Known as the Nigerian Powerhouse, Anowa Adjah, A.C.E., is a master trainer with a unique approach to fitness that puts self-love first. Once you hear her inspiring story and check out her workout, youll understand why we asked her to join the Fierce team as a fitness adviser. Adjah believes that every woman is beautiful in her way and capable of creating her unique path to better health.
I have always been active and fit, but that does not mean I was always happy with my body. As a matter of fact, I became a trainer because of what I went through as a young girl. I was 140 pounds in the fifth grade at 5 feet 4 inches tall. I dreaded my annual trips to the school nurse, because she would weigh me and then report that I was 20 pounds overweight for my height. My family physician also continued to declare me overweight, and therefore unhealthy, right through high school.
By the time I reached the ninth grade, I was 5 feet 10 inches and a top athlete on the schools basketball team. According to the schools official weight charts, my body mass index was too high, and I weighed too much to be in shape.
I had no one to compare myself to, so at first I accepted that I must have been doing something wrong. I found it very discouraging. So I had low self-esteem, and I felt badly about my body. After high school, I tried to become a fitness model, but I always got the same response: You need to lose weight. That made it extremely tough for me to see my curves in a positive light.
Just recently, I talked to a client who told me that, for some little girls, the situation has not changed. Her daughter is a curvaceous, active, healthy child, but she is also considered overweight at school. Many adult black women share this plight. No matter how hard they work to take care of themselves, they are considered overweight. The disconnect between our beautiful bodies and the somewhat inaccurate definition of healthy in America led to my approach to fitness.
As I got older I am 32 I started to challenge the idea that women with curves cant be fit. Today, I am 200 pounds, and Im in incredible shape. Im healthy; I do not have hypertension, diabetes or any other health problem; and Im the mom of 16-month-old twins.
I work with women of all shapes and sizes to create awareness about their health thats based in self-acceptance. Everyone was not meant to be a size three or four. Being fit has absolutely nothing to do with being skinny; you can have fabulous curves and be in top shape and free of health problems.
The number on the scale is not what fitness is about. It begins with strong self-esteem, wellness and feeling your beautiful best. My fitness program is focused on the individual and the understanding that if you work out and eat clean, you will achieve your best body. And it should be a
body you adore.
The 30-Minute Lose-the-Gut, Shape-the-Butt Workout
1. Cardio Walk or Stair Climber
Works hamstrings and glutes
Begin your warmup with a brisk walk on a flat surface. Then move to a surface with a hill or a flight of stairs. Race-walk your way up the stairs or incline for the remaining 10 minutes of the workout.
Warm up for 5 minutes. Work toward 10 minutes of race-walking up stairs or an incline.
2. Sitting Squats
Sculpts hamstrings and glutes; shapes thighs
Sit, with your back erect, in a straight-back chair. You can do this in the office or at home. Place your feet hip-width apart. Tighten stomach muscles and glutes (your derriere). Slowly come to a standing position. Do not lock your knees. Then return to the sitting position. Try to hold your hands out in front of you for balance, but you can place your fingertips on the desk in front of you if necessary.
Begin with 20 reps. Work your way up to 30.
Strengthens the core and abdominal muscles
Use a mat for comfort. Lay flat on your belly. Come up on your hands and feet, as if you are about to do a pushup. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and glutes; do not put your behind up in the air. Hold the plank for 30 seconds.
Begin with three, 30-second planks. Rest for 10 seconds after each set. Work your way up to three, one-minute planks.
4. Pike Crunches
Works transverse abdominals, entire abdomen and core
From the plank position, keep hands and feet in place and raise your rear up until your body forms a triangle. Keep head pointed toward the floor between your hands. This position is also known in yoga as Downward Dog.
Bring your left knee to your right elbow. Repeat 10 times. Then, bring your right knee to your left elbow and repeat.
Begin with 10 reps on each side. Work your way up to 15 reps per side or more.
Cool down: Lightly walk in place for five minutes. Then, gently reach for your toes. Repeat three times to stretch out hamstrings.
Eat Lean and Clean
To achieve your healthiest weight, forget fad diets and fasts. Adopt a simple, livable way of eating that you can follow for the rest of your life.
First, open the cabinets and the fridge and get rid of white flour, sugar, processed and fried foods, and anything with trans fats listed on the nutrition label. Limit your intake of red meat and high-fat items to special occasions (not every weekend).
Eat a combination of lean poultry, fresh fish, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Steam, sauté or bake and add flavor with herbs, not salt.
Enjoy healthy foods in moderate amounts. Fill up on five or more ½ cup servings of vegetables a day. Use the palm of your hand as a guide to measure your three daily servings of protein (poultry, fish or tofu, for example) and two servings of grains.
Snack on fresh fruits, occasional dried fruits and nuts. Drinks lots of water, but also have green tea, black tea, herb tea and coffee; just dont load up on cream.