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Q & A: Charnaé lost 16kgs by practicing mindful eating


Charnaé Dowries (maiden-Pieterse)




Cape Town

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


What do you do? [Job]  

Audiologist (specialist of hearing, balance, and ears).

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

Wife to an awesome husband. I love socializing with friends and family, camping, games evenings, church, and anything fun (I’m a yes type of girl)!


How long have you been a member of Sleekgeek? 

Since February 2022

How did you find Sleekgeek? 

A friend of mine (a past challenge winner) Julie Smith showed me her amazing results and spoke about everything Sleekgeek had to offer.  Also saw it on Facebook. 

What is your favourite part of the Sleekgeek Community? 

The community makes you never feel like you’re alone on this journey.  

There is amazing support in every facet be it research-based information in the 8-Week Challenge vault, meal and fitness plans, moral support, and team support. 

It also gave me a sense of accountability. For the first time in over 10 years of “yoyo” dieting and trying to lose weight, I feel that Sleekgeek has helped me to institute the belief that health is more than just diet but a lifestyle. 


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

I’ve been conscious about my weight and looks from high school already.  I was “big built” and always compared myself to others. 

For the past 10 years, I’ve tried many yoyo diets like military diets, 3-day diets, cider vinegar blends, keto, etc.

Although they worked for short periods initially, none were sustainable, none made me feel good and none lasted in the sense that I kept the weight off. 

My last attempt was just before our “covid” wedding in December 2020 and immediately after that I fell into a ditch of comfort through food and laziness. 

I definitely did not feel my age. I was always tired and always felt guilty about doing nothing which then made me feel sad which then led me to just eat more junk which then puts me into food comas where I’m too tired…and so the vicious cycle continued.

I also had no limit. I ate and drank whatever I wanted and the guilt turned into self-judgment and body shaming. 

What ignited your initial motivation to change?

One would have thought that not fitting into my clothes would have ignited my motivation to change,  but I ended up just blaming the “material” or “shop size variation” and bought bigger clothing. 

When my size 42 work pants tore as I was bending down at work, it opened my eyes. I hated seeing /taking pictures of myself because I didn’t recognize the person in the pics. I was close to 100kgs. I felt embarrassed about my body and how far I let myself down. My low self-esteem also started affecting my confidence in my marriage as I felt too ashamed for my husband to hold me or see my body. 

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

I commit to not having an “all or nothing” approach. I used to find myself on either the extreme of severe deprivation/restriction or over-indulgence. But rather having the approach of some changes is better than nothing (the 1% better approach from the Challenger’s Journey). 

New me finds different ways to be happy whilst living a balanced lifestyle. I still try to achieve an overall calorie deficit for the week so if I know that I am going to a work function, for example, I will want to have dessert, I would try to do a workout in the morning, skip out on the starch, substitute the cocktail with a gin plus no sugar tonic and enjoy loads of water. That way I find a happy balance between not missing out on the delicious delights but still enjoying it in moderation without it throwing me completely off the tracks.  

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

Gyming and movement when not doing a challenge. I struggle with not having the “accountability” of a team leader, and team and being forced to log my activity. 

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

Don’t be on this journey with the intention of just being motivated (there will definitely be days where you are not as motivated). BE ON THIS JOURNEY WITH THE INTENTION OF CONSISTENCY. Even on days when I don’t meet every goal, meet at least 1 goal consistently. 

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

Definitely. When I started, I lost kgs and cms quite quickly. However, I was put on new ‘hormone’ medication to help with my endometriosis a few weeks into my challenge. Thereafter, I could literally feel everything slow down. Some weeks, regardless of how much I gymed or how well I ate, I didn’t see much improvement (well, to me). 

That, combined with feeling a lot more pain and feeling more ‘emotional’, feeling more bloated for some reason, having leg cramps, and having my hair fall out more. Made me feel quite demotivated. But with the support of my hubby and amazing team leader Veronica and ladies from #ThinItToWinIt, I realized that even just standing still on the scale was still a victory (at least I didn’t pick up) and more importantly, the non-scale victories were to be celebrated too. My hubby once said to me: “Imagine where you would have been if you started these meds and felt all of these things without changing your lifestyle and mindset of your health!?”-AKA, count your blessings, not just your kilograms.

What is better since you got healthy? 

A LOT!!!-My confidence, stamina, energy, relationship with myself, hubby, and those around me (family and friends saying I motivate them to do better too), my sleep, and my idea of health has also changed for the better.

The only thing that is not better is that my clothes are not fitting, they’re now too big! 


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

I prefer HIIT type of training and weight training. Jogging/ brisk walking and hiking are quite enjoyable for me too (but in moderation). 

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

Well, before the Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge, I had my gym membership but probably hadn’t used it for over a year (yo-yoed a lot). Honestly, the roadblocks for the Sleekgeek 8-Week Challenge pushed me back into training. 

What does your typical workout look like? 

15-20 minutes of cardio with 30-40 minutes of targeted weight training like legs and core exercises, back and arms, etc. I also tried to do something fun like hiking on a weekend. 

