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Q & A: Keshni’s Mrs. South Africa journey

Name:

Keshni Mahomed

Age:

42

Location:

Pretoria

YOUR HISTORY WITH SLEEKGEEK

How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek?

Since 2016 – so just over 5 years.

YOUR TRANSFORMATION 

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

I felt like my soul was dying. I had lost myself. I had stopped living. 

I was overweight. I had become a workaholic. To the world we seemed to have it all – the perfect family, the big house in the suburb with the pool and wrap-around garden, fancy clothes, nice cars – we were living the dream but I felt dead. There was no joy.

My journey with Sleekgeek has been one of great transformation and I have found myself, and my joy again. I am alive. I am happy.

I was well over 100kgs but being in denial, could never step on a scale. My heaviest recorded weight was 98 kg in 2016 and my lightest recorded weight was 62kg in 2020. That’s a total of 36kg that I lost over the years. However, through COVID and some recent personal challenges, I am up to 76kg but I am so comfortable in my body that the number on the scale does not affect my mental well-being anymore. 

My focus has changed from weight loss to emotional and mental well-being. To be healthy. The only numbers that I worry about now are my blood pressure, random blood glucose, cholesterol, VO2 max, and chest-to-waist ratio. 

Fat or Fit. Skinny or Strong. You can be it all. 

What I am proud of in this journey is that besides holding 3 professional qualifications, two directorships, and a host of other portfolios, I can also call myself an obstacle course racing elite athlete and an ultra marathon runner. I was also able to fulfill my dream of being a humanitarian and be able to actually do the work to make a tangible difference in the lives of others.

I finally am able to make a meaningful contribution to this world that we live in. I am living a life of significance. 

Mrs. South Africa

What was your motivation for entering Mrs. South Africa? 

I had no plan of entering the competition.

I was looking for a suitable candidate to be the “face” for a mentorship program I’m working on and found the Mrs. SA platform. I was fascinated by their Women 4 Women project and also by the stories of the previous Mrs. SA participants and titleholders. After realizing the power of the sash, I thought, hey let me make myself famous and be the face of my own project! When I realized that I was eligible to enter, I just did it. It was on 28 February 2022, almost midnight – the closing day for entries….

Is it all about the looks? 

Absolutely NO. I think we all hold the stereotype that beauty pageants are all about looks but my experience so far has taught me otherwise. These women are incredibly intelligent and accomplished women. The Mrs. SA platform provides an avenue to develop women who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to realize their innate potential. 

I think that all women have an intrinsic desire to look physically beautiful and to be seen as such. A beauty pageant provides the opportunity to be seen in that light. But more than that, it also provides the opportunity to explore your authenticity, and your potential and they teach you how to harness that and use it to create your best life.

Mrs. South Africa is a journey based on pillars of Self-Development, Community Work, Networking, and Business. It has gained the reputation of connecting like-minded women and equipping them for success in all areas of their lives. At its core, this is a platform that celebrates authentic, relatable, and modern South African women.

Was this anything you ever imagined you would do?

Haha, I guess I would be lying if I said no. I may be wrong, but as I said before, all women want to be seen as physically beautiful. Growing up, I may have had a desire at some time to be a beauty queen – not that I ever thought I would actually act on that notion. But, no, I never imagined that I would actually one day be in a beauty pageant. A math or science competition, yes – that’s more my thing. 

What does Mrs. South Africa do during her reign? 

A lot!

As an ambassador for Mrs. SA, there are specific duties that must be fulfilled.

Mrs. SA must also represent SA at other international pageants. There are fundraising initiatives that must be attended to and supported by Mrs. SA.

On the lighter side, but just as tiring, are photoshoots, interviews, and guests appearances. It’s near a full-time job to be Mrs. SA.

What personal attributes are you building your campaign on?

Proving possibility and “making happy happen.” My personal journey is one of determination, bringing your dream to life through action.

Finding your purpose, your why, and doing what it takes to make your dreams a reality. It’s about embracing your authenticity and owning all that you have. Celebrating yourself. I like to say: Be-YOU-tiful. Look, we can’t be everybody’s cup of tea…especially when most people drink coffee. So why try so hard to please others? 

