Updated 05 March 2014

From 105kg to a bikini model

When Celeste Vanderwalle was at her heaviest she weighed 105kg. She is now a petite 60kgs and has just placed 5th in her first bikini model competition. This is her story.

The turning point for Celeste Vanderwalle which led her to completely renovate her life came when she realised she weighed more than her husband at 105kg. She describes this as her ‘rock bottom’ – although now to look at her you would never believe this lean and toned young woman who just placed 5th in a bikini fitness competition, was ever anything less than healthy and fit.

“I was miserable and I hated life,” recalls the mother of two. Determined to make a change for the better, Celeste signed up for bootcamp classes, which she says was another rude awakening as to how unfit she had become.

“I nearly died and I wanted to cry throughout the class.”

Yet she persevered and once she began seeing results, her love-affair with good health and regular exercise began.

Baby steps

“At first I just tried to make the healthier choice when it came to food, and when I noticed the weight dropping off I started making healthier choices. The more into it I got, the better my choices became and the better I felt,” she says.

However, she adds the key to her success was doing everything in moderation so she didn’t ever feel deprived.

“If I can’t have something I want it even more! And when I started my weight-loss journey my favourite food was beans on toast, so rather than depriving myself completely I rather had that once a week without any guilt and I honestly believe this helped me get to my goal.”

Eat clean, train hard

While Celeste maintains that her weight-loss was very much dependent on her changing her diet, she also attributes it to a regular exercise programme. She says that not only did the exercise accelerate and compliment her new, cleaner diet, but it also helped prevent any loose skin that is often a side-effect of such a huge amount of weight loss.

“I have hardly any loose skin and am actually quite toned from the exercise. And the feel good endorphins from the exercise defiantly helped me to stay on track.”

Her exercise routine initially consisted of cardiovascular training six days a week and weight training three times a week. Now she has reached her goal weight though, she has shifted her training to more weight training and less cardio with two rest days a week.
Her daily eating plan looks something like this:

Rice cake with almond butter
Black coffee

Protein shake

3 eggs and broccoli

15 almonds
50g biltong

Sweet potato

15 almonds
1chicken breast


The power of peers

Celeste also attributes a lot of her success to SleekGeek and says that she regularly read the inspirational stories on the Facebook page which kept her focused and inspired.

“Often when I was having a bad day I would post on the SleekGeek Facebook page and within minutes I’d have so many people lift me up and cheer me on - no matter where the were on their weightloss or fitness journey they seemed to understand what I was going through and helped me to feel better and get past that day on to a good one.”

Celeste has become such a devoted SleekGeek member that she now runs the SleekGeek Girls group as well.

It was with this community support that Celeste’s weight-loss journey became a fitness journey and led her to enter the National Amateur Bodybuilding Association of South Africa (NABBA) bikini competition recently. It was a big step for a woman who previously hated photographs, to suddenly be in a sparkling bikini and heels on a stage with other women whom she had only previously dreamed of looking like.

When she stepped off that stage with the 5th place title firmly and proudly grasped in her hand, Celeste says it was nothing short of an amazing feeling.

“My journey has taught me that I am worth it -  I do deserve to be happy and enjoy life! I am the happiest I have ever been in my whole life and have confidence for the first time ever. Its a truly amazing feeling to not want to disappear and not be seen but to walk proud and enjoy the attention - it may sound big headed but when you have been the obese one all your life that people snigger at it is flippin’ awesome just to be noticed!”

So where to from here? Celeste now hopes to maintain her healthy lifestyle and possibly enter another fitness competition in the future.  

“My advice to other women out there who are at the beginning of their weight-loss journey is to start off by setting  realistic goals – and don’t compare yourself to others or do what others tell you - do this for you! Decide you want to change and train your mind through it. It will be tough there will be days you will cry and want to give up, and there will be days when you will give in and not workout and eat something you shouldn’t - but that’s OK, just make the next day a good one!”


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