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💪 8-Week Body Transformation Challenge! 🥗

QA: 40kg down for Chantel who says hello to a courageous new life.

We chatted to Chantel this week and got some insight into how she lost over 40kg! 

Chantel said she looked at the number on the scale and it scared her… It read 107kg.

Deciding that she wanted to start a new chapter in her life, she (with the help of her husband) started her journey to lose some weight. 

2 years later and she is a #SG4Life


Name: Chantel Erfort Manuel
Age: 40
Location: Cape Town

What do you do?
Newspaper Editor

What else do you do?
I run a blog: editedeating.co.za

I love cooking and baking and since I started following a Paleo lifestyle two years ago, I’ve focused this passion on cooking and baking delicious Paleo meals and treats.

I love watching movies, entertaining and I really do enjoy keeping fit.


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
Just over two years

How did you find Sleekgeek?
I found out about Sleekgeek from friends on Facebook who were part of the community. I watched – and admired – their weight loss and wellness journeys online and eventually decided to explore what this “SG4Life” thing was all about!

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
Initially, I was confused about how Sleekgeek worked, because I joined up, looking for a specific template which would help me achieve my wellness goals. While I did find that template in the 30-day Reboot, I now appreciate the fact that SG embraces the idea that each person has to follow his or her own path, and that there isn’t one set way of eating that works for everyone – except, of course, the broader concept of eating whole foods and ensuring that you get enough movement in your day.


Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
The old me was… excessive. And the thing about living in excess is that you often don’t realise it until you drag yourself out of it. While my husband and I have always enjoyed cooking at home, I also had a real taste for fast food, specifically slap tjips, McD and KFC. This started when I started working and had disposable income. I also work in an office in the city centre, which is surrounded by fast food outlets – and I took advantage of that.

The old me also didn’t have an understanding of the caloric value of food so I had no idea how much more than I actually needed, I was consuming.

While the old me dragged herself to the gym regularly, I was under the false impression that it didn’t matter what I was eating because I was going to the gym. The truth, however, was that it almost didn’t matter that I was going to the gym because I was undoing the value of my training by eating really badly.

That said: I would probably have been much bigger, and far less healthy, had I not occasionally gone to the gym.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
I packed on a lot of my extra weight while I was doing my Master’s degree. There are all sorts of psychological and self-confidence issues related to this, which led to an almost self-destructive eating pattern. 

And so, when I finally handed in my thesis, I felt like I was starting a new chapter (excuse the pun) in my life, and felt the drive to try something new. 

At some point, I stepped on the scale, and the number scared me. 107.4kg. I didn’t remember ever being that heavy before and decided that maybe losing “some” weight was the something new I was after. 

So, I spoke to my SG friends and started my first Reboot, supported by my husband and friend who agreed to do the 30-programme with me. That was January 2017.

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
The new me LOVES being active. 

The new me runs. Had you known the old me, you’d know this is big.

I no longer eat fast food and am healthier and fitter than I’ve ever been. More importantly, the new me has a more healthy mindset and I’ve become passionate about being a health advocate.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
I still sometimes crave sweet treats and perhaps should cut down on my alcohol consumption.

I sometimes also struggle to separate myself from the number on the scale. While I feel great and feel comfortable in my body, my journey still feels incomplete because I haven’t yet met my goal weight.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Enjoy life. Forgive yourself when you fall – and f*ck the number on the scale!

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Did I plateau? Boy did I plateau. While it took me about one year to lose 36kg, it took me another year to lose just 5kg more. And it took me a long time to understand why this happened.

While I was eating healthily, I hadn’t adjusted my daily intake or increased the intensity of my workout in line with the needs of my now smaller body. 

Eventually, becoming more serious about my running helped break the plateau. And while this didn’t translate into a huge additional weight loss, the shape of my body changed a lot and I became more toned – which is almost more gratifying than just experiencing a number loss.

What is better since you got healthy? 
Everything. Fullstop.


What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
I don’t know if I have a favourite exercise, but I do love trying different things. At the moment, my training focus is on running, yoga, strength training and boxing.

I’m also in the process of getting certified as a Primal Play/Animal Moves coach, which advocates childlike, joyful movement in a fun and functional way.

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I’ve always incorporated some kind of exercise into my lifestyle, but I’d say I’ve been training seriously, and with a more structured approach, for about nearly two years now.