I hope that my optimism and “quit less” energy can be transferred to others.

There are so many different viewpoints and opinions about beauty pageants, what has been your experience with this? 

Best experience ever. Every woman should try it at some point or another.

Mrs. South Africa endorses 3 charities – can you let us know a bit more about them? 

CANSA is the leader in the fight against cancer in SA since 1931 and in 2021 will be celebrating its 90th anniversary.

The purpose of the CANSA is to offer a unique, integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit leader that enables research with regards to lowering cancer risk, educating the public regarding symptoms, screening and risk reduction, and providing care and support to all people affected by cancer. Furthermore, their advocacy team performs a Watchdog Role, striving to ensure that South African policymakers are influenced with regard to important cancer control issues, and patients’ right to healthcare is protected.

CANSA is committed to connecting people facing cancer with information, day-to-day help as well as emotional support they need in the communities where they live. Their aim is to ensure that cancer survivors and their loved ones don’t have to face cancer alone. They are here to support them through every step of their cancer journey.

Mrs. SA has raised approximately R4.8m for CANSA in the past.

SAACA’s mission is to be the one-stop NPC in Southern Africa, with information on animals with cancer. Its vision and values are to fund research on animals with cancer, to provide education and information, to help and support, to help with sterilization, and to fight for the health of the animals who cannot speak for themselves.

SAACA was established as a need for animals with cancer. As the 4th in the world, SAACA will fill the gap for the animals with cancer in Southern Africa. Cancer has always been seen as a human illness, but little does everybody know that animals are diagnosed and die of cancer as humans do. In one study, 45% of the dogs that reached 10 years of age or older died of cancer. SAACA is the first organization in Africa that will focus on cancer and animals. SAACA’s main objectives are working with Onderstepoort as a research institute and secondly to do sterilization in rural areas and to educate the public on the topic.

SAACA is so excited to have taken hands with the faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, who will be conducting the research on animals with cancer

W4W: Mrs. SA Pty Ltd official NPO, Women4Women organization focuses on female empowerment, community upliftment, and youth education. The main goal is to improve the lives of the less fortunate and previously disadvantaged girls of South Africa by providing access to life skills and education. Contestants are requested to become change-makers and community upliftment ambassadors to improve the lives of the less fortunate and enable education for those who ordinarily cannot afford it

There are a number of different mentors that form part of the Mentorship program, can you tell us a bit more about this? 

The Mentorship Program was established in response to the contestant’s need for more in-depth advice and guidance from women, with experience in the industry. Mentors are there to act as life and pageant coaches, as well as provide emotional support.  They are reimbursed for their time and expertise. This runs completely independently from Mrs. South Africa. This is optional to entrants and not compulsory to utilize. All mentor bookings are made and managed directly with the mentor.

The Woman for Women Empowerment program is a separate program.

Which other Mrs. SA contestant do you have the most respect or admiration for and why?

I am still getting to know everyone so I can’t really pick a favorite as yet. I do enjoy Claudine Ullman social media posts – she is a comedian.

How are you preparing for the pageant? 

I am currently in the Top 100. Our judging will take place 27-29 June 2022 and the Top 25 will be announced at the Winter Ball on 1 July 2022.

Only the Top 25 will continue through to the final to be held in November 2022 where the Mrs. SA 2023 will be crowned.

For the judging in June, we will be interviewed and will have to participate in swimwear judging as well.

So keeping my general knowledge and staying up to date with current affairs is quite important. Maintaining my health and fitness levels are also important as I do believe that I need to look healthy.

I have also been learning how to apply make up and styling skills to help improve my image.

There is a lot of work that is required as well so I have to schedule a time to attend to all the tasks required from us as contestants. 

How has being a member of the Sleekgeek community prepared you for this?

I have learned so much over the years from Sleekgeek and the community.

I practice the four principles as best as I can:

  • Eat
  • Move
  • Think
  • Sleep

Living healthy is my norm. Health is my habit. Self-development is what I do daily. Always looking to do the small things that add up to a huge change. Marginal gains.

