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Roelien Kruger overcomes her accident, finds health and loses 18kgs so far

I was not an overweight child however I was already an overeater from an early age but my energy levels and metabolism saved me from being overweight.  I was hyperactive and was constantly outside being active, cycling, running around, climbing trees and anything tall, taking part in sport etc.

A lot of comments were thrown around though as I just ate so much, comments such as I’ve got worms or ladies don’t eat like pigs etc. But I couldn’t help being hungry.  I do have a larger frame and this gave the illusion I was overweight, but I wasn’t. I wore a lot of baggy clothes and t-shirts as a teen to cover up but it actually made me look worse. Unfortunately the habit of overeating followed me into my adult life and my 20s was where I started my battle with my weight and health.

Food was comfort 

I found comfort in food.  Food doesn’t let you down.  Or so I thought. Being an emotional or boredom eater did not help matters. So every heartbreak, every setback, and every bad time in my life I ate food to compensate how I felt.  I lived to eat! If I hit depression, I ate. Even if I was bored, I ate.

I was still quite active as I danced, hiked and enjoyed doing things that had my heart pumping, but I just refused to believe I was no longer that teenager/child that burned anything I ate and still chose to eat wrong.  I loved my sugar and carbs! I had a friend say to someone once that she has never met an adult woman eat as many sweets in one go as I could and did. At the time I saw it as an accomplishment. Sweets, chips and ice-cream was the order of the day. Anytime, any day, anywhere!  Let’s not bring up bread and pizza…

When life hits you – literally

In 2014 at the age of 30, after picking up 50kg throughout my 20s, I decided this it.  I have to do something and I started cycling and cutting down on carbs and stopped eating large meals at night.  Then in April 2014 I was involved in a car accident where another driver skipped a red robot and “t-boned” me. I hurt my back.  At first glance my injury was a simple spasm in the lower right lumbar, but soon got worse.

I took the slow route to recovery but that meant my hip and upper back took the strain and started hurting too. After a couple of weeks I couldn’t walk properly. I was in constant pain. It was so bad I couldn’t sleep on my back or on my right side leaving only my stomach and left side, after a while my left side would show signs of pain from all the pressure I put on it. Plantar fasciitis in my left foot, knee issues in my left knee. My left arm and shoulder would now and then pain or be sensitive.

There were things many people take for granted that I couldn’t do. Thinks like shopping for example. I could hardly walk a few meters so walking with a trolley or in a mall was incredibly painful. I would choose restaurants based on their seating. I could tell what chair would hurt me and what chair wouldn’t. If I was invited out to places I declined often unless I knew the restaurant because I would spend the entire time in pain if the chair was wrong.  I couldn’t even carry anything in my right hand, even if it wasn’t heavy as it eventually started to hurt my lower back. Asking for assistance killed me a little inside because I’m young and I didn’t look hurt, so I used to get those questioning looks, especially when I had to ask for something as simple as “can you please pass me that on the bottom shelf as I can’t bend”. Standing was the worst so queues were a no go.

If I walked into a shop and the queues were long, I would just turn around and walk right out.  There have been times where I have completely wasted my time driving to the shops. I discovered online shopping instead and was overjoyed when I could apply for a new passport and ID online and go to the bank!  I basically then became a recluse. As an extrovert that meant my entire personality changed and even though I had always loved movies and series, I suddenly became an expert and would lie on my bed in the one position that never hurt me which was lying back on my pillows at an angle with my legs stretched out in front of me watching 9 seasons of CSI in a matter of 2 weeks.  This injury however may have stopped by physical journey but I had changed my diet and was eating much healthier and had lost 14kg.

I was finally getting a little better when in January 2016 I fell up the stairs to save my bacon (literally had bacon in my hand that I refused to let go of) and hurt myself all over again. My injury was even worse now. After this I went into depression because I basically was at home most of the time. I wanted to go out, do things but couldn’t and always had to decline offers especially fun ones. I lost friends in the process. I gained all the weight I had lost up until that point instead.  I became the person I thought I would never be. Bitter, boring and I started hating people. And I took it out on others. I turned to food again for comfort.

When it all changed

My turning point came in July 2017 when I had a mini meltdown. I really just wanted to die. I felt hopeless and helpless. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I missed who I was before the accident.  I took the day off from work and contemplated how to end my life. Then on one of the community groups I was on at the time we were chatting about health and weight and I mentioned my back injury just keeping me back and this amazing coach named Mason Bailey inboxed me and became my pro bono coach. He just got me and he just had a way to speak to me in a way that hit home.

