QA: Letho loses 18kg and prepares for his first Comrades!

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Name: Letho Mtshali
Age: 37
Location: Durban

What do you do?
Bank Regional Manager

What else do you do? 
I run for the Nedbank running club. I am a member of a baskeball team in Durban and we play for the second division – it’s a club of old retired basketball players. I’m also a member at Virgin Active where I do mostly aerobics, grid and Bootcamp.

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
Its been a year and a half.

How did you find Sleekgeek?
I was introduced by my sister Bontle Mtshali.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community? 
Transformation Tuesdays has to be my favourite because the community will share their results and its as real as it gets, no filters or photoshop.

People also share how they reached their goals and that motivates me, I think everyone else is motivated by it.

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
Well, I’ve been an active gym member since 2008 and I went to the gym often but had no goals or direction.

I had a gym partner who got me to love weights, nothing wrong with that but I was working with someone else’s goals, not mine. So I gained weight and muscles and I didn’t like the way I looked or felt. We never did cardio at all.

In 2016 I stopped going because of school and all the muscles somehow were replaced with more fat. I weighed 96kgs at that time. Imagine 96kgs and 157cm tall person? 

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
In December 2016 I felt heavy, sweatier and just plain obese. That had to make me change my ways and told myself I will get rid of it. My goal was to lose 20kgs to start.

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I definitely eat healthier than before. I am more aware of the things that I need to eat and drink. Also, the exercises I do are well researched because I have some injuries from weight lifting when I didn’t know what I was doing – now they are “haunting” me for lack of a better word.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
I honestly still struggle with keeping the diet 100% clean at times but it’s still better than last year alone. 

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
“Stick to the meal plan all time Letho”. I went to a dietician end of  April and she drew up a meal plan so I just need to stick to that.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Oh yes! 2017 I lost 13 kgs and I reached my plateau. The whole of 2018 I never lost anything. Somewhere in the Sleekgeek posts last year I did write my story about my plateau phase and what I took from there(comments section) is that my diet is not good at all.

I wasn’t eating everything but my portions were definitely wrong. Even when I started running longer distances I still wouldn’t lose anything. I just maintained the 82kgs the whole year and in 2019 I started gaining even though I was going to gym 4 to 5 times a week, ran 21kms etc. and I got back to 86kgs.

After seeing my dietician I’m on 78kgs. And the last 4 kgs were lost just over a month ago.

What is better since you got healthy?
Oh, there is a lot. I don’t sweat as much as I use anymore, so no more funny stains on my shirts and T-shirts anymore. I don’t snore anymore. I don’t feel tired throughout the day and my sexual life is way better than before, I feel like a teenager.

I mention number 4 because I feel like lots of males don’t talk about this a lot. But being overweight has a negative impact for most men when its time for the no-pants dance.

TRAINING 

What’s your favourite form of exercise?
Grid and Bootcamp are my favourite, then running (I’m preparing to run my first Comrades next year). I’m still a bit scared as well because preparing also means YOU do fewer classes and sometimes you lose muscles plus body fat.

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I started in 2008 but my weight loss journey started in January 2017. I just joined the morning classes in my gym and I stopped doing heavy weights completely. It was hard to balance both.

What does your typical workout look like?
5.30am on Tuesday to Saturday I go to the gym for my morning aerobics classes. I usually replace the Thursday or Saturday with running. Sundays and Mondays are my rest days unless I missed a Saturday then Monday I’ll start my week.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Aerobics is usually a full body work out but I can say squats are my favourite. I want those sexy legs to show in my rugby shorts in December. LOL.

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Burpees. I just don’t like them much.

How does exercise make you feel?
It feels great, I mean endorphins are like drugs. You thrive on that feeling.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I have had over 10 training partners over my life and one was dedicated more than I was. So I chose to go by myself. Not that I don’t like working with people, I do, but our goals are never the same and then it becomes a bit difficult to synch the two goals.

Most embarrassing training moment?
Honestly, I don’t remember any. I once tore my pants during squats but that was a good thing because that felt like “GAINS”.

We celebrated. Haha!

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

  1. Water bottle
  2. Rubbing gel
  3. Gym towel

Your next training goal?
I stopped wanting to lose weight but work on losing body fat. The closer I get to 17% body fat the more shredded I will look. I just want to look sexy when naked. LOL.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist? 
I only play old school hip hop. I have a long playlist of sing-alongs. That helps me not to feel the pain and pumps me to go hard on my exercise.

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
I’m very sociable so I have managed to make more friends in the gym, running and basketball. Since we are grown-ups it is also another way to network and see how we can help each other in the future. 

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?
It used to be anything with wors, meat and steam bread. 

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
I love grilled fish with salad. Just a little bit of salad dressing and it has to be “lite”.

Favourite protein?
Lean beef steak

Favourite fat?
Peanut butter or cashew nuts (only 5).

Favourite carbohydrate?
Oats is one thing I eat that has carbs. Sweet potatoes are also my starchy veggies portion and a banana for snacks. But I wouldn’t eat the combination of all these in one day.

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
I don’t have one, I would have to come up with one soon.

How many meals a day do you eat?
I eat about 5 meals. Small portions. 3 good meals plus 2 snacks in between.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
My meal plan has limits to the starch I can eat, fat I can consume and meat I can eat, so when I have a cheat meal I will have to see how much was in that cheat meal then later I will see what to substitute for in terms of portions etc.

A night out will then need to be followed by a good workout the following day.

MINDSET

Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
I think breaking my plateau phase has to be high up there. When I joined the gym in 2008 I was at 82 kgs. I can’t remember when was the last time I was under 80ks. Looking at the time frame its been over 11 years and maybe more. So now I’m on 78ks and this is why I wake up early and eat clean.

Favorite quote?
“You have to do something different, in other to get different results”
Unknown.

We complain that things don’t change while we are not changing. Change starts with us.

Favourite book?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and the Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.
They really changed my life.

What inspires and motivates you?
Better health, family and inner peace.

For what are you most grateful?
Family and shelter.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Before you start your day, go to Sleekgreek page, see people who were like you and see how they are smashing their goals.

One common thing about all of us is that we had to start somewhere and we had to just put in the work.

It’s not easy but its definitely worth it. It’s never too late

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

  1. Set your goals
  2. Research your workouts and meal plans
  3. Get comfortable workout gear
  4. Set your work out days and stick to them
  5. Don’t give up