Written by Charlene Hartung


3 Comments(s)

21 Jun, 2021

Hi, I am Charmaine, a local Occupational Therapist from Swakopmund. In my work, I often meet children that  need to change their eating habits and it took me a while to realise I needed to do the same. Eating clean by cutting out preservatives, colourants, sometimes dairy products and gluten from your diet can make a difference in your daily functioning.  I learned this the hard way and implemented these techniques instead of just preaching about them. 

This is my story.

I had been struggling for more than five years to get my overall health to where it is now.  Not only physically losing weight, but dealing with mental health in the workplace, being a single mother and then the physiological challenges my body had to deal with as well. 

I thought I ate healthy wholesome and home cooked meals. Lekker “baster kos” rice, potatoes, carrots and braised lamb. My sleeping habits were poor, financial stress set in and the workload just got worse. Let’s not forget about the colic baby and her being admitted to hospital at least once a year. My anxiety got the best of me, As I realised that I could not control everything as sufficiently. Still tried my best to keep my child, family, partner and boss happy but bit by bit the cracks started to show. Due to uncontrollable financial restraints I focused on making sure there was food for my daughter,  and when I did get paid I’d binge eat. Comforting eating started to soothe me. 

I became heavier and felt worthless. The doctor prescribed medication to assist with the anxiety and depression. It worked for a while but I gained a few kilograms and my physical appearance was starting to bother me. The Doctor then weaned me off the meds. I used to wake up thirsty and hungry at 3 am and I would eat whatever was available and go back to bed for an hour before I needed to get up to do admin. My GP discovered that I was pre-diabetic and started me on Glucophage. I still take Glucophage to this day but it did not create the change I expected despite seeing the dietician as well at the time.  Her solution was replacing my meals with Optifast. Now if you know me, you will know that I do not drink shakes, not even milkshakes. I shudder at the thought of shakes.  The therapists and GP both asked me if there was not a way that I could work in my hometown rather than commuting.  It struck me: why would they both ask me this?

My boss initially allowed me to work in Swakopmund twice a week at first, and a year later another day was added, and so on.  I could join a gym, attend my daughter’s school plays, and when I was lucky, pick her up from school.  At the gym, I signed up for private boxing lessons. 

After a year,  I handed in my resignation and started my own practice. Starting your own Occupational Therapy practice comes with its own challenges but I could manage my time without upsetting anyone.  I joined a swimming club and swam vigorously once to twice a week. A year after trying banting and weight loss injections, I asked Charlie for help.  I had been secretly scanning her profile for a while and tracked her weight loss journey. At this stage, I weighed close to 90 kg and felt uncomfortable in my skin. I stopped taking photos with loved ones. I would always offer to take the photo for them. The very next day we went for our first 5AM walk.

We walked about 20 km a week and joined a Keto nutritionist in Australia for a month. I lost some weight but I gained it all back again. After that, I scheduled a counselling session to help me break the cycle of stress and eating, which was very insightful. I also tried cross fit but my knee couldn’t cope with the exercises.

In January 2020, I weighed closer to 100kg. Although I was in a good mental space,  I started to feel so uncomfortable I preferred to stay indoors.

Part two will be published next week about how I regained my health.

Until then.


  1. Candice

    Charmaine , thank you for sharing your story. Very informative and inspiring. Keep on going !! The best is yet to come ??❤️

    • Charmaine

      Thank you Candice ?

  2. Zeeta

    So proud of you cuz?? It definitely was not an easy journey with all the obstacles thrown at you, but you persevered and conquered. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. You are truly an inspiration ?❤


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