When Nancy Mabasa’s doctor warned her that her love for pap and vetkoek were putting her at risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, she knew it was time to change her unhealthy lifestyle. Knowing that it would be no easy feat, Nancy committed to making small changes that would have major rewards. Here’s how changing her relationship with food and getting up at 3 am helped her lose 53 kilos.
Occupation: Administrator and training to be a health coach
Weight before: 116kg
Weight after: 63kg
The time required to reach current weight: 4 years
The secret weapon to her weight loss: Don’t wish for it, work for it. Healthy eating and staying active
Nancy says that she’s always been overweight but it wasn’t something that she was really concerned about. ” I come from a family where we grew up eating pap and vetkoek every day, and being big was a way of life, something you’d get praise for. When I put on a lot of weight, my family dismissed it as genetics as most of my aunts are big, so I just accepted myself and learnt to live with being big,” she says. She says that her unhealthy eating habits have always been her downfall. Every meal was washed down with gassy cooldrinks, vegetables were only ever eaten on Sundays, and biscuits and cakes were regular treats. Nancy says that these were her habits for many years but they soon started catching up with her.
“I was always sick, and I remember my doctor telling me that I would die if I didn’t start taking care of my health. He pointed out that I was at risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. I knew I had to either start living a healthier lifestyle or die young. It was a much-needed wake-up call,” explains Nancy. She admits that changing her bad eating habits and her relationship with food was difficult.”It was so hard and lots of tears were shed. My constant worry was whether I’d ever lose the weight. But I always reminded myself that nutrition made up 80% of your wellness journey”.
Nancy started eating out of smaller plates to help her eat smaller portions. And since she was a serial meal skipper, she made sure to eat at least three meals a day with healthy snacks in-between meals. “I was learning to resist temptations and enjoy my green vegetables that are low in kilojoules and rich in source of dietary fibre, ” she says.
Once Nancy got the handle on her nutrition, she started working on the other 20% of her wellness journey- fitness. “My days began at 3 am when I do my home DVDs for an hour in my living room. Then after work, I would go to the gym for another hour. On the weekends I would run, do some skipping and other forms of cardio,” she explains. And her workouts didn’t stop at the gym or on the road, Nancy would find ways to sneak in some exercise in her day-to-day activities. ” I would take the stairs at work and use my bathroom breaks as a chance to squeeze in some squats or light jogging”.
Nancy committed to her new lifestyle by ensuring she was sticking to good, healthy foods and exercising every day. Her commitment soon started paying off and little changes became major rewards. “It became a lifestyle, now I don’t stress about my weight. I started looking at myself and loving what I see. It’s priceless and now I realise how hard work and discipline pay off.”
In the four years since she started her journey, Nancy has gone from a size 42 to 34 and her relationship with food has improved dramatically. “I now have a great relationship with food and I’m no longer abusing food. I just feel healthier, I feel so brand new,” she says. Nancy isn’t the only one who is viewing herself in a new light, other people have a hard time recognising her too. “It’s so funny when I show people my before and after photo’s and they don’t recognize me. But seeing how much weight I loss, gives them the courage to try.”
- Do it for you: “Just do it. Not for summer, not for your ex, not to be the skinny friend. But for you and your body”.
- Eat to live, don’t live to eat: “Let food be the source of your energy that enables you to live but don’t live to eat”.
- You don’t need the gym: Exercising is important, but you don’t have to go to the gym to be active. Walk, jog, jump rope or do a simple functional workout all from the comfort of your home”.