I have spent my life being the big girl. My relationship with food, (as well as with myself) was never a healthy one.
Judging by old photo’s – as a child, I ate all the time. There was always food in my mouth, or my hands, or all over my face. For my teenage years, lunch was oil fried (see drowned) potato chips, two minute noodles and bread. Lots and lots of bread. Dinner was chicken and pasta. Or rice. Or both. Two, sometimes three helpings of each. That’s just how it was. I never saw it as a problem. By the time I reached Matric , I was weighing about 105kg. At 1,63 – I was undoubtedly obese. They called me fatty at school. That was my nickname. I remember laughing it off – what else could I have done? They were right. This was the body I had – it couldn’t be changed. So I accepted just being fat. That was me. The fat girl. I found my peace in alcohol, drugs, self mutilation and food.
I started waitressing the year after I finished high school. Long hours, terrible eating patterns. I was the girl who ate leftovers – thinking nothing of germs, diseases, of myself or of how absolutely disgusting my behaviour was. It just didn’t matter. I didn’t care. I was a mess. This went on for years.
At 24, things started to change. I moved to the Netherlands to become an au pair. I needed a change. There – I learned to ride a bicycle – and I loved it! My weight dropped by about 10kg. It was amazing. I came home, and went straight back to my old ways. And of course, I got fat. Fatter than before. I didn’t care. That was my problem – I didn’t care about myself at all. I knew I was fat. I knew I was ugly. I also knew there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn’t strong enough. This was my body type. I tried the teas and the shakes and the diet pills. I starved myself. I forced myself to get sick after every meal. And absolutely nothing happened. This was just how my life was going to be. I was always just going to be fat. This of course led to more booze, more drugs and totally dysfunctional relationships with men who didn’t deserve me at all. I was so desperately unhappy. I had no self worth. I hated myself.
In 2013 – my life took a dramatic and unexpected change. I was hospitalised for over a week for suspected appendicitis/PCOS/IBS – basically the doctors didn’t really have a clue as to what was wrong with me. After a month of numerous testing, a surgery that almost cost me my life and many different doctors examining me – they eventually came up with a diagnosis. I had a gluten intolerance, and I had cancer. A very rare form of cancer that no one could explain to me. This is where the game changed. I wasn’t just fat – I was unhealthy. So what did I do? I run straight to my comfort zone – fast food, booze and drugs took over. I mean who leaves their oncologist and goes straight to KFC? Me. That was my thing.
I remember waking up one morning and realising how badly I was wasting the life that I almost lost. So, I gave up everything – the drugs, the booze and the hospitality scene and I started searching for my purpose – beginning with practising yoga and drinking green tea. Sorting out my life was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I was so happy. For a while. Then I became comfortable and what happened? Yup, that’s exactly what happened – I ate. And I ate and I ate and I ate until I’d eaten myself right back up into the high 90’s. At least I wasn’t in the hundreds anymore right?
This went on for two years until my little lump made it’s comeback appearance. Another surgery fail and more hospital time. That’s when I knew, this time has to be the last time. I knew, that if I didn’t really and truly give it my all to sort my life out this story was going to probably just keep repeating itself, and I would be living in anxiety unless I made a drastic lifestyle change. Very thankfully, I was blessed and fortunate enough to never have to go through treatments, it was never a life threatening type; but putting my body and mind through that kind of trauma again and again was just not an option for me. The experience opened my eyes to how important health is. I wanted to be healthy.
So, I sought the help of a homeopath. He prescribed all sorts of herbs and natural remedies – he also told me to cut out carbs, sugar and dairy. I told him he was insane and went home feeling absolutely hopeless. Later that very same week, a friend started telling me about this programme she was doing. She had to cut out carbs, sugar and dairy for thirty days. Check out “Sleekgeek” she said. I thought she was mad too. But, that day same day, I requested to join this special group. This Sleekgeek group turned out to be the group that not only changed my life, but I’m pretty sure that it’s saved it too.
I started my Sleekgeek journey with a REBOOT in June 2016. Which I failed epically. Then came the No Junk July challenge. I am competitive by nature. I like group challenges. So I pledged. I committed and I saw it through.
I lost 10kg within the month. It just fell off. I was getting compliments left, right and center. But I knew that although I had definitely made progress, I wasn’t almost where I wanted to be. My BMI was still too high. My body image was still too low. I was still unhealthy, and despite my weightloss, I was still fat. So I tried to REBOOT again in August and failed. September came – my birthday month. My mom made me a sugar free, wheat free, dairy free cake. I drank tea at my birthday braai. I was so proud of myself, until the very next day when I fell off the wagon and into a box of chocolates that I’d received as a birthday gift. This led to a binge for most of September. I remember feeling absolutely useless. I couldn’t stick to anything. I was going to get fat, stay fat and that was the end of that. At some point during the month, a very good friend turned around to me and asked if the reason I’d lost all the weight was so that I could put it back on again. I didn’t know that binge eating was a thing. I just thought I was a pig with no self control. So I ate. And continued to eat until the end of September. October 1st – I’d start my REBOOT again. October 1st came – I made it to day 9, and I gave up again. On and off I tried throughout the month of October – failing and feeling like a total loser with every fall.
