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Subeiga Benjamin’s Story of Strength

1. As I opened my eyes I realised that I was laying in a hospital bed. Still a bit confused and my focus being out of sync I looked around the room and saw my doctor standing at the edge of my bed. I looked at her and asked, what happened? In a calm voice she said to me, “I’m so sorry Subeiga, your son died.” For a few seconds I just stared at her….what did she just say? I ask myself as I looked at her mouth moving but my brain it seems had pressed pause and nothing else was coherent.

I was always a very pleasant child. I remember fond memories of my dad reading Alice in Wonderland to me every morning before he left for work. My dad was my pillar of strength. To me he was stronger then Conan. Braver then the Tin man and smarter then Macgyver. But there was a dark side to my childhood as well. Something that would creep into my World when I came home from school and I was not in the protective circle of my parents.

A family member was molesting me. It started off as a bond. I was always awkward as a child and found nature and animals more comforting then watching tv or playing games. This particular person made me feel as if I was special for being well, different. But now that I’m an adult I know that this was part of the grooming to lower my guard and to make, what was to come less obvious to me and others.ย  This was when my bad eating started. I would sneak eat all kinds of nasty foods because for those few min the pain and memory of what was happening to me went away. Food became my comfort my confidant my safe place. Like every child I wanted to make sense of what was happening to me. I blamed myself. I thought if I was fat and did not wear shorts then this predator would have not found interest in me. Had I been like my cousin’s then he would not have chosen me. I only found out later that I was not his only victim. When the story finally broke I was already in my early twenties. He had done the same to another family member who spoke out. His excuse was that he only play touched. It was not molesting. I however did not say that he did the same to me.

2. By the time I was 12 years old I had started high school and I did not have to stay at my relatives house after school. My dad had started a new business venture that became very lucrative and he was able to stay home with me after school. Still, I did not tell anyone what had happened to me. Life went on and I finished matric with honours having had 3 distinctions. But food was still my comfort. By this time I think eating junk food became more of a habit then anything else. I went to study information Technology at CPUT. Uni life was very different from high school. There was no loving, encouraging teachers. No friends to group with me. It seemed like I was out of sync again. I turned to my favourite companion once more but this time I had more money available. I had a car and getting to fast foods like Mc Donalds and KFC was like taking a walk down the road to the corner cafe. This was when I ballooned. I went from 78kg to 100kg. When I turned 19 my World was again turned up side down. On the evening of August the 3rd I heard my mom’s voice over the phone, ” Subeiga come home now… your dad!

” Before she hung up I heard her shouting to my dad, “Sedick please do not leave me” and then I knew.

I drove home praying because I knew what I would find…..

After my dad’s funeral I turned to my beloved Mc Donalds Double deluxe cheese Burgers upsized of course with a ice cream cone ( its only R2, a steal for any food addict).ย  I would buy two burgers. One for eating in my car the other I would have at home for supper even though I just had supper in my car and then still have whatever meal I prepared at home for the family as well.

I was now 25 years old and weighing 115kg. I had dropped out of Uni and was working. At a time when I was suppose to be reaping the advantages of my young adult life with parties and social gatherings I was planning what meals I would have for breakfast lunch and supper and all the snacks in between. I would sit in my office and my draws would-beย  filled with sweety pies, chock sticks, Lays salty crisps and sweets. Food became my life. When I turned 26 I fell pregnant with my first son. It was the happiest time of my life. Every kick he gave,ย  gave me hope. Every month that passed I was filled with joy for the first time in my life I was optimistic for the future. But my health and whopping weight was making my pregnancy very difficult. At every visit my doctor would tell me to watch what I ate. My BP was always high. But not even the talks of my doctor fearing for my pregnancy or my health made me eat more healthier options.

