Kristly Coetzee has lost a fantastic 30kgs – even though she’s got a strong love/hate relationship with burpees, she’s made some incredible changes – here she tells us her story:
I remember that day as if it was yesterday. The instructions on the box were quite simple, pee on the stick and wait 3 minutes. 3 minutes in that kind of situation could feel like forever but eventually 3 minutes did pass and 3 minutes later my life changed. Life as I knew it was over. Yes, it was a positive. I was going to be a mom. Great news right? Not exactly. There was nothing great about that news, I was 16 years old. In an instant I went from a party animal teenager with no responsibilities to having to be responsible for a baby; a defenseless baby that would have to rely on me.
Being pregnant at such a young age taught me a lot about my relationship with food. As you can imagine my pregnancy was not celebrated with cards and flowers, and because of the circumstances I never truly allowed myself to be happy. Eventually I did accept it and yes, I was happy and excited to be a mom but I never showed it. It was extremely hard to deal with and to accept, accept that our lives would change forever. Even though I had a little person growing inside of me, I felt empty. I loved her with my whole heart and with every kick and movement made me happy but I always felt I couldn’t show it. How could I be happy when everyone else was disappointed in me? So I ate, I ate every single emotion I felt and I ate to fill that emptiness inside of me. Within 9 months I was a full 40kg heavier.
The day she was born I made her a promise; I promised her that no matter what happens in life that I will always be there. i knew that I had to give her the best life she could possibly ask for. Finishing school was a priority because I could do more for by finishing school than I ever could becoming a dropout so I left my 2 week old baby at home to go and finish school. I cannot even begin to explain how hard it was for me, my body felt as if it was giving up on me. It was the hardest thing I had to do, all I wanted was to be with her but I couldn’t, I wanted her to be proud of me one day. Food again was my only comfort, eating helped me to deal with it; it’s the only way I knew how to deal.
When I did finish school I had absolutely no plans for the future, no plan for university or to get a job, the only plan was to build a bond with my daughter. We didn’t have a very strong bond because I was always busy, the only time we really had together was on weekends so I took a year off and gave myself just to her. Having her to myself all day every day made me realize just how much we needed each other. I was so busy trying to make sure she had the best life possible that I forgot to just be there for her, just to be her mother. Be the best mother first and the rest will follow. The more our relationship improved, the more my relationship with food improved. I no longer had to deal with all these emotions.
December 2014 – How a simple day at the beach changed my life
So there I was, 18 years old, weighing 118kg, struggling with high blood pressure, unfit and unhealthy. By that time a size 44 pair of jeans was way too tight and I had to wear maternity clothes; but even those were becoming a tad too tight. We decided on a beach family day, just the 3 of us but my day did not start off very well. Firstly, I had no clothes that fitted, the only thing that fitted was a long pair of tights and a black t-shirt – so off I went to the beach during one of the hottest months of the year with everything covered. Secondly, the beach was packed which meant no parking so we had to park quite far away and then walk from there and that was something I hated. I made myself comfortable in the little bit of shade there was and there I sat, Chloe and her daddy went off playing in the water and I watched them. All I wanted to do was join them but I couldn’t, I was still recovering from walking. At that moment something in me changed, I didn’t want to be this person anymore, I didn’t want to be the girl sitting in layers of clothes on the beach because I was ashamed of my body, I didn’t want to be the mom who sat one side and watch her child play because I didn’t have the energy to join her. Something in me that day changed, I just decided enough is enough, so I made the change. My journey started that next week.
How I made the change
When I started this journey I had no idea where to start. I knew nothing about eating healthy, exercise or weight loss. I fully believed that the only way to lose weight was to use diet pills and so I did. I was over the moon, 10kg within 3 weeks and if I could carry on this way, I would be 40kg lighter within a few months. My happiness was short lived, just like any other diet tablet it stopped working after a while and before I knew it I had gained the weight back. After a few weeks in denial I started researching low carb diets and decided that that would be the way I was going and within 5 months I was 20kg down. I made it a point that as soon as I lost the first 20kg I would start exercising so it was between gym and boot camp, I decided on boot camp and I have never regretted my decision. I started boot camp in July 2015 but 2 months later I was 7kg up, in my mind I had decided that because I now exercise I can eat just what I want because I could just work it off the next day. Luckily I learnt that there is no way to exercise myself out of a bad diet and quickly went back to low carb and quickly lost those extra 7kg. In October my boot camp coach had a fat loss challenge where I was also introduced to carb cycling. In 8 weeks I lost 10kg and took 1st place in the challenge, it was a very proud moment for me. I have since then stuck to carb cycling and I’ve been doing it for the past year. I fall back on low carb on weekends and continue carb cycling during the week, it works well for me because it’s easier and keeps me from cheating over weekends.
How boot camp changed my life
Exercise was never my strong point, to be honest, I hated it. I knew that if I wanted to be healthy and have a nice body that I would have to do some kind of exercise, some or another way I needed to start taking interest in it. 24 July 2015 was when I had my first boot camp session, I was sitting in the car that morning ready to just turn around I go home. I swear I had about 10 anxiety attacks in those 10 mins sitting and waiting. I put on my big girl panties and walked in, I walked in there not even knowing how to do a push-up but I walked out an hour later feeling amazing. Not because it was a great workout, it was actually quite terrible but because I didn’t go home, I went in and I faced those demons and I was damn proud of myself.
Losing weight made me feel good about myself but exercising made me feel amazing about myself. A year and a half later and I am still amazed at what my body can do. I might not be the fastest and I might not be able to keep up but I push, I push myself harder and harder every session. I don’t think I would have come so far without boot camp.
I am grateful that I have had a great support system from the very beginning. My family has been there every step of the way, through the good times and the bad times. Despite having huge amounts of support I also had people break me down, luckily those people don’t matter to me anymore and I have proved them wrong. Joining Sleekgeek a year ago was a saving grace for me, it taught me that we are all fighting the same battle and no matter what we stand by each other. We don’t break each other down, we only uplift and inspire.
Milestones that I am proud of
I started this journey because I refused to be the mom who sits and watches anymore. I wanted to be that mom running with her child on the beach so I became that mom. There is no better feeling than having the energy to actually be able to do stuff with her, simple things like kicking a ball around the yard, going for a walk on a hot summer’s night, been able to chase her without the fear of having a heart attack.
All these things mean the world to me because I did this for her, I did this for us. This is the stuff we could never do because I never had the energy to do any of it.
My only hope is that she grows up loving exercise and living healthy and not hating it the way I did.
The ugly truth is that losing weight is hard. It’s not easy and it’s not fun but always remember nothing worth having ever comes easy. There will be days that you love yourself and there will be days that you hate yourself. You will fall off this wagon more times than you count and getting back gets harder and harder every time but the trick is to get up, no matter how hard, get up, dust yourself off and carry on.
This journey can be draining and some days it will even suck the life out of you but it is so worth it. Every single step of this beautifully ugly journey is worth it.
-Plan your week. Take your Sunday afternoon to prep meals and plan your week. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
-Keep moving. Try your best to get your daily steps in, the more you move, the better.
-Stop thinking “diet”, this is not a diet, this is a lifestyle change. If you think of this as a diet, you will fail.
-Drink water. Drink a lot of water, stay hydrated.
-Try green tea, I know it’s gross but it has so many benefits.
-Eat when you are hungry, not bored.
-What got me past these last 2 years; you are confined only by the walls you build yourself, if you believe that you can’t do this then you won’t be able to. You need to believe in yourself every step of the way.