I recently featured with 4 other lovely ladies in South Africa’s Good Housekeeping magazine… but 250 words (or there abouts) was never going to be enough space for this chick!
Here is my whole story!
Childhood and my relationship with food
I grew up in a household where we ate at least 2 veg, a carb and protein for dinner, breakfast was a cereal or porridge and lunch was sandwiches. I don’t think we were any different from any other family I knew. Growing up, food was a big part of our celebrations, if I think back to family gatherings the food was fabulous and plentiful, not fancy but certainly wholesome! Was I overweight as a child? Not at all! In primary school I was a bean pole and as I matured I got some curves, as you do. But I certainly was never overweight. I would say I had a healthy relationship with food! In primary school I was fairly active, I played tennis, ran cross-country, swam and played netball. At high school I wasn’t really interested, I was more the cheerleader and avid supporter. I went to the beach often, cycled to friend’s houses, was active in that respect, but nothing “formal”.
The start of the down fall
At 24 I left an abusive relationship. This man controlled everything from the clothing I wore, to the company I kept and the food I ate. I saw a therapist for a short period after I left him and when she mentioned to me it was time to address my obsession with food, I thought she had lost HER mind, it was then that I stopped seeing her! 20 Years later I realise that it was when my real problems started! I would put on weight and lose the weight over and over again through the years….
It wasn’t long after the therapy ended that my that my GP put me on Duramine (weight loss drug), I managed to shift my weight and felt like I had regained some control over my life.
In my late 20’s I lived and worked in the UK for a period (like everyone else!) and gained a few kgs – like everyone else! Once again I visited a “health” clinic and with the aid of drugs, walking to the tube station and limiting my food, I shifted my weight and came home, back to SA, feeling like a million bucks!
Over the next few years I slowly put on a few kilograms and I tried desperately to shift some weight before my wedding. I wasn’t very successful but even at 98kgs I felt good in my skin!
I had my first child at 34 years old and I think I put on about 25-30kgs, cannot be sure as I never owned a scale! I had the most awful morning sickness (from the moment I woke up till early evening). The only time I didn’t feel nauseous, was if I was nibbling. So to get through the days, I ate! Constantly.
My second baby arrived just a short 18 months later with very little baby weight lost from my first pregnancy. And honestly, I feel like I have been on some kind of diet ever since!
I just couldn’t visualize myself shifting that weight! It had become such a huge, insurmountable task! I had no determination, no willpower, it was just totally overwhelming! Food became a quiet obsession, I believe I was “addict”! An emotional eater on speed! Happy = eat, sad = eat, bored = eat, indifferent = eat! The idea of not being hungry therefore not eating was absurd to me.
The diets and the fads
Oh my goodness!!! I have tried them all from Weighless and other eating plans, Duromine and other drugs to injections.
My weight had been an issue, for me, for such a longtime. We moved from Durban to Cape Town in 2008 and it was as if I was given a new opportunity to invent myself. I didn’t know anyone in my community so I thought, perhaps I would try a period of “embrace my curves”. I made friends – awesome friends but I was miserable to my core! This “self love /curvy” mission was a failure too! I couldn’t lose the weight and I certainly wasn’t happy with the weight. Bloody hell… I tried hard enough!
When my children were starting Primary school I honestly felt like I was a spectator in their lives, perhaps even in my own life. I was an enormous at 125kg. I was put on blood pressure meds (partly genetics – so can’t blame everything on the lard!), I was pre-diabetic and I would pour perspiration all the time. My feet hurt constantly. I couldn’t move! John and I decided it was time to change. I honestly felt and believed that I was going to die too soon because I was just so unhealthy! I had two children that depended on me, what example was I to them? I was sad, unhealthy and certainly not living my best life!
Time to get off my butt
Tim Noakes was in the news and making a lot of noise about “The Real Meal Revolution”. I had tried Atkins and Dukan Diets before so thought I would give Banting a bash! And hey presto! I was eating food I enjoyed and was losing weight.
My husband, who had also until that time enjoyed being a couch potato, had started to run and was keen to shed some unwanted weight. So we started the “couch to 5km” via an app on our phones in the evening. I also joined the Sports Science Institute – the Healthy Weight Programme. I think this was initially a vital point in my life in getting started. The people in the group I joined, were just as unhealthy, some as big as me and I didn’t feel out of place. Gyms were totally intimidating and a place of horror for me! I initially did 6 months (or there abouts) with them and then I went “on my own”. John in the mean time and taken to running like a fish to water! He has been incredible. From just wanting to run 5km, to smashing 10km, then to doing a 21km half marathon – then doing his first full marathon and qualifying for Comrades! Which he bloody did! And the Cape Town Ultra Trail which was a 65km run on the mountain! He has been a major driving force and encourager! I have never seen determination quite like his and his transformation has been outstanding! Don’t think he will mind me saying that his running has been incredibly beneficial and totally life changing, forget about the fitness, it has opened doors, he has formed friendships and it’s been a significant benefit in managing stress at work.
