My name is Emiline Miller. I am 23 years old and currently a research student doing my masters degree.
I can’t remember when I wasn’t overweight. As a child, I was always the biggest among my friends and it didn’t affect me because it was normal. I don’t have any sad stories about how my weight affected me as a child.
In primary school, I still attempted sports I played netball and was confident in my skin. The fact that I was a size 38 by the age of 13 did not affect me it just made shopping for school uniform challenging. I was loved by my family and friends and never felt the need to lose weight because I was beautiful Emiline and would always get complimented on how my weight suites me. The worst thing about being overweight as a child was that people always thought I was much older and after a while, it didn’t bother me as people would say I was wise beyond my years.
Going to high school I became less active and that’s when the weight piled on. I am academic at heart and was always one of the top students needless to say all my time was dedicated to doing homework, doing the perfect assignments and always studying basically sitting on my ass all day. I was also the oldest girl in the house which meant household responsibilities fell on me like making dinner every night. I remember clearly how I would prepare enough food so that I can have 2 dinners, one with the family and the other as my midnight meal as I would still be up doing school work.
The food I prepared was not the healthiest and filled with starch. I was addicted to sweet things, chocolates, biscuits, and fizzy drinks were my go-to snacks. By the time I was 18 and in matric, I was a size 42 but I was still the beautiful Emiline and was accepted by my friends and family. And I was happy with the way I looked because I had all the curves.
Then went to university and within my first few weeks, we had an assignment where we had to weigh ourselves in front of the entire class. Before that, I have not weighed myself ever in my life. Before stepping on the scale I joked around with my friends saying it’s probably gonna be 100kg well I was not too far off and I weighed in at 99kg still it did not affect me because I was happy and loved the way I looked. Throughout my first year at university the weight continued to pile on, I was the girl that received a lot of attention from guys and they liked me for the shape of my body, so I was happy.
How it started
My weight loss was not an intentional effort at the beginning. I got a holiday job at the end of my first year at university as a waiter in 2014. With the long hours, double shifts, barely finding time to eat I dropped 2 sizes within a month and people started to notice.
Generally, my unintentional weight loss was not well perceived. People thought I was sick, doing drugs and I would often get comments like the weight loss does not suit because I was meant to be big. These comments came from my family, friends even strangers. So as my job ended and I got back into the swing of things I gained some of the weight back. I don’t know remember the exact moment it happened but as I was gaining the weight back I decided no I do not want to go back to being that size.
The big change
And so my intentional weight loss started in mid-2015 and to date I have lost nearly 40kg. I started exercising at home using DVDs from woman’s health magazines and the weight started to drop at a very slow pace but it was working.
Trying to eat healthy in a house where starch is the primary food source was challenging as I could not afford to buy own food but as my family started to see the changed they supported me by buying more veggies weekly. Your family and friends might not understand why you doing what you doing so it’s important that you help them understand you shouting foul words at the tv and screaming in pain because of the last set is by choice.
A lot of people will try to derail you by telling you that you are beautiful the way you are but remember why doing it for your own happiness and not for their approval.
It was a lot of trial and error until I discovered the Sleekgeek Facebook Group in 2016. I was a silent member for a year just being inspired by posts and learning a whole lot about nutrition and exercise.
I started going to the gym and lost some more weight and got down to 85kgs following all I learned on the Sleekgeek Group.
Beginning 2017 I went on a 3-week trip to collect data for my research project and when I came back I weighted 89.5. This scared me because I was so close to being where I started and I was afraid of being in the 90’s or 100’s again.
I just had a huge mental shift went completely cold turkey and started Sleekgeek Reboot and lost 20kg in the space of 5 months with exercise and a lot of walking. I decided to walk to campus instead of taking the train at least 4 days a week and this was a primary form of exercise as I could not find time to go to gym or exercise at home.
This was the start of my new life, every week the scale would shift and I became obsessed with eating clean and the way my body was responding to the way I was treating it. I avoided social gatherings where I knew there would be unhealthy foods and alcohol. During this time it was all about me and my goals,I was learning to love my body not being full of curves but for it being healthy and being able to things I never thought it could.
Towards the end of last year I took part in my first Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge and it did not go well because of a busy schedule but I made lifelong friends and it was the start of my weight training journey which changed my life.
Starting in the weights section is the scariest thing I have ever done but really so glad that I braved it out. I am now more confident and nothing empowers you by lifting some heavy sh*t.
What have I learned
Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the Sleekgeek Group. Most of my journey has been just me with no one around me that understands what I’m going through. Looking back I wish I involved more of my family and friends in my journey. I was determined to do things on my own and shut out a lot of people when it should’ve been the time of sharing. I did all my first races on my own like the Muddy princess, first 10km road and trail runs and now I wish there was someone to share it with me. But all of these first were also highlights because I met people at these events that became friends (when representing SG you will always have a friend).
My proudest moment was last year when I ran my first 10km at the Cape Town Peace run, I was so nervous and afraid that I would not finish but I made it and what I remember most about that day is the encouraging words I received from my Sleekgeek family. I came along at the race but surrounded by sleeks and love.
Through this journey I have also realised that I eat my emotions – if I’m happy or sad I choose to celebrate with food and wine. This is still something I’m trying to manage with binge-tracking apps, meditating and the help of my challenge buddy.
The greatest thing I have learned is that you are not alone and there is always someone that’s willing to help and support you. I have also learned that your body does not change the way you expect it to. Ladies make peace with the fact that the boobs will go, I’m still struggling with this. Also, this is a rollercoaster ride filled with brilliant ups and terrible downs. I’ve hit many bumps along the way, I’ve had long binges, periods of gaining some weight back but learning from each experience and getting back up each time.
Now I am a runner, hiker, weightlifter…
My life has taken a complete 180 because taking care of your body spills over to all aspects of your life. I am more positive and ready to take on challenges. I now involve my family and friends more in my journey. I go on regular hikes with friends, invite them to join me at events and share my story with others.
I have learned that I inspire people which was difficult to comprehend at first because I’m always looking at my role models for inspiration not realising that what I have achieved inspires others. I am now a regular in the weights section after being confined to the cardio section for so many years and I’m loving every second of this journey. I still struggle with binge eating but I’m getting there, still not where I want to be but I’m getting there. This journey does not get easier but it becomes more rewarding. Thanks to Sleekgeek I was able to take back my life at an early age and make friendships.
My tips for success
- Keep it simple. Your diet does not have to be complicated protein and veggies with each meal works.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. We are all built differently and 67kg on the next person might not look the same on you, so don’t chase a number on the scale.
- No change is too small. Make small changes because they all add up and make the biggest difference.
- You do not need a gym. I have lost most of my weight by simply choosing to walk more and doing home workouts. Not having access to a gym does not define your progress.
- Go forth and be confident! No one at a race will be looking at your pace or looking at how many times you stop to walk. Do you and be proud that you showed up.
- First get in the right mindset before attempting this journey. Find your “why” and go for it because it is more of a mental than physical challenge.
- Find what works for you and switch it up. Exercise is the fun part.
- Represent. Being approached by strangers and sharing your sleekgeek story really builds your confidence and makes you feel proud of yourself and this community.
- When you feeling at your lowest go to the Sleekgeek facebook page and you are sure to find inspiration.