My name is Nonhlanhla Ndlovu I am 25 years old and just recently finished my degree in social work, and currently seeking for a job and doing part time studying. My relationship with food from an early age was toxic in such a manner that I became an emotional eater.
I have always been an overweight child; I was bigger than my cousins and classmates at school. Growing up I was teased so much and body shamed I just tolerated it and became comfortable with being fat. As a teenager I tried several fad diets and I would lose weight only to gain it all back with a little more extra.
The ultimate change…
It was in 2016 November when I weighed myself and I was 130kg, the heaviest I and ever been. I was in shock that I had let myself go and it was that bad. Also I started having these nagging chest pains and I and thought I had something to do with my heart.
I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism which had contributed to the weight gain. If I had not made the necessary changes sickness would have majorly affected me. I would have possibly had depression, hair loss and continued weight gain. I needed to change and take back control. I did it! As a result I was able to lose the weight and my thyroid levels increased.
When I started I had no idea as to how was going to approach this. but my attitude was on point and I was not giving up. I had to deal with the mental battle first before I started with the physical.
I watched other people’s weight loss journeys on YouTube; I read a lot of different people’s success stories in Health Magazines. I changed my mind-set. I searched for inspiration of and motivation everywhere because I wanted this change for life and not just to diet.
To work on my physical self I stopped eating refined carbs completely and started eating whole foods only such as fruits, vegetables, protein and some complex carbs. I kept it very simple because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself and end up quitting.
I kept it very simple, for breakfast I ate oats with plain yoghurt and cinnamon. Lunch I would always eat a green salad and some grilled chicken or boiled eggs. Supper would be chicken and steamed vegetables.
When I had to eat at the student centre I always opted for chicken strips and vegetables, this was always my go to meal until I completely stopped buying food there and carried my own lunch.
I substituted the muffins and chips with fruits and drank 1.5 litres of water every day, the water intake increased now to 3 litres a day.
Quitting the sugar was not easy because I had withdrawal symptoms but I knew I wanted this badly and that was worth more than what I was feeling that moment.
Now my diet has evolved and I eat a Paleo-based diet which limits grains, legumes and dairy. This works for me because I am not restricted to buying certain foods for certain days on the diet. I am able to eat anything as long as it’s on the green list.
This also give me the freedom to cook anything that I feel like eating that day, whether it’s chicken, fish or pork. For example I do not eat cereals anymore, for breakfast I eat eggs and avocado with some lean mince, lunch would be some steamed vegetables and mince, for supper I would eat a chicken salad.
I also wrote a board and attached goals that I wanted to achieve. I have a “Yes” list and “No” list, for example saying YES to taking up new challenges, like doing my first parkrun, and saying No to making excuses and fad dieting.
I was clueless on an exercise program so I just focused on the running on the treadmill for 30 minutes and cycled for 45 minutes for 5 times a week. I then researched more on different types of exercises and later on added weight training which I really enjoy!
Woooh I didn’t know I had such great calves thanks to the bike and some weights…
In the beginning I was alone, I had to prove to myself that this was not another diet phase. I then told my friends and family some of them joined me on the journey. My friends joined gym as well and we exercised together.
In April I heard of Sleekgeek from a friend of mine and I joined the Facebook Group. In this virtual community I got to interact with people who are on the same journey as I am. Who also understand the struggles that I face and offer support, that really helped me when I was not at my best, and serves as inspiration when others share their success on the platforms.
My timeline was literally flooded with ‘Sleeks’, sometimes I would spend an hour on the group just reading people’s stories I would get so amped because I knew that soon that would me achieving great things for myself.
I learned that it’s not just about the fat that I was losing, but also about the emotional baggage that I had been carrying with the fat, which was even harder to deal with.
Through the weight loss I also learned change is good when you have a positive attitude. I had to change ,my lifestyle completely and eat healthy and move more. When you learn to lose weight the natural healthy way, you end up forming good eating habits and therefore making healthy living a lifestyle becomes easier.
I have a more positive outlook on life and I am more confident. Normally I’m a reserved person, however, now I am able to walk up to anyone and start a conversation.
I look forward to new experiences and now I enjoy shopping for clothes, something I didn’t really enjoy before. Also through the journey I learned that I have to wake up every day and choose to love myself, choose healthy foods and healthy thoughts.
Highlights that stood out…
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I had regular blood pressure check-ups and it checked out good, I stopped using a lot of medications that I was dependant on. The doctor even reduced the dose of thyroid medication that I was using. I can run for longer without feeling tired and I did my first 5km Park run and felt great. I still have many more goals that I want to smash.
I want to run a half marathon and go on a hike in the Drakensberg this year.
Being an emotional eater was one of the biggest challenges I faced in my journey at first I was oblivious to it. Whenever I was highly stressed because of personal issues and when school became overwhelming I would resort to binge eating. I would feel bad about it because I was taking steps back in terms of the achievements I had made.
Some days I would feel sorry for myself and had zero motivation and no will to go to gym. On these days’ journaling and colouring in helped me a lot because I was able to channel the negative emotions and the next day I would be good again and back to my goals.
Support from my friends played a big role as well, because I had to be accountable especially on days when I didn’t feel like going to gym I had to push myself and it ended up being worth it because I would be high on endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.
Areas that have improved…
My healthy has been the area where I’ve seen the most improvement. I smile and laugh more than I ever did I radiate happiness because I’m at such a content space in my life.
I meet new people with whom I have meaningful conversations with.
I am more open to explore my other interests as well, like going for advanced cooking classes and registering for a writing course. This journey has made me more mindful and I can experience life and feel like I’m living through each day that on its own is fulfilling.
Tips from my personal journey
- Find you “WHY?”, so much so that when difficulties come, you go back to the reason why you started in the first place. Keep pushing you will eventually get it right.
- Accept yourself where you are, to get to where you want to be. When you give yourself some love you will be able to make good decisions that reflect that self-love.
- You will never always be motivated; you have to learn to be disciplined. Sometimes you’ve got to do what needs to be done, even on days when you don’t feel like it.
- The scale doesn’t have to define your journey, a drop in dress size, glowing skin and being able to run an extra Km without panting is just as great of an achievement.