Adedamola Ladejobi is a certified Personal Nutritionist, wellness coach and weight loss expert. She is the Founder/CEO of AskDamz, a weight management, health and wellness company. A mental wellness enthusiast and also founder of Askdamz Wellness Institute, Ladejobi is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Nigerian Supreme Court with an LLB Law degree from the University of Exeter, a BL from the Nigerian Law School, with a Diploma in Nutrition. She works full time as a wellness Coach ensuring that she explores her client’s greatest health concerns, weaknesses and goals, thereby using these obstacles in achieving set goals. She recently launched the Askdamz app, the first of its kind in Africa, helping people live a better lifestyle.
Awarded Entrepreneur of The Year 2018 by Eloy Awards, nominated for the award of woman of the year (social media) in 2017 by Her Network, she has also received an award of recognition from Global Leadership Institute for her contribution towards socio-economic development in the Nigerian Health Sector.
As a philanthropist, Ladejobi is using her Non-governmental organisation, Smile Express Factory, to put smiles on faces, touching lives, empowering, promoting, encouraging, supporting and financing small start up businesses. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her journey into weight loss management and empowering women.
Take us through your journey into weight loss management and wellness?
I have always wanted to do anything and everything to lose weight before I became a weight loss expert. While in the university, the moment I hear of slimming tea or a new diet, I would try it and literally spend my pocket money to buy the next fat burner, not knowing that there is nothing that you would actually drink that would melt the fat. If it was so, nobody would be overweight.
Then I realised that as with all things in life, to be a success at anything, it is very important to stay on your own lane, so even with weight loss, it is important to walk your own path. It is not about a diet; you have to find what works for you as an individual, else you will keep running from pillar to post. In fact, I have horrid stories from the advice I got to lose weight. When I was younger, I used to have this diet culture mentality that if you eat bread or rice, you will not lose weight, so I will go on a fruit diet for about four days. When I am tired, I would go on Chinese food, which didn’t help me lose weight. At that point, I was living in England.
One day, I told myself I needed to focus on my health with a sprinkle of vanity, because I like the good things of life and I realised that clothes were not fitting me anymore; I walk into stores and I would tell my friends and other people that I don’t like to try on clothes at the store. Meanwhile, it is not that I didn’t like to try on new clothes but the humiliation of trying to fit into something and trying to zip felt so horrible. I decided to make a change and I decided to go at my own pace.
I didn’t even tell anybody and that is the mistake people do; telling people about the new diet or informing them you are going to lose weight is one of the worst things to do. You put yourself under a lot of mental pressure and mental stress; I married my husband being on the big side.
What motivated you to set up an organisation from your weight loss journey?
I would go out to parties and people would talk to me about weight loss; people kept asking how I did it. In fact, those times, I used to tell my husband that I did not really feel like going to parties, because when I get there, people would begin to ask me about weight loss. He then suggested l start making money from it, but I wondered who is going to pay me for weight loss. I just let the suggestion slide.
Then a group of people, including my sister-in-law, in the days of Blackberry messenger, urged me to please coach them. I was so passionate about it; these were different people in different continents with different time zones, I was so excited about it. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I would drop tips for weight loss and before they ate, they used to say, ‘let’s Ask Damz o’. I did this for three months and by the end, the results were good; their blood sugar levels were regulated, infertility gone.
My sister-in-law had three unsuccessful IVFs, but after losing five pounds and after 10 years of trying to have a baby, she finally conceived. It just goes to show you that it is not just about weight loss; it is about a lifestyle, that is why I took the holistic wellness approach.
In 2015, I cracked a joke on Instagram one day on my page and wrote, ‘you know what? enough is enough, if you see me at a birthday or wedding party, you will pay me before I talk to you about weight loss’, but I was actually joking and then I logged out. Within 24 hours, I got six clients. When I had my first physical consult, the client asked for fees and I called a figure off my head, she didn’t even argue with me; that was how I started doing physical consultations/ virtual consultations and before I knew it, Ask Damz had two staffs and now about 15.
I am truly the definition of when God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wisdom of the wise. I studied Law; I thought I was going to be a magistrate to being a justice and all of a sudden, my life just diverted to weight loss. Initially, I used to be ashamed to say I was a weight loss coach, especially in the first few months. People questioned my decision; my mum was puzzled, she would say, ‘you are going to leave Law to do what? Weight loss? After all the money I spent to train you in England? Weight loss is not it at all’ she frequently exclaimed. But before we got to the ninth month or let’s say one year, my mum changed her tune and felt proud how much people appreciate what I do.
How significant is it for women to be well-informed about changes in their bodies as they go through the stages of life?
We need to realise the fact that women go through various stages of life. It is quite complicated, because our hormones are very key; you cannot compare a female child to a teenager; the changes go on. You cannot compare being in your teenage years to crossing 30s, because everything changes due to your body metabolism. That is why you hear people say things like, ‘I used to lose weight a lot when I was much younger, but now, I don’t know what’s happening.’
There are little tips and tricks to these and one of the things is that I know people have starved themselves so much; they have lost a lot of lean muscle that by the time they get to their thirties, their metabolism is so slow and they are wondering why what they did years back is no more working for them. Meanwhile, for every decade from the age of 30, you have a lot of changes in your body; metabolism actually slows down. So, if you don’t do something about your metabolism, as early as possible, whether you are 30, 40, 50, for every decade, the more the metabolism slows down.
For women, we go through all sorts, talk about menstrual issues; your cravings are higher than normal, we are actually special, unique beings, we need a special award, because our bodies go through different changes, from pregnancy to breastfeeding. I have two children, I know what I felt when I was pregnant; I know what I felt during the nursing period. I know how much grit it takes being a woman… we are special.
What lessons have you garnered in your entrepreneurship journey?
If you want to go far as an entrepreneur, focus on the quality of your goods or service. If you focus on the quality and presentation, you will attract money. But what happens to a lot of us in business is that we are so focused on hitting monetary targets and goals and end up selling junk service and products. We have a long way to go with regards to honesty, integrity, customer service, giving value for money. If you give value for money, people will come. This is a business that they said will not last up to six months; we are approaching six years, it’s been from one glory to the other. We are impacting lives around the world, we are multi-award winning, and it feels good to receive an award after working very hard.
Last year, we got a global health recognition award and I am not a doctor. I am being called to speak and lecture people that studied health. I have doctors who come to join my weight loss programmes and they wonder how I acquired these information.
How do you juggle family life with your work?
Balancing can be a myth; something will suffer at some point in time, so you have to make sure that when you spot something that is suffering because of something else, you have to quickly take up the ball as fast as you can and make sure the other part doesn’t suffer. For example, when my children are on holiday and I am working, then my workload increases. I have a bigger team and I have to be a present mum and I try as much as possible to be there for my 12 year old daughter and my eight year old son.
My marriage suffers sometimes; before I used to work round the clock, hence I am very intentional about our date nights and family dinners and we like to travel together, which strengthens our family bond.
How can women be the best versions of themselves?
Women should be intentional about their physical wellness. As much as we try to be super heros and super women, of what use is being all these and ending up with a lifestyle disease, this is where your diet, activity level, sleep and stress levels are monitored, so you are able to perform optimally as a mother, wife, entrepreneur, business mogul. Also, especially now that there is so much pressure about one’s physical appearance, you may end up with a mental or eating and sleeping disorder. If your mental health gets affected, then that’s a serious problem, hence it is about time for women to wake up and be very intentional about their physical, mental, and social wellness. There is need for communing, friendship, speaking up, being vulnerable and open to one another.
What is your philosophy of life?
No two journeys are the same and comparison steals one’s joy.