For as long as I can remember I have been chubby, or the so-called “skinny-fat” all the way through school and even after school, I had become so accustomed to it that I thought nothing of it. I grew up in a household where bread, pastas, potatoes, rice and puddings were on the menu every day. Add that to the fact there was always sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks in the house, and something is bound to go wrong.
I was never really SUPER active as a child, except for the odd bicycle ride to the local swimming pool, running around outside for a few hours, my brief stint as a wannabe rugby player in school and after sustaining a back injury, taking up field hockey. Then came the “student years”. I was the guy you would see in clubs, pubs and bars from Thursdays to Saturdays, every night. Drinking, smoking, and stopping at the nearest 24 hour take away at 4AM in the morning looking for something to eat after a night of drinking. When I wasn’t partying the night away, I was at home, sleeping it off, or on the couch in front of the TV stuffing my face with what I could get my hands on – which most of the time consisted of fizzy drinks, take aways, and loads of crisps and sweets.
This went on for a long time, up until I turned 29 I thought nothing of the fact that I lived off take aways and spent my weekends either drunk or hung-over, and it was only after my 30th birthday that it really hit home.
I was laying on the couch one severely hung-over Saturday morning and my mother walked past me, looked at me, poked me in the stomach and said “What the hell is that?” Can someone say EMBARRASSING? That Monday I booked a health check with a biokineticist and an appointment to go see the local Virgin Active and join up. Joining the gym part was easy, the health test, not so much. I was 30 years old, and if my memory serves me correctly, I weighed close to 94kg (which at 1.77m tall, is quite a bit) my blood pressure was above normal, higher than normal cholesterol, glucose levels were off… everything was just wrong! Well, that was the start of it, I enlisted the help of a colleague that was a long time gym bunny that seemed to know what he was talking about. He helped me work out an eating plan, a training program and shared all the information he could share.
And so started my long journey to a healthier me! I would train maybe 3-4 times a week, but with minimal effort – you know, I don’t want to look stupid, or be too tired when I get home! I followed the eating plan pretty well, but looking back now, it was NOWHERE near what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. It was a typical on/off relationship me and the gym, me and eating right… training here and there when I was in the mood, still eating junk as a “reward for a hard training session” (read with a sarcastic tone) and keeping up with the drinking and partying and late night (or should I say early morning) take aways…
When I moved to Durban late 2012, I fell off completely, new place, new people, new pubs and beach bars to explore and so I went back to my old ways. I eventually started training again and started doing more and more research on nutrition and exercise.
At some point during this time I had convinced myself that I was carbohydrate intolerant, and I started researching symptoms etc. and one of the Google search results was a link to the Sleekgeek Reboot page! I read through a few posts and was instantly intrigued by the wealth of information that was being shared, and all the positive feedback & responses to questions on the page. It all seemed so simple… I joined the page, and so I did my first Reboot – I have to be honest, I did not last the full 30 days (made it to day 27 though) but it changed my mind about food. During the months to come it would be a see-saw ride of ups and downs as I tried to focus on what I was eating only to be derailed by a weekend, or a party or plain and simple temptation, and let’s just be honest, laziness.
I quickly found my way to the Sleekgeek main page which was a HUGE source of information, motivation and knowledge! I followed so many people’s stories closely, taking in as much information as I could and tried to apply it to my own life. What helped me immensely was seeing that each and every person was on a journey of their own, yet go through the same things I did, and probably still do. I registered for the newsletters and that is where I found a link to the regional groups and I joined the KZN Group and started meeting up with fellow Sleeks, running on weekends, doing races together, a few dinners and got to know some of them pretty well, and there I found out that SG is more than just a FB page, it is a tangible support system filled with people, each going through their own struggles and yet we all have the same basic goal in mind – healthy living.
In January of 2014 I entered my first Sleekgeek Challenge, and that is what turned the switch for me. Look, I did not do amazingly well, but my mindset changed, it was the kick I needed to see the error in my ways so to speak… I remember, I posted my results in the group and someone commented “Your head is in the right space, keep it up…” and that is exactly what I have done.
Since then I have been eating clean for the most part, I avoid processed foods as much as I can, I do not eat bread, pasta or any white starches, I avoid sugar and dairy as much as I can (partly because I am a huge sugar addict, and because dairy just not go well with me) I keep my foods as natural as possible. I avoid alcohol… except for the odd celebration here and there, and then I am very careful to try to not overdo it. Yes, I have had the occasional treat, or slip up, or whatever you like to call it, but I do not make a habit out of it, I refuse to go back to my old ways!
I now train 6 days a week, which consists of a combination of weight training, HIIT, some kettlebell work and steady state cardio, with one day a week of active rest either on Saturdays or Sundays
With all this, consistently, I am proud to say that I have changed my life for the better. I have lost close to 10kg in the last year and 42cm all over. I have a found something in SG which I am truly passionate about and I am working on making a living out of it, I am currently studying towards becoming a personal trainer so that I can share my experiences with others. As they say, find a job you are passionate about and you will never work another day in your life.
If someone had to ask me to give advice to someone starting off on this journey, it would be the following:
- Get your head in the game – NO excuses
- GET RID OF YOUR SCALE, that thing will drive you INSANE
- Get your eating in line with what your goals are! Avoid anything that could possibly derail your progress
- We are NOT dogs, do not reward yourself with treats
- As with everything in life, give it 100% effort and you WILL get results
- Be consistent
- Be patient
- Ask for help when you need it
- Share experiences and victories, you never know who you might help or inspire
- And most importantly DON’T EVER GIVE UP
I will finish off by saying this, I saw one of those motivational pictures on FB a while ago and it has just spring to mind. Yes, the journey to whatever your goals may be is a tough road to travel, because no one can walk it for you, but someone can walk it with you… and that is exactly what SG has done. SG has brought together 25000 people to walk their journeys together
Thank you Elan, and the team that makes Sleekgeek possible
SUBMIT YOURSTORY AND WIN R500 Wellness Warehouse Voucher
Paul 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.