RMD: Nothing is happening to me

RMDEverything about Richard Mofe-Damijo is front page celebrity news. From acting to publishing; law practice to politics, the current Delta State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism is an interesting read for friends and foes alike. Stories that he was terminally ill recently made the rounds after pictures of a leaner RMD were circulated in the media. The reason for the weight loss and the controversy woven around it are addressed this encounter the thespian had with Sam Umukoro last month.

Sam Umukoro: Recently, certain pictures of you went viral which showed that you had lost some weight. It also sparked rumours that you were seriously sick. What necessitated your weight loss and what’s the truth about your health?

RMD: Well, what necessitated my weight loss were purely health reasons and it was accidental. Actually, my Governor (Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan) had told all of us serving in his cabinet to go to Oghara (in Delta State), which has one of the premier hospitals now in Nigeria, for complete medical check-up. So, I went for the complete medical check-up.

As at the time of the check-up, my blood sugar was 109 and my resting BP was quite high at the time. I remember clearly the doctor that did my ECG was saying that, “What happened to you? You used to be slim, why did you let yourself go like this?” And if you read my history, both my parents died of diabetes, my mum then crossed 60 years and she thought it would be wise for me to watch my sugar. And prior to that time too, my friend, who had started losing weight too by then, introduced me to the lady that did all the magic for her.

So, I came back from that medical check-up and woke up one morning and I decided to start the weight loss programme. This was in May and to show how good it was, after like a week, I felt so good that I actually stopped taking my high blood pressure pills. The lady was against it and she said I shouldn’t be too much in a hurry to stretch my luck too far. Anyway, I stuck to the programme, she was very professional about it, and in a month I had lost about 7kg or so, I was very encouraged. And she told me that this was a very good sign. That was how I started this journey. Now, in July – a year and two months after – I am in the best physical shape of my life.

Sam Umukoro: So, RMD is not sick?

RMD: No, I am not sick. I remember precisely that that picture was probably taken during the AMAA awards on one of those nights of relaxation. I think it was just a bad picture (taken) from a bad angle or bad light, because I have other pictures of me taken during AMAA awards that were even published in other blogs. But I guess somebody wanted to be mischievous, you know how it is when things like that go viral. I even heard of churches were praying for me (laughs). They say when rumours of you being ill are spread around and it’s false, it’s just a way to prolong your life. So, I guess it just bought me like 30 years on top of my 70 years that God has granted me.

The health benefits (of a weight loss programme) are immense – my blood pressure is down, my blood sugar is in the 80s now and all of this was achieved by just sticking to a strict diet or as she calls it, “the lifestyle change.” In fact, I have now put on about 3kg, because I got to 95. Ideally, I should be at 90 but if I’m at 95 and the whole world is screaming that I am ill, imagine if I get to my ideal weight, about 90. Right now, I’m about 98 and I feel like a sack of potatoes. So, I am going to start losing some weight again, gradually. I think for some people, they couldn’t reconcile the 120kg me that they had seen for years, and just like that, I’m 95kg and everybody is like, what is going on here? No, I am not terminally ill, nothing is happening to me. I play squash now, I walk a minimum of 10,000 steps every day, unless it is my day off; otherwise once I’m not relaxing, I must do 10,000 steps a day, that must give you an idea of the kind of fitness that I am talking about.

Sam Umukoro: How did your family – wife and kids react to the rumours?

RMD: My wife just got very frustrated. There were family members or friends that would say to you, “You don’t have to hide anything, we can help, we mean well…” There were friends who called me to say, “Look, if it is diabetes, tell us, we know what to do,” and I am like – my entire education would be wasted if I am ill and I hide it. Besides, it gives you an idea of how fickle people are or the level of intelligence we are dealing with.

I’m a public servant and a serving commissioner in Delta State, if I am ill, would it be on social media that it would be broadcast or that people should pray for me? What they had done was to hack into Stella Damasus’ Facebook account and send a broadcast, and they did the same with Pete Edochie. The first one I even saw was Pete Edochie’s Facebook page and we know that Pete Edochie doesn’t do Facebook. I was told some came out of Mike Ezeruonye’s page. This tells you how some Nigerians are, and when they find out that you are not ill, because they have started the campaign, they just don’t know when to stop, they can’t stop; they are people who actually wish one were dead.

My wife was very unhappy about it, and my kids, they know that I am not ill, so they didn’t even react. Besides, they don’t use blackberry where people would start sending them stuff. It was just a few family members that do see me often that were like, “hope all is well?” So, I had to deal with that, my wife had to deal with that.

Now, I have converted almost every one of my colleagues to the ‘keeping fit lifestyle.’ I used to jog round the commissioners quarters every day. Now, the bug has caught up with everybody and everybody in this place wants to live a healthy lifestyle and I’m the consultant for health lifestyle. People can’t believe that they can be disciplined to do this. It has been a major turnaround for me in my life, doing this at 52, and turning my back to every pleasure that I knew from time just to get on track with my health was a major decision for me. It is obvious now to me why people don’t like losing weight because they cannot be that disciplined, and the thing about weight gain is that if you can gain 1kg, you can gain 20kg. It is as simple as that, and also as complex. Now, that I have gone through it, I can lose and put on weight as fast. I know what to eat now, I know about calories, I know about food, I can cook a Nigerian meal now and make it as fat free as much as possible.