Also, the support and love from the community are unparalleled.

What are you looking forward to the most? 

That moment when they announce my name as Mrs. SA 2023. I will weep. Ugly tears – but will still look cute doing so!

No, you don’t understand. I was born into poverty. There was no hope for this child to be anything but another statistic. Then my dad died. My young mom couldn’t cope and I was raised by everyone in the family. All my life has been a struggle. I had to take care of myself. Had my first job when I was 10 years old. I seized every opportunity that came my way. I worked hard. I put in the effort. I have been sowing my whole life for a moment such as this. That I am who I am and where I am today is only through the grace of the Almighty. It’s a miracle. Winning Mrs. SA would be the epitome of proving that it doesn’t matter how you started or where you come from. What matters is what you make of what you have been given. My happiness would be so complete at that moment.

What do you provide as a contestant?

I’m cute and entertaining. What more is needed?

As a Mrs. SA contestant, I add value to the brand because I am a representation of the everyday, real South African wife, mother, employee, sister, friend – I am your every woman. People can relate to me because I know what it is like to live as a struggling mom AND as an affluent woman. I have experienced both poverty and riches. I have owned PEP store shoes as well as Prada shoes. I know what it feels like to need and what it feels like to have more than enough. I am relatable.

I am also proudly South African. I love this country and its people. I am a great supporter of local. I buy South African. I travel to South Africa. I love visiting the different cultures and experiencing all that South Africa has to offer.

I’m also quite intelligent and resourceful with a huge network from many different fields. I love connecting with people. Connecting the right people creates magic – that’s when things happen.

I aspire, to inspire until I expire. So as a contestant I believe that my campaign will inspire others to realize their potential as well as be a support for my fellow contestants. Yes, it may be a competition but it is still a sisterhood and for me, people matter most.

What opportunities or avenues do you think will open up to you by following this journey? 

It’s beyond my imagination the possibilities that will open up for me but amongst other things, I’m hoping to be able to expand my humanitarian work through this platform:

  • Facilitate WASH programs through a partnership with international organizations
  • Focus on equitable health access for all – especially maternal health, family planning and immunizations
  • Facilitate a mentorship program for budding entrepreneurs
  • Facilitate skills development programs with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Sports development and talent mining – especially in the rural areas

What is your next big goal or focus after Mrs. SA?

First female SA President – naturally! And to bring World Peace.

What would a Mr. and Mrs. Sleekgeek competition look like?

So, as a couple competition?

Sleekgeek is about healthy living. Real people, who are doing the small things that make the biggest difference. It’s about living life with vitality. Because life is better when you’re healthy.

So I would think that Mr. and Mrs. Sleekgeek should be the representation of healthy – physical and psychosocial. 

Whilst aesthetics are important, I think that as a couple they should embody the lifestyle practices of discipline, empathy, caring, and compassion.

Their lifestyles and characters should command respect and a following. They should not only look good but be genuinely good people.

For the competition, there should be both physical fitness challenges as well as mental/wellness, humanitarian and practical life challenges.

The couple should represent balance and health.

SOME QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY.

How do you balance your busy work life and mom life with keeping healthy and being active?

PLANNING. PLANNING. PLANNING.

  • Meal prep
  • Routine schedules
  • Discipline
  • Don’t be lazy – just do it.

I usually meal prep over the weekend for the week, sometimes for two weeks. Make portions and freeze them for quick and easy preparation when needed.

My schedule is planned until July already. 

My typical day starts around 3 am but I go to bed early, usually latest 9 pm.

When or what was the moment you decided to change your life?

I think we do that with every decision we make.

What challenges do you still face on your journey and how do you push through them?

We all face challenges. We are human. We have cravings. We have personal problems. We all have anxiety. Sometimes bordering on depression. We all lack motivation or energy. The age-old – there is no time. We are waiting for “when”. 

Honestly, I don’t know how I do it but I just have this get things done personality. If it needs to be done, then I just do it. And what better time than now? What if tomorrow never comes? 

What keeps you going when you’re in a slump?

I pray. My faith runs deep. 

I am blessed to be loved by the most precious people. Their love for me is my energy.

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