Women in Wellness: Oge Akinola on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
“My focus is to make the journey of health and wellbeing as doable and easy to commit to as possible. It’s important to understand that this is not a fast-track lane but a journey of patience”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Oge Akinola, a successful mother smashing through glass ceilings. The self-funded entrepreneur is studying for her Executive MBA at Imperial College Business School while growing her company-Bump N Chic a well-being consultancy firm focused on supporting women before, during, and after pregnancy.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I was born in the UK but spent a better part of my childhood and teenage years in Nigeria. I am the second of six children but also grew up alongside many young people from the local church, and friends and family who lived with us.
Growing up, education was a priority in our household. My dad was a Chemical Engineer and Mom was a Chemistry graduate and, later, became an Educator. Both became Government executives before they retired. Their hard work and dedication inspired me. One of my many ambitions as a little girl was to become a renowned lawyer, and while I didn’t go down that route, I held a strong interest in conflict resolution, which then led me to studying this topic during my masters. I majored in Peace Studies.
I saw my parents so passionate about impacting the lives of people (a lot lived with us and passed through our home), and I guess that was where my passion for humanitarian work and serving others developed. In my previous work, both in the in the humanitarian sector and the public sector I have been able to nurture this passion by working with some of the top humanitarian charities in the UK on issues around, health (HIV/AIDS), education and nutrition. Today I see how its shaped the work that I currently do and the issues I pay attention to.
When I married and started my family, I chose to step back from the corporate world, but the time I spent raising and looking after my babies was invaluable and inspired me to change my career. I launched a Lifestyle and Wellbeing Constancy Firm, called Bump n Chic, which supports women physically and mentally through motherhood, and in their personal and professional lives.
Today I am a mom of four beautiful young children (two girls and two boys), a Health & Wellbeing Consultant, and an International Speaker on issues on Women’s Health & Wellbeing, Family Life, and Intentional Living. I’ve also co-founded a fitness outfit, Bodypraise with my husband. Our workout videos are on YouTube. I also authored an eBook (currently on amazon) on quick meal solutions and fitness guides for the family.
Whilst running my business and raising my family I’m also studying an Executive MBA at Imperial College Business School.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
The work that I do gives me the opportunity to interact with so many different women from different backgrounds, walks of life and in unusual places.
I am a woman of faith, and this drives the things that I do. When other moms come up to me and ask questions about how I juggle and balance work, family and now school, I tell them there is no balance! I have young children, and at every stage of their growth I have had to reappraise and re-organise my plans, schedules, and techniques.
Secondly, I am a believer in having everything I want, but at different phases of my life. Hence, I don’t experience pressure because I am not living up to anyone else’s standards. Instead I’m finding and doing what makes me happy and in the simplest form possible.
I’ve leant that when I share my story, it resonates a lot of people. The motivation and the way that I got into the health and wellbeing train was so unconventional and different and that has shaped the way I empower other women to take charge of their wellbeing.
Being true about this journey makes it believable, and makes other moms want to give it a go. Some of the feedback that I get through the programs we offer are so mind-blowing that no one would have thought that a little attention given to improving one’s health and wellbeing would give such unusual and uncommon results.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I had a drive and passion to save the world — which wasn’t a mistake but came with a lot of self-imposed pressure. I believed that I had been called to be a saviour to all mothers’ challenges, and started off with the desire to cater to everyone. I made assumptions about the challenges other women went through based on what I had experienced as a new wife and mom. I didn’t know my ideal market or target group, and this affected my service offerings and impacted my pricing too.
I very quickly learned the importance of knowing who I have been called to serve and how to reach them. My offerings moved from what I wanted and what I thought the women needed to doing market research, finding out what the challenges were and proffering the right solution to the right target group.
It’s important to do due diligence before starting a business, and not just running full steam on passion. To become an effective entrepreneur, a solution provider and to create a profitable business, it’s important to do your due diligence before starting. Be organised, build the right team, focus on what’s important, research your market and always invest in your growth.
In doing this, I felt that it was the right decision to study an Executive MBA, and was delighted to be accepted to Imperial College Business School. I also received a scholarship from the School that has helped to cover part of my tuition, but I still need additional funding to complete my studies. I’m currently running my business whilst studying alongside juggling my home life and parental responsibilities. It’s a busy but rewarding life.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My work at Bump n Chic has been a humbling and joyful experience. Being able to see people enjoy life has always been at the core of my being. The simplest thing of seeing a mom smile and not be drowned in tiredness, or exhaustion that comes with life’s commitments.
I have interacted with women whom I’ve shared ways to improve their health and wellbeing, which then went on to also improve their marriages. Whilst health and fitness is at the core of Bump n Chic, our service is not just about looking a certain way or fitting into a certain mould. I love to see that the women I interact with all experience different results that improve their lives.
And the virtual world today makes it possible for me to meet women all over the globe that I wouldn’t otherwise have met. I run LIVE fitness workouts online and can train moms in different locations. I speak on international platforms on topics geared towards increasing self-confidence and sharing how health & wellbeing can be a platform to improve the life of not just the mom but also for her family.
During the pandemic, my family and I ran LIVE free workouts for several months across all social media platforms so that the service was open to all who needed it. The bulk of the feedback we received was mostly focused around the improvement of mental wellbeing and the bonus of weight loss our users received, and family bonding.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
I believe that transformation starts from the mind. It speaks of spiritual commitment and spiritual health, and this also promotes mental strength. Whatever we conceive in the mind manifests in the physical.
