I’ve never really had a bad relationship with food, but I have always loved food. Especially cakes and ice cream – anything that is rich and decadent. I still do. I love food, but my mindset has changed from trying to satisfy my taste buds to nourishing my body. This has been the biggest lifestyle change for me. Now, I make delicious and colourful food that I love eating – the only difference is that I can eat an almost unlimited amount because it is consists of veggies, lean meat, fruit and healthy fats. I eat approximately 1400 calories on non-gym days and about 1700 on gym days.
As a child, I never struggled with my weight and I didn’t ever give it a second thought. I was always pretty much the tallest of my friends and was never considered big or overweight. It was 5 years ago that this changed. I moved away from my parents in Port Elizabeth to pursue my career in Photography and Graphic Design (in Pretoria). Making my own food meant that I could eat what I wanted when I wanted. I could make every decadent chocolate cake or creamy cheesecake that my heart desired. I didn’t limit my calories and still thought of my lifestyle as healthy and balanced – oh boy, was I wrong! (hindsight is a wonderful thing).
When it came to exercise, I played sports at school and that was about it. My parents were not very active in terms of gyming or hiking on weekends so I never felt as though it was a normal part of life. It was routine NOT to make any special effort to exercise.
I had a realisation in October 2016, while at a weekend party in Parys, surrounded by gorgeous, healthy bodies. I realised how much my weight gain had gotten out of hand and that I was not the person that I always associated myself with. I could not believe I weighed 105kg. I needed to make some serious changes to get healthy and fit and lose weight to get back to my former self. From that weekend I was “on a mission.” People started commenting that I was losing weight and I would say: “Thank you, I’m on a mission to get healthy.” At that time, my friend had sent me a link to a video that was posted in the Sleekgeek Health Revolution Facebook group. I requested to join the group, and have not looked back since.
So far this journey has been as easy as it has been difficult. Sounds strange, right? But for me, it was hard to commit to change and admit that my lifestyle (then) was failing me. It was difficult to get into the mindset of only eating clean and convincing myself that eating junk and leading a sedentary life was not in my best interest. I started with small changes that I felt I could handle and I quickly found myself loving weekly meal prep and adding lots of activity throughout the week. Since this healthier way of life became part of my routine, it has been easy. I have not had to put in very much effort (besides staying focused and committed).
At first, I counted calories to create a deficit but was not seeing much of a change (Eating 1200 calories and not seeing results – frustrating!) The Sleekgeek group quickly lead me to the Sleekgeek 30-Day REBOOT group. I did my first 30 days, being extremely strict with myself. I had failed on day 1 but was determined to keep going to the end of day 30 (after starting day 1 again). I felt so good about having completed 30 days and had lost 9kg in that time. I found the REBOOT food and habits quite easy to follow and decided to carry on eating a Paleo diet. Eating REAL food.
Naturally, I came across the Sleekgeek ULTIMATE YOU 8-Week Challenge. My friend and I entered together and motivated each other throughout the 8 weeks. I didn’t reach the goals I set for myself, but I gained a lot of healthy habits and cemented exercise as part of my routine. 8 weeks of focus helped me get closer to my final weight goals and taught me to measure myself every 2 weeks (I did every Sunday, but did not officially count the extra measurements). Below you can see how slow my progress was during the 8 weeks – Give yourself time to see changes in your body. The difference between 1 or 2 weeks is not enough to change anything, but in the long term, the results speak for themselves. In the 8 weeks, I lost 5% body fat.
I upped my daily physical activity – in the smallest ways – 10 squats when going to the bathroom, 10 wall push ups while waiting for the kettle or microwave, walking around our building at work during tea times. These small changes together with my exercise plan and healthy eating all started making a big difference.
My gym routine consists of a minimum 250 minutes of cardio per week (I built up to this).
A typical workout session looks like this (Variety keeps me interested):
40-50 minute road walk/jog (5km)
20-40 minute treadmill walk/jog (7.2 walk speed, 9.5 jog speed with incline incorporated)
plus weight machine circuit, including box jumps at intervals
Weighted squats, deadlifts, lunges, chest presses, bicep curls, situps (3 sets of 12 for all)
plus 20-minute treadmill walk/jog
Grid Lean – Fit Class / Bootcamp class
On Saturdays that I’m not working, I do the Parkrun closest to me. I started with a 55 minute 5 km (and not being able to walk the next day) which has improved to a 39 minute 5km. My first big goal is to do a 36 minute 5km and then 30 minute 5km.
In the interim, I also started seeing a dietician who measures body fat and muscle percentages. The check-ins with her are a good motivator. I am trying hard to make enough changes in my life to prioritise sleep (I never get more than an average of 6.5 hours, work seems to take priority a lot – I’m sure we can all relate).
To date, I have lost 26kg (105kg to 79kg) and still going strong. I’m only 9kg away from my goal weight of 70kg.
The biggest challenge along the way
The first and biggest challenge along the way has been a foot injury. Plantar Fasciitis in my left heel. Strapping it and wearing arch support sports socks has helped immensely, along with resting it whenever possible. Time constraints have also made things more difficult than they could have been (Working a day job, travelling and working a second job after hours – but it is possible if you set your mind to it).
Tips for starting out (What I have learned along the way):
This is on you. You are the only person responsible for your own health
Priorities. Only you can prioritise good nutrition, exercise and sleep
Make many small changes. Small changes add up very quickly
Give yourself time. Don’t obsess about the numbers on the scale or measuring tape, see how you feel over time.
Do things you like. Eat food that you like and do exercise that makes you happy, that way it will be easy to sustain.
Try new things. Find which eating plan/exercise plan works for you and fits into your lifestyle.
Keep changing. Keep striving for better health, better habits, more activity. Small changes every day.
Make your life (as a whole) a healthy one. Eating one bad thing is not going to make you unhealthy if you strive to be healthy every day.
Push yourself! You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
(Tip: How I push myself harder during exercise: I ask myself this question: “Have I got more to give?” The answer is always yes, followed by actual activity, faster running, stronger squats, lower plank, etc.)
"Falling off the wagon"
What if it was actually an important part of the journey?