On the first of November 2016 I started my REBOOT again. This time, I was determined. I lost all the weight I’d gained back, plus a bit more. By the end of November, I was down 15 kg in total. I felt like a champion. So I celebrated with food. And then, once I felt successfully bloated and worthless enough – I continued to comfort eat my way throughout December. Oh Carolyn, for such a smart girl – sometimes you do really stupid, stupid things.
I’d gained 5kg back by the end of December and I was back at a 10kg loss. Which in my eyes, was just not good enough. January first 2017 – I would start my new REBOOT. I would walk 6000 steps and do my yoga every day. And I would succeed. 2017 would be my year of sticking with it, seeing this health, fitness and weight loss story through to my end goal.
Today, we’re seven months into the year and I have still only successfully completed two REBOOTs, but – I walk 10 000 steps almost every day, I’ve mastered my Crow pose in yoga and I only have 5kg left to lose to reach my 30kg weight loss goal from the day I started my journey. To reach my perfect BMI.
What happens then? I haven’t quite figured that out yet – but I know I will be absolutely ok with the Sleekgeek community behind me.
I’m learning that the trick isn’t to be perfect all the time, it’s to be persistent. To keep trying no matter what – because 3 healthy days are better than no healthy days and at the end of the day, all your days really do add up. I’m proof of that.
I’m far from perfect, but I have not given up on myself in over a year.
Today I am healthy, I am happy and I have no doubt of my inner strength. I have willpower that I didn’t know existed. My current jeans size is a 10, I’ve been in remission for 13 months, I’ve come off of my antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications and I am beyond proud of myself.
I am finally learning that it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. And as long as I keep trying, I’ll keep progressing, I’ll reach my goals and God willing, I’ll never have to deal with cancer and surgery and hospitals again.
Am I still a binger? Yes. Am I binging less? Definitely. Do I beat myself up for days afterwards? Absolutely not – not anymore.
I binge, I stop and I get over it and keep going. Because I’m human. And I’m going to mess up and I’m finally learning that that’s ok. For me this journey is a process about more than just weightloss. It’s about learning to stop being so angry with myself. To stop punishing myself and hating myself and being so plain nasty in the way that I speak to and about myself.
I am currently struggling with body dysmorphia, becoming a new person on the outside can be confusing and scary for your inside – but it’s ok – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I can’t completely rebuild myself in a year. But I can keep trying a little harder every day, making healthier choices mentally and physically, and one day, I know I’ll get to where I want to be on every sphere. I never thought I’d get this far – yet here I am. Diet wise – I like to keep it as simple as possible. Fresh, organic fruit and vegetables are my staples. Free-range chicken & fish. I also stay away from carbs and sugar.
I teach the children I work with to be kind to themselves and each other. I can teach myself to be kind to me.
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible'” – Audrey Hepburn
Through Sleekgeek, I challenged myself to start being brave. In fact, 2017 is my year of not only meeting my goal weight, but of being brave and from my bravery, I have met the most wonderful people. Two who have become my very best friends. I also met my coach Tammy at Lifeline by Tammy through Sleekgeek, who I am eternally grateful for. She has been a very important factor in my journey too – besides for the physical goals I’m achieving, the way that she cares and really believes in me is what has made such a difference. It makes me feel special and capable and worthy and like I can actually do this and keep doing this and get to where I want to be.
This, I think is the most important thing to have on this journey — people who believe in you. People who’ll pull you out of bed at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to take you to your very first Parkrun, and who’ll push you and pull you by the arm and make sure you reach that finish line (even if you swear at them). Because they know you can. They believe in you. Even when you don’t believe in you. You need those people. They are so so important.
It’s hard going at things on your own. Harder than it should be. I believe that it’s almost impossible to succeed without the backing and support of likeminded people. This is why I fell in love with Sleekgeek, besides the amount of knowledge I’ve obtained regarding how to feed my body properly, the Sleekgeek community is what keeps me going. The support, the non-judgement, the inspiring, uplifting and motivating members. I see people working hard and striving for their goals. They give me the strength and courage to keep pushing too. I have felt more welcome within this group than I have ever felt anywhere before.
Sleekgeek provided a sense of home for me, somewhere safe. You helped me find my people. My tribe. You helped me find me. I have learned so much about myself in the last year. And I will be so grateful for that for the rest of my life.
My wish is to be able to inspire one person to be brave enough to make a choice and change their life, to show someone like me that the impossible can indeed be possible. This journey isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier with a loving and supportive family like Sleekgeek in your corner.
"Falling off the wagon"
What if it was actually an important part of the journey?