She has managed to maintain her weight at 80kgs, almost five years later.
  • And her parents and siblings have also come around to her new healthier lifestyle and are her biggest supporters.
  • “I never stopped exercising. I swim four times a week and three times a week and I take a 1km walk. I am also very careful about what I put in my mouth. My colleagues at the office call me ‘daktari’,” she says.
  • In 2013, Clementine published her book, ‘My 15 Year Battle with Weight’, which she hopes can inspire others walking a journey similar to hers.

It is no secret that most women are struggling to lose weight. While most prefer to do it in the privacy of their homes, there are those who take on this battle publicly, on television. This week, we speak to three women who starred on reality weight loss television show, Slimpossible. They let us have a peak into their battle with weight years after the show.

43-year-old Clementine Mauka lost 40kgs in five months to win Season 3 of Slimpossible.

Being the winner of the third season almost five years ago was a bitter-sweet moment for Clementine.

On one side, she was thrilled at having finally won her decade-and-a-half- long battle with her weight, but on the other, she did not know what to do about her loved ones, who could not come to terms with her new appearance.

“My mother broke down the first time she saw me after shedding the weight. That was the hardest part for me,” she recalls.

For as long as she can remember, Clementine, who is 5 foot 3 inches tall, has always been heavy. While she and her seven siblings were growing up, their father owned a restaurant. This meant that there was always food in the house.

Before and after photos of Clementine. PHOTOS| COURTESY

“My father was a big man, he associated thinness with poverty, so a full stomach was his first priority,” she recalls.

When she got married to Dr Vincent Mauka in 2003, she weighed 115kgs. She went on to have her two daughters. Her husband pampered her and the weight kept on piling. In retrospect, Clementine says that she has never loved junk food, and didn’t have a problem with her food choices. She just ate too much. A doctor’s visit in 2010 revealed that she weighed a staggering 147 kgs. Surprisingly, all her vitals were working perfectly.

“After this visit, I began observing my food portions. By the time I saw the Slim Possible advert on the television in May 2012, I had lost 12kgs.”

So how did she lose 40kgs in just five months?

“Dedication and a strong support system,” she says and explains, “I exercised six hours a day. I spent three hours at the gym and three hours going up and down the stairs on the 10-floor building where I work - my husband would drive me there at 4.30am to do the walk; I also paid close attention to my food portions.”

At the law firm where she works, her bosses were gracious enough to allow her flexi-time for the length of the show.

She admits that it took her a while to also come to terms with her new body. There was the issue of untoned skin and the fact that she didn’t even know how to dress her smaller body.

Today, Clementine is a weight loss ambassador and wellness coach. She has managed to maintain her weight at 80kgs, almost five years later. And her parents and siblings have also come around to her new healthier lifestyle and are her biggest supporters.

“I never stopped exercising. I swim four times a week and three times a week and I take a 1km walk. I am also very careful about what I put in my mouth. My colleagues at the office call me ‘daktari’,” she says.

In 2013, Clementine published her book, ‘My 15 Year Battle with Weight’, which she hopes can inspire others walking a journey similar to hers.

Maggie Muiruri 33, was a participant in Season 5 of Slimpossible. 

Maggie remembers waking up very early to go to school to avoid the bullies that taunted her about her weight. ‘Ona mama anaenda shule,’ (Look at a woman going to school) other kids would taunt the then 12-year-old. School and that teenage phase for her were a nightmare.

Then she got into her early twenties and grew a bit of confidence. Still, she confesses that every so often, she would wonder how it would feel to be a smaller woman, and so she would occasionally try this diet or the other unsuccessfully.

The least she remembers weighing as an adult is 105kgs. It was after having her second born in 2011 that she realised she needed to do something about her weight.

“I ballooned so much that I got high blood pressure when I was pregnant with my son and had to have an emergency caesarian-section,” she recalls.

She weighed 124kgs at her breaking point. She tried out the auditions for Season 4 of the Slim Possible show in 2013 but did not qualify. She began making small changes in her lifestyle, and by the time she was accepted to take part in the show’s Season 5 the following year, she had lost 7kgs.

“I didn’t lose much on the show. I lost 5kgs. I was 112kgs when I left,” she says.

Before and after photos of Maggie. PHOTOS| COURTESY

Soon after, she piled back all the weight that she had lost.

“In the show, we had been working out as a team - I lacked the discipline that I needed to avoid the wrong foods and workout for two or more hours at a time,” she says.

For a while after the show, she gave up on her weight loss quest and slipped into her old habits. Maggie is a comfort eater, so when she is upset, she seeks solace in food.

“Last August, I looked at my pictures and decided that enough was enough. I cleaned up my diet and enrolled in the gym,” she says.

With the help of coach Ireri in her local gym in Kahawa West, Nairobi, Maggie has managed to shed 14kgs. She also does home work-outs.

“Previously, I was trying to lose weight for the world. Now I am doing it for myself, I want to be healthier, to fit better in my clothes, and it is working. I am very proud of myself.”

When she is not running her business, Recavi Stationers, Maggie mentors young girls.

“I have been there. I did many things to cover up the things I was feeling because of my weight. I can connect with these young people,” she says.

37-year-old Norah Odundo lost 39.8kgs in Season 4 of Slimpossible. She was the season’s winner.

“I stumbled into Slimpossible. I hadn’t gone to audition, I had taken my husband, who wanted to participate in the show. I weighed 135kgs, so everyone assumed I was auditioning. I passed the audition,” she says.

Norah recalls how her battle with weight began.

She shares that she has never really had a problem with losing weight, her problem has been maintaining this loss.

“I was 13 when I went on my first diet. It was during the school holidays and I remember going back to school and my friends being so impressed that my tummy was no longer big,” she recalls.

Thereafter, in the years that followed, she went on tens of diets. While managing to lose weight every time, she couldn’t maintain it, and always ended up gaining all of it. It was after she had her second born in 2004 that it all began spiraling out of control.

Before and after photos of Norah Odundo. PHOTOS| COURTESY

“I ate anything and everything,” she says.

Then one day in 2011, while walking around the CBD with her husband Joe, she decided to weigh herself on a scale along the streets. To her shock, she weighed 135kgs.

“This was the first time I became stressed about my weight. I desired to lose it but I was demotivated, I felt that I was too far gone.”

Then Slimpossible came along and Joe, her husband, expressed interest even though he weighed much less than her, at 110kgs.

“I was afraid of trying, I felt like I was exposing myself, but I offered to take him anyway. In the end, both of us found ourselves on the show,” she says.

When she got on a personalised diet plan and began working out, the weight began falling off almost immediately. At the end of the show, she weighed only 90kgs. She was the winner, her husband number two.

“It was fun losing the weight but it was also quite emotionally involving, having all these people looking up to me. I don’t think I would do it again,” she says of getting on a weight loss show.

Being out of the show and away from all those eyes felt how it must feel for a bird to be let out of a cage. She went right back to her unhealthy eating habits and the weight started creeping back, slowly but surely.

“Two years ago, I had returned to 130kgs and I decided that was it. I began changing my eating habits slowly. I first changed my breakfast, then lunch and then dinner. Then I began taking walks and doing home workouts.”

So far, Norah has lost 25kgs. Her goal is to get to 80kgs.

“This time round, I am not putting any pressure on myself. I am just enjoying the process,” she says.

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