Unlike many participants in the Find Your Fit Challenge, the ladies of Team Himilo weren’t raised in America’s atmosphere of excess or inactivity. Hailing from the far reaches of Somalia, all five members of Team Himilo (made up of Asha Mohamed, Halima Mohamed, Farhiya Mohamed, Mariam Mohamed, and Surer Abdulmajid) came from very different walks of life.
“We come from a part of the world where hunger and scarcity of food are part of out history and culture. People never had enough to eat. Because of deep traditions of hospitality, children gave up their beds and food for the guests, and therefore never had the luxury of experiencing a full stomach.” Recalls the Group Leader, Mariam Mohamed. “As a result of these realities in Somalia, we never paid attention to different food groups and their effects on our bodies and mind. There was no transportation system, therefore we walked more than 4 hours a day.”
Even though all five women came to the United States at different times, their experiences of food here have been the same. “We ate until our stomachs got full because we all wanted to gain weight- a sign that Somalis associate with health and wealth.” But soon, the weight gain and sedentary lifestyle began to take its toll.
Although the team had heard of other weight loss programs, like Jenny Craig, each one of them involved being on a special diet. They were surprised to find that TLS is different. “You change how you think of food, how you cook and how you arrange your eating habits. We originally thought this was not going to change anything, but we were totally wrong.” Mused Mariam.
This challenge helped the team challenge each other. They learned to count on each other for support; they called each other and talked about their daily struggles and helped each other from falling back to old patterns. The group even took walks together and shared recipes.
“As we started to feel better, our kids immediately noticed and became our supporters, and every time we wanted to eat junk food, they jumped in and reminded us about the program!” says Mariam. The team was proud to announce they are all on the right track to a healthier life for themselves, our children, and their community.
“Go to the people, live among them, learn from them, love them. Start with what they know, build on what they have.” –Lao Tzu