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Theo losses 48kgs and transforms both physically and mentally.

Name:
Theo Louw

Age:
46

Location:
Durban

How much weight have you lost on your journey so far? Please provide start and current weight.
My highest weight was 135kgs back in 2010. Been up and down since then. Currently I’m 86.4kgs. Lost in total about 48kgs or a small chubby child.

What do you do? [Job].
Senior Officer (Major) in the South African National Defence Force.

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
Work on my wife’s nerves. But I also enjoy sports of any kind. I enjoy the odd round of golf. But lately it’s been anything to do with fitness. Started taking running a bit more seriously, I began with parkruns, Myrun (trail running) and more recently longer distances (Deloitte 21km).

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
2 Months (started with Heat 1 in the Sleekgeek 8-week challenge).

How did you find Sleekgeek?
Facebook

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
Definitely the support and motivation by the other members of the community. The tips on fitness as well as eating habits is always welcome. Met up with quite a couple of the Sleeks in KZN, and their support and enthusiasm have been a great motivator.

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I’ve always been quite active. Played club rugby and cricket. Played a lot of golf. But gradually became more and more unfit and heavier. Comfortable living made the belt and clothes shrink, and the numbers on the scale grow. I stopped playing rugby and cricket, and just slowly became less and less active. Got fat and unfit, but didn’t even realize it. Fitness tests and physical training in the SANDF became a punishment. 

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
On 13 November 2016, I was appointed as the parade commander for the annual Remembrance Day Parade in Durban, at the City Hall. The parade was attended by various dignitaries, including the mayor of the Durban Metropolitan Area, politicians and media. My wife, Mandy, and my daughter, Danielle, attended the parade and took a lot of photos of me on parade. I was extremely proud of myself. Pride that lasted until we got home that afternoon and I looked at the photos! Present in all the photos was a senior officer in the SANDF, with a face as round as a soccer ball, and a camouflage shirt with buttons straining to keep a fat stomach from bursting out! That day we, my wife and I, decided it was time for drastic changes in our lifestyles. We joined a gym, started working out and became more active. Unfortunately my love for food prevented me from achieving great success in the weight loss area. Only in 2019 did the reality that weight loss is mainly achieved in the kitchen, set in. Since then progress became visible in clothes that suddenly didn’t fit anymore, and this time for the right reasons.  

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I definitely pay more attention to what goes on to my plate. My approach to working out has also changed. In the beginning I had the idea in my mind to become this bulky bodybuilder type, so all my focus was in the gym, lifting as often and as heavy as I could and using all kinds of supplements. Recently I stopped with the supplements, unless you count coffee as a supplement, and started doing a lot more cardio and HIIT training.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
I think eating 100% correct will always be a struggle. Luckily my wife and I are on the same journey, and with her support, it’s a lot easier.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
“If you want to see changes, stop making excuses!” It’s so much easier finding an excuse for every challenge. Time, money, it’s raining, it’s cold….but once you stop making excuses, things start to change!

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Definitely! We are human. There have been times when I was ready to give up. In early 2019, I tipped the scale at 112kgs. I tried my hardest in the gym, I ate all the green stuff, but that scale didn’t budge! Then after a couple of months, I tried a new approach and changed up my routines, and “Viola!”…the numbers on the scale dropped, and things started happening again!

What is better since you got healthy? 
Everything! And I mean everything. I feel better, physically and emotionally. I’m no longer tired and irritable all the time, unless I can’t go out and train, that is. Life in general is just so much more fun! We’ve made so many new friends, met the Sleeks of KZN, and joined a running club! Things I thought I’d never do!

TRAINING 

What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
It always used to be weightlifting. However lately I enjoy running and HIIT much more. I do weekly Power Pump and Grid classes at the gym. Great full body high intensity workouts that gets the heart rate screaming!

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
Been working out seriously since December 2016. That image of the fat soldier on parade kick started it. Registered for Parkrun in June 2018, but only started taking it seriously in 2019, and recently completed my 50th parkrun. 

