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Eniola Karunwi – I wanted to help other people lose weight and discover their inner vava voom

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Eniola Karunwi is the Founder and CEO of Cambridge Weight Plan Nigeria, an affiliate of Cambridge Weight Plan (CWP) UK. Eniola graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in Computer Science and also holds a Master’s degree in Advanced Information Technology from London South Bank University in the UK. She is a qualified and certified Project Manager and a qualified Weight Management Consultant. She began her professional career in the IT industry and has over 18 years of experience working as a Project Manager and Programme Director in companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sema Group, Ministry of Defence and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

After battling with infertility due to her weight for almost 10 years, she discovered the Cambridge Diet (as it was then called) and lost 50kilograms in almost six months on the programme. Having been overweight for half of her adult life, she found herself in the best position to help and motivate others to achieve their desired goals. With this in mind, she gave up her job to fully concentrate on Cambridge Diet counselling and trained as a weight management coach. After working as a Cambridge Weight Plan consultant in the UK for five years, she moved back to Nigeria with her family and established CWP Nigeria in 2010.

Today, there are 50 consultants nationwide with a clientele base of over 20,000 (both male and female) and Eniola has established CWP Nigeria as the premier brand in the weight management industry in the country. CWP Nigeria won the Business Development Award for Outstanding Performance amongst all CWP subsidiaries worldwide in 2014, 2015 and 2018. CWP West Africa was established in 2015 with an expansion into Ghana, and today has six consultants in Accra and neighbouring towns. In this interview with GuardianWoman, Eniola explained how she used a personal challenge to create a thriving and successful business.

What influenced your decision to move from paid employment to become an entrepreneur?
I started my professional career in England, where I worked as a System Engineer with Environment Agency UK, then as a Network Administrator at Crown Prosecution Service UK, and then a Project Manager at the Ministry of Defense UK. My decision to move was mostly personal- moving back home and establishing a life here in Nigeria. In the end it all paid off, thankfully. However though, paid employment taught me valuable discipline. In many ways, I cultivated and learnt some of the skills that have sustained me as an entrepreneur from all those years I spent working in the UK.

Tell us about Cambridge Weight Plan?
Cambridge Weight Plan (CWP) is a well-researched diet with one to one support, proven to work and transform lives. Cambridge Weight Plan (CWP) is committed to helping clients achieve their weight loss and weight maintenance goals through bespoke programs, tailored to suit every individual need. CWP Nigeria is the premier brand in the weight management industry in the country with over 50 consultants nationwide with a clientele base of over 20,000 both male and female. CWP’s unique brand identity, which consists of one-to-one consultation from fully trained Cambridge consultants and bespoke plans for each client, sets it apart from other weight loss programs. CWP Nigeria won the Business Development Award for Outstanding Performance amongst all CWP subsidiaries worldwide in 2014, 2015 and 2018. CWP West Africa was established in 2015 with an expansion into Ghana, and today has six consultants in Accra and neighboring towns.

At what point did you decide that you needed to lose weight?
I have never really been a small person but I was not fat either- I hovered between sizes 12 and 14. After I had my first child, the weight piled on and I just kept getting bigger. I had gone from about 70kg to 125kg. I was a size 24! I had a hellish 10- year period of infertility and was on fertility treatments, drugs etc. I had five miscarriages, two ectopic pregnancies and had to have a tube removed. The last straw was when I miscarried a five-month-old pregnancy and the doctors refused further treatments and advised me to lose weight. I tried so many diets, exercise and nothing worked. I then discovered the Cambridge Diet (as it was called then). I lost 50kgs within six months. Then went on to have my second child about a year after I lost the weight and my third child two years after that. All I needed to do was to lose weight and pray to God.

How did you get the recognition to start and manage the Cambridge franchise in West Africa?
CWP transformed my life and I wanted to share that joy and happiness with other people. I wanted to help other people lose weight and discover their “inner vava voom.” Be it for health reasons, physical, mental or just personal reasons. I wanted to spread that Joy and help transform lives. I resigned my job as a Program Director. I had found my “True Calling.” I approached the UK head office and trained to become a certified CWP Consultant. I realised there was no such plan in Nigeria and approached the company to become a Distributor in Nigeria, moving on to West Africa. Best decision I ever made.

How did your friends and family support your weight-loss journey?
My husband, my sister and brothers were amazing. My husband initially thought I did not need to lose weight. I was a size 22/24 weighing 125kgs. On my first week on the plan, I lost about 5kgs and the weight kept dropping. I was encouraged every step of the way, especially by my consultant who literally held my hand during the entire process and encouraged me when I got fed up and discouraged that the scale was not moving fast enough. It was a weight loss journey that literally transformed my life.

Apart from improved health, what other benefits did you derive from losing weight?
I always say that CWP transformed my life, and in more ways than one. My periods became regular, my hormones were balanced, improved fertility, my acne disappeared, the hair on my face disappeared. I was a happier person, more confident, more attractive, and self-assured. I was a better wife, mother to three amazing children. I felt as if I could move mountains. I was transformed both internally and externally. I feel like I could talk on and on again to people about the benefits of CWP and how it transformed my life.

What do you think is the greatest misconception on weight loss?
If you lose weight fast, you gain it just as fast.

From your experience as a weight management consultant, what is most challenging for people trying to lose weight?
There is so much food around and very little support from family and friends on the weight-loss journey. Also, because of the society we live in, people sometimes are embarrassed or ashamed to cry out that they need help to lose weight and are unhappy with their weight.

What is CWP’s competitive edge against the various types of diet out in the market?
Cambridge weight plan is in its own league. There is the one-on-one support from a designated consultant; the variety of the meals, well-tailored plan to suit each individual needs. The plans are also convenient and provide absolute value for money. In addition to all these, CWP is a well-researched diet with amazing results. Most of our researches have been approved by reputable, international bodies.

Who are the people that need the weight plan? Anyone who has weight to lose, be it 2kg or 200kg. Cambridge Weight Plan is suitable for all, provided there is no medical reason that prevents the individual from going on the plan.

What advice would you give to people who do not know how to approach the issue of weight loss?
Talk to someone who has gone through the process and also do your own research. But you have to start the moment it occurs to you, stop procrastinating. Call a Cambridge consultant just for a chat and let them guide you.

Why is weight management a necessary lifestyle decision?
You have to manage your weight to be healthy. It’s not just enough to lose weight, you also need to change your eating habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle. One has to make the right food choices and also introduce some basic form of exercise into their routine.

Tell us about family life and growing up
I am married to Adenekan Karunwi, an IT Consultant and mother to three amazing children: Adetoun (22) Adekunbi (12) and Adeleke (10). I grew up in Lagos. I have two older brothers and a younger sister. I had a beautiful childhood growing up with loving, protective but extremely strict parents and wonderful siblings. My father was an Engineer and my mother a teacher. I attended Home Science Association primary school in Ikoyi, Holy Child College for my secondary education and University of Lagos where I obtained a B.Sc in Computer Science. I then moved to England and further got an M.sc in Information Technology from South Bank University.

How do you refresh, relax and perhaps eat some things that you crave?
I enjoy travelling, reading, spending quality time with my family. I also enjoy socialising and eating out. I have learnt to control my eating habits and I do indulge occasionally but I am able to control myself. I also exercise regularly and I walk 10 kilometres a minimum of five days a week. I believe self-control is extremely crucial for anyone embarking on this journey.


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