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Prava goes Paleo and loses 27Kgs [You CAN Live life well]

YOU-CAN_LOGOI am 45 and a Type 2 diabetic.  I have been insulin dependent  since I conceived my first born 13 years ago diagnosed then with what I thought was gestational diabetes.

Injecting myself morning and noon before meals is no easy feat, taking a finger prick to check my blood-glucose levels sometimes up to 4-5 times a day is torturous, but after a while it becomes second nature, a part of your life, you exist through your daily checks and jabs.

I have recently stopped existing and started living, after losing 26.5kg from the period 18th July 2013 – 18th November 2013 – here is my story:


I have always been fat, well from the time that I can remember anyway.  Although my childhood pictures tell a very different story.   I was proudly a weight loss club girl in my early 20s, conquering the eating plan and reducing the extra kilograms was easy when you’re younger but wayward eating patterns and a lifestyle constantly on the go (not sports wise!) meant that my food choices were then bound by what was available in fast food joints, and so I fed the habit that I became accustomed to.

Along with the being a weekly attendee at the weight loss club, where I successfully lost 30kgs and kept it off for about a year or so, I have probably tried almost every weight loss pill and powder marketed, even Schedule 7 slimming aids, and yes, they do work BUT years later, I can advocate, that, that insert that comes in the packaging, informing you that it will only work if  you follow the recommended eating plan, – that’s the miracle cure – proper and balanced eating!

Throughout this time I was the “jovial” person, that went along with my obesity – why do people stigmatise overweight people and categorise them as happy people? Little do they know the emotional and physical battle that obese people face in a society that puts such a high premium on looking skinny – also by implication, only skinny people are beautiful.  When you’re grossly overweight, be it medical or lifestyle reasons that may be the cause, there’s a thinner person crying to be freed from the weight shackles that bind them.  It is an emotional rollercoaster that feeds into one’s life with sometimes disastrous consequences.

I recall attending my matric dance in 1986, an overweight teen, wearing the then fashionable short evening skirt which would have looked undeniably glamorous on a much thinner person.  That feeling of pseudo-beauty was further enhanced by the fact that my date for the evening was a looker!  Nothing mattered  much that evening, except that I had a date, fat girl or not.  But reality hits you like a ton of bricks after the music ends, the after-party is over and then you have your own party – a pity party, because so and so looked better, and wow! that dress made another so and so look like a princess…yes, undeniably, being overweight in most instances, is an emotion wrecker.


At the age of 27 I met my husband, still very much over weight and I’m grateful and honoured that he saw past that, reading into my personality and heart and soul (and my eyes – he always says my eyes and smile attracted him to me J ) and throughout our courtship and later into marriage the weight kept creeping up.  It was also at this stage we moved province, starting afresh in Johannesburg, where everything is fast, fast cars, fast people, fast night life and yes, fast food!  We sort of became aficionado’s of all things food.  And at some time during this period, I rejoined the weight loss club with a small measure of success but not enough to keep me going back to really poor eating habits.

During the first 6 years of our lives together, we tried desperately to conceive.  3 miscarriages in my first trimester and 2 particularly messy missed abortions at a later stage had a devastating effect on my emotions and general persona.

We had sort of decided at this stage that the emotional trauma was overwhelming and we would abandon our attempts are trying to conceive.  A year later, I conceived again and it was with mixed feelings that we treaded cautiously through this exciting yet, nerve-wrecking time.

Not announcing or breathing a word to anyone.  As fate would have it, I had bleeding just after I had passed the 8 weeks conception point.  I was seen by an ER surgeon who decided to prep me for surgery as there was no foetal heartbeat.  I was devastated.  I think it was my sister who contacted my gynae who came through to see me immediately.  He instructed that I be brought to his rooms for a final ultrasound examination.  Our misery and pain turned to elation after a few seconds into the scan when we heard a strong heartbeat.  Words cannot explain the joy we felt hearing that sound.