What does your typical workout look like?
I don’t have a typical workout per se, but a typical workout week includes: yoga twice a week; running three days a week, including one longer run; two sessions of strength training a week.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
In yoga, I love the crow pose – largely because it is still very challenging for me and requires not only upper body strength but also balance and focus. And I love the feeling when I manage to hold it for a few seconds!

In Primal Play, I love how bear crawl done in perfect form makes me feel strong and graceful at the same time.

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
I don’t think I have  a least favourite exercise… but right now a very challenging pose for me is the Primal Play hunter/gatherer squat (similar to the yogi squat in yoga).

How does exercise make you feel? 
I exercise first thing in the morning, and find that this makes me feel invigorated and focused. I arrive at work with a feeling of accomplishment, and readiness to take on the challenges the day may present.

It also makes me feel strong.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Some kinds of training I prefer to do on my own, and others in groups. Right from the start of my journey, I focused on being able to train diligently and knowledgeably, on my own, so that I never felt that my training – or achieving my fitness goals – depended on training buddies or personal trainers.

Of course, you get very different kinds of experiences when you train on your own versus training with a group. Right now, as I still consider myself a novice runner, I sometimes run alone, but also try to schedule runs with more experienced and/or stronger runners who will push me.

Most embarrassing training moment?
Come on! Who hasn’t wee’d a little bit while skipping?

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?

  • Water
  • Running watch/activity tracker
  • Sloffies – to wear in the shower – are a non-negotiable!

Your next training goal?
To successfully complete my Primal Play coaching certification.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
I don’t really have a training playlist… Among other things, my hubby is a DJ and music producer so I usually have one of his mixes on rotation when I’m training on my own.

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
Physical training has taught me about discipline and given me the opportunity to see and experience the physical manifestation of a healthy lifestyle change, ie a change in my body composition. 

It’s also given me the opportunity to learn to get to know and understand my body better and to gain a sense of vitality I don’t recall having before.

I’m also more useful and fun since I started training, and because I feel stronger, I’m a lot more courageous in terms of the things I might agree to do or try out.


What’s your favourite meal?
Anything with pork in it!

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
I feel like there are too many to mention! But, in summer I love salads, and one I make often is a huge bed of greens, with prosciutto, nectarine and a dressing made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. 

In winter, it’s a simple combo of sweet potato, salmon, and a salad with some dressing.

And soup. In winter veggie soup is a staple!

Favourite protein?

Favourite fat?
Animal fat

Favourite carbohydrate?
Sweet potato

What’s your nutrition philosophy/approach? [If you have one]
I follow a Paleo lifestyle, which means I do not eat any dairy, grains, refined sugar, legumes and avoid processed foods as far as possible.

For the past two years, I’ve been attending Paleo f(x), an annual gathering of the international Paleo community, in Austin, Texas.

How many meals a day do you eat?
Three main meals – a big breakfast, lunch comprising lots of veggies and protein and a small, simple supper. 

Between breakfast and lunch, I have a snack which may be nuts or fruit.

Do you have a cheat meal/treat strategy?
I try not to think in terms of having to cheat on my healthy lifestyle. Right now our relationship is in a good space. 

However, when I do want a treat, I will usually make it myself so that it is Paleo-friendly.


Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
On April 20 I ran the Two Oceans – my first half marathon!

Favorite quote?
“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do; not a punishment for what you ate.” – Unknown

Favourite book? 
Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual – Michael Pollan

What inspires and motivates you?
I’m inspired by the joy I see in someone’s eyes when they lose that first kilo.

I’m also motivated by the desire to share what I have learned, with others – because through my own experiences, so many people have shared with me, the difficulty they have faced in this journey. I’m driven to be of service.

For what are you most grateful? 
Through making the decision to get fit and healthy, I saved myself from a cliff-edge. But I did not do that alone and owe much gratitude to everyone who shared their knowledge and experience with me and offered support to help me along the way.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Don’t feel like you have to do it alone. While ultimately you can only depend on yourself to get up every day and get yourself to the gym; or to stick to the strategy you set out for yourself, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you if you just say the word.

What are your top 5 tips for anyone starting on a healthy journey?

  • Whatever exercise you choose to do, have fun! You’ll never stick with it if you don’t enjoy it.
  • Whatever you eat, make sure it’s delicious! The easiest way to deviate from your eating plan is to force yourself to eat things you don’t enjoy.
  • Empower yourself with knowledge. Take control of your journey. Understand what you are doing and why.
  • Just keep showing up. It’s a cliche, but a long journey is made up of small steps.
  • You will fall. Be prepared for that. And then get up and keep going.

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