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Q & A : Jolinda loses 40kgs and gets on stage.


Jolinda van der Merwe




Hibberdene, KZN

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

40.6 kg but it gets higher with 50kg total to get onto stage for bodybuilding competitions.

What do you do? [Job]


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

I have such a hectic schedule between work, kids, marriage, personal goals, and I do all the household chores myself, so not much time for social life etc.


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?

Gosh I think from around 2016.

How did you find Sleekgeek?

A friend told me about this amazing community.

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community?

The fact that it’s a safe zone where you uplift and respect others. I’m all about that!


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

I have been overweight since around the age of 9 years old. I started my first diet in primary school. Any form of activity was a hassle and I tried to avoid sports at all costs. I have always loved food and snacking.

What ignited your initial motivation to change?

I have always looked at well-built ladies and thought that they are so blessed with good genes. I tried different diets and the magic formula to just be skinny. In 2015 I thought I’d try for the last time, stepping onto the scale. I came in at 104.6kgs.

The heaviest I have ever been is 111kg, but that was pregnancy weight. I looked for inspiration all over, and to my surprise I found articles of ladies that had walked the same path as me. They had transformed completely. I knew then and there that I wanted to do the same. Little did I know exactly how far I will go! Now, I know I was not dealt with bad genes, I just had bad habits, and had to work hard to have what I want!

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

I cook meals completely differently from what I grew up with. I don’t have a set mealtime, and I teach my boys to eat the same. Eat when you are hungry. We don’t have a set time where we sit down as a family to eat. We grab our food when we feel hungry.  We make up at bedtime for that family time supper time is supposed to be.

I am active, I see everything as an opportunity to up my steps. Park my car far away, sweep the house, a real busy body! I made so many little changes over the years and built rock solid new habits.

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

Mmmmm, to slow down sometimes. Social gatherings, I tend to see it as an opportunity to make the worst possible choices.

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

Lol, relax a bit mama, things won’t fall apart.

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

All the time.  There is no smooth sailing.  It’s a constant everyday battle, or shall I rather say CHOICE. There is no finish line.

What is better since you got healthy?

Hormones, mood, mobility,  active time spent with the family, health.


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


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

I started in 2018, I entered a Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge and that motivated me to start off slowly.

What does your typical workout look like?

I train about an hour a day, six days a week. Three days added cardio depending on the goal we sometimes add more. My training is in about four phases and I get a new phase every 4 weeks.

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

Deadlifts! Makes me feel so strong and badass. And they do wonders for your body! Just make sure of your form. I started on 20kg deadlifts, fast forward I can now do 105kg.

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

Lunges, I mean who likes those?

How does exercise make you feel?

Refreshed, focused, strong.  I am not always in the mood for my session, but I always show up.

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

Alone, I love my alone time.

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

For me it’s my music and mirrors.

Your next training goal?

I’d love to step onto stage again in 2022.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?

They change every week and according to mood:

  • Bang  – Joel Fletcher
  • Booty man – Tim Wilson
  • Skin Rinzen remix – Kidnap
  • Buzz kill – Mothica
  • Stay low – Lanne

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

My body composition changed completely.  I love looking and feeling fit. I move better and have so much more energy.


What’s your favourite meal?

I’m a burger kinda girl.

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal?

My breakfast, oats and egg white omlet

Favourite protein?

TNT mercury strawberry and vanilla caramel

Favourite fat?

Peanut butter

Favourite carbohydrate?

Basmati rice

How many meals a day do you eat?

I am on 5 meals. I love eating all the time.

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy?

No, I reserve those for family occasions like birthdays or a date night maybe.


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

I stepped onto a bodybuilding stage. The hardest, yet best moment of my life.

Favorite quote?

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Favourite book?

James Clear’s Atomic Habits.

What inspires and motivates you?

My goals, how I look and feel.

For what are you most grateful?

My health, ability, and my husband’s support.

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

This reminds me of how nervous I got, what if I fail, but darling, what if u fly? Take that first step you won’t ever look back.

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

  1. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on how weight loss / gain work. This helped me to realize why I picked up weight so ‘easily’. This helped me not to yoyo like in the past.
  2. Set small goals, and actively work on reaching them.
  3. Do what works for you, change small habits at a time. Like from three teaspoons of sugars in your coffee to two and work your way down. One step at a time, don’t focus on that whole staircase.
  4. Always remember where you came from and why you started.
  5. Stay in your lane and don’t compare your journey or progress to others.
  6. This is a lifelong commitment.

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