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How working out saved my life

At 20 years old she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and warned she risked being infertile

In common millennial parlance she would be referred to as a ‘snack’ despite the fact that her journey to fitness has been littered with more land mines than a war zone.

On the surface she’s largely nonchalant and her poise depicts calm. However, underneath she is a bubbling volcano. You would never guess that at the age of 20 she was diagnosed with high blood pressure or that she had started developing a heart condition.



It was only when her doctor made her listen to her own heartbeats that she grasped the severity of her weight issues.

“When I listened to my heartbeat I could not believe how weak and labored it sounded,” She recounts.

“And to add insult to injury, the doctor also told me that I will develop fertility issues and may not be able to have a baby. It is at that point that something snapped in me and I was jolted into action.”


She frantically immersed herself in a weight loss regimen that saw her shed off a massive 30 Kg when she was fresh from high school. The weight loss came at a very steep price though. She had chosen the treacherous path of starvation and only fed on one sweet per day.


The health reverberations came in thick and fast and she gained back the weight as quickly as she had lost it in a short while. In order to survive the ordeal, Antonina was compelled to change tact.

Dr. Nelly Saina avidly warns against starving as a method of weight loss. She says that thought the results may be quick, the aftermath is usually a bitter pill.

Phobia for scales

“On a starvation diet you may lose weight but not the right kind of weight. Starvation diets cause a high loss in muscle mass and water weight from dehydration. Muscle naturally burns more calories than fat and losing muscle mass will only decrease your metabolic rate.” The doctor adds.

“I really suffered with my self-esteem. I felt like a complete failure. And one lingering effect of that is that I developed a phobia for weighing scales. All the time I got on the machine the needle would almost go to the extreme end and it would freak me out,” She says wistfully.


One of her greatest challenges was getting a proper wardrobe. To get clothes that fit her would require a great amount of scouring around and sometimes she was forced to fashion sweaters out of scarfs because her arms were too big to fit into normal sweaters.


After thorough research, Antonina chose a gym and went hammer and tongs on her second stab at weight loss. The beginning was brutal!

Though she could not even muster 5 sit-ups at that time, she was made to run up a flight of stairs from the basement to the 21st floor where the gym was! Baptism by fire does not aptly describe the experience.

“I honestly wasn’t sure she would make it through to where she is right now. We really pushed her and luckily, she did not give up. She is a model client and she has even won awards for that. We are proud of her,” Her gym instructor, Paul Oloo narrates.



“The pain was excruciating; my muscles were on fire and my whole body ached. My body wanted to give in but my mind did not buckle. I could not relent. When I thought of the consequences the doctor had prescribed, I pushed myself to the limit,’’ an animated Antonina says.

Her Instagram and Facebook pages are awash with photos and videos of her training and working out in the gym. She says it is important to document every step of the journey so as to celebrate the small gains and to keep the motivation levels high.

“I have countless photos of myself and though people may say its an excessive behavior, I use them to fuel my passion and when I look at how far I have come, the only way is forward!

Addicted to pain


I have become addicted to the pain and I cannot sleep if I have not worked out. My body has become accustomed to the stresses I put on it, but I can’t complain. I look great as a result of it!”

As a parting shot to people who may be struggling with weight issues and would want to lose weight through physical exercises, she has this to say:

“Remember being fit is not a destination. It is a journey and an experience.  It’s good to do research before you settle on a gym. This will help when you go to the gym so that you don’t take everything the gym instructor tells you as the gospel truth. However, don’t be cocky and a know-it-all person.”

She credits her weight loss to healthy eating, lots of cardio and weight lifting. She proudly says she has no hanging skin which is common with weight loss.

“Remember what the mind believes the body will achieve,” Concludes Antonina.


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