I was then referred to a physician to give me the once over before discharge and it was at this point that Diabetes was discovered.  Undetected, this was probably the cause of all the other terminated pregnancies.  My treatment included insulin, medication for raised blood pressure and raised cholesterol.  I went on to have a successful pregnancy thereafter, watching my diet and adjusting my insulin intake as the situation required.  7 weeks before my due date, our family experienced a devastating loss in that of my precious 11 year old nephew who was hit by a reckless speeding motorist as he alighted off his school bus outside his home.

This child was much like my own, and the shock caused me to go into labour 3 days after we laid my nephew to rest. Our first son was born 7 weeks pre-term, weighing 2.42kgs but was perfect in every way and we were allowed to go home a day after delivery.  This joyous event was a bittersweet occasion for our family but we were strengthened in our unity although questioning the cycle of life.

Picture 291

I continued being an insulin dependent diabetic and had fair control over my health status.  But the effects of insulin, if you are not following a healthy lifestyle, cause you to gain weight.  That was my thinking anyway and happily plodded along with my bad eating habits.

We conceived again, exactly three years to the date that we conceived our first born.  Elation followed this happy event and all seemed to be progressing well until almost the end of my second trimester.  At just over 26 weeks, I developed severe gastric issues, and was hospitalized, with increasing heartburn and about 3 bottles of heart burn remedy later, it was discovered that I had developed pre-eclampsia through my raised blood pressure.

The gynae explained that at that stage our baby had developed growth retardation and the only solution was to perform an emergency caesarian section.  He further explained that the morbidity and mortality associated with this condition meant there was a 50/50 chance that the baby or I would not survive.  Devastating to say the least, and with stress levels higher than Mount Everest, I was taken to theatre that same afternoon and our second son entered the world weighing 850g.

He was rushed to neonatal ICU and I was rushed to general ICU, more as a precaution for me.  Needless to say we defeated the odds, after spending 76 days in neonatal ICU our son was discharged weighing 2.85kg after experiencing 3 major operations before he was a full term baby. Becoming a mother for the first time taught me infinite patience, the second time I earned a PhD in patience and my outlook on the miracle of life was transformed each time I looked at our newest miracle creation.  I had a rude awakening following his birth and have been wracked with guilt that I as a parent-to-be was the cause for his way to early arrival.

Fast forward to 2012-2013, 8 years on, following a successful career, and still over-weight with a few health scares in between including various conditions associated with diabetes, I decided to make some changes, and that started with a career change that was less stressful, developing a positive mindset and doing something positive to getting my health back on track.

At my last Discovery Health Wellness Assessment,  my health age reflected as 53 and I was gobsmacked to say the least!  Years of an unhealthy lifestyle had led to this, mindful that sessions with dieticians and nutritionists failed to put me on the right path to a healthy lifestyle change – well, it had to begin with me – but only that didn’t feature in my reality!

Two months before embarking on this leg of my journey, I started researching Type 2 Diabetes  properly and came to the conclusion that my diabetes was self-inflicted and that I was slowly allowing myself to experience a slow death. – it’s well enough having a metabolism disorder but it is in my realm to do something about it!  The realization that I was turning 45 years in a few weeks, spurred me into action, giving me time to work on my head space and develop a positive attitude.

A day after turning 45, I started following Paleo/Primal way of eating using the Sleekgeek REBOOT and at that stage I had not exercised in more than 8 years, had gym phobia and the Virgin Active gym franchise refused to accept my membership due to me being a high risk candidate.  A letter from my physician assisted me in joining the gym about 5 weeks after I had started the new way of eating and this former couch potato has not looked back!

The two most notable achievements that are motivating me on my journey to my health and weightloss utopia is (1) I, a former bread  queen of note have been bread-free since 18 July 2013 and (2) being insulin free for the past 16 weeks.  The latter being what spurs me on daily to keep that momentum.

