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QA: David Zimmerman tells us how he went from having no energy to doing triathlons.

Name:
David Zimmerman

Age:
35

Location:
Cape Town

What do you do? [Job]
Membership Manager at The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
I, funnily enough,  bake birthday and wedding cakes. I have tried healthy baking, but it never worked out 😉

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
I got introduced to the group in 2012!

How did you find Sleekgeek?
I was working for a start-up at the time and my boss convinced me to do the Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge with him – I never really looked back!

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
I love how SG is “owned” by its people.  When people introduce themselves as a Sleekgeek, you know a brand has had an immense impact. The community is so incredibly inspiring and supportive,  one feels at home.

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
Geez …I was old before my time!  To be completely honest, when I was growing up, I never really had to work on my weight, fast forward a few years and one morning I woke up really overweight… I didn’t respect my body enough to work on it.  I remember never having the energy to do anything, it was quite pathetic actually. I was constantly sleeping and never really went out, except to work…I didn’t like myself very much at all. 

What ignited your initial motivation to change? 
My clothes never fit and I was running out of space to make additional holes in my belts. I was feeling sluggish and very uncomfortable.  

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now? 
I constantly tell myself not to eat the bread! No, jokes aside, I love bread,  so when I encounter a craving, I have two slices of really nasty, delicious white bread and get it out of my system.  In the past, I would eat half a loaf of bread, with cheese and onion Simba chips, without thinking about it. I now make better choices when it comes to fueling my body.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
Finding the time to fit in training with a hectic work schedule as well as being the best husband and Dad that I can be.  I have realized that I need to make time for myself, so every week when I get my training programme, I make appointments in my diary. It helps to keep me accountable…I wouldn’t disrespect and skip a meeting with a client, so why should I accept that for myself? It’s a non-negotiable for me now.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
As I said above,  value yourself enough to make the time and stick to the plan.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Hell yes!  After the initial challenge, I lost about 17kg`s, but soon afterwards, it all came back and then some! For some time, I struggled with what no one wanted to talk about, depression and I went through a really,  really rough patch. I was no fun to be around! I topped the scale at 101kgs and at 167cm, that’s a lot of weight to carry! I beat it, the depression and managed to take my life back.

What is better since you got healthy?
Everything.  I know that sounds really cliche, but it’s true. I function better,  I sleep better, no more snoring the house awake 🙂 I am there for my family, really there for them now. I feel like this is the person that I was always meant to be.

TRAINING 

What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
Swim, Bike, Run!  Not in that order though, it would be Bike, Run, Swim 🙂 I have been bitten by the triathlon bug!

How long have you been training and how did you get started? 
I have been training with a triathlon coach for about 8 months now, six days a week.  She is a real drill sergeant and keeps track of my stats on Training Peaks – so there is no hiding from her 🙂  I decided to work with a coach to help me focus and it really saves me time as she works out my training in advance.

What does your typical workout look like? 
I change it up from week to week to not get too comfortable.  I generally do a combination of strength and cardio with a strong focus on endurance.

Favourite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Long early morning bike rides around Stellies,  I feel most comfortable on the bike.

Least favourite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Lap swimming!  Although I need to improve my swim times a lot.

How does exercise make you feel?
Like a champion!  There’s really no better feeling than pushing through and overcoming pain – it’s very fulfilling.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Mostly alone,  but I don’t mind group training. I find that I get distracted when working out with others and I can be quite distracting too… I love to talk…I’m that guy! 

Most embarrassing training moment?
I was competing in Tough Mudder and at the monkey bars,  with only three bars left to get across the mud, I just had no more upper body strength and fell into the pit of shame.  As I was being pulled out of the water, my shorts slipped off and I was not wearing any jocks….a lady in the 200 strong crowd shouted “Check,  that oke`s selling crack!” I almost died 🙂

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
1) A big sweat towel, gross…I know.
2) Loads of water
3) My training schedule,  without the actual printed piece of paper, I’d be lost.

Your next training goal? 
I am currently training for my first half marathon next year – Two Oceans,  then 2021, I am doing half IronMan in Durbs.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist? 
Strangely enough, I don’t listen to music when I train –  it distracts me from focusing on my breathing.

How has exercise/training/sport changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
Triathlon specifically,  has changed my life in the sense that it pushes me through my comfort zone and what I sometimes think I am capable of physically and mentally.  It has given me new insight into my character and allowed me to see that I am way stronger than I ever thought I could be.

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?
Braaivleis with too many braaibrootjies!

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
My wife makes a mean cauliflower pizza!

Favourite protein?
Chicken for the win!

Favourite fat?
Avocados.

Favourite carbohydrate?
Bread and potatoes.

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
Stop eating before you are full and most importantly, I don’t eat after 7pm.  If due to work commitments, I miss dinner time, I grab a shake on my way home with some nuts or biltong. This may seem extreme, but it has helped me to maintain my weight loss.

How many meals a day do you eat?
5 meals,  three larger with lunch being the biggest and two snacks in between.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
Yes,  I feel it’s important, especially socially, no one wants to eat celery sticks at a braai.  I allow myself one cheat meal a week – I basically eat whatever I want and refuse to feel guilty about it.  These are usually on a Saturday or Sunday.

MINDSET

Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do? 
I just broke my 5 minutes per km run pace, currently running at 4.45 per km and started out almost double that pace.  Really chuffed to not be one of the last Parkrunners crossing the line now 🙂

Favourite quote?
Live and let live.  

Favourite book?
A thousand splendid suns – by Khaled Hosseini.

What inspires and motivates you?
My son.  He is my greatest achievement and I want to make him proud.

For what are you most grateful?
A body that works.  My young cousin had a stroke a few years ago and is paralysed from the neck down.  I am grateful to be able to do the things that he wishes he could do and this is one of the reasons why I will never take my body for granted ever again.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
You may fail,  but you may also become the best you that you could ever be. Don’t waste a minute.

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

  • Stay close to the Sleekgeek community and join the Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge, it really is life-changing.
  • Find an accountability partner – someone to keep you focussed and on track.
  • Prep your meals ahead of time,  life happens and you will be forced to make choices that are sometimes not ideal.
  • Don’t weigh yourself every five minutes!  I weigh in once a week, on a Tuesday and keep track of my progress.  Try not to obsess about the scale, although it can happen pretty easily!
  • Go easy on yourself every now and then.  Sometimes, we are so focussed on living a healthy life,  that we forget to live!

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