Cape Town Sleekgeek Alice Herselman is completing week 50 of her year-long Group Coaching with Sleekgeek.
She is 17kgs down over the year so far and has gained so much more. We talk to her today about her journey.
Name: Alice Herselman
Location: Cape Town
What do you do?
I am a Learning and Development Specialist.
What else do you do?
I love running, going on holidays (mainly weekends away). I also love spending time with my family finding new and exciting things to do around Cape Town.
YOU AND SLEEKGEEK
How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
For as long as I can remember!
How did you find Sleekgeek?
I think a friend posted something about Sleekgeek on Facebook and that is how I first heard about it and I have been a member ever since.
What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
I love that the philosophy of Sleekgeek is that there is no diet or plan. It is a support community where like-minded, uplifting people come together to inspire and share stories giving hope to others who may be struggling or need a bit of motivation.
You don’t need to be a supermodel to be part of the Sleekgeek family as everyone is equal and accepted. Everyone is on the same journey no matter how different those journeys may look. It also allows you to evolve in your own journey because there is no prescribed way of doing things.
Sleekgeek gives you the tools to create your own path, and mostly for nothing!
Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I have always thought of myself as overweight and “bigger” than other girls from school days. Looking back now I have no idea what I was thinking!
After school, I went to University and I was in res where all sport and activity stopped while alcohol and terrible food choices increased.
Once I finished University I moved back home to Cape Town and the adjustment led me to lose 15kg. I started running and things were great. I then met my husband, got married, had kids and put on a lot of weight through 2 pregnancies. 6 months after my son was born I was at my heaviest non-pregnant weight.
Since University I had done Weighless, Herbalife, Juicing, Banting, you name it. All worked to a degree until I lost steam and went back to old habits.
After I had kids we were always tired, so it always just felt easier to order take away or to get a premade meal from Pick n Pay. I think we ate take away or premade meals at least 3 evenings a week and possibly ate out at least once a week.
I always took my salad to work for lunch, so I felt like I was eating well. I just never noticed how the other meals accumulated.
What ignited your initial motivation to change?
I don’t think there was one specific moment which motivated me to change but I know on the night of New Year’s Eve 2017 I remember feeling like I looked good and I was comfortable with myself. I then saw a photo of myself from that night and I was shocked.
I honestly didn’t realise that was how I looked and often you don’t realise how bad things had got. It was from then that I started to make changes as I was in the right space. My kids were just a little bit older where they were getting a bit more manageable. I could easily leave them with someone for a short while, so I could go for a run. They would entertain themselves for 20 minutes while I cooked dinner. Things were just getting easier.
I lost 4kg between that New Year and April 2018. In April 2018 I took a plunge and signed up for the Sleekgeek Group Coaching. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into other than I had just signed up for a 1-year programme. I remember telling my husband and the only thing he said to me was “ok but you have to stick to it for the full year”.
So, for me it was more than just losing weight, I was challenging myself to see something through to the end whether it made a difference to my weight or not.
When I signed up I remember someone on the Facebook group welcoming me and telling me they were about to finish the programme, they had not seen any change in their weight but their mindset to food had totally changed. That set the tone for me for the start of the Coaching and gave me absolutely no expectations, but I was determined I would see it through no matter what impact it had.
What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I am conscious of how much I eat. Yes, what I eat is very important but what is more important is that I now have control over how much I eat.
I am consistent, with whatever it is, whether it is running or eating, consistency is the key. My golden rules for myself are to take lunch to work at least 4 out of 5 days a week, cook dinner at least 5 days a week and get 3 exercise sessions in a week (basically I must get my discovery goal every week. )
One of the less obvious things which I do differently is whenever I am feeling down about my weight or how I feel about my body (which still happens after you lose 20kg), I stop myself from looking for a quick fix or a new fad diet.
In the process of losing weight I have not cut out anything or restricted anything that I eat yet I still have days where I catch myself saying “maybe I should be cutting out carbs.” or “maybe I need to go vegetarian” etc.
This has been one of the hardest things to work on. Trusting the process and knowing that it works and it is sustainable, has been one of the most valuable lessons I have learnt.
What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
I am definitely not motivated to eat healthily and exercise. When my alarm goes off at 4h45 to go for a run after a night of children constantly waking me and it is pitch dark and cold, I have to sit on the side of my bed and remind myself of my goals. I basically give myself a little pep talk to get up and get going.
It is the same with eating. If there is junk in my house, trust me, I will find it and I will eat it. All of it! So, I cannot keep that in the house.