He encouraged me and I got up. I started walking.  I only managed to walk to the stop street and back and that was about 500m and it took me 15 minutes to do, but I did it. I followed his eating plan which consisted of Oats for breakfast, fruit as a snack, 100g lean meat preferably and 200g veggies as my meals and I can have 2 Provitas and avocado (replaced with cheese as I hate avocado) or instead of Provita I could have Cracker Bread.  I cut down on my sugar, carbs and dairy considerably. And the final ingredient: determination. I am not a morning person and I love my sleep but I got up every morning and went walking, in the dead of winter! Within a few months I lost 18kg.

Enter Sleekgeek 

At that time I had no ambitions, no desire to gym, train or run, not even take part in parkrun, I just wanted to be healthy, more mentally than physically but then it was amazing to see my spiritual, mental and physical health all coincided together. My mindset changed, I became more positive and then I joined the Sleekgeek Group on Facebook and met some really amazing people who gave me hope. I can never repay the kindness and love shown by my tribe here!  I thank God every day for guiding me to this group of remarkable people.

At first I would look at all the runners on the group with some envy and say “ag shame” lol, but then over a month later in late August I felt I needed more and decided to take the plunge and joined parkrun on the coldest day of the year nogal!

In March 2018 I had entered my first 5km race and even beat my parkrun personal best. I then took a big dive and entered the 10km race of the Soweto Marathon that’s being held in November 2018.   Big dive for someone who a year ago used to joke about only running if something was chasing her and could hardly walk pain free!

Up until now I’ve lost 18kg however I put a couple back on over December and am now battling to break the 100 mark and go back into double digits again. However that hasn’t stopped me. My weightloss goal is to lose another 30kg but right now, I’m focused on meeting my goal of being spiritually, mentally and physically healthy.  My focus is to train for Soweto. Because of my back I take a little longer to get there but I will get there.

I’m working on a new plan at the moment, waking up in the mornings early to pray and meditate then to go for a run (currently I’m just wogging -walk/jogging – but I call it a run – being positive and optimistic!) and in the afternoons after work I hit the gym where my focus is primarily on fitness with a little strengthening.  Eating wise I am playing around with my original plan to see what works and what doesn’t and yes I do give in and have pizza now and then. I am going back to basics for the next Sleekgeek 8-Week challenge.

My ultimate goal is to be healthy.  I don’t want the “live forever” kind of healthy, no I want to enjoy the life I have been given.  My motto in life is: do something today that your future self will thank you for. So my mind, body and spirit is my focus.  In 2019 I want to go climb the Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii (illegal I know, but still on my list) and I want to enjoy it, not spend the entire time gasping for breath.  Up until the past few months those kinds of goals were out of reach. And the pain you’re wondering?

It’s still there, just not as bad or prominent.  I have to still be careful as to what activities I can do, obstacles are out and planking is a huge no no but considering that the pain is disappearing slowly or is as less prevalent, I believe I am getting stronger.

The Occupational Therapist I saw late last year informed me I can do more than previously thought and is happy with my progress and the Physio Therapist says there is a high probability I could fully heal.   My journey is far from over but I am enjoying it, learning from it, growing from it and mostly I am more healthy because of it!

My personal tips for success:

  • Nutrition is way more important than the physical activity.  
  • Be consistent, it’s okay to eat a cheat meal or skip a training session as long as it’s not a daily occurrence.
  • Find your passion – find what makes you happy in this journey and do it.  If it’s running, run! Hiking, hike! Picking up weights, lift!
  • Still enjoy your food.  Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what you eat!
  • But don’t eat to live, don’t live to eat! Change your view of food.
  • Don’t let guilt be your portion – thanks Elan for that one!  If you eat a bad meal or snack, get over it, move on. Wallowing won’t change what happened.
  • Be determined! There are days you will have no motivation but let your why get you up!
  • Have a why! Why are you doing this? That will keep you going in the dark days
  • Take constructive criticism as it will build you and assist your growth.  
  • Be open to learn! No one ever knows everything even the experts.
  • Ask for help! Ask for help again, and again, and again until you get the answer you need
  • Focus on your mind and spirit as much as your body.  A healthy mind and spirit will help you on the days where your body doesn’t want to cooperate.
  • Never forget where you came from
  • Be disciplined! Choosing a healthy meal over takeaway is not the easiest but push yourself to choose the healthy option
  • Be open for new ideas! Whether it’s to revamp your kitchen or wear certain leggings to do squats in or an app that will benefit your training.
  • Be kind.  The person next to you may be struggling in their journey.  And you never know what you will learn from them that will benefit your journey
  • You don’t need money to lose weight and be healthy! When I started my journey I hardly had enough money to feed myself.  By sticking to my eating plan, I cut my food costs down drastically! It’s the snacking and take-aways that eat away at your budget
  • And if you are religious, put God first and thank Him for giving you a chance to being a healthier you.

Love Roelien!

(Me with the bossman Elan at the Gauteng Sleekend!) 

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