The ex-beauty queen said she wore this same swimsuit for the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria Pageant. Anita posted photos with the caption below:
“This swimsuit still fits after 12yrs. ????.I wore this swimsuit in 2004 for Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria Pageant (mbgn) my hard work is paying off. ???? #Silverbird #mbgn #alwaysaqueen.
Anita Uwagbale-Iseghohi is an Entrepreneur, and former Beauty Queen (Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria 2004). A lot of us, myself included, have admired her pictures online, and marvelled at how she has stayed so fit and fabulous, even after giving birth to 3 children. Meeting her in person, we realised that even those pictures don’t do this beautiful woman justice. As we chatted, over coffee and green tea, we were incredibly charmed by her sunny personality, the depth of her character, and her sense of humour. She is much more than just a pretty face, as you’ll get to read in the interview below.
You recently shared a picture, wearing the same swimsuit you wore when you won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant, 12 years ago, and it fit like a glove! How have you been able to maintain your figure, even after 3 children?
A side-by-side picture of Anita competing in 2004, and after 3 kids, in 2016!
I run and work out…relentlessly. Working out is a mind thing. With my daughter, I gained a about 43kg, not pounds. That’s like more than half of my normal weight. By the time I had my her, I was 115kg. So I knew I had to fix that. The truth is, with my height, I did not look 115 kg, but my scale told me that, and my clothes told me that. But I knew that wasn’t who I was. I like being slim, and being that heavy was not my comfort zone.
So I started working out, and I also started taking a lot of smoothies. I used them to replace two meals, and then I would have one proper meal. Two weeks after I gave birth, I started working out, with my baby in a carrier in front of me, and my two boys in the play area in the gym. That’s how I started working out. And I found out that when I watched a work out video on YouTube the night before, it would be all I’d dream of, so by morning, I’d be pumped and be like ‘That workout I saw, I want to do it‘. That’s how I started.
In the end, to be able to lose the pregnancy weight, I knew it wasn’t just about working out. I had to train myself to have control over my food.
These last few months, I have cut my running to 3 to 4 days a week. I used to run 11km, 5 days a week. I still do my strength training, my squats, my lunges, planks and weight lifting, for about 40 minutes. I lift 5kg usually, and even with my leg raise, I use weights.
Do you do that with a trainer?
I do it on my own. I never used a trainer for one day. I’d say YouTube was my trainer. That’s why I say, its all in your head. If you go to bed thinking, this is what I want to do, you will do it.
I was never a morning person, but with this, the only way I could do it, and do it right, was to do it in the morning. If I had left it till afternoon, I ran the risk of procrastinating, and saying I’d do it later. So morning it was, and has remained, for me.
How many calories a day would you recommend for a woman trying to lose weight or stay in shape?
Actually, I don’t count calories. I just eat smart. I eat pounded yam, rice, and all that. I eat everything, cheesecakes, everything. But I don’t eat in crazy portions. I eat it in small portions.
What is your typical fitness regime like?
Like today, I had an apple and Greek yogurt for breakfast, and now, I’m having Green Tea. For lunch, I’ll likely have a full-on meal, because I have a lunch meeting, and dinner is going to be something small. IBy something small, I might end up eating Moin-Moin or beans. It is all really about portion control.
Some people want to eat heavy in the morning, heavy at lunch, and heavy at dinner too. Of course, that’s recipe for disaster. it will tell on the scale. In my house, I don’t keep cakes and cookies around, because you inevitably end up eating whatever is available. I keep fruits, and right now, I’m into Agbalumo, so I have a lot of that.
Basically, its a mind thing. No matter how well you do with exercise, if you don’t win the battle with food, it’s going to show.
For me, it’s easier to lose weight when I am abroad. I have more control over what I eat there. I don’t touch pounded yam, and I only eat rice maybe once in two weeks. I eat differently, I have more salads, more variety for my smoothies. Over here, my choices are limited. In fact I lose more weight there, to come back to Nigeria to gain it.
In addition to a perfect figure, you always look flawless! Could you share some of your beauty secrets?
I don’t know about flawless though. I have to work hard at it. Before, when I was asked this question, my answer would always be that I just wash my face, and keep it clean and clear. But now, oh no. I have face peels twice a year, I use Retinol 2 to 3 times, and I moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. Of course, drinking a lot of water also helps, but you also have to put in the extra effort to get results. There are people who drink a lot of water, and it doesn’t show.
Apart from gaining weight, a lot of women tend to let themselves go, after getting married. What tips can you share to help women remain fabulous and chick, even after having kids?
I think that’s a personal decision, and with help from your spouse. For me, I have always loved fashion. I want to walk into a place and have everyone go “Who’s she?”. You just have to think that way. Marriage is not a cage, it is not a prison. Your husband still wants you to look the way you did when he married you. So if you think of all that, and how you would like people to approach you, it’s motivation to work at it.
