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💪 8-Week Body Transformation Challenge! 🥗

QA: Jacki lost 12.5kgs after being inspired by a fellow Sleekgeek.


Jacki Sands




Diep River, Cape Town

How much weight have you lost on your journey so far?

Starting weight was 109kgs (March 2019), current weight 96.5kgs.

I lost 15.7kgs, then gained 3.2 kgs during lockdown, so the current total weightloss is 12.5kg.

What do you do? [Job]

I’m a Fundraising and Communications Coordinator at Cape Town Environmental Education Trust.

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]

I do a little writing, sewing, gardening, and when I am indulgent I do a lot of Netflix.


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?

Since the beginning of 2017 (I think) maybe since 2016

How did you find Sleekgeek?

My friend Madenia Raven Salie told me about it.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?

I love seeing the transformations. I believe being exposed to the visuals and stories of transformation made me want to be the same. I also wanted to experience it. (That which ye behold, so shall ye become), I watched for about a year before I started making any attempts to change. Long before 2016, my friend Mads told me about SG, but I was resistant. It initially seemed so restrictive. It is a change in mindset that helps one see it differently.


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

I pretty much ate loads and loads of sweets. I gave up smoking just over 17 years ago and basically exchanged one bad habit for another. I started eating jelly sweets. Sometimes I found myself in a cycle of offsetting sweet with savory and savory with sweet and that could go on all day. My mom used to joke and say it looks like I eat one meal a day, all day. In 2010 I started my own business, a cake, and confectionery business. The newfound freedom gave me time to run, which I enjoyed very much. I had pretty much been a couch potato my whole life. I lost 13.4kg in four months and maintained for a few months, but in 2011 I found myself in a deep depression, and the meds I was put on made me gain about eight kgs in six weeks. This depressed me even more. Getting my cake business off the ground was challenging too, and led to more stress eating. I began to joke about maintaining quality control and that being the taste-tester is a necessary evil. 

What ignited your initial motivation to change?

At the beginning of 2017, I began to follow Chantel Erfort Manuel’s transformation, as I could relate to her somehow. Her starting weight was where I was at – 108kg at the time. Around this time I found myself making attempts and using a meal replacement. My weight fluctuated between 102 -105kg. I began to experience shoulder pain and spent loads of money on physiotherapy and trying to ascertain what the issue was. This process saw me extracting teeth, changing fillings, and trying loads of therapies, but the real issue was a poor diet, lack of exercise, and a life of bad posture. Seeing Chantel’s progress (and other Sleeks) made me want to make real changes. In January 2018 Chantel led myself and a few others through a 30-day clean eating challenge and this is when I saw what real change could do! I lost 8.2kg, which showed me that my body was still responsive and responds well to cutting out refined sugars. I was so excited! I even resisted nachos on a night out and opted for the fruit and nuts I had brought along. Finally, I was on my way. Well, I began to adopt bad habits again a few months later and in March 2019 I found myself at a whopping 109kg again. I also hadn’t been exercising. In April 2019 I started exercising and my new journey started. It’s been up and down, but mostly up (or is that down?). Motivation up, weight down! This is the longest I have been motivated to stay on my road to health and fitness. 

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?

Now I am more mindful. I am definitely not resistant anymore. The idea of healthy eating and exercise fills me with joy. I am conscious about what I eat, even when I opt for a little extra or something sugary. 

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?

I still struggle with emotional eating. Lockdown – and the fact that my son has been somewhat stuck in China – had me super stressed over this time and I lost my way slightly. There is still a huge difference in my attitude. I am still at it, still hustling, even if I only get myself to exercise once a week. The will is still there. Some weeks are great and I manage five days of exercise. I have to get back to being consistent though, a routine is key, but it is definitely a struggle right now.

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

To make an effort to plan my eating better, to get back to meal prep and plan for exercise during the week the way I used to have.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey? 

Definitely backslid a bit during lockdown.

What is better since you got healthy? 

I am happier, I feel healthier. I look better and receive loads of compliments. I have something to teach. I know how to manage the flare-ups in my shoulder. Turns out it is related to excessive sugar consumption – whoddathinkit?!


