A quick interview with Saberah Gumede, 3rd Place Women’s Weight Loss who lost 16.9kgs in the New Year 2016 Challenge!

Q: Give us a short history of your journey to health and fitness before the challenge.

How it started was that I noticed that I suddenly couldn’t fit into my clothes and everytime I went to buy MY size the pants wouldn’t go up my thunder-thighs or the shirts wouldn’t close properly. I though “No mahn, these Chinese don’t know an African body structure, they must make better fitting clothes”. Ha! Yeah right! Then my favourite and even fattest jeans started tearing at the thighs, they couldn’t come up anymore and one day I looked in the mirror and I’m like “Gumede, is that REALLY you?” I couldn’t believe that I was buying size 40! Not in Gumede’s name, nah! I went to the clinic and stood on the scale and I was a SHOCKING 93 point something kilograms (level 93 makes it sound more badass)! I never thought in my life I’d EVER be over 75 kilograms! So in December 2014 I started by fasting for a few days just to deal with the shock. I joined every weightloss program online, subscribed to everything but I was still helluva confused most of the time. One day I came across Sleek Geek SA on facebook and don’t know why, but I decided to join.

I changed my eating habits meal by meal, not always successful as food is still my biggest hurdle. I also went for a run and suddenly I couldn’t carry my body. Something was SERIOUSLY wrong! You won’t believe this but in December I ran the Metropolitan 10KMs in 1:29:32 and we all know that the Metropolitan 10KM is the most difficult road race in the Western Cape if not all of South Africa, in December 2015 I ran it in 1:18:08; now if that’s not transformation I don’t know what is! A runner knows that 11 minutes is a HUGE difference! So much has changed where my body is more flexible, I’m focusing on EVERYTHING instead of just one aspect. I do core exercises and truth be told once your core is strengthened, other movements will come easier. Spinning also helped a lot with my leg movement and speed – I’m more comfortable and confident running. I’ve always been a runner and will get back to it. In September 2015 I ran my first 21KM in the Durban heat and I was perfectly fine after that, next day I was at a spinning class and at a Grid class lifting weights.
I was at the beginning stages of the Sleek Geek SA group and I wasn’t too sure what it’s about. Some of the terms were too scientific and every time I read a post, I had to research it myself. I researched the paleo and banting lifestyles and thought to myself “this is doable” and so the journey began. My food choices at home became better, but my problem definitely was (and still is) snacking. As time progressed and without even realizing it, I dropped certain bad habits – say I’d have breakfast at home, then I’d have a work breakfast then I’d have a post breakfast! That’s three meals already, hahahaha! I tried the 6 small meals a day and it didn’t work, not for me – most of my meals would turn to big meals. As I progressed I also realized how much we’re being LIED to by food companies. I used to believe that Fritos was a healthy snack and I’d binge on Fritos. I also used to believe that “juice” was better than carbonated soft drinks until I read up and researched on sugar, my goodness! A lesson to parents as well – juice is NOT the good guy either!

I’m still on the journey and with lots of support from colleagues and friends, I can do it! I joined a gym as well, holy moly I was sore the first week! However I just kept going and going more and more and I now TRULY understand the meaning of “train dirty”. Even when I’m travelling I do about 20 minutes of exercise in my hotel room (YOU DO NOT NEED GYM TO BE FIT). I also aligned myself with individuals who share similar goals to mine – wellness for me and my peers is both internal and external. It’s NOT about fitting into a bikini; anyone can wear a bikini no matter the size it’s about comfort and just feeling good as well as having minimal health complications. I also changed my approach to food; I can say that I TRULY understand the meaning of “eat clean” thanks to this group. I still struggle when it’s PMS time and I know that I’m too forgiving towards myself at certain occasions, but now that I know what’s possible and how far I’ve come I know I can, no excuses!

Q: What prompted you to join the Ultimate You Transformation Challenge?

It was encouragement from friends, reading the stories of the past winners and looking at their transformation photos. I’ve seen a gazillion transformation photos all over the internet but what struck me about the Ultimate You was that it had NOTHING to do with any product but people’s journey and I knew that I too can do it. One afternoon I just went online, went to the Ultimate You Challenge website, registered and payed

Q: Give us a quick overview of the nutrition and eating plan that you followed during the challenge.

In the first two weeks it was a trial and error – I knew that paleo would work for me but then I also wanted to do reboot. I attempted reboot many times and whenever I faltered then I’d go back to paleo.

Q: Give us a quick overview of the training and exercise plan that you followed during the challenge.

In terms of training, I increased my spinning and did it twice a day for three days during the week (about 40 minutes each class). I also added outdoor training where I exercised at the stadium. The first week was HARD! I just ran up and down the stairs at the stadium then did a few walking lunges (about 150 walking lunges), I focused on these because I wanted to concentrate on my hips and thighs and it REALLY helped. Each week I got better. I’ll alternate it with weight exercises at the gym where I’d do weighted lunges, weighted squats (holding dumb bells) and pushups as well as box jumps and weighted rows. This totally changed my day and from being super tired and pained I went to being super energetic – I sacrificed on sleep for this but it was definitely worth it. I’m still doing the exercises and now and then I do The Grid at the Virgin Active. My body is now MUCH more flexible and I can feel my body SCREAMING for exercise when I’ve been lacking.

Q: Did you use any supplements or do anything else worth mentioning to help you get results?

No! Even if I wanted to, I can’t afford them

Q: If you could give 3 pieces of advice to future challengers, what would they be?

I constantly get messages sent to me to ask about my eating plan, exercise plan, etc and I respond and I’m very open because I want to uplift people the same way that others have uplifted me, but the main difference is that people just want to know and when they find out it wasn’t a quick fix then they totally lose interest. The three pieces of advice I’d give are:

  1. Don’t wait to be ready, just do it!
  2. Only you are responsible for your progress and transformation. We ALL have so many factors that we can blame for our regress but all those are excuses. It takes a certain level of mental restructuring which only you can do to get over those excuses.
  3. Don’t be too easy on yourself – one cheat day is fine, but a cheat week is not. Also don’t be too hard on yourself, just pick yourself up and get back on the wagon and beat the **** out of bad habits.

Q: What did you find most valuable about your experience?

For me it wasn’t just a physical journey, it was SO personal. Spiritually and mentally I also got better because I had to “mature” learn to focus and there were non-negotiable do’s and don’ts. I had to fight with myself internally on a daily basis but I also learnt how easy I’ve taken it. I value my body, my health (inside and out) and I can say that I am responsible for my own progress and transformation. I also haven’t had sniffles in a VERY long time, with healthy eating comes a stronger immune system and I’m grateful for that. There’s SO much that I learnt but the most valuable was that my body is a self-healing temple. I treat it right and it feels so damn good!

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