From Super Large to Super Woman! Chantel Shares How She Lost 21kg.

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Super large.

That’s the size pantihose we bought for my grandma when I went shopping with my mother.

I recall thinking: Yassis! That’s big.

Then guess what? Not so long ago, I was wearing super large tights!

When I was growing up, meat, potatoes and rice were staple food items. While my mom cooked veggies, I ate them reluctantly – or not at all. My dad ate apricot jam and cheese sandwiches after supper. This is a habit I picked up as well. The whiter and fresher the bread, the better.

I also clearly remember the first time a shop in our area started selling “slap chips”. Man, there was nothing else like it. And soon my friends and I were scraping together the R5-odd that it cost to buy a chip parcel. This kind of eating carried on through my teens and 20s when I did a lot of partying and eating badly. It was also in my 20s that I met my now husband who is an artist and music producer. When we were younger, he used to DJ out a lot and as “the girl with the DJ”, I often found myself in clubs til the wee hours, drinking beer – lots of it – and then eating street food in the early morning hours. Around this time, too, I got a promotion at work and a lot of my extra disposable income was spent on eating out – which only increased when I started reviewing restaurants.

However, if I were to pinpoint when my eating was at its worst, I’d have to say the final year of my Master’s. In my struggle to finish my thesis, I often spent hours at my desk, filling up my wine glass and eating bowl after bowl of crisps. On the day I handed in my thesis, we bought Dunkin’ Donuts to celebrate.

Like many people, I associated celebration and reward with food. Of course I still enjoy eating well – and eating tasty food – but I’ve learned to reward myself in other ways.
I had always wanted to lose weight. I was never happy with my body. In my early 20s, I tried Weigh-Less. I lost 15 kg and felt fantastic. But then I gained it all back – and more.

However, I think I reached my lowest point when I actually accepted that I was going to be overweight forever. I justified this with genetics, with my previous inability to lose weight – and the fact that I just loved food, dammit. I also ate for comfort when I felt worthless. And I ate to punish myself when I was angry. It was a vicious cycle.

Even though I was going to gym, the exercise I was doing had nothing on the amount of food that I was eating. When I look back now, I realise what I was eating wasn’t right for me, and I was eating way too much. Previously kickboxing had helped me keep the extra weight at bay, but when someone close to me was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and I found myself at hospital most nights, I eventually gave up my kickboxing training membership.

What turned things around for me? It was a picture, taken at an event in December 2016. I couldn’t believe it was me. I was also genuinely tired of hearing my hubby say he was afraid for my health – and starting to think he might be on to something.

Despite having met Elan and Carol last year at a Women’s Day event that I had organised, I didn’t fully understand Sleekgeek until I signed up to do the 30-day Reboot in January, cutting out sugar, legumes (a staple because hubby ate mostly vegetarian meals), grains and dairy – cold turkey. This was a great introduction to the Paleo lifestyle and both my husband and I found it worked very well for us. But it wasn’t easy. The first few days I absolutely CRAVED sugar and thought about food ALL the time.

Since that first reboot, I have completed a second one, and have continued to follow a Paleo diet since then. During the first half of my day, I tend to “graze”, starting with a breakfast of nuts, one piece of fruit and a few pieces of biltong, followed by a portion of fruit at mid-morning and then a protein and veg-heavy lunch, with a small carb serving. Supper is also protein and veg. I try to stick to one carb serving a day when possible. I love baking, and have learned to make some Paleo treats, but I try to restrict this to the weekend.

When it comes to exercise, I’ve realised I’m a morning person.

I train for 30 to 45 minutes every weekday morning before work, cardio every day, alternating leg and arm workouts. I do kickboxing twice a week and longer gym sessions, incorporating running and kettlebell training, on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I recently started doing yoga on a Friday morning.

While it is ultimately up to me to put in the hard work, I’ve had tremendous support along the way. Determined to encourage me however possible, my husband and our best friend all did the Reboot programme together in January/February 2017.

I also had amazing support from my kickboxing coach Ian Arendse. One month into my weightloss journey – and just when I was going to start the summer Ultimate You Challenge – I had a major fall and busted my ankle. He adapted my training regime to accommodate my injury, but still gave me a good workout.

Then there’s my training tribe at work: we keep each other in check about healthy eating and train together at the gym in our building. And yes, we take gym selfies

And of course, the Sleekgeek community. Having my timeline dominated with advice and inspiration from SG folks definitely keeps my health regime top of mind.

Apart from the weightloss, there have been other amazing benefits to looking after my health and getting fitter. I’m happier, more positive, and have loads more energy. What I really didn’t expect, was the positive impact it would have on others and how my journey might motivate them to take the first step on their own journey.

Some of the lessons I have learned along the way:

  • You don’t have to starve or eat unappetising food when you’re trying to lose weight.
  • You feel a million times better when you eat well.
  • Exercise is an awesome stress reliever

Some highlights and milestones

  • By far, the best thing that has happened since I started this journey, is having someone tell me I’m an inspiration.
  • A number of my friends have decided to be a bit healthier because of the changes they’ve seen in me.
  • I had given myself this year to lose 20kg, but managed to lose that in six months and two days.

Challenges

  • Definite low: being called obsessive or vain.
  • Saying no thank-you to peppermint fridge tart!
  • But seriously: Looking too far into the future can be a MAJOR demotivator. Having lost 21kg, I’m only halfway to goal weight. Thinking about “the next 20” can be incredibly scary, so for now I’m setting short-term goals, which currently is to “get out of the 80s”.

My top tips

  • Have a plan.
  • Stick to your plan.
  • Preparation is key. I pack two bags the night before – my gym bag and my food bag. That way there’s no extra work in the morning before work.
  • When it comes to nutrition, keep it simple, particularly at the start of your journey. Start off with simple meals made up of real foods. You can always experiment with more complex combinations as you get used to your new eating regime.


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  • Thanks so much for sharing your story Chantel!

    You’ve come such a long way from where you started and your dedication is crystal clear. Huge respect!

    I love how you emphasise having a simple plan to follow and making sure that it’s one that you can follow well. Your heavy focus on protein and veg along with truly living a fit and active lifestyle every single day have definitely paid off.

    I can see that you are one of the few people that “get it”. You know that there is no faking health or fitness. No quick fixes or shortcuts. You truly are a fit and healthy person now through and through.