It is a hard thing to admit to myself, let alone to anyone else, that my weight issues have consumed the larger part of my life. Sometimes it feels shameful thinking that I cannot look back to a time when my issues with my weight did not affect every area of my life.
I remember being 13 and being on a serious mission to lose 5 kilo’s. At 13! Com’on!
My weight has never been consistent; my body is very obedient, sometimes too obedient! Depending on the treatment that it is being subjected to, it has the ability to lose weight really fast (YAY!), and gain weight really fast too (BOO!).
So, up until the 1st of September 2013, I have had a torrid love/hate relationship with my body… More hate than love.
All I had ever wanted was to feel approved and accepted by those around me, I wanted so desperately to be liked. It has taken me years to learn that that approval and acceptance starts from within and whether others like me or not does not bear any measure to my self worth… But growing up, I based my worth on what I perceived others thought of me. So sad. But this was my reality.
There was one thing though that I could always find comfort in, one thing that always accepted me: Food. And lots of it!
As a recovering emotional/binge eater (and recovering approval addict), it is very hard to explain the feeling that comes over you when you binge eat… It is almost like you enter into a ‘trance’ and are unable to stop, that is, until the food runs out. And for that moment in time you understand why it is called comfort eating, because for that fleeting moment, you truly do feel comforted. But it’s fleeting, a false comfort. Because all you have to wash it down with is guilt and shame (the two emotions that are responsible for creating momentum in this vicious cycle!)
Cue, 1 September 2013.
I stepped onto the scale and saw a number that I never thought I would see… 100. I had officially entered the triple digits. I have no idea why I was shocked because I had been doing everything right to get there steadily. Nonetheless I was still shocked.
Caroline Schoeder wrote: “Some change when they see the light… Others, when they feel the heat.” I felt the heat!
I decided right there and then that something had to give, and that something had to be me.
I started by going hiking for 45 minutes, 3 days a week, I limited my intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar and upped my water intake. By making those small changes, within 4 months I was down 17kg! There is something about seeing results that spurs you on to keep going, and so I did! Within a year I had lost 30kg and I felt like I had won the lottery…
Cue, October 2015.
Up until 2015, I was doing really well and then life happened, as it does.
I had a few mean punches thrown at me.
In September, my family and I were sitting at home when 3 armed robbers broke into the house and robbed us, I managed to escape out the kitchen door to go and get help. My sister had a gun held to her head and my daughter was also held at gunpoint. No one was harmed (thank God!) but the incident was violating and shook me to the core.
And then in October, I went out one evening and it seems that the glass of wine that I had been drinking was spiked because I blacked out and when I came to, my wallet and car keys had been stolen from my handbag and the car was gone. The car was recovered a few days later by the police after the robbers had badly damaged it.
These two incidents sent me spiralling back down the road that first had me finding myself in the triple digits… And within 4 months I had managed to gain back 21.4kg!
When January 2016 came along I knew that I had to do something because I did not like where I was going and as the saying goes, “If you do not like where you are, move! You are not a tree.”
So I moved!
And I slowly started shedding the weight again; this time around it was much harder than the first time… And so I entered my first Sleekgeek Ultimate You Challenge on the legendary Carli Mostert’s #TeamCarliMeltaways team and lost 8.3kg during that challenge! I have since lost 26 kilograms and I am still going strong (total kilograms lost since starting: 34.6kg).
I signed up with the most amazing coach, Craig Brown who ranks in the Top 3 best things that have ever happened to my health and fitness. He has taken away so much of the guesswork for me which allows me to just live my fitness, go out there and conquer the world knowing that I have someone trustworthy guiding me and teaching me how to think for myself, how to tear apart the fads, not buy dreams and see through the nonsense so that I can make the best decisions for my health in the long run.
I currently workout 5-6 days a week (CrossFit), I run 3-4 days a week (busy training for the Soweto Marathon 2017!), I eat according to a carb cycling plan (high protein, higher carbs on training days and lower carbs on rest days and medium fat) and have the occasional cheat when needed for the mental relief and just to shake things up a little. I have found that the best way to stick to my meal plan is to find ways to always keep my food exciting and to have as much variety as possible within the plan.
I also drink 3-4 litres of water a day, yes, even in Winter.
I am blessed with the world’s most amazing support system. My friends and family, especially my sisters, have rooted for me from the very beginning, the people in my life want the very best for me and they help me to stay accountable to the commitment that I have made to myself! Without them in my life I am pretty certain that I would not be as far along in my journey as I am now. I am loved… And love is a catalyst for healing.
I am just coming to the end of my Heat in my 5th Sleekgeek Ultimate You Challenge and I am the smallest, strongest and most content that I have been since my teen years, I am 34! I have not binged in over two months and I do not have any urges to do so either, I am truly happy. I am hopeful and expectant for my future and though I know that I may stumble and I may fall, I know that I will always get back up and I choose to live in recovery. This journey has not been smooth sailing and I know that bad days are inevitable but I believe so strongly in myself and as much as I have great support, no one is cheering for me louder than I am cheering for myself.
I have accepted that because I am a recovering binge/emotional eater, I will have to be vigilant every day, maybe for the rest of my life, I know that there are certain sacrifices that I will always have to make. However, this thought no longer depresses me… Au contraire, I am excited about all the adventures that lie ahead for me… Marathons, climbing Kilimanjaro in 2019, running Comrades with Marianda Cronje Geel in 2020 and daily getting to see my body grow stronger and faster. I am thrilled that I get to see just how great this body was designed feel!
I think that the one thing that stands out for me the most is the mental change that I have undergone, I have gone from seeking approval, running away from my fears, dodging challenges and avoiding the hard stuff to fully taking on everything that life throws at me. My mental fortitude has increased in leaps and bounds, I strive to run towards my fears and I deal with challenges as they come.
But the most magical thing happened just the other day, I looked in the mirror and I loved what I saw looking back at me.
Just love… Even though there’s still work to be done. I finally love my body.
And there’s no price for that.
My name is Hermien Elago, a single mother, entrepreneur and professional speaker. I have been on this journey for 3 years and 11 months. I love deadlifts, handstands, mac nut butter, and cottage cheese with whey protein… And finally, I love me!