Weighing 126 kilograms is no joke. Every step you take is a mission. You’re short of breath, your back aches and your legs feel like they’re about to collapse underneath you at any moment.
"Besides how you feel physically, there is nothing that compares to how you feel emotionally.
"People don’t notice you and only see the fat you. Shopping is depressing because everything you like doesn’t come in a plus size and don’t even think about finding love, that is something reserved for thin girls.
These are just some of the thoughts, feelings and experiences Liezl Koekemoer from Berea in Durban encountered almost her entire life.
Excessive heart rate
From the age of 13 she was already considered overweight.
"It was not at all nice being so heavy. It was very embarrassing because every time I shopped I noticed my size getting bigger and bigger. I’d watch a romantic movie and think if only I could fall in love someday but I knew in the back of mind that bigger girls like me never get what they want," she recalls.
In 1994, while Liezl was in Grade 9 she was diagnosed with tachycardia (excessive heart rate). She had been suffering from shortness of breath, heart palpitations, anxiety and fainting spells.
"After having a small episode at school my mom took me to a doctor who did an ECG and then referred me to a cardiologist who diagnosed the problem after many tests," Liezl says.
"It was not nice to have this illness that was potentially going to be with me for life, and I worried about my ability to be able to drive one day. What would happen if I had an episode behind the wheel of a car?
Liezl Koekemoer before she lost 45kg.
"A huge turning point for me was in 2009 when my dad was diagnosed with a category four, terminal cancerous brain tumour.
"The doctors said he had 12-14 months at most and I spent as much time with him as possible. I decided it was time to stop blaming everything else and start pinpointing my problem. At the end of the day the problem was me, my laziness, bad food choices, over-eating and love of overindulging. It was time to be honest and say no to a lifestyle of takeaways, chocolates, no exercise, two litres of coke and 12 cups of coffee a day.
"At the age of 30 the new plan for my life was to learn how to eat properly, drink water and incorporate exercise into my life. It was not about going on a diet but rather changing my lifestyle.
"Over the last 3 years I have lost 45kg and have gone from a size 48 to a 36 and my aim is for a comfortable size 32 – 34.
"However, my weight loss began to plateau and I quickly became bored with my exercise routine. I needed to challenge my body in order to lose the final 10 kilos. This is when I joined Adventure Boot Camp (ABC).
"It’s an outdoor fitness programme for women and an alternative to gym and road running and the camaraderie amongst the women and the trainer is what motivates me to keep going. It has a large variety of exercises every day of the week, of every camp, and that is what I need, it does not become tedious or boring, every day is new, different and fresh. Adventure Boot Camp has helped me to stay focused on my end goals.
Fairy tale ending
Since the beginning of her weight loss journey Liezl finally started to realise that so many things were possible.
"I finally got my romantic fairy tale ending and can proudly say I am married to a wonderful man and a step-mom to his two amazing children. We hope to have our own child soon. I am also miraculously no longer on any medication for my heart condition.
"Losing the weight so far has been an incredible experience. My family find it unbelievable and we all grin when we look at before photos. We now do family activities together like the Spar ladies run/walk, the East Coast Radio Big Walk, etc. This has also led to increased family quality time, making memories and dropping kilos all at the same time."
Weight is not something that happens overnight nor is it something that just goes away, never to rear its ugly head. It’s something that takes time and needs to be maintained through proper eating and regular exercise.
Its okay to cheat every now and again but the sooner you realise you are worth the effort, the easier your journey will become. Joining a programme that will keep you linked to other women who share your goals helps you stay focused.
Sources: Adventure Bootcamp