When I met my husband, he would tell me I looked nice, and I always told him, “You haven’t seen anything yet. We are just starting.” And I have kept that promise. Don’t stop working on yourself, because there are hotter women out there, hotter girls coming up. You don’t want to be left out.
What’s a typical day for you like?
My typical day starts with prayer, and then I get on the bridge, I do my 11k, then I do my 40 minutes of other work out, and I do a lot of other stuff. Right now, I have a TV show coming up, and it involves me having to do lots of research, and have meetings with directors, producers and such.
After that, I pick up my kids from school, and then I go home, and become a full time mom and home body; I help the kids with their assignments, find out how they are doing at school, prepare for dinner, prepare for the next day, and prepare for daddy to come home.
I learnt something. Some women think that when you you get married, all your attention should be on your children. Some men like that, but not all men. I know the kind of husband I’m married to, I learnt that in the first two years of my marriage. He is not this type of man. He wants to be ‘babyfied’...as we call it.
So I’m on Mommy mode until its 7, 8pm, and when my husband comes back home, I send the kids to bed, and all attention switches to him. So it is really about balance.
How were you able to successfully evolve from being a Beauty Queen, to being a Wife and Mom?
You just go with the flow, because nobody tells you how motherhood really is. It’s the same thing with marriage. People hear you are getting married and their reaction is, “Oh yeah, its a big party, bla bla”. No one really tells you the truth, the work that it requires. For me, marriage is huge sacrifice. You have to be able to move things around for your partner. Sometimes, one person moves more than the other person. It takes lots of sacrifice.
Its like childbirth. Nobody one tells you how hard it really is. No one tells you anything. You learn from experience.
How long have you been married?
Ten years this year. When you enjoy your partner, it does not feel like its a long time. If you are friends with your partner, you will not feel the years going by. I have someone who understands me. He is not a public person, but if I want to, I can pop in and out of the public scene. He understands, and lets me do what I need to do.
How has having children changed your life?
You can’t explain the feeling, especially when that baby is placed in your arms. There are things people can write about, but not the way you feel at that moment. The feeling is pure joy. And when that child looks at you, it is like love like never before. Motherhood is about lots of patience. In the past, I was never one to be patient. I was young when I had my first born, and I had to learn that it’s not about me anymore.
Motherhood is about patience, but you learn as you go. They tell you things like you’ll breastfeed for 0-3 months, but nobody tells you that some of these babies don’t sleep!!! The truth is, just wait for your turn. Whatever the baby brings at you, take it and move on.
I almost had a break down, when I had my daughter in the US. My husband was not around, and I had no help. It was hard, coping with an infant, and 2 young kids. It was also hard with my first son, as he cried a whole lot!!! One night, I dropped him on the bed, and just cried along with him. That was the night my mom moved into my bedroom.
No one really tells you how it is going to be. It’s a journey, and you have to find out for yourself. It’s up and down, some days are better than others, but once your kids are getting older, its not as tasking as before.
What lessons did you learn, growing up, that have helped you in your motherhood journey so far?
I learnt a whole lot from my mom; her patience, her unconditional love. She would always tell you, life is what it is, take it one step at a time, and that not all things would work as you expect. Just take it one day at a time. These lessons have really helped me.
What is your parenting style like?
My first son is a politician, 100%! He goes, “Mom, you are the best mom in the whole wide world. Mom, I like your eyes.” I’m like, “What do you want?”. And he goes, “Can I watch cartoons? Its Friday.”
Fridays and weekends are when they can watch TV. During the week, no TV, no ipads, no gadgets, nothing. I started this when my kids started to watch too much…I think two years back.
That said, I believe children still have to be kids, and that they can learn from cartoons too, as long as they are watching the right shows. But as my kids, the boys especially, grow older, there is more academic expectation from them, hence the need to restrict certain things.
So you’re a strict parent?
I am. I’m the strict one, and my husband is the mellow one.
How have you managed to keep your private life out of the public eye?
I think its balance. Even though I’m on Instagram, for example, my husband, my marriage, and my kids cannot be on Instagram. Those things are private.
I actually learnt this while we were dating, 2005 to be precise, when a male friend of mine told the press that we were dating. He denied it, but I later found out that he was the one that actually said it. He wanted to get popular, by saying he was dating a beauty queen. That was when I realised how important it is to keep your private life…private. You only know what I want you to know.
My husband is a very private person, while I like to be in and out of the spotlight. If I attend an event, you will probably not see me in another for months. I attend a maximum of five events in a year. I can be on Instagram from now till forever, but you will only see what I want you to see. It will surprise you that my husband takes most of the pictures. In fact, all of the swim suit pictures, he takes all of them.
