My earliest memory with weight comes at the ripe old age of 11. I remember my mom taking me to a weight loss meeting and at this point, I remember thinking – OK, this body I am in is not working for me.
I can remember food being my crutch from a young age – when life knocked me down, it seemed that the only thing that could fill the void in me was chocolates, sweets and anything not good for me. I would eat enormous amounts and would mostly hide my eating.
I have been a yo yo dieter for most of my life – losing and gaining, but nothing ever sticking. I have tried everything from A to Z and back again. It would work for a while and then I would just gain it all back (with interest usually).
I was quite a sedentary child with a limited amount of physical activity. This obviously came with me into adulthood. I hated exercise, I loved everything that was bad for me – and I would hide at home with all my food purchases and eat.
Food was my solace and my happy place, it filled the gaps and voids in my life, and it provided relief and made me feel good. It was my drug of choice and I most certainly was an addict.
I became a virtual hermit – I wouldn’t leave my house except to go to work and to go to the shops. On a Friday afternoon, I would leave work and head to a grocery store (bearing in mind, it wouldn’t be the same one as I was petrified that the cashiers would recognise me and judge me), I would load up my trolley and would not leave home for the rest of the weekend. I would sit on my couch, watch series and overdose on junk food.
I was also that person who would always have their head down, I wanted to be invisible – I wanted to be left alone. My biggest fear was that with my weight gain people wouldn’t recognise me or that they would. I was lonely, isolated and felt completely separate from the world.
I had 4 items of clothing in my cupboard that fit me – I refused to shop because I didn’t want to admit the size I had grown to (which was a size 22).
The turning point came for me at Christmas 2015. I remember having 4 items of clothing in my cupboard that fit me – 2 shirts and 2 pairs of tights. I was sitting next to my Mom and my sister wanted to take a picture of the two of us. I panicked. I didn’t want to be in any pictures – because then I would have to admit what size I had grown to. I certainly didn’t want to face that challenge in the face. I refused to put on a costume – I didn’t want to eat in front of my family, or anyone else for that matter.
I decided to start my new lifestyle on the 27th of December. It was the perfect timing for me as I was on annual leave, and I made sure that I had all my supplies stocked up at home. This worked well for me, I had a week on my own to get used to my new eating plan. Upon my return to work, there were only a few of us back which again gave me another week to get my eating in line without any external pressures.
I followed a plan that suited my lifestyle – I believe that this is the only way any change in your life can be effective. I also suffer from chronic eczema so for me cutting out carbs was something I had to do – the gluten in carbs affects my skin badly, to the point where I need cortisone. So for me carbs are just not worth it. I also cut out sugar for obvious reasons. I actually feel that I was addicted to sugar and I really think the best thing for any person to do is to eliminate this as far as possible from their lifestyle. All the processed and sugar loaded foods we eat are slowly but surely poisoning us.
I set myself a task of weighing once a week, I chose to do this on a Friday morning. Obviously, my first task was facing the number that glared back at me. This was devastating to me, as I never acknowledged my actual size. However, when you come face to face with the scale there is no more hiding.
As the weeks went on and my eating plan began to adapt to my lifestyle I started to gain something that was new to me, confidence. I had started following a lot of health conscious people on Instagram who were uploading pictures of their meals, their workouts, their transformations – I was motivated, inspired and driven to get the weight off. I also began posting pictures from my life – including my weekly weigh in’s. Something in me just clicked and the weight started to fall off. I felt accountable to my Instagram account and I felt accountable to myself.
Initially I set a goal of 30 kg’s for the year as I felt that this is what I was capable of achieving, I hit this in August. I then decided to go big and set a new goal of 42 kg’s for the year. I ended my year with a weight loss of 47.6 kg’s and am currently on 48.7 kg’s – only another 1.1 kg’s to reach my final goal.
I only started exercising in April, which was about 4 months after I started my new way of life. I had lived a very sedentary life, so knew that I could not throw myself into a manic workout routine. I set myself a goal of 40 minutes, 4 times a week and would mostly stick to brisk walking on the treadmill. It was important to me to get my heart rate up and to get the workout in. I soon fell in love with exercise and it is now part of my life – I will never give up.
Health and wellness is something I am so passionate about now – I want to help people change their lives just as I have. I am not derogatory towards myself when I say, there is nothing special about me, if I can do this – you can do it too.
