Name: Sandra-Diana MacKenzie
Location: Cairo, Egypt. (Previously Northcliff Johannesburg)
What do you do? [Job] I’m a FS1 teacher in and international school in Cairo.
What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
I try to gym as often as I can. The gym is my happy place. I also read a lot about the advancements in special needs teaching, as to help more children. And I watch many horror movies.
YOU AND SLEEKGEEK
How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
I joined sleekgeek in 2015. So going on 4 years now.
How did you find Sleekgeek?
My older brother invited me join in 2014, when we decided to try Banting. I felt very uncomfortable in the group as everyone was living their best life and I was struggling to come to terms with my ever growing chocolate addiction.
When I was finally ready to sort my mind out, I rejoined the group and have never looked back.
What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
Once I had joined on my own free will, I found the group to be a safe place to talk about my daily struggles and to support fellow sleeks who where going through the same struggles.
Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I have always been known as the fat kid. I was put on Weighless when I was 4 years old. So I don’t really know how l got there, but I have always been there. I was sluggish, unfit, shy and the life of the party all in one person.
I used my sparkling personality and great sense of humour to hide behind the fact that I had an extremely low self esteem. At my heaviest, I weighed 165kgs. I couldn’t sit in normal chair and I couldn’t really buy any nice clothes.
I also tried every fad diet to lose weight. But nothing worked.
What ignited your initial motivation to change?
When my son, who is now 11 years old, started school the other children use to make fun of him because of me. I could never run the parents race at school sports events. I used to get tired walking up all of the school stairs. It was a huge eye opener for me.
What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
Well, I am now probably fitter than most moms. I work out when I can, I plan my meals weekly and hardly ever divert from my plan. But most importantly, I believe that I am worthy of this life.
What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
For me, growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, so I used to eat more than I should have, incase there was no next meal. I still struggle with this mentality. Even though I’m in a great position in life, I still have this “ But what if I get hungry?”
If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
I have to remind myself that I will never be in that position again, and that it’s ok to be hungry sometimes.
Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Yes. The first big Iot of weight I lost I didn’t manage to keep off. I went back to my old habits of chocolates and chips all day.
But recently, I hit a plateau and was stuck on 100kgs for 3 weeks. It was as if the universe was laughing at me. Taunting me. But I wasn’t doing it for the scale. I was doing it for me. So I kept pushing on and eventually I broke into double digits. It was the best day of my life. The old me would have given up and thrown in the towel. But not this time.
What is better since you got healthy?
Every little thing is better. My self esteem, my health, my digestive system. The way people see me. Like really see me.
What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
When we were in South Africa we used to do parkruns and we got our 50th before we left. But here in Cairo, its difficult to run like back home. There are running groups, but none in my area. So I try to get my steps in at work, by running with my children. I also “run” on the treadmill at gym and I love using the machines. But I have to say my favourite exercise is walking.
How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I first joined the gym in 2016 when I entered the Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge. We also joined parkrun then too.
What does your typical workout look like?
I always warm up on the treadmill, maybe for 20mins at 6kms per hour. Then depending on what day it is, I use the gym machines either for arms or legs. And then 20mins on the bicycles.
I also plank every morning and do sit ups and push ups before work.
Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
To be honest, I love planking. When I first started out, I could only manage 6 seconds. Now I can probably go over 120 seconds. And I love swimming, so bring back summer please!
Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc.
How does exercise make you feel?
After I finished at the gym, I walk home. And I feel like I’m on top of this world. Untouchable. I feel alive.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I love to workout alone. I can go at my own pace. I can push myself if I want, take it easy if I want. Because I’m doing it for me.
Most embarrassing training moment?
I didn’t notice that I was singing along, out loud, to Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson. It was only when I got of the treadmill and the guy next to me clapped that I realised. I was so embarrassed.
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
My own hand towel. My water and my deodorant 😂
Your next training goal?
I want to run the Pyramids Marathon. They had one a few weeks back, and I had such FOMO. Next year I want in! And there is no short race, they start on 18km So I best get my ass into gear!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
- Beautiful people – Marilyn Manson
- Got to get through this- Daniel Bettingfield
- The art of losing- American Hifi
- Come out and play – The offspring
- Sexy chick – Akon and David Guetta.
How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life?
I used to be a couch potato. Now I want to be active. I want the rush of adrenaline. I want to show myself I can do it. And obviously, my body is fitter and healthier and I want to show it off, I no longer want to hide behind my tshirt.
What’s your favourite meal?
Roast chicken, roast vegetables and couscous.
OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Lol. The same.
I love me a huge piece of steak!
I only use butter in everything. Yum!
Whole wheat bread!
What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
I eat a small meal when I’m hungry. I don’t eat when society says I must eat.
How many meals a day do you eat?
I Eat 5 small meals a day. Breakfast at 8am, then around 11am, at 1pm, at 4pm and dinner at 6pm. But again. ONLY if I’m hungry.
Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
I have a cheat day on a Saturday, if I feel like eating a chocolate or some gums I eat them. I don’t really have cheat meals as I always order food that I can freeze the leftovers. And frozen hamburgers are nasty 😂
Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
My family and I entered the Hollard JURA in 2017, not only did we finish it, but we also won the best dressed family and won R3,500. It was one of the best days of my life. From going from couch potatoes to doing this, it was magical.
I’m not done yet.
I don’t really read books much. Only for research purposes. But I have started reading Mr Mercedes by Steven King.
What inspires and motivates you?
Seeing all the amazing transformations on Sleekgeek inspires me. And seeing my sons children grow up motivates me.
For what are you most grateful?
I’m grateful for the amazing opportunity that I was given to sort my life out.
What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Never give up. You will always have bad days. But don’t let those become bad years.
What are your top 5 tips for anyone starting on a healthy journey?
- Consistency is king. Rome wasn’t built in one day, neither will your new body.
- Don’t give up.
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat slowly and mindfully, when you are actually hungry.
- And do it for yourself.