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Sunika challanged herself to create a better quality life [YOU CAN live life well]

YOU-CAN_LOGOMy journey has been going for a few years.  I’ve always been slim and pretty trim at school but terribly unfit.  I was the girl that everyone cheered on in the 1500m race, the one that got lapped twice by everyone passing. The one that dropped down near dead the moment she crossed the finish line.

Not really taking part in sport didn’t impact on my weight at all, but after school I went to Germany as an au-pair.  The shock of being away from home for the first time and the depression of the situation I was in, sent my appetite into overdrive. I sampled every delicacy in Germany over and over and in great quantities. I actually ate 4 doughnuts in one go, just because they were on special.  I left SA weighing a really thin 62kg and in the four months I was away I gained 16kg.  That’s a kilo gained every week.  I returned weighing the most I did my entire life – at 78kg.


The rejection I endured for becoming fat was terrible. I had climbed off the airplane, desperately happy to be home and to see my family.  The first thing I heard when I walked into the arrivals hall was “Look how fat she got!” There and then I built a shell around myself, trying to not get too emotional about anything said to me.

Everyone kept telling me what new diet I should try, where I should go to gym, what I should do at gym, how ugly and fat I looked. I felt judged all the time for whatever I ate, even counting my own portions in my head and measuring them against everyone around the table to be sure I wasn’t overdoing it.

I moved towns and managed to lose around 10kg cutting portions and being a little more active. But food still ruled my life. I remember going into town to get a biscuit or a large packet of chips at the end of the month with the last R5 I had to my name.

I started studying and moved back to the city.  Slowly but surely the kilos started settling on my frame again.  I finally reached a point where I had had enough and went to see a dietician.  I felt so deprived after receiving her eating plan, but I stuck it through and lost 7kg.

In 2003 I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.  I kept falling asleep while studying, felt depressed, had major hair loss and obviously had been struggling with my weight. My GP put me on medication for this but it was not the miracle drug I had hoped it would be.  Keeping the kilos off was still hard work.

In 2007 I joined a group of online friends with a fitness instructor (Marcelle Wortmann) as the founder of the group.  The ladies in the group encouraged me to be healthier, check what I eat, make sure I’m a bit active.  Marcelle would initiate challenges every few months and I would just bail after the second or third day.  I could never focus on anything I had put my mind to, as I lost interest and my head was not in the right space.  I’m amazed that they never gave up on me.

Then I got married, and miraculously managed to come down to 68kg for my wedding day. Shortly after our wedding I started seeing my chiropractor on a fairly regular basis for a weak back and neck.

Two years later we found out we were expecting our first child.  If anyone has ever underestimated the power of pregnancy hormones they can just come and have a chat with me.  I gained 17kg in my first pregnancy and gave birth to my son in 2009.  I lost all the weight by the time he was 3 months old but then I started eating – using breastfeeding as an excuse to shove anything and everything I desired into my mouth.

Eventually I took back my health and managed to get my weight down to around 74kg, through the help of a dietician, who once again limited all my options, and Run Walk for Life, when I fell pregnant with our daughter.

Once again the Preggy Worm gripped me and I gained 20kg during her pregnancy.  It was the most difficult pregnancy and as a result I ate whatever my taste buds demanded.  The night I went into labour I weighed a staggering 94kgs.  After the birth I was thrown into Post Natal Depression. Focusing on health was the last thing on my mind.  11 of the worst weeks of my life had passed before I finally got the correct help. I once again picked up my love-hate relationship with my body and vowed to become thinner, fitter and get back the body I had on honeymoon.  But I lacked conviction and determination.

Then Marcelle posted another challenge – the 50 Days No Sugar Challenge.  I decided I was going to see this one through, no matter what.  I registered on to keep tabs on my macros for sugar every day and on 2 January, weighing in at 83kg, I started the 50 days.  And I made it through. I was held accountable daily by the group of ladies by having to post my sugar macros on a blog and they motivated me to keep going.  I was astounded and proud of myself.  Even though I had only lost 3.8kg, the journey had finally begun.

