Three years ago, Remi Owadokun weighed 110kg. But through dieting and a disciplined fitness regime, she lost 40kg and went on to become a certified health coach. She however is making headlines not for her weight loss, but as an author. Her book, ‘How I lost 40kg: The journey that changed My Life’, has just been named the number one bestseller on Amazon. The book is the only Nigerian book to attain the record on Amazon. In this interview with Mary Ekah, she talks about her book, her experience as a fat girl, and offers advise on how others can overcome their weight problems 

How do you feel about your book hitting the number one best seller on Amazon?
It is indeed an amazing privilege, considering it was barely available to the Nigerian audience due to Amazon’s Country restriction. Becoming an Amazon bestselling Author to a mostly international audience is very encouraging. So yes, I am an Amazon International Best-selling Author, I’m not a local champion. It’s a good feeling.

How did you get to know that your book was number one?
Well, once you create an account on Kindle Direct, you get statistics and you watch your book grow up the ranks or fall depending on its relevance. But that is for me as an admin on the back end.  Anyone who searches for my name in the Kindle App will find the book and it’s details, the details will show where it is ranked on the best sellers list, that list is open to the general public. You can monitor how any book is doing on the ranks or if it made the list at all. The ranks are updated hourly. I made it to number five within the first hour and by the time it got to the eight hour, I was holding it strong at number two.  Today, I am number one.

Did it come as a surprise or was it something you expected?
When I put my book on Kindle, I wanted to be a best seller; I went in with that goal in mind. I am a goal getter so I will not say it was a surprise, I expected to be number one. When I got to number two, I kept my fingers crossed. I have to point out that just three weeks before I made my book available on Kindle, I met an amazing woman called Naomi Osemedua. She is popularly known as the Periscope Rockstar, she released a book called “Socially Speaking”. In the book she talked about her journey on periscope and it made it to number four on the Amazon Best Sellers list. I got in touch with her and she gave me some amazing pointers. That also played a major role in my hitting the best sellers mark, she made me believe that I could do it and that gave me psychological permission.

What was the motivation for writing the book?
I knew that I could not go to all the places I hope to go with my message in this lifetime with the time I have available and being one person. So I put myself on the internet, which is the closest thing to being omnipresent. I printed my book so that it could go anywhere in the world without me being physically present. I am a Certified Health Coach and as a coach there is a limit to the number of people I can work with, but with my book, I can coach millions of people whom I may never meet.

Can you tell us more about the book?
You’ll have to buy it.

Now, tell us about your incredible journey to weight loss?

In 2013, I weighed 110kg, I was grossly overweight, suffered from low self-esteem, suffered from fat related diseases to the other (Migraines, pre-diabetes, hormonal imbalance) and one day I was sick and tired of living such a low quality lifestyle and decided it was time for permanent change. It took me 10 months to lose 40kg, I did not have a personal trainer, was not enrolled to the gym so I spent so much time doing trial and error. I did not know what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise and what was best to do. I spent a lot of time and money experimenting on all the safe and natural methods. Like everyone who has ever wanted to lose weight, you have tried and failed many times. So have I. I had tried several times and failed but this time I started, hit a number of bumps on the way but kept going.

Did you undergo any surgery to achieve that?
No. I never had to go through any medical procedure and I personally don’t encourage that and here is my reason: When you do a surgery, you fix the symptom, which is fat, you have not dealt with what made you fat, you have not dealt with the root. When you do this, you are still leaving room for it to grow. What will happen when the things that caused you to add weight return?  You do another surgery? So, I usually do not encourage quick fixes and trust me there are so many quick fixes available.  It takes a lot of self-discipline, consistency and mental toughness to keep it together and because we have all struggled with discipline and consistency in at least one area of our lives, we know that this is a very difficult thing to accomplish.

Some women just enjoy their full figure, so what was the motivation for slimming down?
Like I mentioned before, I wanted a better quality of life. I did not enjoy not finding clothes of my size, I did not enjoy finding clothes of my size that were so ugly, I did not like being the biggest person in the group, I did not like being called Madam. I did not like being asked if I was pregnant. I did not like when people asked for my children even when I don’t have any yet. I did not like when the tailor asked for extra material or when he said the style wouldn’t fit someone of my stature. I did not like that I was not full of energy or full of life. I did not like that I was constantly suffering from one ailment or the other and I did not like how it affected myself esteem. So if you are overweight and you can honestly tell yourself that you enjoy your figure and the baggage it brings, then good for you. What I try to address is not just the physical appearance but what it may do to your state of mind and how it affects those around you.

Have there been side effects to the weight loss?
I have had people who say they prefer me when I was overweight. Some asked if I am ill and some make some nasty comments. My clients also face similar challenges. I encourage them and myself in the process to focus on the many positives.

Still on the book, being number one means a lot of sales, you must be very rich now?
I cannot tell you that. Do you want me to be robbed? Yes the money is rolling in, but I did not write the book just because I wanted to make money. The idea is to help people find good health that they seek. If I make money on the side, it only means that I have reached a lot of people.

Is this your first book?
This is my first book as the only contributing author, yes. In 2003, I co-authored a book on youth and community development with 11 others in the United States.

Is there a sequel in the making?
Yes, I am presently writing another book and have two other drafts in the pipeline. I should have my next book by the end of the year.

Who is Remi Owadokun?
I am a dreamer, go-getter, risk taker, adventurer, traveler and writer. I am also a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the biggest Nutrition School in the world. I consider myself a suitcase entrepreneur. As long as I have my suitcase with my laptop and internet, I can set up anywhere in the world. I have worked with over 800 people in seven countries, across four continents. I am the founder of the Total Makeover Programme Academy and the Creative Director of the “Phat Gal Series”. Phat Gal series is an online-based animation that is aimed at spreading health consciousness by exposing the truth about Phat Gals and the lies they believe. The stories are based on true life but expressed as a comedy to make it fun.

What is your advice to people with similar story as yours?
You can achieve anything you set your mind to do. Like my friend Steve Harris says, “It is not what you don’t have that limits you, it is what you have but don’t know how to use”