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QA: Diane transforms her body and life by changing her habits

Name: Diane van Aswegen

Age: 36 

Location: Pietermaritzburg Kzn

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

When I started in 2014, I weighed 94.  It took me 10 months to lose 22kgs. My lowest weight was 71kgs. I kept it off for a long time. But from 2017 I gradually started gaining weight again. So in January last year I was weighing 84kgs. I am now on 75kgs

What do you do? [Job] 

I am a franchise owner of a Play Sense school. I do online lessons and have my own little playgroup at home.

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

I gym a lot! My husband and I go off road riding most weekends. I have a quad bike and he has a two-wheel bike. Before COVID hit us, I would also do most of the 10km runs that they would have on weekends. So now I just do the odd 5km run by myself every now and then. And the rest of the time I spend preparing crafts for my school. 

YOU AND SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?

Wow, must be since 2014….

How did you find Sleekgeek?

I just happened to see one of my friends made a post in SG and I started having a look around. I was quite new to the journey but had been seeing a dietician for 6 months. Decided to put together a photo of before and how I was looking at the time and shared it on there (it was the first comparison photo I had done as I hadn’t really noticed the difference yet). I received so many positive comments, compliments, and encouragement. I was completely overwhelmed by everyone’s response. It was only then that I started to see the change I was making.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?

There are so many favourite parts.  I love people sharing their journeys, their achievements. I love them sharing their disappointments, their challenges, and their failures. Because that is what makes this journey real. In the words of my coach “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about progress”. Being vulnerable and showing our downfalls make others realize that if you fall off the wagon, it is okay. No one is judging but just climb back onto it. I love that it is a group where people all have different goals but are all striving to be better! Physically, emotionally, mentally.  It is all related and all part of a process. 

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

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

I had always been a big girl from Primary school. You will see this from the one photo I am going to share. But I honestly did not realize that I was that fat until a friend sent that photo a few months back and I was so shocked. So, I think I was quite blinded by the fact that I was really overweight. I always longed to be thin and I even used to cry about it as I wanted to be like the other girls I would see. I was always conscious of being around other girls, especially in their costumes/bikinis. But I still had lots of boys after me, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. 

I hated being insecure about myself though and hated not being happy when I looked in the mirror. I did not do any sports throughout my whole school career. The only time I would do sport was when we were forced to in PE. So exercise was never a part of my life. I literally never exercised up until 2014.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?

I always wanted to change. I just didn’t know how to do it. There are so many different opinions and options out there that it is so overwhelming to someone who is starting out. I think that is why some people do not even bother starting as it’s just too difficult to know what would help them. That is why I believe that Sleekgeek is so amazing as it helps people to get onto the right track, and it’s for free. There are of course the 8-week challenges which are really awesome starting points for anyone wanting to start this journey.

I was so tired of not being able to lose weight, and then I got it into my head to go see a dietician, and my life changed from that day.

At that point, it was not even about exercising. It was purely about losing weight by watching what I put into my mouth.

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

You see, there are 2 new “Me’s” if I am being very specific. The “old” new me who lost weight back in 2014, and the “new” new me who lost weight recently.  The “new” new me understands food better this time around and has learnt that it doesn’t have to be then and now when it comes to food. I always used to think, “ag, I will just eat it now then it’s gone and that temptation is over.  But now I have learnt that if I want to have something like a protein bar or an easter egg, and it does not fit into my day – tomorrow is another day. I now train a lot harder than I ever did. I go to the gym at least 5 times a week. If I used to go 3 times a week, that would be a lot. I eat a lot more protein, which has been one of my biggest achievements as I never managed to reach these goals.

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

I still struggle with, “social eating”. I always battle to say no when it comes to food with friends. I have learnt to be better. But for instance, in these last 11 weeks of the program, my worst eating days have been when I was with my friends. I am still very influenced by other people’s temptation of yummy things.

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

A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips! LOL!! No, but seriously, I guess I would say that you need to always remember your goals when you are in these situations where you are tempted to eat incorrectly. I know it is okay to live a little and to eat the cake occasionally. But I also feel the more I “give in” to the “one-time” cake, it becomes easier and easier to keep backsliding.

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

I started another job back in 2017 and most days we were offered takeaway foods. I did try to not accept, but some days I used to get it wrong. I always kept training, but after work, drinks started happening more frequently and before I knew it, those sneaky little bastard kilograms start creeping back without me even really noticing. So, it’s taken me nearly 3 years to get back on track and to get my head right again. But it is thanks to my Coach because being accountable to him has made me push as hard as I can to do this. In the last 11 weeks of my program, I have become disheartened because the scale has not been moving as fast as we had hoped, despite me really sticking to the plan and trying hard every day. But then I look at the photos, and although there is not a tremendous difference, there is a difference. And as he says, I am moving forward, and that is what counts. 

What is better since you got healthy? 

My wardrobe hahaha. No, everything is better! Being fit is amazing! Knowing I can go for a run (albeit more of a fast walk), makes me feel so good! I am thankful that my body is capable of doing that! I spent most of my life not exercising, not being athletic, not being an outdoors person. And now it’s what I love! If I must park far away from the shopping door entrance, I am happy because I know the extra steps will count towards my step goal for the day! I have energy, I am happy…

TRAINING 

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

Weight lifting, running, and swimming. Although in the last 11 weeks I have not done much running or swimming.

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

I have been training for the past 4 years. But not always very consistently.

