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Q & A: Curt Coetzee – 3rd in Men’s Transformation

Please give us a short history of your journey to health and fitness before the challenge.

I have never previously been particularly focused on healthy eating or portion size but was relatively active so weight gain was never really an issue. I then changed cities, became less active and between 2013 and 2021 I gained 25-30kg. During that period I made half-hearted efforts to fix the situation but never really committed. In October 2021 my girlfriend and I joined and committed to our first challenge.

What prompted you to join the Sleekgeek Transformation Challenge?

We had completed our first challenge approximately 3 months before the start of this one. The easy access to information, community spirit, and the accountability of entering a “challenge” convinced us to enter again. We had already lost most of the weight we wanted to so it was an opportunity to reinforce the new eating habits and add some new routines, like swimming, instead of just running/walking. So the second challenge wasn’t so much about weight loss but more about making sure we carried forward the positives from the first challenge. The exercise became more about fun and family time.

Give us a quick overview of the nutrition and eating plan that you followed during the challenge.

During the first challenge, I used Sleekgeek food lists to find healthy foods that I liked and I used the portion size recommendations to know how much. I know I won’t commit to a lifetime of calorie counting and food weighing before every meal so it was important for me to figure out the 2 meals a day I was responsible for (breakfast and lunch). It’s far easier, for me and not everyone will be the same, to know I can have, for example, muesli for breakfast and a wholewheat sandwich for lunch. That takes the thinking away and makes everything easier (maybe more boring but easier). My girlfriend is a brilliant chef so she sorted suppers for us with correct portion sizes, food groups, etc. Following this plan ensured that I was always within range of allowed calorie intake without having to be fanatical about counting each individual pea. If I got hungry between meals I would have some yogurt or an apple without any worry. The first challenge last year got us on the right route, for us, nutrition-wise and we both now just “naturally” make better choices. For me, carbs are important recovery and fuel sources so I am looking to include rather than exclude them.

Give us a quick overview of the training and exercise plan that you followed during the challenge.

The focus in the first challenge was just to get moving – so it started with walking and eventually a walk/run combo. All very low heart rate/efforts. By the start of this second challenge, we were around 4 months in and had joined a gym so we could include swimming and other exercises. So the plan was running/walking on day one, day two was exercise and swimming, day three was rest then repeat so as to get in around 4-6 days of training a week. The walk/runs were about 5km and the swims about 2km. The gym sessions were quick with very light weights (dumbbell bench and shoulder press, bicep curls, leg and calf press) – so 4 x sets of 5 exercises and done in 30min. I am 56 so my goals here are a lot different than they would have been when I was younger. I’m just wanting to be more active, enjoy the sessions, and too be able to involve my family. My daughter (9) cycles while we run so if it’s too windy we just swap the run on the day for swimming and we still get to spend time together doing something healthy and active. So the plan was and still is very flexible but with the goal to do something. Towards the end of the challenge, I included indoor cycling and this added additional options.

If you could give 3 pieces of advice to future challengers, what would they be?

Everyone has different goals so what works for me may not remotely be applicable to others but this is my approach

  1. Nutrition: The information can be overwhelming. I avoid fad diets and prefer healthy foods/ correct portion sizes for the various food groups. Knowing approximate calories for my most likely breakfast and lunch daily choices sorts 2 meals a day from that perspective without that much planning
  2. Exercise: Starting basically from scratch I needed to start out easy. For me, it had to be a case of, as the saying goes, walk before you run, especially initially. It’s a lot easier to commit to low heart rate and easy efforts. This also keeps me injury free and allows enough time to recover so each session is a quality one.
  3. General: Be patient and trust the exercise/healthy eating combination – it works.

Why should people enter the challenge?

It’s a good place to start, there is heaps of good information and community support. The challenge is however not a coaching program as such and you need to create your own eating and exercise plans. This is ultimately better as there isn’t a one size fits all solution but it is important to know before you start. It’s a place to check in daily, see how others are doing, get advice, and be challenged that keeps you “accountable” in a good and positive way. For me and my family, its been incredibly transformative – and a massive bonus is my daughter no longer gets to call me “potbelly”.

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