QA: Tanja sheds 43kg! The mom of 2 tells us how.

Tanja

Name: Tanja Brechenmacher
Age: 41
Location: Edenvale, Gauteng

Occupation: 
Team lead in IT at Investec.

Hobbies:
I’m an Uber driver (for my kids), avid swimming supporter (for my kids), hockey mom (for my daughter), hockey and soccer mom (for my son), professional series watcher (only if and when I get some me-time in-between).

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
A couple of years, 4 or5? I have been lurking in the background mostly.

How did you find Sleekgeek?
I was told about Sleekgeek by friends that were into bodybuilding and fitness at the time.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
I love how people are so encouraging and supportive.  It is so inspirational to see people changing their lives and bad habits and making amazing progress.

YOUR TRANSFORMATION

Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
Since I can remember, I’ve been the chubby one.  My weight was always around 85kg.  Even in high school, I was normally in the upper 70’s weight wise.  

I hated exercise with a passion.  Typical couch potato with a packet of chips on my lap.  I couldn’t imagine seeing myself going for walks or coming close to any type of gym equipment.

I would pretty much eat anything I felt like, and believe me, I never felt like salad!

I was content.  This is how I knew myself and had no motivation, want or need to change it.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
When I was pregnant with my second child, I picked up a lot of weight, and ended up at 109kg!  Not a problem I thought, I will lose it again quickly afterwards!  I didn’t!  I found that 6 months after I gave birth, I was still sitting at 105kg!!!  And my son weighed 3.9kg at birth!  So the only weight I lost, was my baby’s body weight!  

I was so uncomfortable at this weight!  Clipping toenails and tying shoes were a mission!  I knew Craig Brown (CSB Body Fusion) quite well through the biking community and mentioned to him that I seriously needed to lose weight!  He then started giving me some advice and pointers and slowly but surely the weight started melting away.

After a couple of months, I got back to the 85kgs that I was aiming to get back to.  At this point, I decided I wanted to carry on and see what is possible.  This was all done without any form of exercise.

Craig then recommended that I join a gym.  WHAT???  The shock! The horror! Me? In a gym? You must be kidding me!

I just laughed at him and said that will never happen!  Now you see, he planted a seed, and that kept on going around and around in my head… and eventually about 2 months later I did it!  I joined a gym!  Oh wow, I was clueless!  But soon learned the ropes and started loving it!  

This is where, after being at this for around 1.5 years, I reached my lowest weight at the time ever!  64 kg!  This was in 2013.

This was also where I made one of the biggest mistakes ever!  I thought I was done!  I stopped training and the couch potato in me came out again.  I fell back into bad habits, hamburgers and chocolates.  Slowly but surely, the weight started creeping up again and before I knew it, I was 79.9kg in October 2018!

Man, I was disappointed with myself! But I put my foot down and said never again!  Never again will I be 109kg! That is when I started looking after my health again and started following a healthy eating plan.  I still didn’t train.  I mean, where does a single mother with 2 kids and a very very busy career still get time to train?  It’s impossible! Well, that’s what I convinced myself anyway.  The kilo’s started shedding again and I started to feel better and better about myself.

Although the weight started falling off, I found myself very unhappy about the way my body looked.  I was flabby, lots of loose skin, no definition to anything and looked just like a bit of a smaller version of the old fat me.  It was at this point that I realised I had to start training again!  But where do I find the time? I mean, my day consists of work, kids, food preparation, packing lunches, playing Uber to my kids.  I had NO time to drive to a gym, train for an hour, drive back… I mean, HOW???  Well, I guess if you want something bad enough you make a plan!  I took the plunge and bought my own gym equipment!  A gym machine and a treadmill!  I also bought some free weights and a stability ball.

No more excuses!  I MADE time!  I started getting up at 3:40 in the morning to train while my kids are still snug in bed.

This is when the Sleekgeek 8 Week Challenge came along.  I thought to myself that this will give me the proper motivation again to push hard for my goals!  And push I did!  I pushed my willpower and body to limits I didn’t know existed!  I didn’t cheat once on my diet!  Did weight training 4 times a week and cardio the other days!  My goal was 10 000 steps every day.  Every single day.  And I did that too!  I didn’t miss it once!  And I ended on 62kg! For the first time ever in my life!