As I continued, I followed several people on Instagram, but it so easy to get de-motivated by the transformations, sometimes! The pictures tell one side of the story but as you get to “know” the people through the screen it’s their work ethic that really spoke to me!
As time went on it was clear to me that LCHF was the way I needed to go. What I was reading just made sense to me. So I dropped all refined carbs and all sugars. And I did really well! In a period of a year or so I lost 25kgs. I was ecstatic!
Then I got complacent and slack! And started to eat all the carbs and sweet treats… and the weight started coming back! About 15kgs of that initial 25kg! How horrifying!! But, I had started running… it was a struggle! This body of mine was fighting back! I spent a small fortune in physio, I got orthotics for my troublesome feet/calves and eventually I was able to run, albeit sloth like slow, with out pain! I completed my first Two Ocean Half Marathon in 2016 I did it in 2h55min, with my amazing husband running along side me the entire way, I did my second one in 2017 in 3h04min with running buddies Caroline and Jeremy! With out them I would never have finished!
Sadly and significantly, I was up to 112kgs now. And after that run I was broken! Physically and mentally. I vowed never to run that race again weighing that much. And I didn’t run it 2018.
In January 2017, one of my biggest supporters and friend Mel Boender set up my blog. She presented it to me on a platter – basically said to me “stop talking about it and do it!” I started writing and keeping track of my runs. This was to be a visual aid for me to keep me motivated and accountable, to get me over the line, so to speak – then the horrid run happened (Two Oceans 2017) and I felt that I needed to just do better. After many stop/starts, a woman on Instagram posted, in August 2017, about it being 16 weeks till Christmas and she was committing to gifting herself a healthier body for Christmas! The penny dropped and I was sold on the idea!
At that time it was clear that I needed to adjust my attitude and my focus. I needed to gift myself a healthier body for Christmas too! That is when the #GreenlistChallenge began in earnest!
Why it works for me
I weighed in every Monday, I recorded and published the result in my virtual “weight loss jar” on Instagram and on my Facebook account. I also took a picture of my meals and posted them nightly – I am a visual person and this is what has helped me immensely! I have also gained a few supporters along the way and they (YOU) are amazing! I think I have stuck this out because I have been realistic with my goals. I have been honest with my shortcomings and I have ensured that my way forward has been sustainable, by that I mean I enjoy the odd treat, glass of wine, G & T and chocolate. I have managed to keep social and just tried to keep the balance realistic and workable!
To keep myself motivated is hard, for sure! I think where I failed so often in the past was with people telling me what I should do and how I should be doing it. Whether it was a young Personal Trainer or a weight coach / dietician – these lovely people had never been over weight or unfit – I couldn’t identify with them, they had no history to draw from. (or that was my perception and my truth)
When I started this process it was all on me. No shakes, no trainers, no coaches, just my bit of research, real food, my takkies, my sports bra and some amazing woman and men that wanted to see me succeed too!
Having said all this, I don’t believe my running aids my weightloss much! I absolutely believe it all comes down to the food I eat.
I have had to learn so much about my body. I have had to learn the difference between being “empty” and hungry. Some people just won’t get that! I have had to learn when to stop eating because my off button had been ignored for such a long time, I consider it broken!
The best part is that I get to make rules! In the past I had people telling me what to do, when to do it and how. But now, this is all on me! I cannot shift the blame, I put out there for all to see! And yes, I have had some messages from you guys letting me know that I am slipping! So cool!!
Through trial and error I have found a sustainable way for me, and as I go, I get to mix things up a bit… but it’s all on me! I have amazing friends and family that have been so supportive and encouraging. But I think it important for us to know that the change is possible if we want it badly enough.
Another favourite thing is seeing the before and after pictures – it doesn’t matter what digits are on the scale – the pictures are so encouraging.
But don’t be mislead, I have thrown epic tantrums because weeks and months have gone by without movement – but I have abused this body of mine for such a long time, I think she is a little unpredictable. I have had to accept this is going to take a long time. And I have come to terms with that. I just have to be persistent! It’s that simple!
As of now I have lost around 20kgs since starting the #greenlistchallege and 35kg over all, I actually don’t really know how to describe the feeling. I have wanted to be here, where I am now, for such a long time! It’s good, absolutely… and I run, what the hell…I never thought, in my wildest dreams I would ever be a runner… but here I am!
I am now working towards a Two Oceans half marathon 2019! Something I can be super proud of, I have a “way forward” and a plan in place. My focus is to continue as I have been doing for the last 75 weeks because it is a habit now but mostly also to concentrate on getting stronger and fitter!
The words I have typed here are one thing.. these pictures I have included are snap shots of my life.The hard work does pay off, if you are on a similar journey, don’t give up. You are worth the commitment and the time.
You are worth the commitment and the time.
Thank you again for you on going support.