Through my research and following friends on social networking sites, I have come across an amazing space in the  Sleek Geek Facebook Group  that has assisted in my journey through amazing inspiration and motivation from it’s founder and members.  It’s an amazing evidence-based space that is suited to anybody wanting to change their lives around, non-judgemental and immensely beneficial to all things healthy! [Join Group]

It’s all about choices and how those choices inform your life – after years of  making the incorrect ones’ I have matured as an individual, matured in my marriage, matured emotionally to allow me to undertake this journey to a healthier me.

I worked hard to create a positive mindset, removed obstacles in my minds’ path deciding it was senseless and a waste of energy to sweat the small stuff and have let go of demons (including food!) that have haunted me relentlessly over the years.

A strong resolve to make a change is what is needed foremostly, as is continued commitment, dedication, planning and preparation!

My defining and refining moments through the recent past and in this journey have made me realize that having a control over what I eat and how I exercise is totally up to me.  I enjoy that my food experience is one of discovery and my changing habits are beneficial to me in so many marvelous ways.

I like that I chew my food these days, savoring the flavours and tastes instead of wolfing it down like I did in the past, just to satisfy my hunger or a binge.  I like that I experiment with food preparation, taking the time to plan my next meal, looking for different and inspiring ways to make my meals thoroughly enjoyable and healthy.

I like that I can dictate to a chef when eating out, how I want my food prepared and that when I explain why and how it benefits me, they are actually inspired to make me the best meal yet, without all the processed ingredients that they serve up to their customers.  I like that there are alternatives and options to unhealthy eating and food, that I gladly and willingly gravitate to.  I like the transforming me….

I have accepted that I will always be diabetic, years of poor choices in my lifestyle have caused irreparable damage to my endocrine system, about 6 years ago a serious health concern further exacerbated the health issues and in a way, thanks to medical science,  I am fortunate that I have lived to tell the tale but through this journey I have realized that I am in control and as long as I have a firm grip and make the correct choices to my benefit, I will have achieved a reasonably improved health status.

Lessons that I have learned in my journey thus far:


  • There is no magic pill or quick fix to a healthy alternative lifestyle – that magic is in each one of us to tap into and explore to our full potential
  • Goals have to be achievable and realistic
  • No one size fits all, what works for me will not necessarily work for the next person.  We have to find our own niche’s and exploit them fully
  • Ask yourself “do I want it” and the answer will be a resounding YES, then follow up with “Do I Need it” and make that inner voice give you a resounding NO.  You have the power to control what you put into your body.  The Need vs Want system works well with me
  • Don’t seek approval or affirmation from anyone before embarking on your journey, do it for YOU and make it all about YOU
  • It’s all about how badly you want a life-style change, about commitment, dedication, hard work to achieve your mini goals until you reach your goal

This journey is one of excitement and learning, as I find the new me.  A journey of discovery that will make such a beneficial difference to my well being both mentally and physically.  As I travel through it, I can only hope that years of bad habits can be further unlearned and even though there may be times when I am challenged mentally, that there are no deterrents that will keep me from this voyage of discovery….

Prava xxx

  • Prava Ramphal (nee Singh) lives in JHB

Prava with me a few other Sleekgeek ladies at a Johannesburg dinner

Screenshot 2013-11-29 12.33.49





SUBMIT YOUR STORY AND WIN R500 Wellness Warehouse Voucher


Prava wins a R500 voucher courtesy of our sponsor for the “YOU CAN live life well” series Wellness Warehouse to be spent on their online store with free delivery nationally.

I believe very strongly that ordinary every day people like you and I derive great inspiration from the achievements of people who seem similar to us. If they can do it.. damn.. so can I! Right?

So through this program we will continue to tell people’s personal stories.

I want to great an archive of hundreds of stories of people who have changed their lives while others believe they cannot.


Submit your story to with the Subject line “You can live life well”

We require:

  • Your story in your own words covering at least (How you got to a point of change, how you made the change, tips and advise for others)
  • A selection of before and after photos
  • As many words as you need to tell your story

In advance, we regret that not all stories may be published. Your story is as important as anyone’s story but we can only publish one a week and the editor will make decision on this.

If your story is published you will receive a R500 voucher to the Wellness Warehouse online store with free national delivery.


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