The challenge is over now, but it gave me so much more than weight loss and a bit more toned body. I am loving this routine! I am still keeping to my way of eating (maybe a little bit more relaxed), I am still doing weight training in my own little home gym 4 times a week, and I am still making sure that I get my 10 000 steps a day in. The new normal.

Is my body perfect? Hell no! I am a 41-year-old mother of 2 that used to weigh 109kgs! And my body shows that. I have excess skin and stretch marks, and that’s ok! My body will never look 21, and that’s ok! I am happier and healthier, and that is the important part!

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I definitely make healthier choices when it comes to food and snacks and I train every day of the week.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
Boredom snacking and chocolates!

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Keep busy!  It keeps me away from snacking.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Oh for sure yes!  Like I mentioned above, 109kg to 64kg to 79.9kg back down to 62kg.  The struggle is real!

What is better since you got healthy? 
I have a whole lot more energy to get a whole lot more things done!

TRAINING

What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
I love weight training in general and out of that I love squats the most!

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I have only been back on the training wagon for the last 5 months. My recent weight loss left me flabby and shapeless and I wanted to improve that.

What does your typical workout look like?
I train lower body on Mondays and Thursdays. A combination of the following exercises:

  • Machine Seated Leg Extension
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squats
  • Dumbbell Split Squats
  • Frog Pumps
  • Single-Leg Hip Thrusts
  • Barbell Straight Leg Deadlifts
  • Stability Ball Hamstring Curl with Glute Bridge
  • Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
  • Barbell Bench Glute Bridge

Upper body on Tuesdays and Fridays. A combination of the following exercises:

  • Machine Seated Chess Press
  • Barbell Bent Over Row
  • Lat Machine Wide Grip Pulldown
  • Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press
  • Lying Straight Leg Raise
  • Lat Machine Close grip Pulldown
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Barbell Skullcrusher
  • Barbell Bicep Curl
  • V Up

All days:  10 000 steps or more

Favourite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
I love squats and bicep curls.

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
V Ups, burpees, running.

How does exercise make you feel? 
It gives me so much energy!  I feel lethargic the whole day if I didn’t train in the morning.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Alone, in the quiet peace of my own home.  I don’t like people looking at me while pulling all kinds of funny faces.  I can focus better.

Most embarrassing training moment?
Oh, my word! Many years ago when I attempted an actual gym, being on lots of protein shakes etc, let’s just say, my tummy had its own mind during weight training.  It was loud and clear for all to hear! 

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
I train at home, so everything is always with me.  

Your next training goal?
I always try to increase either weight or reps.

I am not training to run or anything like that.  I don’t think I will ever run!  I just do not enjoy it.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
When I’m doing weight training, I prefer silence.

On the treadmill, I watch Netflix! I am currently, binge-watching Suits.

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
I have more confidence, more energy to do things with my kids, more energy at work. I am definitely a much more productive person.

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?
Seafood platters!

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Tuna cakes, or mince and cauliflower rice. Oh yes, and apple muffins! I love those!

Favourite protein?
A nice juicy piece of steak on the braai.

Favourite fat?
Nuts and nut butters.

Favourite carbohydrate?
Wraps.

What’s your nutrition philosophy/approach? [If you have one]
Watch your calories! If you eat over maintenance you will pick up. Eat under maintenance, lose.

Keep the protein high!

How many meals a day do you eat?
5

Do you have a cheat meal/treat strategy?
I try to keep these to a minimum. Once I start, I battle to stop, so I find it easier to just not start.

I have found a variety of healthy treats that keep me away from the unhealthy sweets and chocolates.  But… if you really want that chocolate, HAVE IT! Just don’t do it all the time.

MINDSET

Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
The first time in my life I saw 60’s on the scale!  

Favorite quote?
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
Jim Rohn

Favourite book? 
To be honest, I don’t really read.

What inspires and motivates you?
Seeing other people succeed despite all the challenges that life throws at them.

For what are you most grateful? 
The love and support I get from my family. They are my biggest cheerleaders and are always there to support me.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Find your way, and forget your excuse! Just do it!

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

  • Start slowly – don’t try to go from 3000 calories a day to a strict diet of 1000 calories a day.
  • Move more!  Even if you just increase your steps from 1000 to 1500.
  • Find your new normal.
  • Don’t compare your progress with others.
  • You will fall.  Just get up again!