Debbie Louw loses 17kgs and keeps focussed on her goal.

Debbie-main

It’s such an honour to write my weight loss journey story, I never thought of myself as someone that inspires others.  I’m always the person looking for inspiration from others, to get motivated, to stay on the path to lose weight. It’s been a constant battle between my love (addiction) for good food and needing to lose weight.

Here is my story:

I was always thin as a young child, never had any weight issues, always active until puberty hit and it has been an uphill battle since then. When I was in Std 6 I did modelling and was made to believe I had to lose weight. I only weighed 54kg at the age of 14.

From the age of 16 I was always put onto diets. They sort of worked, but because I didn’t want to be on a diet, I never stuck to it and cheated on my diets constantly.  I always weighed around the 70kg mark but was always made to believe that I was fat and had to lose weight.

In High School I played hockey, I also went to gym each day after school, I cycled to and from school, went everywhere on my bike, I was always keeping fit, but I was always made to feel I was overweight, I even started to believe it and always felt fat.

Diet after diet.


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While still in high school, I went to Weigh-Less (twice), Weight Watchers, tried Herbalife, Herbex, a dietician and many “new” weight loss tablets on the market. All these things never worked because I never wanted to do these things but were all suggested that I should.

When I was alone at home I would raid the cupboards for all the “bad” snacks just because I wasn’t allowed them and when no one was watching I put everything in my mouth (chocolates, biscuits, chips etc.).

I hated myself while I was doing it but I kept doing it, knowing that when I had to go and get weighed I wasn’t going to lose much (if any) weight.

When your mind set is not right then it will never work, the will power and determination to want to lose weight needs to be there and it never was because it was never my decision to go on all these diets.

 

Mom’s death and depression

Back in 1997, my first year of working, in August my Mom got diagnosed with cancer, it broke me. Little over time I didn’t realise it but I was eating more and picking up weight. At the end of 2001 she was getting worse and always in hospital and I just kept eating more because I was so depressed about what was happening to my beautiful mother.

I didn’t want to acknowledge it at the time; but I kept having to get bigger clothing sizes. Yet I just kept eating. Then my mom passed away on the 1st January 2002. This broke me in ways I never imagined. We knew it was going to happen but you’re still never fully prepared. I was so depressed, I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything I just ate and ate and ate.

Each day before work I got myself a McDonalds breakfast, I always had chocolates in my bag, would eat about 3 bars a day, I brought lunch to work but still got myself extra take-out,   when I got home I would eat a ready meal, then snack in-between and then still have a full plate of dinner.

I was hungry all the time, I was depressed beyond words. My mom had passed away and I was filling the void in my life with food. I couldn’t stop eating.

 

Enough! 

The size 16 clothes I was wearing were getting too tight and I had to get a bigger size. I got such a fright – most of my life I was wearing a size 14. I bought the shirt but vowed I won’t buy anymore size 18 clothes.

That weekend I went camping, we took many photos, when we got them developed I saw a picture of myself and got the fright of my life. After seeing that photo I vowed here and no more, I couldn’t believe what I saw and even asked my sister why didn’t she tell me I was getting so fat, knowing that if anyone said anything I wouldn’t believe them.

Then one day my sister got a number from a friend for a dietician, mostly because she wanted to go and had asked if I wanted to go with her. My sister never made me feel that I was fat and had to do something about it, she made me feel that it’s my choice and I don’t have to go if I didn’t want to.

It made such a difference for once that I was the one making the decision to do something about it because I truly hated what I saw in myself. I didn’t have a scale at home and had no idea how much I weighed but I could feel the weight packing on.

In September 2003 – a year and a half after my mom passed away, we went to the dietician. I got on the scale and saw that I weighed 86kg – the most I had ever weighed (at that time). For 3 months we followed a diet very strictly and the weight was falling off.

It helped that I was being monitored and each week we got weighed. In 3 months I had lost 21kgs, by sticking to the diet and going to the gym every day. I felt fantastic; I felt on top of the world, I was down to a clothing size 12.

When we stopped going to the dietician I managed to keep the weight off for about a year. Then slowly I started eating all the foods I had deprived myself of for 3 months, and slowly started picking up weight. I was back to the 70-75kg mark.

In December 2004 I met the love of my life and now my Husband. We moved in together at the end of 2005 and got married in 2008. In all that time I was around the 70-75kg mark, didn’t go up and didn’t go down. The day I got married I weighed 70kgs (I had lost quite a bit of weight with all the outside stresses with our wedding planning) I was only 5kg away from my goal weight.

We decided to join the gym, but could only go after work. We hired a private trainer to help us. He was so awful and we hated every second of it, we always called to cancel our session. We weren’t enjoying it at all and we stopped going.

Backsliding 

In 2010 (we were working at the same company for 2 years) we quit our jobs, my husband got a job in Johannesburg (we were living in Pretoria at the time), and I had decided to work from home.

It was a really tough transition for me and I struggled with this a lot at the time, it was hard not being around other people. With being at home the only real exercise I got was cleaning the house. I was also walking distance to the shops which meant more access to junk food.