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

On the floor, on my back ab workouts like crunches, Russian twists, sit-ups, and boxing.

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

Burpees for sure and anything that resembles it-planks, push-ups etc. 

How does exercise make you feel? 

The biggest hurdle was actually getting myself there. The motivation to put on my gym clothes and actually just do it. Initially, I dreaded exercise but I ALWAYS feel good after I’ve done it, even on days where I maybe didn’t achieve everything of my exercise goal. I still felt that I accomplished something because the “little bit” was still more than what I would’ve done had I just stayed at home on the couch. Also, that feeling of doing something that you physically could not do a few months ago is pretty amazing!

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

With others, it keeps me accountable to actually pitch up and keeps me motivated to push through. 

Most embarrassing training moment?

Won’t really say embarrassing but definitely, something I only got over now was being in the “weights section” at the gym. I always felt too embarrassed to even go there and be amongst those who I thought were “only fit people”. I thought I didn’t belong there. But with research, going in with a plan, and asking those with more knowledge I was able to just get over it and go for it. 

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

Water, towel, cap (my hair looks like a lion’s mane like once I’ve gymed).

Your next training goal? 

To actually do burpee sets and to also be able to do a 5 km run/jog in 40 minutes.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist?

  • Do it to it – Acraze 
  • Love Tonight – Shouse 
  • Losing it – Fisher 
  • Pump It – Black Eyed Peas/3thatPower -Will.I.Am +JB, 
  • Oceans – Hillsong

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

I have a lot more energy after I exercise. I sleep better. I lost centimeters around my problem areas through targeted weight training (my stubborn love handles, my back fat, my chicken wings, and my muffin top). I’ve toned in places where it was just flabby. There is an improvement in my heart rate. 


What’s your favourite meal? 

WOW, how to choose?? I love food, and all different types, my mum’s food, ribs, steaks, braai made by hubby, sushi, Italian and Mexican.

OK, now what’s your favourite healthy meal? 

If I’m honest, I tried to keep to what we love. I have just subtracted the red list items, limiting orange lists and increasing green. I still look forward to braai days and camps where I get to enjoy some yummy proteins, with a rocket, butternut, and feta salad, a mielie, or some yummy sweet potato fries.  

Favourite protein? 

Chicken or seafood

Favourite fat? 


Favourite carbohydrate? 

Sweet potato or butternut 😊 or both

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

Everything is in moderation. But also two of the most beneficial lessons I learned from the Challenger’s Journey were to eat till I’m 80% full (I would often overeat or compare my portion to my husband’s) and eat slowly, these 3 combined have helped me to be a “conscious” eater. 

How many meals a day do you eat? 

Usually, I try to do a minimum of a 16/8 hour intermittent fast so I would have 2 main meals in my eating phase with snacks in between. 

Do you have a cheat meal / treat strategy? 

The biggest shift for me with this was changing from a “cheat day” to a cheat “treat”. I allowed myself the treats when I knew I could afford them in terms of my calorie and exercise diary. To try to avoid giving into emotional temptation, I’d often just have some water, nuts, or green list snacks/fruit which often satisfied my cravings enough. I also found really yummy alternatives for when socializing with friends so that I never felt left out when going out etc. 


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

This is by far the most weight I think I’ve ever lost without feeling deprived.  During a time I literally thought the worst of myself and my abilities, during a time of pain with endometriosis, through a time of mourning for a friend who died recently, and even through an incredibly stressful period at work. What more can I achieve with me actually feeling good about myself and equipped to bat out those balls thrown at me!?

Favorite quote? 

The grass is greener where you water it.

Favourite book? 

The Bible, haven’t finished it but can never get enough of it. 

What inspires and motivates you? 

My husband, my heavenly Father, and seeing how far I have come thus far. Looking at my before pics and going back to my “WHYS” from the Challenger’s Journey also drives me. Seeing the amazing success stories from previous challengers also really motivates me as it makes it more tangible-“it can be done – it’s not a hoax” type of thing. 

For what are you most grateful? 

The support – in faith (through Christ), in my family (especially through my hubby who never judged but always assisted and motivated), and in fact (the knowledge and understanding through Sleekgeek and my team leader).

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

JUST START. There very rarely is this magical sign that you’re waiting for, so make every moment of this life you’re given count towards what your future self would have been proud of. 

Later will have been wasted opportunities for you to learn about health and yourself. You owe it to yourself (at the very least) to be and feel healthy. You will be reaping those benefits of that journey so you need to own it.  Also, be kind, especially to yourself you didn’t get to the point you’re at now in a day. Don’t expect to be at your goal in a day either.  

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

  • Make “Healthy” a lifestyle – not just a temporary diet choice. 
  • Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s – your road, bumps, destination, and speed are and should be different from everyone else’s-otherwise you’ll be robbing yourself of the beauty in the personal victories
  • Count your blessings and all of those victories, not just your kgs.
  • Take the time to do the research (well actually, just read it because Sleekgeek actually prepares and provides EVERYTHING for you in the vault). So don’t rush it thinking you’re searching for the “quick-fix”. Invest the time to understand what and why you’re doing it. Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount in front you tackle it day by day. 

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