QA: Christelle ditches the weekend binges and finds balance

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PROFILE

Name: Christelle Fourie
Age: 33
Location: Bloemfontein, Free State Province

What do you do?
I’m an attorney and work as a Pro Bono Legal Officer.

What else do you do?
I love to run and if I don’t run, I spend time with my family.

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
I have been a member of the Sleekgeek Group since 28 June 2017, but it feels like I have been part of this community for much longer.

How did you find Sleekgeek?
A friend told me about Sleekgeek, but it took me a while to actually join the Facebook group.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
The unique Sleekgeek code, on which this community is built upon Respect, Uplift and Inspire, is my favourite part of this community.  It is also a community of like-minded people, some of whom I have never met, who became dear friends.

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I went through different stages of my life.  While I grew up chubby, I lost a lot of the weight but then gradually regained it after school. This was to be expected since I didn’t follow any healthy eating plan and didn’t have an active lifestyle.

My focus changed and this became a journey where I became fixated on attaining perfection, by depriving myself of certain foods that I regarded as “bad”.  I honestly thought that I needed to follow the perfect eating plan before I would see any results.  The breeding ground of my mind was a battlefield and perfection during weekdays was followed with out of control binges over weekends.  This caused me to lose the same weight over and over again and it wasn’t long before I resorted to quick fixes. 

My whole life I had an unhealthy relationship with food and looking back now, I realise that I was at a complete loss on how to follow a consistent and sustainable healthy lifestyle.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
A health scare ignited my desire to change.  In 2005, in the middle of yet another quick fix to lose weight, I nearly blacked out.  Upon a doctor’s consultation and various other tests by a specialist, it was discovered that I have severe hypoglycaemia and an underactive thyroid.  This caused me to re-evaluate my nutrition and with the help of a dietician, I started to change my diet.  This was still not the lasting and sustainable change that I was looking for, as I still had an unhealthy relationship with food.

After a Sleekgeek 8-week challenge, and depriving myself for 8 weeks, I resorted back to binges for weeks on end and gained all of the weight lost during the challenge. I then realised that I will have to get my mind in shape and in April 2018 I enrolled in the Sleekgeek Coaching.

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
The Sleekgeek Coaching, which I completed in April 2019, equipped me with lifelong tools on my health- and fitness journey. I realised that perfection on this journey does not exist and I now strive to find perfection in being imperfect. 

My focus changed – I now focus on healthy habits and don’t obsess about the scale. I am active and have never been this fit in my whole life. Most importantly, fear does not hold me back any more and I am living my dreams. I embrace failure and see it as part of the journey, instead of an excuse to quit. With the Coaching, I finally attained my goal weight and I am at my lowest weight since leaving school.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggle with?
I easily feel deprived and at times resort back to overeating.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
The Sleekgeek coaching taught me to be mindful and to only eat until I am full.  It also taught me to evaluate my feelings and define the reason for my actions.  A binge has a reason and if you can identify the reason, it is easier to put systems in place to sidestep the same action in the future when you deal with the same emotions.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Yes, I kept on losing the same weight over and over again. It was extremely frustrating and I then enrolled in the Sleekgeek Coaching. After completing the coaching, I realised that mindset is the most important factor in this journey.  Anyone can give you a nutrition plan or exercise programme, but you have to control your mind.  Only then will you master lasting and sustainable change.

What is better since you got healthy? 
Life as a whole is better.  My mind is now at peace about the food choices I make.  I am so much more positive and content with my life, even if my life is not perfect.  I value my health every day and regard it as a blessing.

TRAINING

What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
Running is my happy place, my stress reliever, my passion.

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
A former colleague once said one should exercise with a goal in mind and in January 2015 he challenged me to a 15km race in November 2015.  I started with a run/walk strategy since I have never run in my life and didn’t even particularly like it.  I completed the 15km race and continued running until I tore my calf muscle in 2016 and developed blood clots in my lower leg.  I returned to running in 2017 and had to restart with a run/walk strategy.