We always had snacks in the house; because I was still struggling with working at home; I know I was a bit depressed which made me eat even more. The place we stayed in was small, I felt claustrophobic, I wasn’t getting out the house much (mostly only on weekends) and of course eating more because of it all.

When we moved to Johannesburg in 2011 our place was bigger and I felt better, didn’t feel so cramped, we had 3 cats that would keep me company during the day but it’s not the same as human interaction. Being an introvert I didn’t think it would be a problem for me but it was. But my wonderful husband made sure when I needed to get out the house we would make a plan and it made the world of difference.

But I was still eating, eating all the wrong foods, eating big plates for dinner, always eating chips and chocolate, always getting take-outs because I always felt I needed to have something to snack on. I was happy, my work was picking up, have a wonderfully happy marriage, but still I was eating. I didn’t know why, I always thought it was when I was depressed but I wasn’t yet I was still eating.

When we had a special occasion to go to I never had anything that fit me. When I’m at home I’m always in stretchy shorts or track suit pants and baggy t-shirts so I never really felt the weight packing on. Only when I have to go out that’s when I realise nothing fits me and end up having a meltdown.

Every time we buy clothes for me, nothing fitted and I literally break down in the change room and my husband always comforts me, I’m in tears in the shops and he always makes me feel better, always tells me we will make a plan, we will find something. Always then I decide I have to lose weight, but I get home and change in my baggy clothes and forget it happened until the next time in the change room and it starts all over again.

But that switch in my brain never makes me say “this is it, now I must do something”. I would just carry on eating the same always. I was weighing myself now and again, I knew I was picking up weight, my clothes size was now at 20 and I still hadn’t decided to do something.

We started cycling in April 2018, we bought mountain bikes and went out cycling every weekend, I loved it, still do! I could feel I was horribly unfit, struggling to cycle because of my weight and being so unfit. I saw my pictures we took and hated myself every time. I hated it that we were cycling and my husband was losing weight and I wasn’t losing anything.

We had slowly been cutting out certain things, we stopped drinking fizzy cold drinks, we stopped eating a lot of bread, we tried to eat smaller meals but I wasn’t losing any weight. My husband was losing so much weight but he did a lot of walking at work, climbing stairs, going from meeting to meeting, I was at home only doing a bit of housework and major cleaning once a month but still not losing anything.

In December 2017 my husband won a trip to Greece through work and I said I want to lose weight before going in May 2018. I didn’t want to be fat in any of my photos on a trip of a lifetime. I wanted to remember the trip as a happy time and not hate myself in all the photos.

In the December holidays I had actually lost about 3kg’s I was so happy with myself; but then slowly started picking up again. One day I got on the scale and I weighed 98kgs, I was so angry with myself, I couldn’t believe I had actually got myself to that weight. I always said I NEVER want to weigh 100kgs or more.

It was now the end of February, getting closer to our holiday and I was still so overweight, I was weighing 96kgs. Then one day I was on Facebook and was reading about my friend saying how much weight she had lost on a popular fad diet. I had messaged her about it and she sent me the diet plan.

While I was busy reading it I realised that I still had the original diet from when I went to the dietician back in 2003. I decided to rather follow the advice of a registered professional than a fad diet.

Enough (again) 

I phoned my husband that Friday and told him enough is enough. I am going to lose weight, I’m sick of being fat, sick of being tired, sick of being out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. This is it!! I will go on a diet NOW and lose weight! I had 3 months before my holiday and was going to lose as much weight as I could.

15 years ago I lost 21kgs in 3 months, I did it then and I can do it again.

The switch went over in my brain; I had so much willpower to do this and was going to do it fully and completely, and I did it! I lost 15kg in 3 months. I had 10kg’s more to lose this time round but I knew I could do it.

I printed out the diet plan and stuck it on the fridge, that weekend we made sure we had all the foods for the diet. We stick to it for 3 months. I made my husband my “Diet police”, on days where it was so hard (there were many) I would phone him and tell him I’m craving foods, bad foods, and he would always be there to keep me on the path, to keep me motivated.

There were many days I had to ask him to remind me why I’m doing this. I wanted to quit many times along the way. He kept pushing me because he knew I could do it. I also didn’t want to throw away all the hard work I had been doing for one lousy chocolate.

In the first month I had lost 8kg’s. I kept weighing myself every day and every day I was losing just a little. I had activated the “Weight Loss Rewards” with Discovery Vitality; this was a great way for me to track my weekly weight loss. Each day I would see that I only lost 0.3 here and 0.2 there but the end of the week I had lost 2kg’s.

When I started my weight loss journey (again) I weighed 96.2 kg, but the time our holiday came around in May I weighed 81.2kg. I had lost exactly 15kg’s in 3 months before my holiday.  There were so many days where I just wanted a pie or a burger, always told myself I can have just one. Food is an addiction for me I can never have just one. If I open a bag of chips I eat the whole thing.  My husband would just keep motivating me and helping me.

