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💪 8-Week Body Transformation Challenge! 🥗

QA: Owen tells us how he went from having no self-confidence to doing bodybuilding competitions.

Owen Dunderdale

30 Years Old

Johannesburg, South Africa

How much weight have you lost on your journey so far?
My journey has revolved around weight gain rather than weight loss.
Nonetheless, I started at 55kg and gradually progressed to a maximum weight of 91kg before conditioning down to fit and healthy 82kg. The process has taken me 12 years, but has been the most rewarding journey imaginable. The positive impact on my mental and physical health has been remarkable.

What do you do? [Job]
I’m a Registered Dietician RD(SA) and Online Health Coach. I co-own Reforma Elite

What else do you do? [Hobbies, non-work stuff, etc]
I love spending time with my partner (Cherise Potgieter) and our two beautiful dogs. I’m passionate about sport and enjoy many things outside of the realm of health and fitness: Mobile Gaming: Call of Duty Mobile, History, Reading, Holidaying, and Self Improvement.


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?
Since February 2017.

How did you find Sleekgeek?
Through mutual friends on Facebook, someone (I can’t quite recall who) invited me to join the group.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?
The additional motivation and support received from the community members. The community itself has the propensity to inspire those on similar journeys.


Describe the “old you” before you made your transformation. How did you get there and what were you like?
I was shy and introverted with a low self-esteem. I lacked self-love and was overly self-critical.

Growing up, I was always actively involved in both sports and academics, but I struggled with self-confidence. As a result, I was often picked on and bullied.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?
I had developed an intense fire and insatiable hunger to improve my self-worth, to prove to myself that I was ‘worthy’. In retrospect, self-worth is actually an attribute that originates from learning to love and respect yourself, no matter your body shape, culture, or creed. Before my transformation, I had always looked up to larger, muscular men and those physiques were something that inspired me to begin my journey.

What are some of the things that the new you does differently now?
Through many years, I’ve learnt to love myself for the person that I have become. I’m confident in myself and value the lessons that I’ve learnt. I now focus on my own happiness without comparing myself to others. In the past, I had found myself in a destructive, downward spiral of comparison, something which just causes negativity. I believe that negativity breeds negativity, and it is something I veer away from. I now surround myself with like-minded individuals, who have a positive impact on my life.

What are some of the things that the new you still struggles with?
Continually maintaining a ‘good physique’. There is often external pressure to always be in shape. We’re all human and go through ups and downs. Fat Gain/Muscle Loss/Injuries etc.

I do my best to create my own motivation and set realistic goals each season. I feel my best when I feel fit and healthy.

If you could give yourself 1 piece of advice to help with that struggle, what would it be?
Motivation is something that comes from WITHIN. The journey is YOURS, and it’s up to you to complete your journey on your own. It often requires a powerful, solider like mentality where you need to adapt and give it 110% effort. I’m of the opinion that many people in the current generation have weaker mentalities of those of generations 50-100 years ago. The historic events that people went through back then, forced people to adapt and live through hardships. If you believe that your life is ‘hard’, you need to realize that you live in a privileged new world.

Learn to love the process.

Learn to find enjoyment and passion in training.
Don’t waste time with fad diets, rather visit a dietician to get yourself a well-constructed plan, a plan that suits your food preferences and lifestyle.

Did you plateau, get stuck, or get disillusioned, or even slide backwards a bit on your journey?
Yes, most definitely. Everyone has setbacks.

What separates the successful from the unsuccessful, is that the successful continue marching forward. They maintain a positive mindset and believe in themselves.

The unsuccessful are full of excuses and breed negativity.

What is better since you got healthy?
My mental health, but apart from that, people look at me in a different more positive light. I hope to inspire people to lead healthier, fuller lives.


What’s your favourite form of exercise? [Running, yoga, weightlifting, etc]
For the past 12 years, it was weight training. I’ve now found my love and passion for short-distance running, functional fitness, whilst still maintaining strength in the gym.

How long have you been training and how did you get started?
I joined Virgin Active back in 2007, which is 14 years ago.

What does your typical workout look like?
5-10 minute cardio warm-up
2 compound movements for the muscle group/s that I’m training
2-3 accessory exercises for the muscle group/s
5-10 minutes of functional fitness, AirBike/Skill Mill/Sleds, etc.

Favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Barbell Bench Press,
As a man, having a powerful and well-developed chest was always something that I had wanted.