The past 11 weeks have been the ultimate training period for me. I have never trained more in my life! I have always gymed, and done cardio, but have never had a program that pushes me as this one has.

What does your typical workout look like?

Weight training 4 times a week. 2 x a week interval training for 30 mins.

And that is all excluding the 10 000 steps I do in a day. And then some weekends I do try to do a 5km trot around the neighbourhood.

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

I would have to say my favourite exercise is the leg press. I actually hate it, but it’s the one that I feel strongest doing (130kgs). 

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

Flip how many can I name? 😊 I hate squats… Mainly because I know the aim is to get heavier and heavier over time and I just don’t love it and can’t imagine it having to get heavier.

How does exercise make you feel? 

Exercise makes me feel energetic and strong. It makes me feel worthy. It makes me feel healthy. It is a blessing to be able to exercise, not a punishment. 

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

Gym workouts, definitely alone. I don’t like talking to people when I am working out. Fun runs are definitely meant to be done with friends.  

Most embarrassing training moment?

Oh Boy! Again… only one?  I wanted to do kickbacks with the cable rope. But I could not remember if the foot part needed to be at the top or at the bottom. So I decided to put it at the top. I managed to pull it down and put my foot in it and as I tried to kick back, my foot slipped out and the plastic part shot up and slapped me on the arm and the weight went crashing down with a huge bang. And the whole gym went quiet! I could have died right then and there. And clearly, it was meant to be down, not up!

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

My phone, my water bottle, and my headphones. And of course, money in case I forget the damn water bottle and have to pay R19 for 500ml of water!

Your next training goal?

Next week I will be finishing my 12-week program, and after a week of “rest”, I will be starting another 12 weeks. I am not yet where I want to be so I want to keep going for a little while longer.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?

  • Blah blah blah – armin van vuuren
  • In my mind – Dynora & Gigi D’ Agostino
  • Monster – LUM!X
  • Woestersous – Snotkop
  • Get up – Bingo players

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

Well firstly, I have met some amazing people just through Sleekgeek itself. Some people who I consider very special friends to me. I have also met a lot of people whilst doing runs, who have also become friends of mine.

Training has made me realize that I am capable of so much more than I believe I am. When I first started training, I couldn’t even run 200m without stopping. My daily exercise was to walk/run 500m around the block and I thought I had worked so hard. I have now even managed to complete a couple of (very slow) 21kms. And that for me is a huge achievement. It’s changed my life as my mindset is different now. When we were forced at school to do PE and especially those classes where we had to run around the fields, it was a punishment to me. Now I would willingly do it. I can’t even imagine a life where exercise doesn’t exist. During lockdown, I ran 5kms a day, up and down my driveway, which worked out to be 165 laps a day. But I did it to just try to get some form of exercise in.

NUTRITION

What’s your favourite meal?

Sushi…. Always sushi

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?

Chicken breast strips cooked and mixed in with some basmati rice, mixed veg, and some egg. 

Favourite protein?

Protein shake. Lol! I get so tired of eating protein that I get very over “meat” items and I don’t love eggs. I do eat the correct amount of protein every day, but I don’t always enjoy it.

Favourite fat?

Peanut butter

Favourite carbohydrate?

Albany best of both bread. I don’t eat it every day. But I have found the calories to be relatively low in comparison to other loaves of bread out there.

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

Can’t say I really have one.

How many meals a day do you eat?

Usually only 3, with maybe a snack of Biltong and a protein shake.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?

I always used to when I started my journey. But now I haven’t been following that strategy. Because I am counting my calories, I can easily have a cheat meal or treat, but it just messes up your whole day’s calories, without you reaching all your macro goals for the day. So I would rather work out my day properly. And then add half a box of smarties or something, into the day, if it can fit. I have however not been doing this a lot in the last few weeks. 

MINDSET

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

We participated in the 2 oceans half marathon in 2018. This was something I never thought that I would ever in my life be able to do. Even now it feels a little surreal!

Favorite quote?

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” Helen Keller

Favourite book? 

Can’t say that I actually have one.

What inspires and motivates you?

It inspires me to see other people’s transformations. Ones that you know were done with hard work and dedication. Not these fake ones you can find on Instagram from Slimming creams, or shocking machines, etc. Ones where you have seen the person putting in the work and the results start showing. 

What motivates me, is seeing photos of myself.  It may sound weird but I don’t see the difference when I look into the mirror. But when I see photographs, I am like “wow, you are changing”. 

For what are you most grateful? 

I am so grateful to have Sleekgeek in my life. For the community who always support and encourage each other. To be able to share our journeys. 

I am also grateful to my coach who has been amazing in these last few weeks. I know that I have not got to this point without him pushing me further than I believed I could go. And that he didn’t once get fed up with my whining! 

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

It is a big step to make. But it is the beginning of the best journey that you can do for YOU. Don’t keep putting it off. Now is the time to start. 

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

  1. Ask for help! You do not have to do this alone! You have a community of thousands who would be willing to help you.
  2. There are NO quick fixes and remedies for losing weight. There are also no secrets – eat properly, and exercise! It is the only healthy and sustainable way to do this.
  3. Slow and steady progress is better than no progress (I know it’s hard – I too battle with impatience)
  4. Don’t give up just because you have had a bad day, days, week, or month. It does not matter how many times you fail, – only how many times you get up. 
  5. Celebrate the victories, no matter how small they are. Like for instance, if you always have the cookie with your coffee, and you have managed to not do that, that is a victory for you and a step in the right direction. 

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