My fitness journey led to body confidence — Lily Otieno


Born and raised in Kenya, Lily Otieno is a registered nurse who recently moved Brooklyn, New York. When she started her fitness journey it was all about looking good. It has now evolved into a lifestyle that has boosted her confidence and health in more ways than one, she shares her story with Afrinado

Tell us about your fitness regimen, how many times do you work out a week?

I don’t really have a strict regimen as most would think. I get bored easily and so I am all about mixing up things. I do try to work out daily depending on how I feel. Most people will say it’s excessive but since I don’t have a strict regimen I skip whenever I feel my body tells me to. I try to get three days of leg day workouts (it’s my favorite part of the body to train) the other days I’ll do a mix of upper body, calisthenics and whatever else I might want to try.



Do you supplement with a diet, if so how does your daily intake look like?

When I started lifting I would take whey protein three times a day faithfully, for some stupid reason I did not do my part in researching the effects of too much of it. I just thought it’s a healthy option and too much can’t be bad, until I started having abdominal irritation and severe constant bloating. Now I do take protein but only after major workouts like it should be done.

In terms of diet I am flexible, I do not calorie count or do macro counting. I try to eat healthy 90 per cent of the time but I do indulge once every often. Things that I have totally cut out are processed food and drinks with high sugar content. I don’t drink soda at all and rarely eat bread. I try to drink water as much as I can which can be difficult to get in the recommended amount. Plain water gets boring so I do fruit infused recipes, flavoured Seltzer water and I love Bai antioxidant drinks which is low in calories

Things that I have totally cut out are processed food and drinks with high sugar content. — Lily Otieno

My typical breakfast is usually oatmeal, egg whites, protein pancakes or waffles but if I am in a rush, I will make a smoothie. Lunch varies since my job is very unpredictable, I always end up having tuna of some sort and I carry tuna packets which can substitute as a snack. If I eat out, I go for healthy options like a salad or wrap. Again, I am very flexible I don’t meal prep (I tried and failed, I get bored eating the same meal which is the basic concept of meal prep). I make an effort to eat most of my heavy carbs in the morning and for lunch. Most of the healthier option carbs I consume are brown rice and quinoa. Dinner is usually a high protein meal like steak, fish, chicken and a salad. I often work out in the evenings so I try to get my dinner in at least two hours prior to my gym session.


Lily makes sure to add fruit and vegetables to her meals

My typical snacks are any types of fruit fresh or dried, tuna, nuts (mostly almonds) and I recently bought some protein bars which I am already bored of (laughs). I tend to cook daily depending on what I am in the mood for.


Lily post workout

What made you begin your fitness journey?

I have always been active since high school and as an adult, however in my mid-twenties I perceived I was gaining some weight (notice I say perceived). I really wasn’t, I was just maturing to be a woman I think, so this prompted me to start exercising. My motivation was highly driven by vanity, I wanted to look a certain way and I was always scared of getting a flabby belly.

I would say I started working out in 2007 but it was not anything serious, just cardio here and there no weights and ate whatever I wanted. In 2011, I joined an endurance class which was somewhat competitive and it gave me drive to be better and better. In 2013, my goals shifted and I wanted to have some muscle, so I got a personal trainer with whom I started lifting weights with. In 2014, I had learned a few things and branched out on my own utilising the web as my guide for lifting and I have continued to do so.


What milestones are you most proud of?

Being able to do 10 pullups! I never ever thought I could be able to do it. I also was able to get over the “I hate cardio wagon” and I can actually run 6 miles in less than an hour which is major for me.

How do you think fitness has impacted your body confidence?

It has definitely improved my confidence to be honest, most things fit the way I perceive they should. However I also think fitness can drive you to some have body distortion disorder, especially now when fitness is an “in thing” and many people are being dishonest by having procedures performed to achieve ideal bodies but endorse fitness supplements and fitness plans. These kind of people can really shake your confidence. In 2014-2015, I was slowly falling into this trap where I thought the more I do, the more I will get to look a certain way. I was even thinking of waist training because I didn’t think my waist was small enough compared to all these other “fit girls” I was following on social media.

Most recently there have been people doing a public service by calling these people out which I think is great. I am in no way against surgeries, in fact I do want to get a boob job after I have kids but I think it’s absolutely wrong to market the idea of ideal using fitness supplements knowing very well its unattainable. I also got comments from people I know saying” your arms look manly” when I started lifting which would make me feel absolutely conscious. Right now, I am in a good place I am happy with the results I am achieving with my regimen and I can safely say my confidence is at a healthy place.


Right now, I am in a good place I am happy with the results I am achieving with my regimen and I can safely say my confidence is at a healthy place.  — Lily

You can follow Lily on instagram: @lily.bee.14 for more fitness inspiration


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