Basically, I think you should marry in your mind space, not necessarily your age space. I’m a very mature minded person, and not your typical 30-something year old lady. I love to sit with older people, I love to learn from them. When you marry within your mind space, it gives you the sense that this is my person, we get each other. If it’s the man that is more mentally mature, that’s fine, but if its the other way round, where the woman is more mentally mature than the man…hmm! I just can’t deal. I mean, my man should be the one to teach me. I can’t do that. I have to be able to have a mentally stimulating conversation with my man.
We have conversations in my house every morning. On week days, we don’t get as much time, but on weekends, we just lie in bed, and we talk about everything that is going on. We are pretty much tied together during the weekends; we go everywhere together, we do everything together. I get him 100% at the weekends. I definitely think conversations are key, and that you have to be friends with your spouse.
What do you wish you’d done when you were 20?
That I had travelled more. I just love the idea of travelling, without having any responsibilities. Now, even when you go, you have it at the back of your mind that you have kids, and a husband, to deal with.
What do you hope to have done by time you’re 60?
The first is, that I have done very well with my kids. To bring up kids that other people would want their kids to be like. And also to touch lives.
If you had 1 free hour, all to yourself, what would you do with it?
Does that include checking Instagram (laughter)? Okay, I like to sit in my bedroom and think about all the conversations I have had with people. I mule over things, and piece them together. That’s how I usually catch when someone is lying.
Yeah, I love to reflect…while looking at my shoes (more laughter).
(Is that your fetish?)
Yes, I love shoes. I love shoes when they come out of that box, smelling like Italian leather. Yeah, I’m a shoe lover.
What tips can you share for staying connected as a family? With your spouse? And with your kids?
Spending a lot of quality time together. I actually find that we have more quality family time when we are abroad, than here in Nigeria. Because Nigeria is all about the hustle and bustle, but when we are abroad, its all about family.
What’s your idea of a perfect family weekend or time?
The kids like to do the zoo, especially when we are out of the country. So we go to the zoo, art galleries, and such. But with my husband, we love the movies. The idea of having pop corn, and that chilled bottle of Coke, is divine. Honestly, I look forward to the weekends. In fact, the movie could be a terrible one, but as long as I have my pop corn, and my husband next to me, I’m happy.
We know you have a few projects up your sleeve. Would you like to give us a teaser on what to expect?
Yes, I have even started filming part of it. Its a TV show called Mommy Fabulous. Mommy Fabulous started about five years ago in the US, while I was bouncing ideas back and forth with my husband. We realised there are a lot of things women don’t know about marriage, parenting, and life in general. For example, many people don’t know the reason for a honeymoon. When couple go on their honeymoon, everyone cheers them on, and urges the new couple to come back with babies! Yes, there is the part of sex, but that’s not sole the idea. I believe the idea of a honeymoon is for you to go and learn about your spouse, without anyone’s interference or involvement.
Learn to communicate with your spouse, especially now that you guys are bonded and stuck together for life. Mommy Fabulous is the kind of show that gives you insight into all those kinds of conversations. It is a family show. It is not just for married people, as I have a co-host. Apart from being the Executive Producer, I’m also a host on the show. So, I’m talking from the point of view of married woman with kids, while my co-host is a single mom, and divorced with two kids. So between us, we have enough to say, but it will not be about us alone.
We will be talking about topics as diverse as fertility, to even drug abuse in our society. There are so many issues people are shying away from. We have done the research for the show, and the figures are scary. This show is about real Nigerian issues. We won’t be talking about things that are happening abroad.
It’s a show that covers the whole family. In fact we are not calling it a talk show, it is a commentary. The best description for it is, The Doctorsmeets The View
So, when is it likely to hit the airwaves?
Left to me, the show would have been out yesterday, no, make that a year ago. But, as everyone in the industry is telling me, its a process, so we are taking our time.The idea of the show is to help people, give information, so we need to make sure that we are 100% ready.
Any last words to members of our community, who are women in the TTC, pregnancy, or parenting stages of life?
For women who are TTC, I would just say, bury yourself with people that love and appreciate you. People that are emotionally intelligent, who know that you are going through a rough patch, and its not the time to be talking about abortions around you. People who know how to protect you, even when they are having their high moments.
To the pregnant ones, get ready! You are going to be surprised. In fact the surprise is every day. I know, towards the end, it feels like the baby should just jump out of your body, but when you meet that bundle of joy, it makes it all worth it. And, of course, enjoy the ride.
As for parenting, parent fit for your situation, if you have to be a stricter mom, due to your environment, then do it. If your kids need for you to wear boxing gloves, then wear them, if that is what is required. Whatever the situation demands. In parenting, everyone has an opinion, but in the end, it is what you are comfortable with that matters.
How would you complete the following sentences:
- I think I…am still growing. I believe I’m still growing everyday.
- I wish I…could just travel and have nothing to worry about.
- My children are… blessings.
- Love is… Sacrifice, giving and keeping on giving. Sometime, you give and keep giving, sometimes, its the other way round. You can’t always have it your way, same as he can’t have it his way too.
© The Fertile Chick