Here’s a quick Q&A with Zani de Wit who came 1st in Women’s Weight Loss by losing 24kgs in Sleekgeek’s latest ULTIMATE YOU 8-Week Transformation Challenge (sign up for the new challenge now at www.ultimateyou.co.za)!
QUESTION 1: Give us a short history of your journey to health and fitness before the challenge.
A: I grew up being fat. From as long as I can remember I was always the biggest in class; the fattest of my friends, one of the last little ducklings to be picked for any team that requires physical activity. It became part of my identity. I threw myself into books and academics and avoided the world of sports at all costs (except for karate which my Mom, thankfully, forced me to do). I never even tried any sports. Looking back it is such a shame because I probably could have been good at something and in the process make a whole bunch of friends. Instead, I retreated.
As adolescence approached, I became painfully aware of the quite lonesome fate my big body has created for me. I noticed society’s reaction to my thinner and seemingly more beautiful peers and my teenage-self realized that fat cannot be beautiful. So I stayed on the side lines where society saw my worth, never putting myself out there or allowing people to get to know the real me. Writing this I am realizing that being so withdrawn and building those walls, it was out of fear of rejection. I was already being rejected based on my body, being rejected based on personality or me as a person would have been too much to cope with. And the truth is people are favoured for ONLY their looks, and people are immediately “othered” based on the very same category.
In grade 9 and at the age of 14 I was shocked to see that the scale has climbed to a massive 110kg’s. That was a turning point for me and I decided to make drastic changes. I joined a gym and went on crazy and unhealthy diets. That was a hard time for me. I was so unhappy and desperate but I also did not have a clue what I was doing. I remember being hungry most of the time; at one point I could recount a whole week’s meals only because it was so little. I slept after school to rid hunger pains. I became obsessive and weighed just about every day. I cried and my heart ached when after all my efforts, the scale barely moved. I was exercising 4 times a week with so little nutrition. I also started to jog on the open road in an attempt to shed the kilos faster. There were a few times when I had brief blackouts after stepping off the treadmill. But the weight was falling off and after 6 months I managed to lose 35kg’s. And people went crazy!
All this sudden attention, people who ignored me before wanted to befriend me now, boys were actually now interested in me, and grown-ups were stopping me in public to ask me “the secret”. All this prompted me to starve myself even more and train harder. For the first time in my life I was “thin” and “favoured”. After reaching society’s standard of beauty I stopped with the diets and lost interest in exercise. Then the weight piled on and at the end of my first year at University, 4 years later, the scale at the doctor’s office said 125kg’s. My weight fluctuated a bit as I tried to lose it at different intervals but by the end of my 4 year degree I gained another 20kg’s. At 145kg’s I was out of breath walking a few stairs. I could not go on rollercoasters or rides. Normal pants did not fit and I literally just wore black tights/stretch pants.
I was anxious in social situations. I was self-conscious all the time. I avoided people. People were complicated. Food was simple. I always had a resolution to lose it all again. Next week, next month. Then I fell pregnant. I had to make some serious changes for the health of my baby and for myself if I wanted to have a full life with my family. Throughout my pregnancy I managed to lose 10kg’s by cutting out sugar, introducing fruits and making daily healthier choices and I had a healthy baby.
The first year adjusting as new parents were rough and life also threw us a few curveballs so I gained about 8kg’s again. I was a closet Sleek since 2013 and as the community grew, I saw more amazing stories and motivation on my newsfeed. I realised that I needed to make changes NOW. I wanted to be able to do normal things with this precious baby who is rapidly growing into a little boy, to be able to run around with him, to kick a ball and go to the beach. Losing weight and becoming healthy was my 2016 New Year’s resolution. However, it took me until April 2016 to take things seriously (always next week, next month). I joined a gym and exercised 3 times a week and adopted a healthy eating plan. I started the challenge in June.
QUESTION 2: What prompted you to join the ULTIMATE YOU Transformation Challenge?
Q: I lost a bunch of weight on my own but I needed some guidance and motivation. I still had A LOT of weight to lose. I was following SleekGeek posts daily for inspiration. I believe the challenge already started and I very much wanted to join, but it was a luxury I could not afford. So I started to enter all the competitions for a free entry and I was unbelievably excited to find out I won one. This was my chance to make a big change.
QUESTION 3: Give us a quick overview of the nutrition and eating plan that you followed during the challenge.
A: My eating plan was based on the Atkins20 where I eat basically just protein and limit carb intake to no more than 20grams a day. My carb intake was mostly in the form of avo’s and broccoli. For the challenge I tried cutting out dairy as well but only managed to restrict it. Lots and lots of water is important.
QUESTION 4: Give us a quick overview of the training and exercise plan that you followed during the challenge.
A: I went to the gym 4 times a week where I did 2 days of cardio and 2 days of weight training under the guidance program of a personal trainer. When the challenge started I knew I had to push myself so I also started to jog on Saturdays and Sundays.
QUESTION 5: Did you use any supplements or do anything else worth mentioning to help you get results?
A: I took a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement as well as an Omega-3 supplement daily to keep my body healthy.
QUESTION 6: If you could give 3 pieces of advice to future challengers, what would they be?
A: (1.) You can do the all the exercise you want, if you do not eat right you will not see results. Eating the right foods are key to losing weight. Training will increase the amount of weight you lose in a certain time period but it is impossible to achieve weight loss without clean eating. (2.) Say “NO” to small cheats throughout the week. We often think “it’s just one piece” or “a little sip” or a “small bite”. These quickly add up! Try as hard as you can to stick to your eating plan for 6 days of the week and cut yourself some slack only on the 7th day. Work hard so that you can reward yourself and earn that greasy carb loaded meal. Also, if you know you have an event with friends or family, plan for your reward to be on that day. (3.) Keep reminding yourself of WHY this important to you. This is something important you have to think about even before you start. Some days will be harder than others. Especially at these times you have remind yourself of your personal reasons for wanting to change your life. This will help you stay on track and hopefully anchor you again.
QUESTION 7: What did you find most valuable about your experience?
I loved the way the challenge provided me with focus and kept me accountable. It allowed me to challenge myself, to see my own capabilities. In the process I have grown. It was also amazing and valuable to share this experience with my challenge buddy and father. Together we laughed, we moaned, we encouraged, we trained, we shared and we created memories.