I did another no sugar challenge and then a friend asked me to help her lose weight in March.  We dawddled a little and then saw the Sleekgeek Reboot (a couple of Facebook friends had completed it).  After the 50 days No Sugar, I needed a new challenge.  With sugar under wraps, the rest of my diet needed cleaning up.   The Reboot seemed like a good idea.  It was the craziest thing I had ever done.  Cutting dairy and bread from my diet, cutting rice and potatoes, all seemed absurd and near impossible.  But we started our Reboot on 2 May 2013, with the main reason – to stop my dependency on bread.  I weighed 77.6kg at this stage.  I also started doing yoga twice a week after cancelling my gym contract, as I needed to strengthen my bad back after years and years of just using my chiropractor to fix the symptoms. I wanted flexibility and strength, something I had never had in my life.  At this stage I was seeing my chiropractor on average once to twice a week.

My friend dropped out of Reboot around day 8 but I was determined to finish. I got sick and needed antibiotics twice during the first 30 days.  I was run down and felt awful, but I was not going to let this beat me, despite my choice in food sources being questioned at every turn. I was going to complete a Reboot, no matter what!  And I did.  I completed my first Reboot on 2 June 2013, with another 3.8kg off my frame.  I had also come to love the Paleo way of eating and adopted it as the norm for me. Since then I have completed another Reboot with the group that has been supporting me all these years as well.

During the first Reboot I discovered Sleek Geek, the support and the fantastic vision Elan had.  The page just magnified the support I was already getting and once I started motivating people (unknowingly), I felt more and more motivated.  And the fact that people celebrated your accomplishments with you, no matter how trivial they may seem, just blew me away.  I became more confident in my personal life, not because I was looking better, but because I had me under control, I knew what I wanted and I didn’t feel like the loser, fat child anymore. I’ve mustered up the courage to finally do a Boudoir Shoot, something I had only dreamed of the last couple of years.

The 8 Week Sleekgeek Winter Warrior Challenge was the best thing I had ever done for myself.  It got me focused.  It helped me make time in my busy schedule to train every day.  Some nights I would only train at 21:00 or 22:00, after a full day of work, cooking, getting kids into bed and ensuring everything was ready for the following day.  At first I thought the challenge wasn’t doing much for me, but once I looked at the before and after pictures, I could see the differences and I felt like I had accomplished something.  Even though I didn’t place, to myself, I was a winner in every way.  Not only had I lost a bit of weight and built some muscle, but I had shown myself that I can train every day and I can focus on something that is important for me.

My husband has started enjoying having me around more. The best compliment I got from him was one morning when I was making tea, when he said that he was jealous of how great I looked.  He said when I started he thought I’d just fade out but it had been 5 months at that stage and I seemed to just get more and more focused.  I’m more energetic, I no longer see chores as a schlep.  I can play with my kids without getting out of breath as soon as I did in the past (toddlers have an ENDLESS supply of energy).  I have started running – I can now complete 1500m in a reasonable time, and then some. Life has opened up for me and I’m loving every minute of it. Being active is no longer a dream, it’s now something I do almost on a daily basis.

Picture 291

Today I’m 14kg lighter than I was in December 2013, having moved from 83kg to 69kg. I’m much stronger than ever before and much fitter that I’ve been in my life. I don’t see my chiropractor unless I need an adjustment, a truly significant thing after 6 years of regularly being in his office.  I am starting to show muscles for the first time in my life.

I still have a way to go, but I’m getting there, slowly, each day a little closer to the end goal. Many of the relationships that were damaged through my initial weight gain have been mended with work from both sides. It was sometimes a hard and tear-filled road, but we made it through.

I now train 5 – 6 times a week, two of which is with other people in a really hot yoga studio. If I can give any advice to anyone on this journey, it would be to find the one activity you enjoy and do it.  Don’t be forced into mainstream ways of thinking just because ‘everyone else is doing it’.  If you love swimming, swim.  If you love walking, walk.  Getting fit should be fun and enjoyable, not something you feel you have to do and hate doing.

I’m slowly converting all my colleagues into Sleeks, with 6 of them already having joined. Now if I can just convert my husband… 😉

Sunika x

  • Sunika lives in Johannesburg working as a tax and Statutory Specialist


SUBMIT YOUR STORY AND WIN R500 Wellness Warehouse Voucher


Sunika 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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