3. One morning at 32 weeks pregnant I woke up with searing pain in my stomach. Luckily our help was at home with me. She called my brother and my mother and they drove me to hospital. The pain was so bad I drifted in and out of conscientiousnesss. I remember being put in a wheelchair at Constantiaberg Hospital and that was the last thing I remember. I woke up with the doctor standing at the edge of my bed…

“My son died? What?” …. She stayed with me for a while. Explaining to me that my Placenta broke lose. That my son was deprived from oxygen. That I was bleeding internally and they could not save him. I was in complete shock. I went numb for a few minutes crying silently. She came closer and explained to me their priority Is to save the mother. Save the mother? What do you mean save the mother, I asked in my mind? You should have saved my son, I started shouting in my own head.ย  “I am a worthless piece of trash that could not give life to an innocent child. How could you save this!?” Later they brought my son too me. I stared into his angelic face. His cheeks still rosy. I opened up the blackets he was wrapped in and for a moment I thought he was just sleeping. He looked so peaceful. Then I looked at his lips and they were blue. I knew then that he was gone. The Priest came to collect his body as in our religion we bury the very same day. I did not want to let go of him. He was mine. Reluctantly I gave him to our priest. I could not attend my sons funeral as in our religion we bury the body the very same day.

I went home a couple of days later with an empty stomach and an even emptier soul. What little self worth I had died with my son….

I went back to work and tried to find some normality in my life. Everything seemed greyer, nothing made sense anymore. I quite my job and stayed at home. I was now 27 years old but felt like I had lived a life time of pain. My health was in the toilet. I was put on adcoretic and High blood pressure medication. I locked myself up in my bedroom for weeks just eating and sleeping. Depression is a weird disease. I don’t have another way of describing the ailment. For me it was my identity. The self loathing, self sabotage is almost natural, I expected failure at every corner I turned. At the same time I was surprised that things did not go the way I had planned. It felt as though there was 3 personalities clashing inside me head. There was the angry me who hated everyone and everything and wanted to hurt myself physically almost, the sad depressed self loathing me who just wanted to cry in her room and be left alone and then the girl who knew none of this was “normal” trying to fight back, the latter had always lost the fight. laying in my room for days these 3 personalities who’d battle in my head constantly, it was exhausting mentally, spiritually and physically. I wanted to be left alone and at the same time I yearned for someone to hold me and tell me its going to all be ok…

My family did not know how to help me anymore and contacted our GP. I was refered by my doctor to a counselor who in turn refered me that same day to a psychologist. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and put on medication. My Blood pressure would spike to 190/140. I remember being admitted to Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont for the umpteenth time and had almost an outer body experience.ย  I could hear the nurse saying “this can’t be right, her BP is 230/160. Someone call the doctor”.

3.1ย ย  At 29 years old I fell pregnant again but lost that child too. As I lay in hospital with now, the second failed pregnancy my doctor looked at me and said. “Subeiga you have to make a choice. There is only so much we can do for you. The medications does not seem to help you. The psycologist report does not give me much hope either”. Then she looked at me and said ” if you carry on this path you will not see your 40th birthday”. As I lay in hospital that day I asked myself. Who are you? What do you want ? And I heard myself saying out loud. “I want to live. “

I went home after that stay in hospital, hearing my own voice say. “I want to live”. I’ve never had the clarity of thought ever that I had on that day. “I want to live”. I started researching eating plans. And stumbled onto Prof Tim Noakes food revolution and the Banting diet. I researched the science of it all for weeks. And decided to give it a go. My first plan of action was to make a list of what I wanted to accomplish. I made a video of myself telling me, what I needed from me. This video I would refer to constantly as a reminder of where I had come from.

The first 2 weeks was tough. I had headaches and fevers. I removed all the junk food out of my fridge and cupboards and replaced it with vegetables, full cream dairy products and bought so much fillet chicken i could have fed the South African Army. In the first 3 months of Banting I lost 20kg. It was unbelievable. I went for a doctor’s visit after having lost that weight and Dr Louise looked at me almost in disbelief. I’ll never forget the look on her face. It was a mixture of shock and happiness, she started crying and hugged me. When she finally let go of me she said with a giggle, ” you look slimmer than me”

4. I told her about Prof Noakes research and Banting. I have to admit she was sceptical but when she tested my BP it was 140/90. That is almost normal for someone like me. She exclaimed in her rooms “oh my goodness, for the first time in years your BP is normal” we did a little shimmy shake right there and we laughed so hard the receptionist came running in. I walked out of her practise feeling accomplished.

