Many thanks to Elle Boogiee for contributing this great post that shows how the Carnival spirit and global schedule can help provide motivation to lose weight and develop a healthy lifestyle. Elle is a Trinidadian living in the US, who describes herself as a “Soca lover” and “Carnival junkie” and travels the world participating in different festivals. She has kept herself “carnival-ready” by developing healthy habits of consistent exercise and healthy eating.
How Carnival keeps me fit
by Elle Boogiee
The moment was finally here!
With carnival costume in hand, I jumped into my car and hustled home to try on my eagerly awaited costume. It was time to see how my 3 weeks of dieting paid off. With pure excitement I delicately tried on my ‘barely there’ costume to have my first ‘jump up’ in my bedroom mirror. The waist band fit a bit snug but I did not think much of it – nothing a minor adjustment with Velcro couldn’t fix. The bra was a little stifling but I figured it was only because of the beef roti I had earlier that day. Arm piece on, foot gear in place, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Yet when I looked at myself in front of the mirror, I quickly felt like the kid with no Christmas presents because I was fat.
Now I was by no means obese, but what I was looking at was far from a ‘carnival-ready’ body. I had an unpleasant muffin top and back fat falling out the sides of my bra. I was in tears. It was evident that the Christmas ham and black cake won the battle. At that moment I vowed that it would be the last time and I would win the war.
Something had to change.
In order to stay healthy and fit I was often advised to make it a lifestyle change rather than resorting to the crash dieting and extreme workouts to prepare for a specific event. After years of living the ‘not so healthy’ way, it was hard to find something that would motivate me to change. Lucky for me my addiction to carnival was just the thing. My interest in getting fit and healthy started with getting into shape for the #1 carnival event in the world: Trinidad Carnival. After all, my body needed to be ‘carnival ready’ for the sexy costumes and I have to be able wine down to the ground right?
When I first started, my healthy eating and workout regime would end immediately after Trinidad carnival. Then I discovered Crop Over (Barbados Carnival), then Miami Carnival, then Jamaica Carnival, then Brooklyn Carnival, then DC Carnival and Baltimore carnival and…..well I think you get the point. Since the carnival jumbie in me wanted to hit each and every one I had no choice but to get into shape for them all. Turns out they were all scattered throughout the year so I found myself staying fit all year round. Eventually, my unhealthy addiction to carnival led me to a healthy addiction of eating right and exercise.
Converting to a healthy lifestyle was by no means easy. I couldn’t go cold turkey. Instead, little changes went a long way. I started small by making better decisions about what I ate and the activities I did. I opted for water instead of soda, or for grilled chicken instead of fried. I took the stairs instead of the elevator at work, and walked over to my co-worker’s cubicle to give her a message rather than emailing her or calling her on the phone. Lucky for me, I had motivation in carnival that fueled me throughout the year. After time, it became less of a burden and more of a willing choice. If you find motivation that fuels you, go with it! Before you know it the little changes and healthy choices you make will become a habit and aid in developing a healthy lifestyle.