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Q&A – Riaan Senekal

Here’s a quick Q&A with Riaan Senekal, our 1st place winner in the men’s weightloss category in the 2016 8-week Ultimate You Challenge.

  • Give us a short history of your journey to health and fitness before the challenge.

I used to be fit and completed a few half marathons and one 42km in my younger days. I played rugby up until a few years ago. I always struggled with my weight and the final nail in my coffin was when I stopped playing rugby and did not practice any more. I became a lazy couch potato. Drinking a lot and started the next day without energy drained me to do the bare minimum. I always had  a thousand excuses to do as little as possible. I was not feeling good with myself at all. I struggle to tie my shoe laces, my clothes does not fit me any more. I was sleeping late as often as I could. My son, Ian is a beautiful cerebral palsy child and we are extremely close to each other. To him I am his biggest hero. With my bad lifestyle, I was slowly beginning to fail him in the long run. I was very selfish not to consider my child’s well being. No, my bad habits were controlling my life!

  • What prompted you to join the ULTIMATE YOU Transformation Challenge?

One of my colleagues saw my frustration and told me of the Sleekgeek challenge on Facebook. It was early October 2016 when I went on that web page and browsed through the before and after photos of the previous challengers. Enough was enough. This is my challenge! I am going to go big and try to lose the most weight of all the challenges that entered this competition so far.

  • Give us a quick overview of the nutrition and eating plan that you followed during the challenge.

In the past few years, I collected a few diets, but did not commit to try them out. I googled for advice and scanned what the other Sleekgeekers ate and came to the conclusion that mine was very easy to follow. To get confidence, I did a 3 day diet to lose 5kg. With my first check in I lost 7kg. By then I felt very motivated and went onto my second diet: a soup fat burning diet, that you can follow for a week at a time. The diet is very simple and healthy. The soup has no calories and you can eat or drink as must as you want, when you are feeling hungry. It is important to drink 6-8 litres of water a day. As a rule I drank 2 litres of water a day, some days more.

  • Give us a quick overview of the training and exercise plan that you followed during the challenge.

At first I googled to get the best exercise plan for me. It was recommended for men over 40 to do compound training. Compound training is to do one exercise and work a couple of muscles at the same time. I borrowed a couple of free weights from my brother and built myself a bench. So far so good until after the first week I injured myself by trying to lift too heavy or using the wrong technique. So, compound training is out the door. No problem. My further studies suggested that with my age I must do high intensity cardio exercises for longer than an hour at a time. A white elephant of a treadmill at home became my best friend. Right at the beginning I did 25 min high intensity workouts in the mornings and later in the day 5 min very high intensity. I tried to exercise everyday but was not always possible in my line of work. It is bushfire season now and after a day in the bush you are too tired to train. Every Monday I did a 2.4 km run on the road to see how my fitness levels improved. After a while I did 45 – 50 min on the treadmill in the mornings and 30 min in the afternoon. It is hard work but every sweat drop was worth how I feel today.

  • If you could give 3 pieces of advice to future challengers, what would they be?

Set realistic goals that are do-able for yourself.

Stick to your goals as far as possible.

Surround yourself with positive people. For me it was my fiancee Renate, neighbors, friends, family, colleagues and Sleekgeek challengers on Facebook.

  • What did you find most valuable about your experience?

Breaking bad habits and making healthier decisions to improve my life. If you want it badly you CAN DO IT!

I broke bad lifestyle habits and am now an improved, better me.


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