43, fertility specialist in Joburg
Weight loss: 56kg
Eustacia had lived a sedentary life ruled by bad food choices since childhood. “I was a very overweight child. A typical meal was phuthu, potatoes and fatty foods,” she recalls.
As an overweight teenager she was introverted and anti-social, turning again to food for comfort.
When she tried to lose weight, she became disheartened, she says. “I tried all the diets out there. I’ve popped pills and downed the most horrendous soups. I would lose a few kilos, but my weight would just come back and I would end up bigger than when I started,” she says.
The fat piled on and eventually she weighed 125kg. “I battled to breathe if I walked short distances and I suffered from a hormonal imbalance,” she says.
The turning point came when one day Eustacia went shopping for a function she had to attend in Cape Town.
“I was wearing a size 50 dress. As I walked into one of the boutiques, the sales assistant blurted out that they only went to a size 16 and did not cater for bigger sizes. There and then I knew that something had to be done.”
Eustacia joined the Weigh-Less group in Eastgate. The first week was hard, as her eating habits had to change, but by the end of that week she had already lost 2.6kg. “After two weeks, I started noticing other changes in my body. I lost 3.6kg and I no longer suffered from heartburn.”
She stuck to her daily formula, weighing all her food, and eating extra salad if she felt hungry.
Exercise became much less of a strain. “Just being able to walk around the block was a blessing,” she says.
It was nine years ago that Eustacia achieved her goal weight (she is now 69kg), and she fits into size 34 clothes. It took a year and three months.
Exercise became easier and, today, she can’t go a day without it.
“I do Zumba and Tae Bo five to six days a week, and I run 5km to 10km once a week,” she says.
What Weigh-Less taught her above anything is portion control and how to eat a well-balanced diet, she says.
“A typical menu for me includes ProNutro with soy milk in the morning, a tuna salad with Finn Crisps or brown rice for lunch and sweet potatoes, chicken and veggies for supper.”
47, photo editor in Joburg
Weight loss: 31kg
Method: TLC for Wellbeing
Karen’s husband had suggested “in a nice way” that she lose weight, but it was when her sister Moira proposed, in January 2010, that Karen go on a weight loss programme, that the journey to change began.
“She said I was under no obligation, that she’d still foot the bill. I looked at her for about 20 seconds and just said ‘yes’.” At that point Karen weighed 97kg.
The programme she went on is run by TLC for Wellbeing, an international medically-based weight-loss programme which entails a thorough check-up including blood tests, followed by a diet tailor-made to the individual that always begins with a short detox plan.
“The diet involves specific amounts of protein, vegetables and fruit throughout the day,” says Karen. “Starches, sugar and milk are cut out. They do have alternative starches that you are allowed.”
She found she didn’t get hungry on the diet, and could call for help when she hit a bad spot.
She was weighed once a week, and within the first week had lost a few kilograms. “Some weeks I lost only a few hundred grams, others a kilogram or so, but once you start seeing results you’re encouraged to keep going.”
On the TLC programme you choose how much weight to lose, and Karen decided on 20kg. When she got there, she realised she could lose more, and ended up losing about 33kg.
It took about seven months to achieve. Today she maintains her weight at 66kg, having increased it a little from 64kg as she felt she had lost too much.
Karen embraced the programme rigidly. “For at least the first months I stuck to it to the letter. I wanted to give it my all, and I feel it was seriously worth the effort.”
As for exercise, Karen confesses “zip, zero and zilch!”
“They do recommend an exercise routine but I didn’t follow it,” she says.
Her life has changed permanently since she began. “I shop for healthy foods and only on rare occasions do I get a chocolate or packet of chips.
“And when I shop for clothes, I no longer buy baggy clothes but more figure-fitting outfits. I have given away all my ‘big clothes’ so that I never go back to my old ways.
“My husband tells friends and family that he’s married to a new woman,” says Karen.
It has also given her new-found confidence. “If I need to do something challenging, my mind goes back to the time I was overweight and I realise if I can lose 33kg, surely I can take on any challenge, no matter how big or small.”
30, banker in Nelspruit
Weight loss: 10kg
Method: Adventure Boot Camp
Basetsana had slowly gained weight over a period of two years and hadn’t been able to commit to getting rid of it. She was not very overweight but, at 75kg, she felt too heavy.
The turning point came when she turned 30 in February this year. She told herself, “These are my last days of disco and I want to make them golden”.
“I wanted to enjoy beach holidays, dressed in a bikini, and not have body image issues. I wanted to enter this new period of my life being in the best possible condition, especially physically.
“Every shopping expedition was becoming a nightmare with the constant increase in my clothing sizes. I knew there was something I could do to change it. I just had to commit to something,” she says.
Basetsana started Adventure Boot Camp in January. She had been training at a conventional gym since 2005, but with work and its irregular hours, it became difficult for her to participate in classes.
“And training alone in a gym becomes monotonous, so I wouldn’t go. I needed a change, to be in a different environment, where I’d be exposed to new exercises,” she says.
The Adventure Boot Camp programme involves training sessions outdoors with a personal trainer. The sessions are one hour each, five days a week. Each camp lasts four weeks, then there’s a week’s break before the cycle is resumed.
“I’m currently attending my fifth camp. Each session is a combination of cardio, strength and stretch exercises. It’s a full body work-out, but you go at your own pace.
“So yesterday when I wasn’t feeling so strong, I knew that going to Boot Camp would make me feel better, firstly because it’s not a competition. We don’t race against each other. Each person does the best they can for their own fitness levels.
“And my particular Boot Camp group has the funniest and warmest ladies ever. We sweat it out in the botanical gardens. It’s a great way to end each day being surrounded by trees and waterfalls,” she says.
In April, Basetsana began following a proper eating plan. She cut down on carbohydrates and stopped combining proteins and carbohydrates in one meal.
“I eat every two hours and try to drink three litres of water every day. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, but I get back on it immediately and sweat it out daily.”
She now weighs 65kg, and has another five to lose before reaching her goal.
“I just got tired of having two suitcases filled with beautiful clothes which I couldn’t fit into anymore,” she says. “I now have a suitcase of clothes that are too big for me.
“Better still, I’m participating in races, something I never thought I’d be doing. I have even considered the Comrades … but only for 2015.”