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QA: 52kg down for Natasha Fernandes!

Name:

Natasha Fernandes

Age:

39

Location:

Kempton Park, Gauteng

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

52kg lost. Starting weight 150kg, present weight 98kg. 

What do you do? 

I am a hairstylist, actually opening a new salon soon, and a full time homeschooling mom to two daughters. 

What else do you do? 

I love to read, it’s my go-to for relaxation. I really enjoy cooking and baking, always looking for new ways to prepare food. Also, have a huge doll obsession, I am an avid collector! 😁 

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek? 

I’ve been a member since 2016. 

How did you find Sleekgeek? 

I found Sleekgeek through friends and family. 

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community? 

EVERYTHING! I’ve been so blown away by the support and encouragement I have received from everyone. The feedback is incredibly positive and supportive. During my 8 week challenges, I was blessed to be part of the House of Athena, and those women have become such dear friends. 

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

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

The old me was discouraged and burdened. I have a history of eating disorders from an early age, starve/binge cycles. I was never overweight as a child or teenager, but I had always struggled with self-esteem and what I now realize was body dysmorphia. 

It wasn’t until I reached my early 20’s that I began to gain weight. 

I got married and moved to Ireland for several years. During that time my eating was out of control and my activity levels became extremely sedentary. By the time I fell pregnant with my first child, I already weighed in at 109kg. I had gained 50kg in about 2 years. During my pregnancy and after, I actually lost a huge amount of weight but it was just the beginning of 15 years of yo-yo dieting. I would lose, then gain back twice as much. I abused my body with harmful weight loss supplements, pills, and injections. By the time I fell pregnant with my second daughter, 7 years later due to weight-related infertility, I was almost 120kg. Once again I dropped a large amount of weight afterward due to severe complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Sadly it didn’t take me long to gain it all back and then some! My highest weight that I was aware of was 150kg. 

What ignited your initial motivation to change? 

I think I realised that my weight was causing my quality of life to be extremely compromised. My mobility was deteriorating and I was in a lot of physical pain and discomfort. I am petite at just over 5ft1, and the amount of weight I was carrying was putting a massive strain on my body. I got to a point where I just couldn’t live like that anymore. I had seen amazing transformations on Sleekgeek, and I started to believe that I could also do it.  

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

Pretty much EVERYTHING! It’s almost impossible to adequately describe how my life has changed. I am now an active person. I love exercising and walking. Every time I move I’m blown away by how different I feel and how strong and capable I am becoming! It is a gift I will never take for granted. Being able to navigate life as a fit, able-bodied person it’s such a blessing! 

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

I still struggle to see myself as I truly am, I still struggle with a warped sense of self but it is improving. I have an amazing support system and an incredible husband and family who constantly remind me of the truth. I struggle with finding balance, I am often really afraid of going back to being obese. So I push myself extremely hard, and this is not always out of a good and healthy place. Fear never is! But I am getting better at acknowledging this. 

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

You are ENOUGH! Your body and how you look is not your identity! Let the choices you make to improve your body come from self-love and a desire to improve quality of life. You are fabulous just as you are!   

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

Omg, yes! This journey is not a straight, perfect line. I’ve plateaued about three times, for fairly long periods. In those times I felt like I was going to stay there forever. But I didn’t. I asked for some advice, adjusted accordingly, and pushed through. This process is not about perfection, it’s about consistency. Showing up even when there is little to no progress that week or that month. But it shall pass! 

What is better since you got healthy? 

Wow! So many things! Every day I’m still discovering things I can do that I couldn’t before. Even simple things like sitting on the floor and being able to get up unassisted. My bum can fit into ALL chairs, it couldn’t before. Lol! My favourite though is being able to walk into ANY clothing shop and buy the clothes I like AND they are normal average sizes. It still blows me away!

TRAINING 

What’s your favourite form of exercise? 

My favourite exercise is walking with a bit of jogging, and HIIT. 

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

I have been training seriously for about a year now. I just started with walking, as that was all I was capable of initially. Slowly I started including weight lifting and high-intensity interval training.

What does your typical workout look like? 