When we went on holiday we had a week’s break from the diet. When we got back I had picked up a few kg’s but in the first 2 weeks back I managed to lose it all and get back to my weight I was at the start of the holiday, slowly I lost more and go myself down to 78kg’s.

At the time of writing this story I am down 17kgs and have kept it off. 

I joined the gym in July, my healthy eating was back on track and I was going to gym 3 times a week.

Getting more fit and eating healthy again. I could feel the difference; I had many years of being a couch potato to repair and recover from and get myself fit again.

I would either run on the treadmill for 30 minutes or cycle for 30 minutes, then would do exercises on the circuits. I was feeling great, getting fit and feeling so much better about myself. (All of this while in the back of my mind remembering that the weight I am now was close to what I was in 2003).

Then in August this year I got the flu and I didn’t go to gym for 3 weeks; and my eating habits started going down again, and slowly picking up weight again and weighing almost 83kg’s.

I have made the decision to get back on the saddle from the 1st October and start over again. I want to get away from the 80kg mark as far as possible and get to my goal weight of 65kg. I know it will take time but I know I will get there. I’m ready for the next round to lose weight and get back to gym 3 times a week again.

What helped with the diet was that my husband decided to do it with me, even though he didn’t really need to lose much weight (if any); but he ate the same as me, same meals, same diet plan, no cheating.

This helped me beyond words. I would never have been able to do it on my own. I couldn’t be on the diet alone while he ate normal food, it would have killed me.

There were so many days I was eating my fruit for lunch and just dying for a burger but I just kept pushing, I was hungry for junk food, I had years of bad eating to correct and my body was struggling but I had to keep pushing.

It helped me that we were doing this together, going through it together. My husband always said if I want to lose weight he will support me, if I don’t want to he will support me, whatever my decision he will support me, and he has. He is my rock, my life, my everything. I couldn’t without him.

When I posted my weight loss on Facebook I got so much positive feedback from all my friends and family – it was an amazing feeling. I had told no one except my husband that I was losing weight. It was only once I reached my goal for my 3 month goal that I wanted to share it with everyone.

 

Then I found pictures of me from a year ago and decided to share it on the Sleekgeek Facebook group, it was my first photo share and I was nervous, I didn’t know what the feedback would be. I never dreamed that so many people had so much positive words for me; it’s what I needed to keep going and keep doing what I was doing. It was truly overwhelming and so amazing. I still look at everyone’s progress because I still need constant motivation to keep going.

I have cut out so much junk food in my journey, so much so that I crave more salty foods than sweets. The last 3 months I have fallen off the wagon but I know I can do it again, I know I can pick myself up and keep moving forward each day. I have learned that it is not an easy journey, it’s so hard.

There are days I’m going to give into my cravings, I’m going to hate myself for it but I will dust myself off and start again. I have only picked up 4kg’s the last 3 months but it’s not okay for me, I know I can do better, I know I can lose it again. I know that everything wrong I eat I will gain weight, I always have to watch what I eat, and it’s so hard, it’s so draining, I wish I didn’t have to watch what I eat but I have to be conscious of everything, always.

Just being able to wear clothes I haven’t worn in 5 years makes me feel so much better, I don’t hate myself as much as I used to, I don’t cry and break down in change rooms anymore. I don’t ever want to back to being that person anymore.

The milestone in my journey I was so proud of was that I stuck to my diet and I managed to lose 8kg in the first month. I managed to lose the weight I picked up on my holiday. I’m most proud that I stuck it out as hard as it was and I lost 15kg. I have another 15kg to lose, I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again.

There were many low points in my journey, I wanted to give up so many times, and I wanted to reward myself after the first month with something I shouldn’t be eating. I wanted to give in to my cravings more times than care to count. My will power was so strong and I kept going and my husband kept reminding me why I was doing this. I cried many times on my journey, happy and sad tears. I was happy when I was finally under the 90kg mark, happy when  was near the 80kg mark, happy I could fit in old clothes again, I was 1 size down.

I would cry out of frustration, cry because I can’t eat what I want without picking up weight, crying because I had to remind myself of the breakdowns in the change rooms.

The 3 months felt like a year, it was so hard and so painful but so unbelievably rewarding watching the weight come down each week. Whether it was only 500gr that week or one kg and sometimes more; but down was down. I had to keep reminding myself I had lost weight and don’t want to eat something bad to make that good feeling go away.

My life has improved in so many ways, I feel healthier, I feel fitter, I don’t get so tired anymore, and I have more energy to do more things that I couldn’t do before. I feel so much better about myself, even now when I’ve picked up weight; I have a plan and am going to lose it again.

The most valuable tips I can offer are:

  1. It’s not going to be easy, but it will get better.
  2. There will always be hard days, it’s not an easy journey but to have a wonderful support system to help you keep going and pushing you to do better makes all the difference in the world.
  3. Some days you will give into your cravings, but you will carry on with your journey the next day.
  4. One thing I’m still learning is to not be so hard on myself. It’s a process, you have to be positive and need lots of will power but it’s a long and hard process, so being hard on yourself only makes it harder.

 





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