Cameron Olivier – My story

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 Cameron Olivier, UI/UX Designer at Fin24.com, Cape Town

Challenger: Men’s weight-loss category,  Sleekgeek “12 Week Comeback Kid challenge” (1 Feb – 25 April 2012) 

  • Key  measures
Start:
Weight: 119.2 kg to 105.4kg (Minus 14.2kg)
Fat%: 31.2% to 22.5%
Tummy: 120cm to  108.6cm


  • What was your plan? 
At the beginning of the year, I was mentally setting a few goals as well as taking stock of last year and realised that in the beginning of last year I’d set to lose 20kg by January 2012. I was 3kg heavier. So, taking hold of the good old maxim “Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is akin to madness”, I set out to get a trainer. I had a look at the trainer wall at my local VA, and found 2 I liked, but then went with the first one – A short little jew-boy with killer calves. He really helped me focus on eating right, got me running, kick boxing and we also did a bit of what I actually hired him to do – weight training. So, in all honesty, I hit the ground running at the start of SleekGeek, because by February, I’d already lost about 5kg had started running and had a trainer/weekly schedule already set out. There was still a lot to learn and wrap my head around, though – figuring out what exactly was good to eat, and I struggled with getting light headed whenever I gymed – which we worked out was me breathing like a tit and not eating too soon before a workout…
I seem to have gotten stuck around mid-march though, where I hit 107kg, and only lost about 1.5kg over the next 6 weeks.. but my diet started slipping then too, and I went from about 95% adherence to probably 60%.. so think I really could have done better if I’d just stuck to it better :/

  • Eating?
I have started – and mostly stuck to – an Atkins/Paleo esque diet. Basically cutting out all refined whites – sugar, flour, potatoes and except for sushi, rice (white – I still eat wholegrain rice). I cut out all breads (wholewheat, rye, white, everything) and lived mostly on oats (with protein shake mixed in) for breakfast, rice/salad and chicken for lunch, and then whatever my mom had made for dinner – which was usually a combination of meat, veggies and salad – so wholesome home-cooked fare. This change in diet averaged me a 3kg loss every week.


  • Training?
My basic schedule was Run Mon, Wed, Fri, then Weights Tuesday and Kickboxing Thursdays. Occassionally I’d do some weights on Sundays too. Going forward I think it needs a bit of work to up the pace, but my weeks are so crazy that I’m not really sure how to work it in. Considering adding body-weight training 2-3 times a week to supplement my gym time on Tuesdays. Overall, the 12 weeks was a bit up and down – I was sick for a week in March and have struggled a bit with leg pains while running and the light-headed thing while training, which made it tough to keep it as regular and intense as I’d have liked, but most of these seem to be coming right, so hoping going forward I’ll be able to push harder and run more often.


  • Biggest lessons/tips?
For me – get a trainer. He facilitated all the life changing things I’ve done – The eating, running and simply keeping up with gyming weekly and exercising often. Also, he pushed me to run 5km when I was happy with ‘pushing’ myself to 3. And has really helped me get it into my head that I can do more – pushing past his 6km goal to run 7.5 – and then 10kms. So he really has been invaluable to me. Other than that, I think what I’ve learnt is this:
  1. Keep things simple. Get 1 cardio exercise that you like (change up until you find it, but fall in love with one). Get a body workout that works for you – This should be kept interesting – so change up the exercise, but knowing beforehand what you want to do – or getting a trainer to help out – is very handy. Draw hard lines on your food intake. Decide what you’re going to cut out and then stick to it. The great thing with Paleo/Atkins (high protein, low carb) is that there isn’t any calorie weigh-ins or restrictions on amount. Fiddly diets are a pain. Knowing not to eat anything with sugar in – or wheat and to stay away from potatoes, but steak, eggs, bacon, etc is a-ok is a hang of a lot simpler.
  2. Make decisions before you need to (plan ahead). This is one of the things that have really served me well. I have always been one to not plan lunch, and always prefferred ‘fresh’ food from a restaurant, or salad or – McDs over taking a sandwhich or last nights dinner for lunch. But I’ve started deciding – and preparing – what I’ll have for lunch and breakfast early now. Also I’ve made the habit of packing in ‘good snacks’ (like Elan, biltong and nuts are my snack of choice) – so that when you’re feeling peckish you have something good to hit the spot, instead of being driven to get whatever’s closest/easiest, or ‘feels’ the most satisfying – which generally ends up being the chocolate or muffin from the cafe/vending machine around the corner. This applies to exercising as well – knowing that M/W/F are running days and T/Th are gym – and then planning around them really helps actually getting to do it on the day. Having a trainer/running/gym partner/ training with you doesn’t hurt either- and really helps for those days you ‘don’t feel like it’. Planning ahead also really helps to take the power out of those pesky cravings.
  3. Cheat irregularly and cheat small. I’ve found that the less I cheat the easier it is to stick to my eating plan. It’s when I start cheating often that cheating is easier – and becomes more the way of life than the healthy way. So putting off cheating as long as possible – and then when you do cheat, to do it with something small – is best. As an example – Vida does this great rockyroad brownie thing – which I kept seeing, but would put off having – and kept this up for a good month+ – but one day I decided to cheat with it. Then I cheated again, and again. And now I struggle to go to vida without getting one. So, I’m trying to buy my coffee elsewhere now..
  4. Tell someone. This one’s tricky, because people can get irritated when you keep-going-on-and-on-about-eating-right. Especially if they’re feeling a little fat-guilty themselves (and who isn’t these days…). But from a personal growth point of view, getting people involved with your health path really helps to keep at it. Tracking my run, and then sharing how I’ve felt and how it went and knowing that this run was faster/further or both than previous runs really makes a difference – and getting people cheering you on (go Nike+GPS) and the conversations/interactions that it’s sparked has really kept me motivated. When I started, I blogged often as well (almost daily at one point), tracking how things were going, my weigh-ins and how the workouts and eating was going. I only really lasted until end of Feb, but really wish I’d stuck to it. One of the things was that I felt it was boring for people – it really was more for me – but with the sleekgeek community growing, and friends of mine getting into the running or other healthy areas, I think it could be worthwhile starting up again. And this brings me to the SleekGeek thing – I’ve found the community, the challenge and all the surrounding activities and cool spinoffs (X-mansa, Lion’s Head walks) to be really helpful. I’ve found an active group of people walking the same road as me,and sharing their tips along the way – so SleekGeek really has been a key ingredient in the personal success that I’ve seen this year so far!

  • Next goals


I think my next goals are:
1. to break 100kg (I’m hovering around 108kg at the moment)
2. to run a half-marathon
3. to go off my blood pressure meds. 
Hopefully I’ll get to these by the end of the SG Winter Challenge.

My long-term goal is to have between 10 and 15% body fat and have at least the beginnings of a 6-pack by next December.

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