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Mareldia van Wyk loses 26kgs and rocking it!

Walk with me for a moment…

Growing up on a farm meant fresh fruit and vegetables were always at our disposable and from a very young age I learned to love healthy eating. Since we lived kilometers from shops junk food was something I was not accustomed to and only enjoyed at celebrations such as birthdays and weddings.

When I moved to the big city (Cape Town) as a teenager I maintained a healthy lifestyle and weight up to my late twenties. I even managed to keep my weight stable during my pregnancy and after the birth of my daughter. I honestly thought that I was one of the lucky people who would always be able to stay thin because I had my eating habits under control…but I was wrong.

In 2009 I joined the South African Police Service and exercise and fitness became an important part of my life. I did not belong to a gym but I use to run and exercise feeling very good about my body and level of fitness. I honestly do not remember exactly how and when it happened but after 2011 I remember slacking in fitness and slowly starting to gain weight.

During that time I went through many personal challenges in my life and unconsciously food became my comfort. Having friends that celebrated every occasion with junk foods, cakes and drinks did not help the situation very much.

Sadly I let go of myself and when I finally woke up around 2013 I have gone from a perfect size 34 to a size 38+. I remember being so afraid of weighing myself and when I finally drew the strength to do so I realised that I went from weighing 63kgs to 78-80kgs a few years later.

Everywhere I went friends and family noticed my weight gain and every time someone made a remark I felt like locking myself in a dark room. I tried many crash diets and even invested in “weight loss” tablets, would lose a few kilograms and then gain it right back.

The real turn around happened late 2015 when I went dress shopping for an important event and nothing fitted without making me look and feel “fat”. That moment in the changing room I fell to the floor and cried because I was so so disappointed. How then could I allow things to go this far…My weight gain was now starting to affect my confidence…my self esteem and I felt like a total failure.

That day I made a decision to “change”, I realised that if it’s to be it would be up to me. I started drinking lots of lemon/mint water and swop my normal plate for a side plate. I joined the gym and fortunately for me a female colleague joined me and we would exercise and motivate one another. Our exercise routine consisted mainly of running, cycling and aerobics classes.

At the time I was battling financially and I could not afford any fancy foods but stuck to the basics, fresh fruit and vegetables, steamed chicken, tuna, eggs etc. I reduced my bread and sugar intake and would allow something sweet or unhealthier only on a Sunday. I however struggled a lot especially in the beginning and that mental shift took hard work and perseverance. I weighed and measured myself from month to month and wrote down what I was eating trying to improve as I went along.

I really fought hard and after about a year I managed to lose just over 10kg. I was so excited and at this point I was back and stopping was not an option…health and fitness regained its place in my life. During that time I also started to study part time and was trying to not just get my physical body in shape but also every area of my life. I gained my confidence back and realised the impact a strong and positive “self esteem” has on how one approach things in your life.

In the beginning of 2016 I was back to my normal weight weighing between 62-63kgs and was really happy and proud of myself. Later that year however I found myself battling to eat healthy but remained active in the gym. I gained a few kilograms but I was not unhappy with myself. I came across the Sleekgeek Facebook Group and I was so inspired by people’s stories and successes. I learned such a lot especially with regards to weight training and became very interested in this kind of training.

At my gym however very few ladies weight trained but with the assistance of one of the trainers I managed to start. In 2017 I got married and was also busy with my final year of studies (Bachelor in Social Work), had very little time to exercise and before I knew it I weighed 68kgs in December of 2017.

I felt very disappointed and down but I knew exactly what I had to do. My attitude was if I could do it before I can certainly do it again. Most of the fat was around my stomach area and entering 2018 I was positive that I would rid myself of this fat – after all –  this time I had a whole group of Sleekgeeks in the community to guide and assist me.

This year (2018) I made a whole new commitment to my health and fitness starting in the kitchen. I starting weight training with a gym buddy who really pushes me and I was and am still amazed of what I am capable of in the gym. I started eating much healthier and increased my protein intake and invested in a good protein shake.

Looking at my body months later I can see I’m looking much more toned. I weigh around 64kg but lost a lot of tummy and arm fat and am loving the leaner look. I am however still a work in progress and have days where I still “mess up”. There is no final destination on this journey instead we should constantly and consciously make decisions that are good and positive for our health.

This year I graduated my Bachelors degree feeling super confident about my body and what I achieved through hard work and dedication. This journey was much more than weight loss to me. It taught me that I am not defined by my past and that I can at any time make a decision to change my life. It taught me if I trust God and put him first he will strengthen and equip me with what I need.

I now know that I am able and capable to do anything I put my mind to. I am the author of my book and the artist of my life’s painting. I vowed before God that I will never again allow myself to feel less than the wonderful strong woman he created me to be

PERSONAL TIPS

  • Start with small changes e.g. drink more water, change your plate size, cut soda etc
  • Work with what you have (portioning is everything) at times you don’t have the healthier options but portion
  • Write shopping list at home and don’t shop hungry
  • Eat slowly
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself…so what if you had a bad day of eating, drink 2 glasses of lemon water, forgive yourself and continue.
  • Exercise (it has so many benefits)
  • If you want to tone make WEIGHTS your new friends (I’m addicted)
  • Weigh and measure on a month to month basis (write it down)
  • Buy small clothing and work towards fitting into it
  • Just do it

Kind Regards

Marel
(39 years old, Cape Town) 

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