I am quite regimented with my eating plan and my training. I have to be – I have goals and I love my new life, so in order for me to be successful and happy in it, I need to know what I am eating, how I plan to train – and most importantly I need to be prepared. There are so many clichés out there, but the reason they are clichés is because they are true. Failing to plan in my book means planning to fail. There has to be a goal, there has to be a plan, and you better make sure you write it down (a goal without a plan is just a wish).
I run every morning (except Friday) and will usually run between 6 and 12km’s per day depending on how my legs feel and how much time I have.
Breakfast is a shake with protein powder.
At 10am I have a snack of either 2 boiled eggs or 2 egg muffins.
Lunch is another shake with protein powder.
At 3pm I will have a snack of either biltong or carrot sticks and hummus.
Dinner is always a white meat and vegetables or salad.
I will also do body weight training (squats, lunges, push ups, etc) at least 3 times a week (but if I am honest usually more). I don’t find that I have a lot of excess skin except around my tummy and my goal for this year is to have a tummy tuck.
I am also not the person that has cut out sauces – I still eat tomato sauce, salad dressings and gravy. I have cut out so much in my life that if I want sauces, I am going to have them.
I am surrounded by people that know my struggle and have supported me from the start. My family and friends have always supported me in this journey. I will often ask a friend to make sure I don’t snack on the bad things if we are going out for dinner or to a birthday. It helps me to have someone in my corner and especially when they know where I have come from.
I have also this time documented my progress – which is a first for me – on Instagram (@amandapruissen). I have been brutally honest there with my struggle with food, exercise and things in general. It has been such a cathartic experience for me to share my personal struggles and to see how many people are going through exactly what I am going through too. I have connected with people on the same journey as me, and that has motivated and inspired me to be better.
My work colleagues have supported me from the outset – and that has played a pivotal role in ensuring that I stick to my plan.
When you surround yourself with good, positive and most importantly supportive people things start happening. I think the biggest thing I have learned is that I matter. I was hiding away from the world and honestly not really living. I lived in a blanket of misery and was a hermit. I have gained happiness, strength, confidence and most importantly self belief. My life has been forever changed – and I just know that this is the start of something amazing. I have learned to love myself and to be kind to myself – flaws and all.
Initially I wanted to lose 30 kg’s and I managed to achieve that in August of 2016. I then set another target of 42 kg’s for the year, but got past that in November. By the end of December 2016, I had lost 47.6 kg’s and that has made me proud.
The highlight for me was running my first 10 km road race in October of 2016. I did it in 1 hour and 5 minutes. Since then I have done another 2, and my best time has been 1 hour and 3 minutes. I would really like to aim for a sub 60 minute 10 km run this year.
My exercise has been the biggest highlight for me. It has changed my life in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. It has made me happy. It has made me proud. It has made me want to conquer the world.
I had almost 50 kg’s to lose, when faced with that daunting number I wanted to give up. But I broke it down into smaller sections. I wrote down my goals. I cannot stress the importance of that enough. I also would tell myself each weigh day “the difference between my body today and next weigh day is what I do for the next 7 days”. It really helped me to break it down into smaller and more achievable blocks.
Finding something that worked for me was also critical, you have so many people that want to give you advice and tell you what you are doing wrong, but stick to your guns. If something works for you – let it. The only way for any eating plan to be effective is if it becomes part of your lifestyle.
Did I fall off the wagon? Absolutely! I found though that my thinking was clearer and that because I had made changes that worked for me, it was easier to get back on. More importantly, I wanted to get back on.
Firstly, no more shopping in plus size clothing stores. I now fit comfortably into a size 10 and can shop anywhere I choose. This for me was a huge thing. I refused to shop before and now I’m a proper girl wanting to wear skirts, jeans, dresses etc.
I think the thing that stands out for me the most at this point is the way I feel about myself and my happiness. I almost feel as though before I was just going through the motions of living, and now I am really living life to the fullest and enjoying it. When I look in the mirror I see a smiling and happy me. My life has changed for the better because of how I feel about myself and because I no longer feel trapped in my body.
Being able to run is the most freeing experience, it is the time I do my thinking, it is the time I reflect on my day or the previous day. Being able to run has given me wings – I think if you are a runner you will know what I mean, but running makes me believe that I am capable of so much more than I ever believed.
- Do what works for you – others have advice, but no one lives your life except you.
- Get moving – even if it is walking for 30 minutes per day, get active.
- Cut out carbs and sugar.
- Set and write down goals.
- Take before pictures and make sure you measure yourself.