Updated 29 October 2013

Teenage boy loses 46kg

Seventeen-year-old Jacques Bezuidenhout was constantly bullied at school for being obese. Read his inspiring weight-loss story.

Being obese as a teen was no fun for Jacques, as he was constantly teased at school. His weight and associated hardships caused him to become depressed and withdrawn – not a healthy space for a young boy.

Visits to psychologists and dietitians had no results, and it was not until he joined Weigh-Less that he achieved meaningful success. His journey was supported by his mom, Liezel who also turned her unhealthy eating habits around to lose 25.9kg.

Supersized portions and boredom

Jacques gained weight at quite a young age, he says that he was eight years old, and puts it down to boredom.

“I would go home after school and, since I did not have much to do, I would eat. I ate badly and my portions were way too big,” he explains. Jacques says that he ate particularly large portions of carbohydrates and proteins, and that he did not know how to eat healthy, and so did not know any different.

“Since I never knew what it felt like to be at a healthy weight I thought it impossible to lose weight, and as such pointless to try. I had just accepted that I was overweight,” he says. As a family Jacques says that the Bezuidenhouts were also quite unhealthy, as they would eat takeaways, including pizza and burgers at least once a week, and also have ice-cream or other desserts after supper!

Liezel, Jacques’ mom, says that she also got into a bad habit of eating a large dinner every night made up of an oversized portion of red meat and high-GI Complex Carbohydrates, and every dinner was followed by dessert. She like her son was not active mainly because of her highly demanding job and long working hours.

“The more I ate, the more stressed I got, and the more I ate, the more I avoided the scale,” she explains. The unhealthy lifestyle Liezel had adopted was also not ideal for her already overweight son.

Depressed by weight

Being overweight from such a young age meant that Jacques was bullied a lot at school.

“The older boys made fun of my weight and called me fat. I hated school and avoided older kids. Soon my grades started to drop and I was a very unhappy child. I also became lazy, and did not participate in sports or do any other exercises,” Jacques says.

He had low self-esteem, no friends and was depressed. He says that he started doubting the point of living. “I would eat to help me cope with this stress,” he says.

Liezel took Jacques to a psychologist and says that it helped him to a certain extent as he stopped looking so unhappy. Jacques learnt to accept his weight and tried to make the best of it.

“My family and friends were very worried about my health. They were worried that I might develop health conditions later in my life. They were also worried about my low self-image, and me being so shy,” he explains.

School uniforms not large enough

Eventually Jacques school uniform became too small for him, and when he went to buy a new uniform, the shops did not have a size large enough.

“I then had to get school uniform’s from a special shop that sold oversized clothes. It made me realise that I had to make a change. I refused to be fat any longer. I wanted to one day be able to buy any clothes that I wanted, to look in the mirror and be proud, and not be ashamed of my body,” says Jacques.

Liezel thrilled at her sons decision, consulted a dietician, however Jacques still did not manage to lose much weight. “The weight loss programme devised by the dietician was too hard to follow and I later abandoned it. Even though I had tried numerous ways to lose weight, from dieting to exercising, nothing worked.”

Jacques eventually got to the point where he wanted to know what it felt like to be healthy.

“I remembered that my mom told me that she had done Weigh-Less many years ago, and she said that it had worked wonders for her. So I decided that it was worth a shot and I convinced my mom to join Weigh-Less with me for added support.” Liezel was overjoyed and agreed. She and Jacques joined the Stella Wood Sport Club Group in Glenwood, Durban.

Eating plan for teens

Before Jacques approached Liezel, she had already come to accept the fact that she would be overweight for the rest of her life, and place her focus on her son’s wellbeing instead.

“I was desperate to support Jacques because I was worried about his weight, so we joined Weigh-Less together,” she explains. She finally faced the scale, and was shocked to realise how her weight had drastically increased.

“It was daunting to know how much weight we both had to lose,” she says.

Group Leader, Disarie Samuels helped them both from the beginning by motivating and teaching them how to eat healthy, and how to handle cheating and cravings. “She was very patient with the rough days and helped me get back on track when times were tough,” says Jacques.

Disarie gave Jacques his new Eating Plan specially designed for teens, and he says she explained to him how it worked.

“I remember thinking that it was going to be a hard lifestyle change and it will be very difficult to get use to, but I was surprisingly wrong,” says Jacques. He says that he was amazed when he realised that the food was actually not bad, and that the meals were sufficient and he was never hungry. Jacques lost 2kg in his first week on Weigh-Less, and says that it was the most incredible feeling of accomplishment. “And it was easy too,” he says.


Temptation to cheat was the biggest issue Jacques had to face on his journey. “Going out with friends or eating out with my family brought its temptations, and I had to learn to manage my eating when I wasn’t in a controlled environment”.

He says that he always kept in mind that the immediate satisfaction would not outweigh the consequences when weigh day comes. “I would always take the healthiest option and when the party was over, immediately return to my Weigh-Less Eating Plan,” he explains.

All Jacques had to do was follow the Eating Plan, and if he was good, it would pay off. This was his motivation as he continued on his journey to Goal Weight, in addition to the great results he was enjoying.

“The feeling of achievement every week was more than enough to keep me going, and gave me the willpower to say no to the wrong foods. My mom was also a great help. We were in it together and supported each other when we felt like cheating.” He does say that he did plateau, and that this made it considerably harder for him to lose. But the Snap-Back Steps did help in losing the last few stubborn kilos.

School grades improved

As Jacques continued to lose weight he became happier at school, and says that his grades even improved. “I have also made more friends because I have more confidence, and I can go out with my friends and not feel embarrassed,” he says. Jacques was also inspired to get fit and start exercising, and says that he now exercises at the gym regularly to stay fit and healthy. He also plays golf with his parents and friends, which he says he enjoys.

Jacques says that his family and friends were all relieved and happy that he had made the decision to lose weight and get healthy.

“My friends and family started congratulating me and complimenting me on my new weight, when I reached Goal. They also enjoyed seeing me happy and enjoying school like I’d never done before.

“I can now buy normal-sized clothes, and I have more choices than before. I can buy the clothes I want and wear them without feeling embarrassed about the way I look,” he says. Jacques says that the support of his mom was a huge help on his journey. “It helps a lot to have someone to join you and to share your experiences,” he says.

Today Liezel is a very proud mom, and says that she is thrilled with the results Weigh-Less has given Jacques. “Not only has he lost weight, but his confidence and self-worth has improved immensely, and all thanks to Weigh-Less,” Liezel says. She is also so grateful that she could walk this journey with her son.


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