I was never obese as a child or even as a young adult. At school, I was very active and really enjoyed sport, especially hockey. After both my boys where born I dropped the pregnancy weight within four months of giving birth. About four months after my eldest son was born in 2002 I developed postpartum depression. This was the beginning of my roller coaster ride with depression and anxiety. The anti depressants seem to work and I fell pregnant again with my second son after weaning off the meds. The wheels came off big time when my youngest was one year old in 2005.
I can’t remember how many different types of anti depressants I tried, I’ve lost count. Finally when my youngest was 7 years old I was admitted to hospital for a break down, on the verge of suicide. The diagnoses was Bipolar disorder type 2 with a severe depressive episode. I was never euphoric, I only had the deep lows and severe anxiety with panic attacks. I was sent home with a huge dose of anti-depressants, a mood stabiliser and an anti-psychotic. I would lie in bed for weeks on end feeling dead inside with no motivation or drive. I realise now that there was a period of about six years when my children were toddlers that are just a blur. In those very dark times the one thing that kept be going was my faith and the support of my husband and my mother who had also suffered with depression when she was younger.
Slowly, I started getting up every day and reading as much as I could about the disease. I started saying to myself I can Do, Be & Have more in life. That was my motto. A dear friend who works for my husband started exercising with me and my mood lifted slowly. Within three months of starting the medicine I had picked up a whopping 18kg. The meds just switched something on in my head that drove me to binge. I went with my husband on a skiing trip with friends in 2012 to Italy, six months after being hospitalised. On the first day I fell not having skied in 10 years. I was so heavy when i tried to push myself up with the ski pole it cracked! After the trip when I got on the scale I weighed 103kg. I saw the photo of myself in the orange shirt that was taken on our trip, I was horrified to say the least. I didn’t recognise myself and that day a started a spread sheet to track my weight loss.
So on 1 March 2012 my journey to wellness started. I met a doctor at a wellness course I attended after loosing my first 5kg. I went to see her the next week and that was when I realised that I was in a lot of trouble. Through blood tests and genetic testing I was diagnosed with bad adrenal fatigue, oestrogen overload, inflammation, high iron levels, non existent gut bacteria, my liver did not detox very well, high homocysteine levels, insulin resistance, my cholesterol levels where elevated and I was gluten intolerant. This was all due to over consumption of grains and sugar. As I eliminated these from my diet my depression lifted and my Bipolar symptoms disappeared. It turns out that the gluten caused inflammation in the brain and that manifested in psychiatric symptoms. I started training with a personal trainer and followed a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet. I basically eat my dinner at breakfast time cooked in a lot of butter. In the afternoon I’ll have a fatty snack like biltong, cheese and nuts followed by a small dinner long before bed. I recently had my cholesterol particles tested to see if they are big and fluffy and in spite of all the fat I eat my test came back excellent. The secret is to not mix the high fat with carbs and sugar. Through lifestyle modification and supplementation I have managed to bring all my blood tests into normal range and I am free of depression, Bipolar disorder and anxiety.
I am proud to say that I have managed to wean off my mood stabiliser as well as my anti-psychotic over a 4 year period. I am only on a small dose antidepressant, but the goal is to be off that as well. Although I have lost 43kg it is not just about loosing the weight, it’s more about the life that I have gained in the process. On the 16th of September 2016 a year ago I stood on the highest point in Africa, Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro. I set the goal last year January on my 40th birthday. It was a celebration of all I had overcome and a new lease on life, a second chance! That was definitely the highlight of my journey.
Compared to other people my weight loss might seem slow but, when you make the move in your head from dieting to a lifestyle change it becomes a marathon not a race. The story of the tortoise and the hare comes to mind, slow and steady wins the race. All was not always smooth sailing as I am a sugar addict. The only difference between now and a few years ago is that when I fall off the wagon and cheat I get straight back on it the next day. Before one day of cheating would become two and three and before I knew it, it would be a week of bad eating. Eventually you are able to say no, I don’t want to eat it because it’s not good for my health. You have to make a mind change as weight loss is a battle of the mind and is won one mouth full at a time. I only use food now as a fuel.
My trainer made me do a variety of exercises like high intensity training for short periods, I also lifted heavy weights with a lot of core strengthening. I found I lost the most weight when I did heavy weights not cardio. I trained four times a week for two years. We changed the training for Kilimanjaro focusing a lot on my legs, core and my back. In March this year I fell off a motorbike so I’ve had to take a break from personal training due to a bulging disk in my back. I am currently working with a biokinetisist and a physiotherapist to rehabilitate my back so I can work towards my next goal.
I’m blessed to be married to a husband who supported me through those very dark times. I didn’t only lose the weight for myself but also for him, so he can be proud to walk next to me. We live in Modderfontein, Johannesburg with our 15 and 12 year old boys. As a family we enjoy riding motorbikes, skiing, boating and fishing.
Luckily I love all the food I can eat on this lifestyle and my favourite snack is macadamia nuts. I really do enjoy most types of exercise and I’ve done lots of different ones including running, swimming, yoga, pilates and even boxing. The only exercise I don’t enjoy is anything to do with jumping onto things.
I am really inspired by people who have overcome great adversities in their lives, it shows true character.
1. Plan, Prepare, Pack – If you haven’t planned what you are going to eat for the day and prepared it you will end up grabbing something quick and unhealthy. Always have your food with you.
2. You can’t out exercise a bad diet, its 90% what you eat and 10% exercise.
3. Weight loss is a battle of the mind, get your mind right. Stinking thinking = Poor results.
4. Stop drinking alcohol, it stalls weight loss and gives you fatty liver disease.
5. You only have to make a quality decision once, then you manage that decision every day for the rest of your life.