I need to repeat what I said last week. This article is meant to be some kind of catharsis for me. I hope
that by discussing my problem, I may find psychological healing which is a prelude to physical healing.
Of course it is my hope, too, that I may comfort some soul in a similar situation. The article is not at all
meant to laugh at a section of society.
Although some people may find the use of the term “fat” offensive, I see my willingness to call a spade a
spade as the starting point of my journey to a leaner physical body.
For me, being fat represents a very real problem. Some people enjoy being fat. Others actually want to
I remember reading a book in secondary school about a tribe in a part of Africa where it was desirable
for a woman to get fat before she could hope to attract a man to marry her. Women actually went into a
fattening camp to prepare for marriage.
Last year, I watched an interview on “Oprah” of women from a certain part of the world who told her
that men in that region find beauty in a fat woman. A skinny woman is not at all the ideal in that society.
I remember Oprah being amazed at the fact that there was a country where a fat woman did not need
to worry about weight problems. Oprah is a person who is known to have struggled with the problem of
being overweight in the past.
Before I go on, I would like to say something about how people become fat. My simple view is that
people become fat in one of three ways.
Some become fat by choice. They deliberately set out to eat foods that they think will make them fat.
Their reasons for wanting to be fat are varied and very personal.
Some people’s becoming fat is incidental. They do not actually set out to become fat but become so as a
consequence of a particular lifestyle or certain activities.
Some people become fat due to hereditary causes. You could say that fatness runs in their family blood.
When it comes to heredity, we are not all born equal.
I became fat as a consequence of an event. My story is very simple.
There was a time when I wasn’t pleased with my skinny appearance. I remember my childhood friend,
John Sendama, often teasing me in our secondary school days by drawing me as an S-shaped figure. I
remember always toying with the idea of enrolling on a body building programme to try and improve my
Many years later, an event was to cause a drastic change in my weight. As a newly appointed
management development officer, I was assigned to be on a team of specialist trainers responsible for
conducting off-site management seminars. The venue was one of Zambia’s finest pleasure resorts in the
80/90s – Manchinchi Bay Lodge in Siavonga.
I remember buying a brand new suit to wear at the official opening and closing ceremonies. I wore the
suit at the official opening function all right. Two weeks later, the jacket was too small for me to wear.
Eating three full meals a day and taking all the exotic drinks had caused my belly to pop out like that of a
pregnant woman – the shape that I have since maintained.
Did this worry me? Not a chance. I was happy to be finally rid of my inconsequential physical status.
Looking fat had its obvious benefits.
Those days there was a false belief that if one looked fat, he or she was free from AIDS. Fat people were,
therefore, exempt from the usual gossip surrounding HIV positive suspects. So I could walk in public with
my head held high.
Looking fat also gave me an apparent look of importance. People assumed that I was someone very
important, or that I was doing well in life. If I was in the company of less physically endowed persons, I
would most often be treated as the leader of the pack.
For instance, I once travelled with a childhood friend of mine, a medical doctor, from Kitwe to Lusaka Air
Port to check on some goods that had been sent to him from overseas. My friend was driving his posh
looking Volvo. Ten minutes before arriving, my friend phoned an Airport official who promised to wait
for him outside the customs office.
When the car stopped in the car park, a pretty and immaculately dressed female customs official walked
to the passenger side and cheerfully said to me, “Good afternoon, doctor, how’s been your trip?”
I was tempted to tell her that my driver would sort out the issue as I was feeling exhausted. Good sense,
however, prevailed, and I sarcastically said, “The man who looks like my driver is actually the doctor.”
She was visibly embarrassed.
In December 1996, I was diagnosed to be seriously hypertensive and was told that my excessive weight
was a contributing factor. Ever since that time, I have been trying to shed off some weight.
If you are happy with your fatty appearance and your doctor has categorically told you that your weight
does not pose a danger to your health in any way, you can ignore the rest of this article. But if your
appearance is a threat to your health, you may want to listen to my advice.
There are many ways in which you can lose weight. I will suggest a few pertinent solutions.
1. Treat your fatness problem as a serious condition. Don’t underplay the problem by, for instance,
composing funny titles about the subject such as the following:
“How to Be Fat and Fabulous”
“There is room on Earth for Fat People”
“Fat People Can Eat Ice Cream, Too”
“High Jump for Fat People”
2. Call it by its name and face it head on – fatness and not overweight, bigness or overfed!
3. Avoid a sedentary life style. Engage in activities that encourage you to be physically active such as
gardening and walking about a great deal. You can also volunteer to do some house cleaning on
your own from time to time.
4. Avoid fatty foods. These will make your situation much worse than it already is.
5. Avoid sugar. It can kill you slowly in a sweet way.
6. Eat less meat and more vegetables. If you must have meat, go for lean meat.
7. Do some physical exercises every day. You might consider joining an aerobics class. There are quite a
few in Kitwe.
8. Consider taking up an appropriate sport such as tennis, social football, or martial arts.
9. Read widely to improve your general knowledge about health issues associated with being fat. Use
the Internet to find suggestions on how to effectively deal with the problem. There is a wealth of
helpful information on the Internet.
If, however, after trying everything, you do not seem to succeed, consider attending one of my talks
on “Improving Your Self-Esteem” in which I suggest ways of coping with seemingly negative situations in
It may also comfort you to know that you are not alone.
John conducts Total Success Training .