MY WEIGHT LOSS / WEIGHT GAIN STRUGGLE
12 December 2016
I have battled with my weight for my entire life. This is no secret. I have been on and off diets for as long as I can remember. You name it, I’ve tried it. From fat free, to high fat, “bioslim”, “banting” and “weighless”, I have done it all. And as any overweight person will tell you, with every attempt to lose the weight, it becomes harder and harder due to the terrible cycle of yo-yo dieting.
THE EARLY YEARS
I saw my first dietician in 1998 at the age of 7 years old. Her name was Nikki. I distinctly remember the smell of her house and the clothes she wore. I remember the sidewalk outside of her house and the funny scale I had to stand on. I didn’t quite understand what I was doing there but knew we had a “play-date” every Tuesday at 15:00. I remember eating cream crackers and strawberry yogurt, a lot. I never liked that diet and today I cannot stand cream crackers!!
I was never an obese child, only about 5kgs over weight. I remained small (ish) throughout foundation phase primary school but started gaining a lot of weight due to something called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome when I hit puberty in 2003. In grade 6 I weighed close to 75kgs and was the biggest I had ever been in my life (then). In 2003 I also fell in love with my first boyfriend. I decided I wanted to lose the weight “for him” so that he would “choose me” over all the other pretty girls in my class. It was at this time that I developed the beginning stages of exercise anorexia and my loooong battle with weight loss and weight gain into my young adult life began.
By the end of 2003, I had developed what they now term “exercise anorexia”. I was still eating, albeit small portions, but exercising for between 2 to 4 hours daily. I lost 15 kilograms in two months and with it, my menstrual cycle. I was happy though, because I got the guy. By 2004, my weight had stabilised and for most of my high school career my weight was under control.
LATE TEENS, EARLY TWENTIES
In February of my Matric year I met Dean. Some of you may know Dean as @mediamandean (my Instagram husband who takes my lovely photos). With love however, comes comfort. And for someone who has an underlying weight problem, comfort is not necessarily a good thing.
In 2010, I was enrolled at UCT for a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Law and Media & Writing. It was also during this year that I developed Generalised Anxiety Disorder due to the dramatic change from high school to university life. I was put on chronic anti-anxiety medication (which I am still on today) which had some bearing on my excessive weight gain that year. Feeling alone and scared, I turned to food to comfort me. I remember wanting to feel “normal” and “in control” but with unchecked anxiety, this just wasn’t possible. By the end of July of 2010, my anxiety was under control and I found my place at University. It was only during the world cup celebrations that I realised I was 88 kilograms and the heaviest I had ever been (then).
In August of 2010, I joined the gym for the first time and started on the “weighless” diet. I initially lost 10 kilograms and then started seeing a dietician named Gina who helped me lose another 10 kilograms. I began with a personal trainer in late 2011 and together we finally reached my goal weight on my 21st birthday in June 2012 weighing in at 62 kilograms. I felt amazing.
Shortly before that, my boyfriend and I did a couple shoot with an amazing local photographer, Sean Kelland of www.KellandPhotography.com and I remember feeling so chuffed with the photos. I could hardly believe it was me. I also remember attending a friend’s wedding and people being totally mesmerised by my weight loss. That was really encouraging.
I was happy. Happier than I had ever been. I graduated with my first degree in December 2012 and really felt amazing on graduation day.
In 2013, I began my postgraduate studies toward my Bachelor of Laws degree. Full time law was no joke. 5 to 6 lectures per day, coupled with being highly involved, constant studying, essay writing and faculty meetings, left no time to train or eat well. I stopped gym and my training with my personal trainer. By the end of 2014, I had gained all my weight back (and more), and weighed approximately 102 kilograms. I graduated again in December 2014 with my Bachelor of Laws degree and secured Articles of Clerkship for 2015.
Working adult life brought with it new responsibilities, board exams and freedom. This meant more weight gain. I have never worked as hard in my life as I have worked in these last two years. By the end of July of 2016 I officially weighed 114.3 kilograms, the HEAVIEST I had ever been in my entire life.
After realizing that my health had deteriorated to a point where I no longer recognized myself, I decided to start my Instagram account @fitnessgirl_za on 1 January 2016 as a visual diary to track my progress and as a means to remain accountable to myself this time around. The first step was really admitting what I had done to myself. There was no one else to blame here. I had to recognize that I had done this, and I was the only person who could change it. Initially, I tried (again) to attempt the weight loss by myself. I did lose a couple kilograms between January 2016 and May 2016 but slowly life (and loooong work hours) took its toll again and I ended up gaining back everything I had lost.
In August 2016, I made contact with Jack Lotter and the Sheriff Training Systems stable (you can read more about this here). This has without a doubt been the best decision I have made to date with regards to my weight loss. You may be thinking, “but how is this time any different”? I too have asked the same questions. Having just read about my pattern of yo-yo dieting, how could this time really give a different outcome?
Well, honestly, I don’t know what the outcome will be. What I do know, is that my relationship with food has changed completely. Jack has challenged all the beliefs I have held in respect of how to lose weight, what I thought worked for my body (i.e. cutting carbs…NO!) and my views toward exercise. My attitude is far more mature now and I don’t look at this as another fad diet. I look at it this time around as being “forever”. It is a lifestyle change. A new way of living. A new way of being.
I am hopeful for what 2017 will bring. My aim is to reach my goal weight by this time next year and I honestly cannot wait for what is to come AFTER goal weight. That is when the real journey will begin. Will there be set-backs? Yes. Will there be achievements? Yes. This is the nature of the transformation journey and I am so thankful to be on it.
If you have been inspired by this post, and want to start your own fitness journey I will leave you with a small pep talk:
“Just start. Tomorrow never comes. If you want something bad enough, you have to be prepared to do something you have never done before. Prepare yourself. It’s a tough journey and one that will push you to your absolute limit. You will cry but you will also celebrate. And when you decide to start, never decide to quit. There will be moments of self-doubt. In fact, there will be plenty. Don’t listen to that voice in your head. There will of course be set-backs, however there will also be amazing achievements – Celebrate those. Be proud of your small milestones. Success starts with YOU deciding to let go of all your excuses and GO FOT IT!! You are capable of far more than you think. Your body will impress you daily if you do what is required. Every dream starts with a goal. Make sure your head and your heart are aligned. Stop saying “I can’t” and start saying “I CAN””.