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QA: Muneebah conquered cancer and becomes a winner in remission.

Name:
Muneebah Mimi Patel

Age:
31

Location:
Johannesburg

What do you do? [Job]
Finance Manager

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
Best pastimes, cooking new meals with my partner, watching Masterchef series, open water swimming, running, hiking, yoga stretching in the mornings.

A brief background on my journey.
March 2014 I was a fit and healthy lady at 26 years old, training for my first Two Oceans Half marathon living in Cape Town and regularly running 5km/12 km training runs along the Sea Point promenade. I constantly had a cold, flu, coughing and thought it was just “summer flu”. 

My very scratchy cough which came and went for over 2 months, one day turned to be a non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancerous tumour growing on my chest crushing my lungs. I had a few other complications as my lungs were full of water and water on my heart, In a space of  4 days, I went from visiting my GP to private hospital ER to Groote Schuur and ICU, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. My journey lasted till the end of 2014, and had many periods of self-isolation, resting as well as walks outside to slowly conquer.

I came out of cancer at the end of 2014 with a determination to always improve my life and welcome supportive communities to bring health and wellness to my life. 

How much weight have you lost on your journey so far? Please provide start and current weight thanks 
I’ve maintained my weight though conquered cancer.

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
I’ve been a Facebook group member since 2018 and actively took part in my first Summer challenge in September 2019.

How did you find Sleekgeek?
Two Facebook friends Cheryl Louise Green and Bianca Leigh Nagel posted about Sleekgeek on their timelines both runners I look up to. 

I love the community, my team and team leaders Kat Darvall and Dee Coetzee. It’s an all-inclusive community and affordable to join. What keeps me coming back for more Sleekgeek 8 week challenges is it’s a safe space, no judgements and just encouragement, a supportive online community. 

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
I wish more people can join and learn how to slowly move and progress from any fitness level. I wish I knew about Sleekgeek when I battled through cancer in 2014, or the harder part, getting back into normal life in 2015, not as fast and healthy as I was before.  

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?

My story is a bit more than a weight loss story, it is a story about overcoming an illness that almost took my life away. I think we can all learn from my experience given the current COVID -19 and being our best, despite the self-isolation. 

My victory against cancer was in self-isolation mainly in the ICU unit, chemotherapy rooms and being in my home with my close family. 

We need to grow our minds when we alone, that we have so much potential to achieve anything, even it if was for me:

  • Learning to breathe for 20 seconds without a ventilator,
  • Learning to stand and take 4 steps walking,
  • Blowing into a water bottle or 
  • Taking our first stroll, walking 1 km.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
Post cancer I was weak, I lost muscle and was slower at everything I did. I started jazz dancing for the first time through Cape Town Swing, and now that I’ve relocated to Joburg I needed an online community for my other fitness goals. 

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
I have learned to love burpees, squats and pushups, which I hated before. 

The main skill I learned was you can be active anywhere, anytime, without too much expensive equipment with just your body and a few items around you to help, thanks to the Real fit games.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
I struggle with logging and keeping track of my workouts I completed each week, I forget to charge my fitness watch or log all my workouts. 

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Logging a workout, even if 10 minutes, can help me improve consistency and motivate me during busy times, of how far I’ve come and how much more I can achieve. 

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Yes, a few times and my team leaders and group are always there to show me how far I have come. When I fought cancer in the ICU I couldn’t even breathe by myself or walk. 

When I fought cancer I had to learn how to jog 1km and when I started the Sleekgeek 8 Week Challenge 4 years later, I could run 21 km but I struggled with burpees and strength training. There is always something to learn and gain. 

What is better since you got healthy? 
My mindset, consistency with workouts even if I can’t get to the gym. 

TRAINING 

What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
Swim training for open water swim events, morning cycling and spin classes, yoga in the morning, even if it’s 10 minutes and weights at the gym or in the garden. 

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I started in 2015 after I conquered cancer but it took me a while to get back to running and I ran my first 10Km in 2017, then my first 21km road and UTCT train run in 2018. 

I trained a lot before my cancer in 2014 / 2015, though nobody can prepare you for illness and injury, it happens beyond your control, and getting back up, is what counts. 

What does your typical workout look like?
A morning spinning class for 45 minutes, or late afternoons:

I first always stretch, then start a 10-minute cardio warmup (either skipping, treadmill jog or cycle) then do weights to work the main 8 muscle groups from shoulders to quads and calves. 

I love doing super-sets with weights and even use my body weight for workouts if I can’t get to the gym. 

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Running 21km trail runs with incredible views, I’ve travelled to Mpumalanga to a few and if we train at home/ gym, squats, burpees and classic pushups. 

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Barbell squats, though I hope to learn someday. 

How does exercise make you feel? 
Energetic, and alert. 

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I prefer to do my weights alone, though cardio as cycling I prefer in a spin class or running races with my partner, it would be boring alone. 

Most embarrassing training moment?
Attempting chin-ups, I will get there.

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag?
Water bottle, towel and a simple skipping rope to skip between weight sets. I like to add a burst of cardio between each set.

Your next training goal?
Running a Half marathon in under 2 hours 20 minutes and running a full marathon.  

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?

All available on sound cloud:

  1. Simply red – sunrise,
  2. Any jazz by Bennie Goodman 
  3. Shawn Mendes – Senorita,
  4. Nico and Vinz – Am I wrong
  5. Any song by DJ Kent and Spritchaser

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? [Made it better, etc – please be specific]

Being healthy is our anchor at overcoming anything. Money can’t buy health. I never smoked before and I got a tumour crushing my lung. Though if we keep consistently healthy, through running/ any exercise I chose, my strong lungs helped me conquer. Our health is the biggest strength, what if I had the Coronavirus, my healthy lifestyle and positive immune system could save me. 

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?
A butter chicken curry with roti or naan, a good cheat meal. 

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Any good protein curry in turmeric spiced homemade coconut milk. (I change between protein curries chicken, butter beans and chickpeas and I add coconut flour to water to make my own low-fat coconut milk). 

Favourite protein?
Chicken

Favourite fat?
Avocado

Favourite carbohydrate?
Quinoa

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
Don’t really have one, I’m going to be a dedicated banter, I just avoid sugar and food from packets that are ready-made and high in hidden salt and sugar. 

How many meals a day do you eat?
Three 

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
I allow a small  chocolate once a week on a Sunday, 

MINDSET

Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
I never thought I could run a 21 km trail Run. My first was the UTCT (Ultra Trail Cape Town) in 2018 and I’ve two afterwards. 

Favorite quote?
“Consistency builds confidence”.

Favourite book? 
The 7 habits of highly effective people. Our habits create us. 

What inspires and motivates you?
That I am alive and I never lost my life to Cancer. I never let the illness take over my future. 

For what are you most grateful? 
Family, the education I have and the ability to live each day healthy. 

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
Sleekgeek is the most supportive community you can find, it doesn’t matter where you are starting from and there is no limit to what you can do. All this at  an affordable cost too, to help members come back. 

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

  1. Know your why and look at it everyday, 
  2. Get a supportive leader and group,
  3. Be willing to make the small lifestyle changes, it all adds up to a big dream.
  4. Be patient with your progress, 
  5. Stretch everyday, even on non -workout days, it prevents injury.

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