You’re never too
old or too young
to change the way
you live your life.
Johan Wilke and
Rita van den
Heever did it. And
you can too, with
our special eating
and exercise plan
that will have you
shedding up to
14kg in three
By the HEALTH24 TEAM for YOU Pulse magazine
For almost eight years,
Johan Wilke lived on
junk food and pies from
Then, last June, the
well-known Cape Town
photographer was given an
ultimatum from his doctor:
"Change your lifestyle or
you’ll lose your right foot."
His stressful life and poor
diet had begun to affect his
health so badly that some mornings he couldn’t straighten
his legs as a result of severe joint pain. Johan (44) lived
with it for months. But then the pain in his right foot became
so bad he couldn’t put weight on it.
“My unhealthy lifestyle was at the root of the problem,
but I didn’t want to admit it,” Johan says. “Work kept me
so busy that food and fitness became a side issue.’’
Sometimes he’d just toss some boerewors into a pan
late at night. He never thought about what he was eating
and drinking. Fatty meat, bread and lots of beer and wine
were standard for him. The last time he had exercised was 15 years before.
To save his foot, Johan had to have an operation to
drain toxin from it. Only then did the penny drop – it
was time for a drastic change.
“It was often a struggle to stay motivated because I was
also being treated for depression, and my joints were still
healing,” he says.
“But now I eat skinless chicken, fish or pork rather than
other red meats and I cut off all the excess fat. I don’t have
any extra carbohydrates and I steam rather than fry foods
whenever I can. I drink water instead of fizzy drinks and
coffee and try to keep my stress levels down.”
Today Johan is 15kg lighter than a year ago, runs
10km five times a week and looks healthier than ever. He
can’t stop thinking about how good it felt to take control
and do something just for himself – and what it’s like for
life not to revolve around work alone.
“It’s amazing what it does for your self-image. I feel
inspired and motivated again – and I rewarded myself by
realising my dream of getting my pilot’s licence.”
It’s one thing to begin a new way of life, but quite another to stick to it. This is
how Johan has kept up his healthy
- First, I made sure there was no easy
way out. I scheduled time for
running and then organised my
- When I switched to healthier food,
my family and employees joined
me. They’ve also lost weight.
- The fitter I got, the more inspired
I was to keep exercising.
- Exercise helps me cope with stress.
I plan my day to prevent stressful
situations from arising.
- Working late is out.
- I reward myself if I deserve it. I just
don’t do it with food anymore.
Rita van den Heever
This far and no further! That was the decision Rita van den Heever made at her doctor’s surgery in 2005.
Rita, who heads the
university of Johannesburg’s arts Centre,
was having her annual check-up.
she complained about her fat thighs. Her
doctor recommended a book on low-GI
diets. She bought it the same day and now,
three years later and 40kg lighter, Rita
(57) admits her body is in better shape
than it’s been in her entire adult life.
“I realised I did, in fact, have control over the way I aged. It was my
decision to age in the healthiest possible way. If I fall ill, I want to know I
didn’t bring it on myself.”
While Rita, a popular TV personality in the eighties, never used to
smoke or drink alcohol, she confesses she often overate and wouldn’t
think twice about scoffing a box of chocolates. Till that day in the doctor’s consulting room when she decided to overhaul her life – with
Eating for Sustained Energy 1 & 2 by Gabi Steenkamp and Liesbet Delport as her guide.
She immediately cut out certain foods. Bread and potatoes became taboo, and red meat, chicken and fish were limited to a
minimum. She started to avoid baked treats but didn’t cut out
sugar. “When I crave something sweet, I buy a slab of dark chocolate and eat a few blocks.”
Rita has found it easy to stick to her new eating plan.
“You just have to make a conscious decision to avoid certain
foods. I still eat out often and there’s always something on
the menu that’s allowed.”
She also exercises five to six times a week, sometimes for
more than an hour, and she’s begun Pilates. Twice a week,
she tackles the hills in her area with a fitness instructor at
her side. “Hiring a personal trainer was an investment in
myself. It’s really kept me focused.
“It’s great being able to wear nice clothes and be complimented on my appearance. And feeling that I’m in control
gives me a huge kick. It’s made me realise ageing is okay. At
57, I’m 100% satisfied when I look in the mirror in
- Know why you want to lose weight. If you
do it for yourself and not for anyone else,
you’re on the path to success.
- I didn’t follow a diet; I cultivated a new
- Success motivates you further.
- I stick to my rules – I won’t snack on
canapés at a function.
- Before going out for a meal I might have
some water and a low-GI snack.
- I enjoy the exercise I do.
We show you how
Follow our easy diet and exercise
plan and within 12 weeks you will lose at
least 8kg (but up to 14kg) and drop at least
two dress sizes.
Click here for the diet plan.
Click here for the exercise plan.
(This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine, Spring 2008. The current edition is on sale now.)