Gabi Altamirano is no stranger to yo-yo dieting or binge eating, but when the years of disordered eating had her weight fluctuating, she knew it was time to make a change. With the help of her sister, a personal trainer and dietician, Gabi has started to live her best life while conquering her fears. Here’s how this 30-year-old is putting her health first and reaching her goals… one step at a time.
Occupation: Runs a drain-clearing and liquid waste removal company
City: Cape Town
Weight loss: 10kg and 41cm
Time required to reach current weight: No timeline
Secret weight-loss weapon: Trying to develop a positive relationship with food, and exercising
The gain: yo-yo dieting
For years, Gabriella battled with an eating disorder that led to her weight yo-yoing. “I’ve always struggled with my weight, but [eventually] I just stopped caring and progressively got bigger until I realised I was 15 kilos heavier than my heaviest weight,” she explains. When she binged, it wasn’t healthy foods, and when she did eat healthily, her portions were too large. “Moderation went out the window and I just indulged.”
Although she had difficulty with her yo-yo dieting, Gabi never had a problem with exercising – in fact, she loved it! “I’ve always enjoyed exercising and it keeps me in check. But I wasn’t exercising as much or as hard [as I could]. I’d probably do one or two days a week,” she says.
At her heaviest, Gabi felt unhappy and uncomfortable. “I was single. I wasn’t going on dates because I felt intimidated and hideous, so using apps like Tinder plays into every insecurity. My family had obviously noticed, but no one knew how to broach it until my sister offered to help me.”
Gabi’s sis told her about a trainer she thought would be a great fit for her. “At first I took it personally and got upset, but [then I] realised she was trying to help me,” she says. She started working out with Meagan Claasen, owner of Stature.
Meagan then recommended that Gabi see a dietician. “I was sceptical at first because I ‘know’ what to do. I’ve done every diet, seen dieticians… but decided to take the help. [This dietician’s] approach was different – it was more personalised, didn’t require me taking supplements or cutting things out of my diet and their scale gave me a body composition breakdown, which really helped,” she explains. Seeing the bi-weekly results of her body composition was enough to motivate Gabi to keep going.
Gabi’s approach to her wellness is holistic. She trains four to five days a week, sees her dietician every second week and recently went back to therapy. “I still struggle daily. My biggest focus is fixing my head and ultimately my relationship with food. I don’t want a short-term fix (been there, done that since I was 11), so this is slower, but I’m hoping better for the long term,” she explains.
She also sets out small weekly goals that help her stay motivated and stop her from slipping back to yo-yo dieting. “I try to set goals between dietician appointments, like upping my water to two litres per day or increasing my exercise from four to five times a week. This week’s is to increase my vegetables to four to five portions a week. It’s a struggle, so small, manageable steps help,” Gabi says.
While Gabi is still on her journey, her results have been amazing. “I’ve dropped a dress size and I’m feeling stronger and happier. But I think the biggest impact is that I’m feeling mentally stronger.” Her mental strength has allowed her to be more social and ditch the fear of dating.
Gabi is still learning to fully love herself, but she acknowledges that she’s not alone. “I don’t have a workout partner, but I do have a best friend who motivates me and attends classes with me. It keeps me in check and makes it fun. Meagan and the other women I’ve met in class have also become friends, which makes it fun,” she adds.
- #Teamwork: “Get support, whether it’s joining a class, getting a dietician, or enlisting a friend or family member. It just makes the whole process more enjoyable.”
- Set small realistic goals: “I don’t set weight goals – it’s just too much pressure. Rather set up goals to aid the weight loss (attending gym a certain number of times, increasing water intake, increasing veggie intake, only eating out twice a week etc).”
- Do what works for you: “There’s no need to compete with anyone else. The ideal is long term, so no need to rush the process – rather do something that’s sustainable for you and your lifestyle.”