I know what foods are triggers for me and I make sure I don’t buy them or if I do, then it is for a specific occasion.
If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Remember how important your environment is and create the environment you want to live in.
Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Yes, definitely. I have been on this journey for about 11 years now and only in the last year do I feel I have made lasting sustainable change.
What is better since you got healthy?
Everything! I cope with stress better, I cope with lack of sleep better. I can instantly feel it in my mood when I have had a few days of bad choices.
What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
Definitely running and dancing around the house with my kids.
How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I started running about 11 years ago. A friend and I decided to do a couch to 5k programme and from there I joined my sister and friends at races.
I just got hooked.
What does your typical workout look like?
A minimum of two 30-minute runs, or between 8 and 10km during the week and a longer run on the weekend depending on what we are training for.
I don’t do much else other than running.
Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
I really like running 10km as I feel you can push yourself knowing you can still finish.
Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Cycling! I did the Argus once and it took me 8 hours and I will never get on a bike again!
How does exercise make you feel?
Happy, refreshed, energised, ready to take on the world!
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Definitely with others. I would not get out of bed at 4h45 in the cold and dark if I was not meeting up with friends.
Last year I trained for the Gun Run half marathon alone as my husband and I had to tag team going for a run so one of us could be home with the kids. It was incredibly tough to get myself to go for the runs, but it did help to know my husband also had to go for a run if I went so in a sense we “ran together”.
It comes back to creating your environment, I run more often if I am meeting up with people and therefore I need to find a group to run with if I don’t have one.
In saying that, yes, it is much easier to get yourself to go for a run if you are meeting up with other people, but I do prefer to run alone for races as I can then run at my own pace and not worry about anyone else.
Most embarrassing training moment?
I honestly can’t think of one. I have fallen a few times in races (twice that I can remember) but I don’t remember being too embarrassed. Just in a lot of pain!
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
My gym is the road, so I always must have my running watch because if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen.
During winter, I always run with a headlamp and I will always have a bottle of water in my car for after my run. If I don’t drink water straight after a run I get a terrible headache.
Your next training goal?
There are so many!
I have a few big races lined up this year (nothing more than a 21km) but I want to start focusing on getting stronger as I know this will drastically improve my running. I just want to get faster. I am not too interested in running further at least until I am faster.
So now that I have had a small break after 2 Oceans Half, I will be focusing on doing some weight training – I am dreading it but from seeing everyone in Sleekgeek loving it I am hoping I will learn to love it!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
I don’t run with music. I am too paranoid I won’t hear a car coming up behind me or I may get a huge fright from someone running up behind me.
If I am doing a workout at home I usually get Spotify to pick something upbeat out for me.
How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
The days I exercise I definitely cope with work and children stresses better.
I sleep better when I have been exercising.
It makes me happier and I make better nutrition choices.
What’s your favourite meal?
OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Chicken salad wrap.
What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
Manage how much you eat. Keep your standard and consistent meals low calorie but filling. Bulk up with veg/salad so that the other “not so good” meals are balanced out.
How many meals a day do you eat?
2 – 3 depending on the day. On the days where I have 2 meals, I will have a small snack in place of dinner.
Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
Not really. I am not good at following rules, so I just try to balance any “cheats” with good choice meals.
I find If I am too restrictive with myself then I will go overboard if I let myself “cheat”.
Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
3 things which have always been my goal but in the back of my mind I have only ever thought of them as being a pipe dream:
- Fitting into size 10/small clothing (this was never a goal as I never thought it could be possible – I now wear size 10 and small).
- Running 7min/km (I now run average 6:45min/km, beginning of 2018 was running 8min/km).
- Running a half marathon in 2h30 (I ran 2 Oceans in 2h32, previous PB was 2h46).
“You will never regret doing it, you will only regret not doing it”
My pep talk to myself at 4h45am pre-run
Anything by Wilbur Smith, but Burning Shore is my favourite of his books
What inspires and motivates you?
Feeling good about myself and being an example for my kids.
For what are you most grateful?
My amazing support system, I have the most amazing family. My husband and kids are worth every single sacrifice. My parents, sisters and close friends who support and encourage me no matter what.
What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Take each day as it comes. Don’t focus on the end goal focus on your goal for today.
Every little step takes you towards that end goal. just keep plodding on and you will get there.
What are your top 5 tips for anyone starting on a healthy journey?
- Trust the process! (I never understood this until I did 😊).
- Be consistent.
- Don’t let the next fad diet or craze distract you.
- Create your environment.
- No one else can do this for you. it is you who needs to be the change (it’s worth it!).