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QA: Vinoda goes from anxious and depressed to running Ultra Marathons

Name: Vinoda Urisohn
Age: 44 
Location: Cape Town 
What do you do?
I’m an admin manager for a meat wholesaler.

What else do you do?
I run, gym, dance, swim and cook. 


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
I can’t remember exactly how long, I’d think more than 5 years. I’ve always just observed. 

How did you find Sleekgeek?
A friend of mine, Charlene, told me about it. 

What is your favorite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
The non-judgmental, empowering, motivational way everyone converses with each other. Of course, there would be the odd rotten apple, but what in life is perfect, right?


Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I was depressed and anxious. A time bomb ready to explode.

My life was completely unmanageable.

Alcohol started consuming me and not the other way around. I had lost control over alcohol, it became my master. I was killing myself slowly and hurting the ones I love the most. 

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
I joined the twelve-step program, I’ve learned so much. I found me, and a new way of life.

Knowing I do not have to be perfect, as nothing in life is. I just need to be the best version of myself. I strive for progress, not perfection. 

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I learnt that I am not in control and God is. So I hand things over, people, places, situations. I cannot control what they say or do, but I can control how I react to them.

Previously I was trying to control everything. I’d snap for the smallest thing. I had a short fuse and jump down someone’s throat before they’d even finished speaking. Now, I halt, think before I respond. Do I need to respond? Do I need to respond now? Most times I don’t respond at all. I just say yes ok and leave it. If it’s something that needs to be dealt with it can wait till I’ve thought about it.

There can be no argument if only one person is talking. Leave it and address it when both parties are thinking clearer and have calmed down. 

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
I still have many many character defects, as these will never go away completely. These little gremlins pop their ugly heads up often. As long as I identify it, and deal with it, I’m progressing. 

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Just take it one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time. For slowly but surely you will get it. 

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Oh most definitely. I get annoyed with myself as my eating habits are up for a ball of dung. I entered the Sleekgeek 8 Week Challenge, especially because of it. I did so well, then challenge finished, I’m back to the same bad eating habits. 

I slipped up and had a relapse, I was so angry and despondent, felt like such a failure. The love and support I received is just next level. It keeps me going. 

What is better since you got healthy? 
My health, I’m asthmatic and it as improved so much since I started running and swimming.

The weight loss was an absolute bonus. 

I do however miss my boobies. It’s like:
“Ekt my boobs weg gehaldloop” 


What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
Running. There is just no better therapy then you and the road, or like I say: “it’s me, the road and my cobwebs.”

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I’ve been “training” for almost 3 years, I put training in inverted commas, as I was going but trained if I wanted to and wasting my trainers time and my money. 

16 months ago, when I gave up alcohol, I realized I need to find something to do, I had so much time on my hands. Vitality sent an email about the Century City Express 10km and I decided to enter. That was my first race: 10th March 2018. I then did a few trail runs and road races.

Then I decided I want to do a Marathon and in September 2018 I did Sanlam. 

In April this year, I did my first Ultra Marathon (Two Oceans). 

What does your typical workout look like?
I don’t train as I’m supposed to. I only run on weekends. During the week, I go to the gym 3 times a week – 30min run and 45 min strength.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Most definitely long-distance running. There is nothing better than the open road.

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Cycling, oh I just can’t. I try it every now and then at the gym, but it just irritates the daylights out of me. 

Just no, please, NO.

How does exercise make you feel? 
I love the feeling I get from being active. I feel free, excited, joyous and just plain happy. 

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I prefer to train with others. If and when I train alone, I’m not as disciplined, if I get lazy I’ll just stop. Whereas having people with you is just so much more motivating. 

Most embarrassing training moment?
I was at the gym, working with my trainer. I was doing the “yes, no machine” (sure you know which one I mean.) I was wearing short grey tights. There was a gentleman opposite me, he stopped what he was doing to stare at me. And had this stupid look on his face, grinning. I asked my PT what’s up with this oak. He looked at me, smiled and said very sweetly “Darling your whole fanny is wet” 

Needless to say, I left immediately and never wear grey tights 

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

  • Asthma pump
  • Towel
  • Clothes

Your next training goal?
I plan on doing the Comrades Marathon next year. God willing.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
I never train with headphones.

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
Since I started running and exercising, my asthma has gotten much better. I used to have to use my pump 2 to 3 times a day. I now use it 2 to 3 times a week – if that much.

I also sleep better – previously I used to lay awake for hours before I fell asleep. Now I sleep like the proverbial baby. 


What’s your favourite meal? 
Tacos, nachos – any Mexican food.

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Smoked salmon, boiled eggs with tomatoes, avo and cucumber.

Favourite protein?
We are butchers, so definitely steak.

Favourite fat?
Can I lie and say I don’t eat fat?


Definitely nuts. But then I always have too much. Especially pistachios. Oh, that stuff is moorish as hell.

Favourite carbohydrate?

I love making Hassleback sweet potato, it’s the best

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one?
I don’t really have one. But everything in moderation

How many meals a day do you eat?
3, and 2 snacks

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
Every day treats/cheat day. No, I am joking. I try to cheat only once every few weeks. Like for instance when my mother in law makes her famous creme brulee for Shabbat… Oiy! I’m drooling just thinking about it. 


Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
Finishing Two Oceans Marathon.

I shed a few tears crossing that finished line. I never even dreamt of achieving that, the cherry on the cake was that I was the first female from our club to finish. 

Favorite quote?
“If you still trying, you have not failed. “

Favourite book? 
I read mostly fiction novels. It takes me away from reality for a few hours. I put myself in the book, so you can imagine.

What inspires and motivates you?
Seeing 70 and 80yr olds finish Marathons, seeing a one-legged man finishing marathons.

Reading the stories on Sleekgeek, if that doesn’t motivate me, nothing will: “if they can do it, damn girl, what’s your excuse?” 

For what are you most grateful? 
My sobriety. Without that, I would’ve killed myself, destroyed my family and alienated the ones close to me. 

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
All you have to do is make a start.

Find a gym buddy or running buddy, that will provide more motivation for you. Don’t think for once that it’s a shame to ask for help. 

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

  • Plan your meals, do prep work.
  • Don’t set yourself unrealistic goals.
  • Go shop with a list and stick to it.
  • Don’t go shop hungry.
  • Get a buddy. Hold each other accountable.

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