Thomas Kwaka, better known by his alias Big Ted, is one of Kenya’s weightloss champions.
After trying every trick in the book to lose weight; from juicing, high protein diets, crash diets to toiling in the gym in vain, the Deputy Director in charge of State branding and events turned to gastric bypass surgery to win the battle.
It cost him a good buck but he is happy and content.
He spoke to Sunday Magazine about his journey.
Growing up, I was a lean, lanky boy. Though tall, standing at a towering 6 4′, my weight was not much of a problem until I cleared Form Four.
Staying at home and feasting on mummy’s delicacies while bumming at home led to weight gain. Around this time, I joined a certain band, working as a ‘roadie’.
My work was basically helping with the equipment. Since we were two Teds in the group, I was branded ‘Big Ted’ since I was a really big guy. One doesn’t realise they are adding weight; it slowly creeps on you and is usually brought to your attention by others.
My weight gain was slowly becoming a nightmare. I tried working out but to no avail. I must have tried every diet there is around.
The kilos kept piling up and my suits were a humongous size 68! Obesity comes with many challenges.
I could not get my size of any clothing item at the shops not to mention I had had enough of my share of embarrassing incidents.
I remember once flying to Maasai Mara National Park and they had to use an extension safety belt since the regular one wasn’t enough for me.
I also broke a chair at a friend’s wedding and it was so embarrassing when everyone turned to look at what was going on. However, I was fortunate since I did not experience any health challenges due to obesity.
Big people problems are a reality. It is a big deal and it dents your self esteem. I have lost track of the number of big people, both men and women who have approached me for the secret to lose weight.
I was fortunate to meet Dr Mohit Bhandari through a mutual friend while on a visit to Kenya.
The renowned doctor who has performed over 7,000 bariatric surgeries and over 500 robotic surgeries suggested that he would help me lose weight.
Naturally, I was very skeptical since I had tried it before but nevertheless agreed to go to India on his invitation for a gastric bypass, a non invasive procedure that ‘reduces’ the size of your stomach.
When I got to the Mohak Bariatrics and Robotics Centre in India, I was impressed by the facility. It had a 7,000 student college and a 2,500 bed capacity.
Having never stayed at a hospital before, I was very apprehensive. I remember asking the doctor what to expect when the anaesthesia was administered.
He just told me to breathe in and the next time I came to, I was in the recovery room. The procedure that would help me shed weight was complete and I literally felt like a brand new person.
For about Sh700, 000, which included airfare, accommodation and the gastric bypass, I had finally won the weight loss battle.
Within four days I had lost five kilos and I confidently felt my success journey had began and I was ready to come back home.
For the first month after the procedure, I was not supposed to take any solids. I only ate soup. In the second month, I graduated to purees while by the third month, I was on semi-solid foods.
By the fourth month, I could eat anything. The only difference is that I could not eat too much as the capacity of my stomach had been reduced.
I was also advised to walk a lot, which I do and can even do 10km a day. I slowly got back to cardio and lifting weights.
I’m working on toning my body as well as losing a few more kilos. I drink lots of water and opt for proteins over carbohydrates. My ideal weight is 98kg and I currently weigh 104kg.
I am in a good space. I am happy and content and wish I could help more people lose weight. My weight loss has come with myriad benefits.
My attention span has increased and I feel much more energetic. The shortness of breath I experienced before is a thing of the past as well as the snoring.
It is a total life change. And it definitely feels good when I meet people who compliment me on how good I look.