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💪 8-Week Body Transformation Challenge! 🥗

QA: Jessica Zimmerman lost 25kg and here is how.

Jessica Zimmerman


Brackenfell, Cape Town

What do you do? [Job]
Co-owner of Fire and Ash Marketing (Pty) Ltd

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
Chairman of our body corporate, social seamstress and athlete.


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
Since 2019. Always knew about Sleekgeek through my husband for a few years.

How did you find Sleekgeek?
My husband David did a Sleekgeek 8 Week Challenge a few years back, which was a great success.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
Having an interactive platform to ask fitness and health-related questions. To see the transformations and read the comments inspires me on my own journey.


Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I come from a small family who all have body image issues. I have a natural pear shape and was constantly told I was fat when in fact I was normal. But being an emotional eater, I just started piling on the kilos and started a vicious circle. I lost both my parents to unnatural deaths which led me into a downhill spiral.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
I offered to be the support driver for my business partner Ashley and Dragonfly Tri cycling team doing 100km from Melkbos to Langebaan. Riding in the car behind a group of fit and healthy cyclists at 21km/h for 4-5 hours certainly puts things into perspective. Even though I was fed up with the way I looked I didn’t seriously commit to changing my life until my father in law then later went in for a shoulder op and was told his sugar was 17mmol/l. This was a massive wakeup call for me.

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I think before I eat and run every second day. I make time for myself and take care of my body.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
Learning to accept that I cannot do everything…yet. I have some serious FOMO when I watch friends compete in big events. I must realize that it’s ok if I do my small 5/10km race while my friends are all doing triathlons.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Slow and steady. Concentrate on increasing your distance, bringing down your pace and streamlining your technique rather than trying to compete with others. Your only competitor is you.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Oh yes, don’t we all. I lost 21kg in 2015. I was doing great until my father died. This threw me off my path completely and I picked up everything I’d lost (and more). In January 2019 I started my weightloss journey again and since lost 25kg. This time I am determined not to slide back.

What is better since you got healthy?
Starting my own business in July 2018 I knew it would come with challenges, but I never realised how inferior I’d feel going into events and meetings as an overweight person trying to sell sports apparel. Meeting new people was always daunting. Now I walk into meetings with the confidence that comes with being a healthy successful businesswoman, wife and mother. I can relate to my client base who are mostly sports fanatics cyclists and triathlon enthusiasts.


What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
My drug of choice is running. I enjoy cycling as well and most recently started doing obstacle races which I love!

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
Since 1 Jan 2019, it all started with our family starting to eat healthily and cut out all sugar and starch “to be supportive” towards my father in law after doctors told him his sugar was 17mmol/l and that he needed to drastically change his diet.

What does your typical workout look like?
I run every second morning (6-8km) Monday, Wednesday, Friday and try to do Parkrun every Saturday morning. I also do weight training once a week (normally Tuesday) and try to get a cycle in once over the weekend (if I’m not too tired).

Favourite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Definitely running!

Least favourite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Is it weird not to have one? I don’t do exercises I don’t like. But probably going to the gym. I don’t like training in a gym.

How does exercise make you feel?
On top of the world. I like to train in the morning which gives me energy for the whole day.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I’m a loner. Hence why I dislike the gym. Too many people exercising in one place. I guess I enjoy solitude…training is my time for self-reflection. Almost like meditating but with heavy breathing and an escalated heart rate.

Most embarrassing training moment?
I don’t believe I have one… Jeepers, I must really like training alone.

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
Music, water bottle and cap.

Your next training goal?
I’m planning to do the ITU duathlon in February 2020 (hopefully if they can secure a sponsor).

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
I don’t listen to single songs or the same playlist. I like to download shuffle music (1 hour-long DJ mixes) which I use to train. I download regularly to keep my music new which helps me run longer.

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life?
I’ve gained so much confidence, not only in my personal life but in my career. Even doing public speaking. Losing weight and becoming healthy has also inspired and motivated many around me to start on their journey. I’ve created my own small weight loss group to help motivate others. It’s extremely rewarding to offer advice and guidance even though I’m no professional and I know each and every person’s journey is not the same. We all ultimately have one goal, to become the best version of ourselves we can be.


What’s your favourite meal?
McDonald’s…Oh! How I miss McDonald’s. In 2019 I have had McDonald’s only 3 times the whole year.

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Nothing better than my mother in law’s tuna salad.

Favourite protein?
Lamb chops.

Favourite fat?
Cheese…Mature cheddar, feta, goats cheese, brie, camembert…any cheese.

Favourite carbohydrate?
Sweet potato chips.

What’s your nutrition philosophy/approach? [If you have one]
Sadly I don’t have one… This definitely needs to change in 2020.

How many meals a day do you eat?
2-3. I’m on the road a lot and most days I run out of the office around 10am (having grabbed a banana only) then most days I miss lunch and eat supper only. Not the healthiest routine I know, but it works for me.

Do you have a cheat meal/treat strategy?
No, I believe that eating healthy should be a way of life. We are not pets that should treat ourselves for being obedient all week. Eating healthy should be 24/7. I have no problem with having a small chocolate when you feel like it, but get it over and done with and move on.


Most memorable personal best achievement to date.
Something you maybe never imagined you could do? Doing the Tough Mudder obstacle race. I’ve always wanted to try something like this and my biggest fear was the 2 Berlin walls. The teamwork and encouragement was amazing and the feeling of looking back at the double 2.5m high walls which I had just scaled made me cry. Something I never thought possible a year ago was now achievable.

Favourite quote?
Health is not about the weight you lose, it’s about the life you gain.

Favourite book?
I don’t read. Just not enough time in my day.

What inspires and motivates you?
My husband and my business partner. They are my biggest supporters and watching them, each on their own fitness missions inspires me to do more and try more.

For what are you most grateful?
A healthy body and mind. I have watched close family wither away from Cancer and Parkinson’s disease, suffer from depression and battle with strokes. I am truly blessed and try to make the most out of every day. You never know when today may be your last.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Don’t put it off. Start today and take it 1 day at a time. Set yourself realistic goals and only compete with yourself. Your future you will thank you one day.

What are your top 5 tips for anyone starting on a healthy journey?
1. Don’t follow the next best diet. There is no quick fix. Eating healthy needs to be a long term way of life.
2. Set realistic goals. This way you boost your confidence when you hit those goals. Slow and steady.
3. You are your own competition. Don’t compare yourself to others. As long as you keep working every day you will reap the rewards.
4. Include your family and friends. You are building a new you…no more couch potato. This needs to be something you can do with your family.
5. Take many before photos and keep an item of clothing. This is not to scare people but as a reminder of how far you’ve come. Be proud to show your hard work.

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