Least favorite exercise? [Distance / pose / movement / etc]
Endurance Training
Eg. Long Distance Running

How does exercise make you feel?
It definitely improves my mood and creates a sense of confidence and happiness. I can’t imagine my life without exercise; it would be one of depression.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I’m a lone wolf when it comes to training. I’ve always seen training as a personal escape from the chaos of the world. It’s my time to unwind and focus on myself.

Most embarrassing training moment?
I can’t think of anything.

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

  • Ear Phones
  • Gym Lock
  • Water Bottle

Your next training goal?
I’d like to pursue athletics, to become functionally fit.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?
Spotify has given training a new meaning where you can listen to anything that you wish to. In terms of genre, trance/electro, and even new/age classical music at times.

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

  • Improved self-confidence.
  • Made friends.
  • Learnt to love myself rather than being self-critical.
  • A feeling of power and pride.


What’s your favourite meal?
Seafood or Pizza

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?
Healthy Homemade Chicken Wrap

Favourite protein?

Favourite fat?
Cashew Nuts

Favourite carbohydrate?
Potato Wedges

What’s your nutrition philosophy / approach? [If you have one]
I have a flexible, sustainable, and balanced approach to nutrition. I follow principles from both the Mediterranean and DASH diets. They focus on balance, inclusivity of all food groups (in moderation) whilst also having preventative measures in place to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

I myself include variety to prevent boredom when dieting. I’ll often plan 4-8 meal options per meal to prevent boredom.

A diet which can be followed for a long period of time has a much greater chance of success than any other diet.

How many meals a day do you eat?
Between 3-6 meals daily (I usually aim for 3 main meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, with 2 Snacks in between.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?
I’ll only have a cheat meal when I feel that I deserve one.

  • Have I trained hard this week?
  • Have I been diligent and adherent to my diet?

Once those boxes are checked, I’ll allow myself to enjoy a meal without any guilt.

I may allow myself a cleaner cheat meal as well as a dirtier cheat meal each week.

An example of a cleaner cheat would be a ½ chicken and wedges from Nandos. An example of a dirtier cheat would be something below 1500kcal, such as burger, chips, and chocolate/ice cream. Cheat meals in excess of 5000kcal are reserved for auspicious occasions such as Christmas and my birthday. It’s important to understand that cheat meals can be included in any weight loss journey, but as aforementioned, it’s something which I feel should be worked for. Pay your dues and then enjoy!


Most memorable personal best achievement to date. Something you maybe never imagined you could do?
I won the Open Men’s u80kg Bodybuilding line up at Gauteng Provincials in 2016. I received my provincial colours and went to South African Championships, where I placed 9th.

Favorite quote?
“Food is the most widely abused anti-anxiety drug. Exercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant” – Bill Phillips

Favourite book?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

What inspires and motivates you?
Self-Improvement and becoming a better person. I find motivation from within myself. My desire to achieve my goals is a huge driving force. If you want something badly enough, you’ll do what’s necessary.

For what are you most grateful?
My supportive family, my loving girlfriend of 5 years, and being able-bodied. This is something that many people take for granted. Being able-bodied is something to cherish each and every day. If your biggest challenge is losing weight, you truly have it easy. Make it happen, your life is more privileged than you realize.

What do you want to say to other community members who might be nervous or hesitant to make a start?
The only person holding you back is yourself and your fear of failure. What are you so afraid of?

Taking the leap of faith into a healthy lifestyle will be the BEST decision that you ever make.

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

  1. Start immediately, don’t wait for Monday. The majority of people who ‘start on Monday’ fail dismally.
  2. Focus on your nutrition, being in a calorie deficit is fundamental to losing weight. Take advice from health professionals and not influencers on Facebook & Instagram.
  3. Start slow and progressively improve over time. Don’t jump into the deep end right away. 20 minutes of light cardio per day is a great start for a beginner.
  4. Track your daily steps. If you’re doing 3000 steps per day, aim for 4000 steps per day. Improving your daily activity level is an important aspect. If you’re doing 9000 steps per day, aim for over 10 000 steps. A good target for an average person is between 8000-10 000 steps per day.
  5. The tortoise beat the hare, slow and steady wins the race. A weight-loss journey is a marathon and not a sprint. Be prepared to invest months and even years into your journey. If you’re wanting results in a few days/weeks, the lifestyle change isn’t for you.

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