When it comes to speaking about my journey, it is difficult to decide where to start. This community means so much to me, that I want to be as honest as I can possibly be. Let me begin by saying that before I chose to “lose weight”, it wasn’t a simple situation of wanting the number on the scale to drop. I was in a state of mental chaos, having lived a life of hiding and social obscurity. At 23 years old, I knew that I was not living, and that I was on a mentally and physically destructive path. I had the wrong friends, the wrong thoughts, the wrong mindset. I chose to chase inferior love, toxic friendships and was very lost in a spiral of self loathing, drinking and binge eating.
At 23, I fell into a deep depression, and, for the first time ever I will admit this to all of you, I tried to take my own life. I had lived most of my life being morbidly obese. At the age of 13 I weighed 80kgs. I was constantly ridiculed and ignored, which forced me into a timid state of silence in my early teen years. The lowest point for me was when I tried to take my own life. That I think was the quintessential “rock bottom” that people speak of. I was the most alone I had ever been in my entire life. I harboured many demons, most of which I didn’t quite understand because I wasn’t even aware that I had them! I was terrified that I was wasting my life, and I couldn’t understand how my path had gone so awry. I think I just never learned how to identify who I was, the kind of self respect I deserved, who the right people were and how to protect myself. I unknowingly tried to cure this pain and isolation with comfort eating.
When I got another chance at life, I knew I had to find my way back. My mind had been made up that this spiral had to come to an end. This point came when I would run out breath bending over to tie my shoelaces, and I began to outgrow my size 42 pants. Somehow, no matter what I had gone through, I had faith that essentially I was still a good person despite feeling like an unworthy sloth most of the time. I knew that I still had something to offer the world, and that surely the compassion I felt for others, which had obviously made me a target in the past, could be channeled into something positive. Step one was getting my mind back on track, and getting a handle on my weight. I knew that I needed help, and this was when I chose to seek the help of a dietician. At this stage, I felt too large and embarrassed to be seen in a gym. I was very blessed to have met a lovely dietician, who designed a low GI meal plan for me, which actually included more food than what I had been eating before! I was amazed that I could eat things like bread and pasta regularly, and still lose weight. It felt good to have some semblance of structure again. I monitored my stats every second week with my dietician. By developing a better sense of discipline and structure in my life, the progress I made became addictive and kept fuelling me to take the next step further into this fitness journey.
By keeping my mind focused on enjoying the process, keeping calm, consistent, and above all, patient, something amazing began to happen. I grew fitter, stronger, leaner and braver! Once my weight dropped below 75kgs, I felt like that small step in the right direction had made me unstoppable and I had every intention to ride that momentum. I decided to join my friends cycling club. Once there, I continued facing my fears and began to feel so liberated with all the new challenges I was conquering. It made me feel like I was truly living by continuing to push my boundaries. I didn’t stop at the cycling. I started weight training and dabbling in crossfit with my dad, which opened up my first real connection with training.
I find that a useful trick for overcoming shyness at gym is by designing a killer playlist and zoning out whilst you train – you need to find a way to forget or stop caring about what other people think. I found that I fell in love with weight training and the way in which you can sculpt and mould your body. I met a lifestyle coach at my gym at this point who helped me modify my eating to suit my new style of training and give me the results I needed. I have been thoroughly enjoying the results and the process.
I am now 58kgs, maintain a body fat of around 14% and am stronger than I have ever been in my life. This is a far cry from the 80kg, 43% body fat me of the past. This has given me a confidence that I never believed was possible. I have to still work hard at not feeling like an ugly duckling and have to make sure that my mind fully realizes how much my body has changed. Being brave enough to follow my dreams and treat my body with respect has opened up so many opportunities, experiences and friendships. By focusing on health, I have harnessed an untouchable type of happiness that never waivers because I know I am taking care of myself both mentally and physically. I am now able to take chances, go on adventures, and live freely because I feel like I have begun to live correctly. I have set my sights on entering the bodybuilding arena as a result of my new-found love for weight lifting, which I have been committed to for the last year. From an obese nerd without a voice, to a Sleekgeek setting my sights on presenting a physique on stage is something up until the last few months ago I never would have dreamed possible.
I think that a true transition has to be self motivated and has to start with one’s mind. You have to realize that this process is gradual and requires patience. A lot of the time things seem impossible, but the truth is that it is very possible. We live our lives being conditioned to believe that we can’t have the things we want. But you have to believe that you are stronger and braver than you think you are. We all hold some form of untapped energy in reserve, and living life not being brave enough to tap into it is a shame. I am still learning new ways to harness mine and I am loving the process, even though it takes a lot of work and motivation.
Looking for validation and approval from others is futile as not many are going to understand your personal journey. What have I have learned is that it is ok to do this by yourself, it is possible, and trust me, along the way, you fall in love with yourself! You have to be your own hero and stop waiting for a better opportunity or the next quick fix.
There is no quick fix and accepting that this is a life long commitment to health is something we all should do. The power is within you to change your fate, it just takes work, planning, preparation and patience. The days where you feel like sleeping in instead of getting to the gym or choosing the bread over the veggies is when you need to grit your teeth and realize that breaking old habits might not be easy, but it must be done.
I wish all of you bravery, resolve, determination and faith on your fitness journey ahead. Many have done it before you, including me, and we are here to show you that this is very possible. A better life for you awaits on the other side of those hard decisions.
Good luck Sleeks!
Love and lifting,
SUBMIT YOURSTORY AND WIN R500 Wellness Warehouse Voucher
Chennel 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject line “You can live life well”
- 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.