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💪 8-Week Body Transformation Challenge! 🥗

QA: Debi Malherbe loses 25kgs and here is how.

Debi Malherbe


Cape Town

What do you do? [Job]
Regional Sales Manager in the FMCG sector for a chemical company.

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
Reading, cooking, dreaming up recipes and antiquing.


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
Four years, I think.

How did you find Sleekgeek?

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
The ideas that are shared, gaining inspiration from others and the feel-good vibe on the group.


Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I was a serial dieter that would start with the best of intentions and then lose focus when I became bogged down with counting points or weighing food – it was tedious and it was not sustainable. Most of all I constantly felt deprived. I could also never fit the diet into my weekends so by Friday night the diet was out of the window. I lived in a vicious cycle which then resulted in binge eating because of failure and the fact that I knew certain foods were off limits made the binge eating worse.

I was also a smoker until August 2018 which made exercise very, very difficult and something I saw as punishment for bad eating rather than something positive for my overall well being.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
I am short and have a small frame – I was almost in a size 18 clothing I couldn’t anymore, something had to give and I feared that it might be my heart. I had seen people having success on Banting, my husband included and it was a hot topic at the time – so I decided it was time to try something new. How hard could it be? All I had to do was follow the lists. I’d like to say the rest is history but it is actually a work in progress. I embraced the lifestyle, I changed and adapted and most importantly I never felt deprived.

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I have learned the importance of speaking nicely to myself and stopped the negative self-talk.

I now try to listen to my body for example, I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full (90% of the time, but food is so good it is hard sometimes). I also try to take note of how I feel if I have had something that doesn’t fit into the lifestyle.

I have approached the low carb way of eating as a lifestyle and not as a diet (too much negativity associated with the word diet). I don’t over complicate it – I stick to the lists – no weighing, no counting macros. I actually said to my husband a few months ago that perhaps I should consider counting macros as I have been reading a lot about it on the Keto pages/websites and his response was “You have been so successful without all of that – why change what works for you?”.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
This is a difficult question as the struggle is so real it changes all the time. Currently I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I have been having a block of dark chocolate with coffee in the evening. I made a blueberry bread recently which also seemed to help and since I don’t have much more to lose I have added more fruit.

I also struggled with hunger recently as I gave up milk and hard cheese after seeing an immunologist, who advised me of the negative effects of certain dairy on the body and the inflammation it causes. I needed to figure out what my body needed and when – so I changed and tweaked my eating habits until I found my new happy medium.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Listen to your body

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Absolutely, my Fitbit weight chart tells the tale of the struggle.

What is better since you got healthy?
My overall health and general feeling of well being. Definitely my skin and since giving up milk and cheese in December and actively working to improve my gut health I sleep so much better.


What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
Probably running – I like the pounding of my feet on the treadmill or ground, it helps to clear my head.

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
About five years ago I bought a Groupon voucher for five sessions with a personal trainer, who I ended up training with for five years. We walked a long journey together. I couldn’t have done it alone.

At the time that I bought the initial voucher I could barely manage 20 minutes and we had to break the sessions down into 30 minute sessions to make sure I wasn’t actually going to die! I cringe when I think back to how unhealthy I was.

What does your typical workout look like?
Cardio, weights/functional training and some stretching.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Probably running / Pilates

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]

How does exercise make you feel?
Motivated and accomplished.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Alone, my coordination is terrible, I am always afraid of looking like I have 2 left feet or falling on my face.

Most embarrassing training moment?
Doing star jumps using only my arms, legs firmly on the floor.

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
Gloves, hair clip, parking money

Your next training goal?
Maybe to run 5 km. I haven’t given it too much consideration.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
Rather embarrassing to admit – I don’t have a playlist or even earphones. I think I need to change that. I do however have a Spotify account!

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
It helps keep me on track and it makes me feel balanced. When I exercise and eat well my health circle is complete.


What’s your favourite meal?
Oh wow, I am obsessed with food. All food is my favorite! I would probably have to go with any fancy or fine dining meal at one of Cape Town’s latest trending restaurants or something I can’t / don’t or won’t make myself.

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Vegetables in all shapes and forms! If I go a day without having enough veg I get withdrawals.

Favourite protein?
Toss-up between lamb and pork.

Favourite fat?
Avocado of course… and coconut milk.

Favourite carbohydrate?

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
Given that I follow a low carbohydrate lifestyle I occasionally have potato or higher carbohydrate vegetables like butternut or beetroot. I believe it is from the earth so is definitely better than bread or processed food. Eat the rainbow!

How many meals a day do you eat?
Usually 2

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
If you have a flat tyre on your car you repair it and move on, you don’t slash the other 3 tyres. So if you have a bad day, don’t follow on with 3 more bad days, pick up, re-focus and move on.


Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
Fitting into the 30 pairs of jeans that I last wore 10 years ago! I also never thought I would be able to run while not being chased.

Favorite quote?
Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets into them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.

Favourite book?
I love recipe books so currently I am between A week in the Kitchen by Karen Dudley and the Low Carb recipe book by Jonno Proudfoot. This changes as my food mood changes.

What inspires and motivates you?
Food inspires me – which helps as I am always wanting to find a healthy alternative and try new recipes and dishes. Check out my Instagram for inspiration @Fab_Foodie_Fun – I post most of my meals. I am motivated by wanting to be the best version of myself that I can be.

For what are you most grateful?
The support and encouragement from my awesome husband, he has been by my side every step of the way.

From filling my water bottles daily, to carrying my gym bag to my car in the morning and to making sure that Santa’s Elves knew which fitness watch I had on my wish list. 😉

I should probably mention that he is the Guinea pig for all my weird and wonderful recipes and for that I am super grateful as well.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
1. You have won 90% of the battle by just showing up.
2. Be kind to yourself.
3. Don’t over complicate things.

What are your top 5 tips for anyone starting on a healthy journey?
1. Slow and steady wins the race.
2. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
3. Being fat is hard, losing weight is hard – choose your hard.
4. Listen to your body.
5. Meal prep and planning are key to achieving your goals.

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