So complete health and wellbeing speaks of holistic health — spirit, soul(mind) and body. My focus is to make the journey of health and wellbeing as doable and easy to commit to as possible. It’s important to understand that this is not a fast-track lane but a journey of patience. My 5 top tweaks are;
1. Know your why: Others might call this setting goals. However, I find that sometimes people set unattainable and unrealistic goals, and, in the end, they give up so quickly. But knowing why you want to improve your health and wellbeing helps to keep one focused and on track. I strongly believe that each one of us have been created for a reason to fulfil an assignment. And to be able to complete your assignment, you require a sound body and health to show up every day at your place of duty. We need a healthy body to get to the finish line.
2. Renew your mind: It is possible to start the journey and to carry on. It’s important to pull down debilitating beliefs and fears that hold people back from seeing the bigger picture, the results, and the life that they can enjoy. Mental health is so important in our world today and I believe for anything to work, one must be in the right state of mind. Transformation starts in the mind. A strong mind brings the body to commit to action and then attain results.
3. Start slow: A lot of people want to see fast results and lack the patience to go through the process, build momentum and strength required to sustain the journey. The shallow end or the slow lane as the case maybe is such a beautiful place to start, it’s not a race, it’s about finding harmony and being at peace with your speed, adding momentum and pace where required.
4. Look at the big picture: Don’t be focused on the end product, believe in the process. Patience is needed for the journey, it’s a lifestyle not a sprint. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every win, little or big, they all count towards the big picture.
5. Start with what you have and build good habits: You don’t have to break the bank to improve your health and wellbeing. For example, to improve your physical health, you can start with movements that don’t require any equipment, use your body weight. If in doubt, go for a walk outside, walk on the spot , do some house chores, find your best music and dance to it. If you are married and a person of faith, go on a prayer walk with your spouse. Children can also make the best fitness buddies, engage your children. Also just committing to adding one more glass of water to your daily liquid intake or replacing that can of cola with a glass of water is a good place to start.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I have already started a movement and I am working hard to make it a big deal. My movement is called; ‘My Intentional Life’. I find that empowering people to take a hold of their own life, their choices, and the decisions they make helps them feel in control as opposed to giving them a check list to abide by.
I learned this in the cause of my work and interactions with women that I have worked — wives and moms to be precise. Considering that women have a lot to give, serving everyone else and often forgetting themselves, I am on a mission to promote the importance of intentional living to take an edge off the exhaustion, burnout and sometimes stress.
As a mom, everyday life can be quite challenging and daunting, sometimes trying to ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit. I always say ‘nothing happens until you make it happen’. My intentional life movement helps women process through debilitating mindsets, crippling belief systems, unhealthy body images to the point of being intentional about living and expressing Joy to the fullest. Through this movement , women experience an amazing fusion of developing a healthy mind and body to create a spiritual path for fulfilment.
Outside of motherhood, and on to health and wellbeing in the workplace, I see a lot of women are leaving their corporate jobs due to the workload and the stress that come with juggling family life and work performance reviews. I have started conversations around this. It’s not about preference, but about empowering and supporting moms with the right work environment and support to deliver on work commitments. Neglecting this issue, results to talents and expertise been lost withing the workforce. This is also a call for employers to commit to improving the health and mental wellbeing of their female employees with focus on moms to reduce stress, burnout, and the risk of losing competent employees.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of sacrifice
2.You are not a superstar, make sure to build the right team to drive and grow the vision. You cannot not journey alone.
3. Be ok with failure. You will not get it right all the time, give yourself permission to fail forward and always try again
4. Everything will not happen in one go, be patient with the process.
5. Its ok, to step away and recalibrate. Focus on your service to humanity, don’t be fixated on your competitors, they are also trying to make it work.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
All of these are very big and important topics, but one stands out for me and that’s is Mental Health/ Wellbeing.
Mental health has become a very important topic and issue in our world today. And the pandemic exposed a lot of the lapses and the minimal attention that has been given to mental health issues and how it affects every facet of one’s life.
The pandemic brought to fore the urgency needed to improve and advocate for mental health and wellbeing with the pandemic exposing the fact that much of society especially organisations do not have models in place for improving health and wellbeing of individuals.
Mental health and burnout appear to be the main issues faced by all during and post the pandemic but has significantly continued to affect mothers both at home and in the workplace. Globally, the impact on women has been alarming, with a study by McKinsey showing that about 75% of women both in the developed and developing countries are more than likely to suffer mental health challenges more than men.
Research continues to highlight the fact that women handle more workload than men especially with caregiving, household chores and children upbringing, coupled with workplace responsibilities.
As a mom, I know first-hand the challenges of not being in the right state of mind and wellbeing. This formed part of my drive and passion for my offerings and service to women through my business.
For moms to be as committed as expected to their children, family, employers and most especially to themselves, the support to improve their wellbeing must be put in place and taken seriously. Moms all over the world, whether in developing countries or even the western world experience to certain degree similar challenges in their wellbeing.
The McKinsey report looked at the state of women in corporate America and surveyed more than 300 companies and more than 40,000 employees in professional jobs from the entry level to the C-suite. Its findings highlighted not only are mothers doing way more at home than fathers during the pandemic, but mothers are also more than twice as likely as fathers to worry that their performance is being judged negatively because of their caregiving responsibilities (Huang et al 2021 : For mothers in the workplace, a year (and counting) like no other)
Women are seen as weaker individuals than men both in accomplishing tasks and in taking up executive roles.
I am an advocate of promoting sustainable holistic health and wellbeing to improve the wellbeing of women in and out of the workplace environment, supporting them to become better versions of themselves — the goal is a holistically better woman living harmoniously in all aspects of her life by intentionally improving her health, fitness, and nutrition.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I am active on Instagram and on LinkedIn
Website — www.bumpnchic.com
Instagram : @bumpnchic
Facebook : @bumpnchic & @ogeakinola
Linkedin : Oge Akinola
Thank you! We wish you continued success