Next it was time to join a gym. I got myself a membership to Virgin Active. I had to talk myself into going the Monday. I was still 95 kg and I was scared I would be judged by all the slim girls and buff guys with their colored tights and tank tops, wind blowing through their glistening hair as they glide on the treadmill every muscle in their bodies taunt and ripped looking like they just stepped out of a FM magazine’s ( this was the picture I had in my mind of what the inside of a gym looked like). My first day i was a bit apprehensive to do anything. I thought I would brake the bikes or fall off the treadmill. A lady must have seen me looking all confused and asked if i wanted to join their group. I signed up. The first class was on a Tuesday Morning. Man oh man I didn’t know one’s body could ache in so many different places all at once. When the class finished our trainer Mr Jeremy Joubert walked over to me as I was lying with my back on the floor. Arms and legs out stretched like I was just crucified tears streaming down my face. He looked down at me and asked ” do you give up” I looked up at him and said, NEVER! That is when the switch flipped for me. I knew in that moment I was stronger then I had ever thought. With everything that had happened to me, I was down, yes, but I never gave up. There were many tough days at gym and trying to keep my diet on track. Life happens as we all know and I fell off the wagon many times. But the key I have learned in going on this journey is forgiveness and love. When you do fall or have a bad meal forgive yourself immediately. Know that this is a marathon and notย  sprint. You are human, we all make mistakes. Love yourself unconditionally and unapologetically.There is no place on this journey for feeling guilty. Get back on the wagon and start again.
This is your journey. No one else can walk it for you. You know yourselve better then anyone. Believe you are worth every scrape, every tear and every ” oh my God my hearts going to stop” (it wont though), moment.

I still have a lot of living to do. I’ve fought back with the last bit of courage I had left. I now weigh 62 beautifully flawedย  kilograms. I still do not look like Xena warrior princess ( the physique I envisioned for myself, I know….)ย  but i sure do feel like her. This whole journey has taught me to live life. To love life and even more importantly to love myself.

5. Shahida Jappie a lady in my group saw my determination and introduced me to SleekGeek. To my surprise they also had a Banting sub group within the SleekGeek community. Whatever inspiration and motivation I needed after that I found in SleekGeek. I read people’s struggles and their achievements and it gave me courage and hope that I too could do this. The Sleeks got me through the worst of times when I felt demotivated and doubted myself. I would read through the posts and see similar struggles of others and then I would muster on.

It’s been almost 2 years now and I have lost more then half of my body weight. I train 5 days a week and I even do some crossfit training. My best accomplishment was doing a 110kg deadlift. That day envisioned the old me laying on that hospital bed and symbolically lifting her up. Weighing in now at 62 kg. I am off all medications.ย  I am alive. I am me. I am finally happy.

6. Three tips I can give someone who wants to go on this journey:

No1. Forgive yourself for every bad meal you have ever had. Forgive yourself for every mistake you think you made, most of the time they are the most valuable lessons you will learn. Forgive yourself for not doing this sooner. It is never to late to change. This is the beauty of life. One can always correct course and sails.

No2. Love yourself. Love every flaw you have. Love every ounce of your being it does not matter if you think it is a negative quality it might just be the one quality in you that brings joy to someone else. Love life to the fullest, it is short and fleeting. Soak up life with every pour in your skin. I promise, love will be returned when you do.

No3. Surround yourselve with like minded individuals. Cut any negativity out of your space. Remove negative minded people from your space. Negative energy is what got us to where we over eat and become destructive to ourselves. Find a group like SleekGeeks where you can ask questions and find answers. It’s always easier to be in a community of people who support you then to go at it on your own. I’ve made life long friends on SleekGeeks who support me everyday.

Last but not least, have fun. This is a journey of discovery. And what you discover will amaze you and everyone around you.

one-hundred-pound-weight-loss-story-muslim-lady-loses-53kg

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