What does your typical workout look like?
Tuesdays are hill training, Thursdays a shorter session (about 10km), Saturdays and Sundays are long slow runs.  The length and intensity of a session will depend on my programme and what I am training for.  I don’t do much strength training, although I realise the importance thereof.

Favourite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Hill repeatsIt takes effort, but makes me feel strong.

Least favourite exercise? [Distance/pose/ movement / etc]
You will not easily catch me in a swimming pool.

How does exercise make you feel? 
Running makes me feel alive.  It gives me confidence that I can conquer hard things.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I prefer to train alone.  That I way can control my own pace and develop mental toughness. 

Most embarrassing training moment?
Running a Parkrun with a few hundred other people and when I took my pants off at home afterwards, I saw there was a hole in my pants.

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
I don’t gym, but almost always run with a hydration vest.  There is always water, fuel (32gi chews) and my phone inside.

Your next training goal?
I currently train for Comrades 2019, but struggle with an injury and just pray that I recover in time.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
I love to run with music, but there is too much to single any song out.

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
Running has changed my life for the better.  My nutrition has become better, since my nutrition needs to support my running.

Running enriched my life with a whole new running family, some of whom I have never even personally met.

My mindset changed and I see a solution for every problem.  It makes me act outside my comfort zone, always looking for a new challenge.  Knowing that I can conquer hard runs, makes me feel I can conquer any other difficult situation.  It also helps me to alleviate stress and makes me overall a better person.

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?
Steers Bacon and cheese burger.

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Hollandale steak, veggies and air fried sweet potato.

Favourite protein?
Chicken

Favourite fat?
Peanut butter

Favourite carbohydrate?
Sweet potato

What’s your nutrition philosophy/approach? [If you have one]
“It’s not a short term diet, it is a long term lifestyle change.”

How many meals a day do you eat?
I eat between 5-6 meals a day to support my unbalanced blood sugar levels.

Do you have a cheat meal/treat strategy?
Previously I had a cheat meal once a week, but that only contributed towards me feeling deprived. Now I try to have everything in moderation, but it’s a learning curve.

MINDSET

Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
Changing from a sedentary lifestyle to running the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in April 2019 has been my biggest achievement to date.

Running an ultra marathon with hypoglycaemia has been especially challenging, but I completed it regardless. 

Favorite quote?
“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success”. Arianna Huffington

Favourite book? 
None currently.

What inspires and motivates you?
Sleekgeek taught me to first and foremost be my own hero.  I learned not to depend on a fan club to achieve my goals but to be my own motivation.

That said, the Sleekgeek community inspires and motivates me.  It was this community that motivated me to change my life permanently and who inspires me on a daily basis.

For what are you most grateful? 
I’m grateful for my health, grateful for a journey that made me discover my passion for running and most of all grateful for a husband who supports all my crazy dreams.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Set small, measurable goals and build on them once you can implement them successfully.  It’s easier to build on the sense of accomplishment, even if it’s something small like drinking one extra glass of water per day than to set unrealistic advanced goals and feeling like a failure for not being able to sustain them.

Use the tools that the Sleekgeek team provide.  Listen to the videos and read the content, this is your tools for lasting and sustainable change.  

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

  • Anticipate and plan.  If you leave the house, take a snack with you.  Set your clothes out the night before, to avoid rushing in the morning to search for a missing sock.  This way you are setting yourself up for success.
  • Be kind towards yourself.  You cannot hate yourself thin and being thin won’t make you happy.  You need to be happy regardless of your size.
  • Don’t use excuses as reasons why you don’t succeed.  It will be hard, but you have to grow resilience and practice willpower.  With enough practice, this will become your new default setting.  You don’t give up brushing your teeth when you forget to brush them once – No, you just continue brushing each and every day thereafter.
  • Let your healthy eating compliment your exercise.  With that in mind, choose an exercise that you love and you will find ways to succeed.
  • Life will get messy, but let health be your anchor.
  • Striving for perfection will exhaust you and consistent healthy habits are more important than perfection.