What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]

Running and power walking.

How long have you been training and how did you get started?

In April 2019 I decided to try running again. I used to take my dog to the field for her walk and watch her, then one day I decided to run with her. It seems simple, but it was actually a conscious, hard breakthrough. 

What does your typical workout look like?

I start with a little warm-up walking on the spot, that becomes running on the spot, then I do some step-ups at the front doorstep before going out for a run. When I get back I take some time stretching. 

Weekly schedule when I am in full focus:

  • Monday Fitwalking club 
  • Tuesday 5-8km run
  • Wednesday rest
  • Thursday 5-8km run
  • Friday Fitwalking with a home video 
  • Saturday rest
  • Sunday 5km run

This plan works wonders for me.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]

Kickbacks (hamstring curls).

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


How does exercise make you feel? 

It makes me feel happy and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I take the time to do it. I feel like I rescue myself from myself.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?

Sometimes I like to train with others. It keeps me accountable. Sometimes I like to train alone. It’s like a cleansing.

Most embarrassing training moment?

When lockdown restrictions eased and we could start exercising again, I took my dog for a run. She crossed over in front of me and I tumbled over her. Many other walkers and runners on Kendal Road witnessed my “downfall”. Clearly it had been so long since my dog and I ran together, we forgot how to do it! 

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

A towel, towel, and towels

Your next training goal?

My next training goal is to reach a point where I can run 5km without walking. At my peak, I could run 3km without walking, but now I can do about 1-2km without walking. 

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?

  • Whatever it takes – Imagine Dragons
  • 1901 – Phoenix
  • Magnificent – U2
  • Just Like Heaven – The Cure
  • Believer – Imagine Dragons

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

I am very aware of posture and muscle groups and the feeling in my core. Being conscious of the feeling inside me helps me correct myself from time to time. I am slowly eradicating bad sitting positions and moving my joints regularly.


What’s your favourite meal?

Pasta – various types, with creamy sauces 

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?

Hake or chicken and grilled veg – courgettes, brinjals, sweet peppers, sweet potato, and carrots.

Favourite protein?

Fish – hake, salmon (I’d say lamb, but I don’t have it often).

Favourite fat?

Avooooooooo and nuts – definitely!

Favourite carbohydrate?

I would say pasta, but when I am making a real effort with diet, then butternut and sweet potato.

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]

Keep it real.

How many meals a day do you eat?

I try to eat five meals. I need my snacks. I consider an apple and a few nuts to be a snack.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?

Yes, keep fruit, dates, and nuts as cheats. It helps, big time.


Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?

I never imagined my running on the field and nearly dying after just a few very short lengths would lead to me earning two medals for 10km runs I completed before lockdown. The Gugs Race Run for Unity in December and then also the Slave Route Challenge in February. I never thought I would enter races at all! 

Favorite quote?

“Had to lose my way to know which road to take”. – Imagine Dragons

Favourite book? 

Mango Walk by Rhona Martin

What inspires and motivates you?

Feeling the change. You could be doing something simple regularly for a while and then suddenly you are able to go further, push harder, you feel stronger. Mostly it is seeing what is possible in others who have made the changes and shared their stories. 

For what are you most grateful? 

I am most grateful for resilience. I am amazed at how our bodies respond and from the examples we have, change is possible at any age. I am most grateful for the positive changes in my body and that there is hope to turn years of bad habits around.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?

Start small, make little changes, and break up your goals. 30kgs to lose is very very daunting. Work on the first 5kg. The rewards are amazing. Ask questions. Take advantage of the good advice and guidance from SG leaders. 

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

  1. Start with something small, but be willing to try more and introduce little changes along the way – one less sugar in your tea, one extra glass of water.
  2. Just try the veg, just eat it. You’ll appreciate it eventually – same with the water, just drink it. You’ll eventually begin to feel fresher and like it. Get rid of the processed stuff and additives.
  3. Stick with small goals. If you have 30kg to lose, break it up into goals of 5kg at a time. 
  4. Everyone is different. Take inspiration, but don’t compare
  5. There is no end to your healthy journey, have milestones, but no end goal, other than living a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.

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