Why I changed my life: My perspective on life changed when I got on the scale at 100.9kg in the doctors’ office in March 2016 at which time my daughter was 3 months old. It never occurred to me that one could develop hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, at such a young age seeing that I never had any health issues. But here I was at 34 facing chronic management of my blood pressure. I was put on medication and I decided that day to lose the weight and change my life.
The general advice when you receive such a diagnosis is to lose weight, exercise regularly, eat healthy, reduce sodium intake, limit your alcohol intake, quit smoking, cut caffeine and reduce stress. I thought that if I lost the weight at least my blood pressure would normalise. When your blood pressure is high you tend to have headaches but other than that I had no idea I had a problem.
Well, I lost the weight but the blood pressure did not go away.
How I did it: I worked very hard and it was not always easy. The human mind is a powerful thing. Today I only remember the good times and none of the tough and hungry nights.
There are so many products out there promising to help you lose weight however I did not want to put chemicals into my body, so I tried Banting. I then went and bought the Real Meal Revolution, a book co-written by Tim Noakes, a South African sports scientist. I followed many FB pages and saw how people were succeeding at this lifestyle. The idea behind it made sense to me.
I loved the bacon, avocados’, pork chops, and I was in seventh heaven. Cooking with butter, olive oil, my favourite go-to snack was avocado wrapped in bacon and fried in a pan. It is to die for!
At no point did I ever feel robbed or deprived of anything. Yes I quit drinking fizzy drinks, at that point I was only drinking Tab or Coke Zero, but even that was not allowed on the banting diet. So I had to cut that out as well and stuck to water, coffee and tea. There was however one thing I could not give up, that was cow’s milk and xylitol. There was no way I was giving that up. Needless to say the weight still came off without me having to give up my one guilty pleasure, a morning coffee with milk.
I ensured that my food was always yummy whilst cooking for my family at the same time, a different meal cooked in a different way.
I leant to make muffins and pizza using almond flour and cheese, chicken schnitzels with coconut flour and parmesan coating fried in olive oil and butter. Rice with potatoes and meat started to revolt me, and I studied what carbs and fats do to your body, how your body uses the food you eat and how your brain registers all these messages. All this had such a profound effect on my results because it spoke to my rational side and it made sense.
It was never a burden for me and everything I put inside my body was for nourishment and fuel. When I went out to restaurants, I knew what to order to ensure I didn’t jeopardise my diet.
Within the first month I was about 4kg down. Then 6kg down and before I knew it, 6 months later 15kg down.
After a few months I stumbled upon what the Americans call Keto or High Fat Low Carb, it is a version of Banting but allowed and disallowed some things the others didn’t. I introduced fruit back into my diet, on Banting, fruit is a treat, like a sweet then I started relaxing some more of the rules as time went by. I didn’t pick up any weight again.
My weight stagnated for very long periods of time, then I would lose 5kg in a month’s time again. It was very discouraging, however, I kept on going but something inside me knew I could not and I will not stop and I didn’t. I kept going. My dress size dropped from a size 16 to a 10 and my pants from a 18/16 to a 14, I still have a big bottom. However, it is much lovelier and toned today.
In total, over the past 4 years, I’ve lost about 27kg. At this stage I still have 5kg I want to lose but my body is not budging, so instead, I am building a more toned body. I’ve accepted that my body has lost all the weight it wants so now I have to get stronger. I have never been happier with my body, how I feel inside and what looks back at me when I look in the mirror.
Contrary to what you have read or heard exercise and dieting are not mutually exclusive. During my journey, I first lost the bulk of the weight and then I felt strong, light, positive and motivated enough to get out there and start my journey with exercise.
Exercise: April 2018 the following year I started walking and then running with a friend. I’ve always wanted to run but deemed myself too heavy prior to my weight loss. I imagine if I ran my ankles and my knees would break, just walking in the shops already put so much pressure on them. I dropped more weight.
Dec 2020, and I am still not where I want to be, but I had to constantly remind myself of how far I have come. What I’ve done to get here and the utter discipline it took.
With exercise I had to change my diet again to include more ‘fuel’ for running and cycling. People ask me, ‘are you still on that diet’ when they see me, which is such a funny question, my response to them is…’well, this has been my lifestyle for almost 4 years now, it’s not a diet anymore’.
There were many days I wanted a slice of cake or a chocolate but I chose not to eat it. I chose to put myself and my goal first.
Then there were times I ate cake and stuffed my face all day long with chocolate eclairs but I never lingered on the disappointment I felt in myself having fallen off the wagon. My sugar addiction was real and reared its ugly head whenever I let my guard down because the smallest amount of sugar in any form is a potential downward spiral waiting to happen.
I believe that you have to keep it moving. You have to make a better decision with your next meal. That your next meal is your opportunity to start over and you can start over every day…within reason of course!
Today I can’t imagine my life without my exercise routine. I added some running mechanics to my training, recently started boxing, and doing a form of boot camp.
Lessons I learnt: I know today that…
I am capable of anything that I set my mind to.
You can change your life if you are motivated.
You can do other things and not just eat all the time.
When shifting your mindset away from food as a treat but rather what your body needs to function you can make many changes in your life.
You don’t need expensive products to reach your goal weight. Hard work, commitment and patience is all it takes.
I feel differently about food every other day. I’m always making changes to my diet and exercise challenging myself and that keeps me motivated.