What does your typical workout look like?
That depends on the day of the week. Mondays are for weightlifting in the gym. I prefer free weights to machines and mostly focus on the upper body, shoulders, chest, back and arms. Tuesdays PT period at work, that’s normally a short run or walk, followed by Power Pump at gym. Wednesdays and Thursdays are normally a decent run (10k’s or so). Fridays is a GRID class at the gym. Saturday 20km cycling followed by Parkrun. Sunday is Myrun 5km (trail running at Giba Gorge near Durban) or a race if any.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
I love cycling. In the gym I really enjoy anything  to do with shoulders and arms. Maybe because that’s where I first noticed the changes in my physical appearance.

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Anything to do with Abs!! Hate it, hate it, hate it!

How does exercise make you feel? 
I’m not sure how to answer, or what to compare it too. There are days when you’ve had a crap day, and all you want to do is pop open a bottle of beer and forget about the world, but instead I’ll hit the gym, or the pavement, and everything just seems brighter after!

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I’ve always been a bit of a loner. But lately, I’ve been doing a lot more stuff with my wife. We’ve actually earned a tongue-in-cheek nickname as Parkrun’s ‘Power Couple’. In the gym, I prefer to work out alone. 

Most embarrassing training moment?
What can I say? Don’t do abs after a decent Durban Mutton Curry….it can be gassy and it can be loud……

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

  • Music (Bluetooth earphones)
  • Sweat towel! (I sweat a lot!)
  • Water or something cold to drink.

Your next training goal?
I would love to do a sprint triathlon, however I swim only slightly better than a rock. So definitely focus a bit more on swimming.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?

  • ACDC – You Shook Me All Night Long
  • Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
  • Eminem – Loose Yourself
  • Cypress Hill – Insane in the Brain
  • Spider Bait – Black Betty

How has exercise/training/Sport changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]
As I mentioned before, everything is better. But I think the best out of everything is the added self-confidence it has given me. My wife used to say I’m ‘anti-social’. Our circle of friends has tripled in the last year. Sport, training for it, and the added benefits of looking and feeling better, made me much more confident and sure about my own abilities.

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?
Love a good old fashioned messy hamburger, or a proper Durban Mutton Bunny!

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Chicken(fillet) Salad with a touch of Mayo and Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Favourite protein?
Chicken

Favourite fat?
Peanut Butter!!!!

Favourite carbohydrate?
Pasta in any form.

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
I try to eat as ’clean’ as possible. Smaller meals. Stay away from processed foods. And definitely stay away from sugar as far as possible. I suffer from Achalasia (my esophagus doesn’t work properly) which makes it difficult for me to swallow, so I try to eat slower, and chew longer, which is always difficult. I also try to eat as little carbs as possible. And lots of water.

How many meals a day do you eat?
I try to spread it out over the day, so normally I’ll have a breakfast at 7, then a snack at 10, lunch between 12 and 1 , supper around 4, and then a cup of coffee before bed.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
I believe in having something when I want it. So if I feel like a treat, I will have a small one. In the past, it used to be a whole slab of chocolate, now I’ll settle for one or two blocks. 

MINDSET

Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
In March I completed the Deloitte Challenge 21km in under 2 hours 30 minutes. In September last year I was told I must quit running due to Osteoarthritis in both knees. I came back, started running more, and both knees are a lot better. 

Favorite quote?
“Stop making excuses and start making changes!” I don’t know who said it, but it’s the gospel truth!

Favourite book? 
American Sniper – Chris Kyle

What inspires and motivates you?
My biggest motivator and inspiration is my wife, Mandy! She has her very own success story (lost nearly 50kgs in just over a year and also completed 2 Midmar miles, and the Deloitte 21km)! She keeps my head up and my shoulders back, when times are tough! 

For what are you most grateful? 
Without a doubt the support and love of my family, good health and a body that wants to go further and further every day!

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
I’ve said it already….stop making excuses, and start making changes. When Mandy told me she’s going to sign me up for the SleekGeek 8 Week Challenge I had a lot of excuses why not to do it. She told me to suck it up and just do it! I did, and here I am, seven weeks into the challenge, and 11.6kgs lighter, and a whole lot fitter!

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

1. Don’t be scared to push yourself. When your body says it’s tired, you aren’t even halfway there yet.

2. Set yourself a realistic goal. You won’t go from the Couch to Comrades in a year.

3. Find what works for you. Not everybody loves running or weightlifting.

4. Don’t deprive yourself of the things/foods you love. But keep moderation in mind.5. Never ever quit! I quote my wife “…getting fit and healthy is hard, being fat and unhealthy is hard. Choose your HARD!..)

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