Fidèle Ndayisaba. ‘It makes me sad that people put their lives at risk at their own expense.Don’t endanger your yourself at your own expenses. Many times we pay for things that are dangerous for our health. Have limits in what you consume and do it responsibly.’
Fidèle Ndayisaba, the mayor of the City of Kigali, has managed to stay free of a pot belly and a lifestyle disease which is uncommon for men today. You can say he is lucky, but what he told Collins Mwai is much more than that.
How do you stay away from the dreaded pot belly?
I have a regular exercise regime. I run on the tread mill every morning and also engage in weight lifting a little. I am keen on cardio and abdominal exercises. Abdominal exercises are good for the respiratory system and cardio is good for blood circulation. I exercise for not less than an hour every day. It keeps me flexible, fit, productive and productive. In my line of duty, I am always on call; I am expected to always be ready and set—you can’t do that if you are not fit.
You are a busy man, when do you have time for an hour’s exercise?
I exercise at 5am. That’s the time when I am least occupied and wouldn’t be called upon unless it was some emergency. I sacrifice sleep to exercise. It doesn’t affect my regular schedule. By 7am, I am ready for the office.
It surprises me that most people make excuses of lacking time for exercise, there is plenty of time; you only need to plan your time and plan well. When you realise how important exercise is for your health, how it can keep you away from lifestyle diseases and unnecessary medical bills, you will create time for it.
I know that most people even have gym membership but rarely go to the gym, citing lack of time. One can even keep fit through home exercises, jogging around the compound, situps, skipping rope and push-ups. It only takes consistency and discipline.
You seem very keen on exercise, ever been overweight or had a lifestyle disease that led you to exercise?
I am grateful to God that I have managed to stay free of lifestyle diseases and being over-weight. Actually, that motivates me; I am keen on exercise to avoid excess weight and bills incurred when managing lifestyle diseases.
Any exercise you wish you could take more often?
Swimming. I used to swim a while back, but I am allergic to the chemicals used in swimming pools. I would encourage people to try it out; it is very effective as it involves the whole body.
On to matters food, how do you go about meals?
That’s an important aspect in staying healthy. Most people take in more calories than they can burn. I ensure my meals are balanced and stay off fatty foods.
It makes me sad that people put their lives at risk at their own expense. We are lucky that in Rwanda we have healthy food, but it can turn out wrong if it isn’t balanced. Imagine people take a lot of brochettes and beer, the combination at times doesn’t go down well with your body if it is unregulated.
It is also sad that at times society associates being big-bodied (overweight) as a sign of prestige or success instead of giving it the attention it deserves.
Talking of beer, what’s your take on alcohol?
I see no problem with alcohol; I only have a problem with over consumption and lacking limits. Once in a while I have a drink, but I ensure I don’t exceed my limits or take drinks that have so much calories.
You said your job involves long working hours, and at times emergencies; do you by any chance rely on stimulants like energy boosters or coffee?
To start with, I avoid things any situations that could cause fatigue like stress or alcohol. I also don’t take energy drinks; I suspect they have side effects and are not sustainable. As for coffee, I enjoy it but I am not dependent on it.
What advice would you have for people who age is catching up with but would want to stay healthy?
Make no excuses, if you want to stay fit and avoid unnecessary medical bills, exercise regularly. You don’t need to have gym membership to stay fit, exercise any way you can. Even people with disabilities or people who are aging can take part in exercise. To begin with, you need to know the importance of exercise in your health to like it.
In Kigali we have sidewalks, street lighting and stadiums. Please make use of them to stay fit even if you have to do it late in the evening or early in the morning.
Also, avoid over consumption of some foods and alcohol. Don’t endanger your yourself at your own expenses. Many times we pay for things that are dangerous for our health. Have limits in what you consume and do it responsibly.