I train 5-6 days a week. I walk on average 8km most days. I break my weight lifting up into muscle groups over 4 days, upper and lower body alternatively. I then include about 3 HIIT workouts per week usually on the days I am not doing a heavyweight session. 

Favorite exercise? 

I think my favourite movement in terms of weight lifting would be bicep and chest. 

Least favorite exercise? 

My least favourite is lunges on leg day. Also don’t like burpees or jumping jacks.  

How does exercise make you feel? 

Walking/jogging is meditation for me so definitely a stress release that I absolutely can’t do without anymore. Weight lifting and HIIT can really burn and hurt while doing it, but it’s empowering to feel myself getting stronger. It makes me feel energetic and young! 

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? 

I prefer to train alone because it is time out for myself. It clears my head and allows me to then focus when I need to be present for my family. 

Most embarrassing training moment? 

When I just started walking a year ago, I was practically hyperventilating most of the way but I would set milestones for myself. Like, take a break at every third lamppost, etc. One day I decided to really push myself to walk a steep hill (it felt like a mountain back then) without stopping. I got to the top, after almost crawling the last bit, then stood on the top red-faced and sweaty only to realize my pants had slipped down my bum a fair way past what is considered decent. Only to turn around after pulling them up and seeing my elderly neighbour watching me. He was quite amused but I think he also pitied me. I was mortified.  

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

Water, phone, headphones.

Your next training goal? 

I’ve been pushing myself to run more. I’d like to run 5km without stopping. 

Top 5 songs on your training playlist? 

  • Dance monkey – Tones and I 
  • Senorita – Shawn Mendez 
  • Try – Pink
  • Don’t fall Down – Martin Garrix 
  • Medusa – Trance 

How has exercise/training/Sport Changed your life? 

I think the most significant way training has changed my life is how it has made me believe in myself and my abilities. I’ve come to see that persistence, determination, and consistency, even when done imperfectly, is now part of my character. And I’m proud of that. It makes me feel like I can accomplish anything else I may set my mind to. Being 150kg and just getting up in the morning is difficult, never mind training. I feel like such an overcomer for pushing past the pain and discomfort initially to get to the point where I am now. Nothing is impossible for me at this stage! 

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal? 

Sushi

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal? 

Aubergine “lasagne”. 

Favourite protein? 

Chicken

Favourite fat? 

Avocado

Favourite carbohydrate? 

Sweet potato

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? 

I’ve adopted a balanced approach to eating. I eat all food groups, track my calories, and I am mindful of my macros. I only do what I can sustain for the rest of my life. If I want a bar of chocolate I have one, but I don’t get hung up on it. I get back to eating whole, healthy foods the very next meal. Consistency over perfection is also my motto when it comes to food.

How many meals a day do you eat? 

I eat three meals a day. 

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy? 

I used to have a cheat meal once a week when I first started losing my weight. Now I am more intuitive with how I approach the “treats”. I will only have something if I really want it, there are no cheat days as such. I, however, do prioritize being more relaxed with food if I am at a special event or occasion. 

MINDSET

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

My most memorable achievement was walking 100km in just over 2 weeks. This was the most I had ever done in that space of time. It was an achievement for me. 

Favorite quote? 

The most progress is made when there feels like there is none at all! 

Favourite book? 

I have too many to mention, I read such alot! 😉 

What inspires and motivates you? 

I am motivated and inspired by seeing the real-life struggles and victories of others. 

For what are you most grateful? 

I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at youth and the opportunity to be able to do things I’ve wanted to do for years. My weight physically and emotionally held me back, sometimes I didn’t even see how much it prevented me from living a full life. I feel like my youth has been renewed. So grateful for that. 

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

You have more power and strength inside of you than you realise. Your ability to dig deep is greater than you think. You are not a slave to food nor to apathy. You can do anything you put your mind to. Take ownership of the things that have brought you to this point, but forgive yourself. Change is possible! 

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

  1. Start with small steps with sustainability in mind. Do what you will be able to keep up for the rest of your life. 
  2. There is no quick fix, only hard work, and consistency.
  3. There is no magical diet out there, being in a calorie deficit is the only way to shed the weight. 
  4. Don’t do it alone. Find your tribe and support system that will come alongside you for the entire journey.
  5. Keep.Getting.Up!

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