Sometimes all you need is a little of a challenge to get you going, just ask Mmathabo Nkuna. When a Facebook post sparked her to join a weight loss challenge at work, the 31-year-old had to idea that it would have such life-changing results. Here’s her story.
Occupation: Audit Consultant
City: Cape Town
Weight before: 93 kg
Weight after: 59 kg
Height: 152 cm
The time required to reach current weight: Roughly 3 years and 6 months
The secret weapon to her weight loss: Great eating plan and amazing gym mates.
Mmathabo says that she first began picking weight when she entered university. “Honestly, I just let go in varsity, going out with friends, little or no exercising, eating campus takeouts. I paid zero attention to nutrition and my overall well-being,” she says. She adds that it got worse when she started working as she enjoyed eating out with family and friends. “[I ate] burgers topped with fries and ice-cream for dessert. Butter chicken and garlic naan were a favourite, I just love Indian food,” she explains.
In 2015, a Facebook post prompted Mmathabo to change her eating habits. “I saw photos of my friend’s birthday party. And I looked years older than my peers, just because of my weight. I just wanted to look my age and be comfortable in my skin,” she says. That same year, she joined a weight loss challenge with her work colleagues and things have never been the same since.
Mmathabo adopted a banting (high-fat, low-carb) lifestyle but after a year found that it wasn’t sustainable. She then started seeing a dietitian, something she says made all the difference, “meeting my dietician was my game changer, learning about nutrition and reading food labels helped me a lot. Knowledge is power.”
As for physical activities, she started doing it all. “I joined a hiking club, signed up as a committee member for the office running club. If there was a group sporting activity, you could count me in,” she exclaims.
At the time of the challenge, Mmathabo would exercise three times a week and since then when her fitness levels increased, so did her training program. “I now train five days a week combining high-intensity interval training sessions, gravity pilates, suspension yoga, boxing, vinyasa, running, and weight training. My body loves change and benefits from new movements,” she says.
While Mmathabo admits that her weight loss journey was not easy and it took a long time for her to reach her goals, she is proud of her progress. “It takes time, three words woman hate to hear. Being patient and consistent helped me throughout the years,” she says.
Her patience has allowed for her to feel better than she has in years, “I recall posting pictures from a girl’s trip last year in Zanzibar, all my friends and family were so complimentary regarding my progress. For me, there’s nothing like banging summer body snap on a tropical island. Those comments made me blush for weeks on end,” she explains.
Mmathabo admits that looking ‘good’ was her goal when she started, it has since become more than the physical. “Now, it’s more about feeling good. I’ve travelled from being obsessed with my weight and being a certain size to a mental state of gratitude, I accept my body, I love it and I treat it well”.
Mmathabo’s keys to her success
- Don’t drink your calories: ” I cut out fizzy drinks and fruit juices years ago and I’ve never looked back. Sparkling water is my summer companion, along with sugar-free tonic for my G&Ts. I’ve also substituted cow milk with almond and oat milk for my oats, smoothies, and coffee”.
- Go meat-free: “Meat-free days are my saving grace, especially on training days and after training. My body just recovers far better. A workmate convinced me to watch Game Changers on Netflix, trust me you’ll never look at meat the same. I still eat meat mostly chicken and fish, but I don’t consume a lot of red meat, I’m not the biggest fan of it, I can go months without it. It slows down my metabolism”.
- Treats are okay: “I don’t believe in one day binging (cheat days). I’d rather treat myself than cheat myself. So I spread my treats throughout the week. I reward myself for my hard work. I’m also strategic about treats, which include dark chocolate, popcorn, and hummus with low-carb crackers. I limit my alcohol consumption to two units a week and I up my water intake when drinking. I’m affectionately known as that two drinks girl within my circle of friends, wine in one hand, and water in the other”.