My personal battle to #SeeWhatsPossible
July 28, 2016
When I attended the launch of some of Neutrogena’s newest products as well as their #SeeWhatsPossible campaign earlier this year it struck a chord so deep in my heart that I immediately knew I had to be a part of this initiative. Listening to South African face of this campaign, Nomzamo Mbatha share her journey of meagre beginnings and the suffering along the way, I sat there with tears in my eyes. Looking at her and how far she came made me realize that I too had something intensely powerful to celebrate. That my journey is just as phenomenal and worthy of sharing, even though I never realized it. Each of us come from somewhere. Have a unique story. Born from a need so strong that you get to a point of suffering so fierce that when you’re down on your knees and you turn your chin towards the sky, the only way is up.
A short while after this media event the brand contacted me to share my story. I told myself that this was an opportunity to not only empower those who feel hopeless, but to show that I’m living proof to #SeeWhatsPossible. Initially I was nervous in sharing intimate details of my life over the past year but after deciding what I’m willing to share and what not, I decided to go ahead with the campaign because what a better platform to show you – anything is possible if you put your mind to it! Being an extremely private person when it comes to certain aspects of my life this story is seriously difficult to write and to be quite honest, sitting here it’s the first time ever I’ve actually penned anything about it. Telling people little bits of my experience here and there in explanation of why I look like a completely different person is one thing – starting to unroll the whole nine yards from beginning to end is, to be blunt – painful as all hell. Revisiting my thoughts and feelings during those times are tough but it is renewing my inspiration and motivation once more and will do so for the rest of my life.
On the morning of 14 September 2015 I remember getting up and getting ready to put a load of laundry into the washer. That was around 09h15. Next thing I knew it was 09h40 and I was lying on my kitchen floor cold as ice and shaking like a leaf. I was disoriented, nauseous, had a headache of note and the shaking just wouldn’t stop. Every time I moved even just my eyes, I started feeling nauseous all over again. Talking made me feel sick. Moving made me feel sick. I wanted to close my eyes and die. I didn’t know what was happening to me but I knew then and there my life would never ever be the same again. The realization that I had crashed mind, body and soul made me so scared, I had to stop this crazy train of self distruction and get the hell off. I made some fundamental decisions right there and over the next ten days I was like a druggie kicking not one, but three habits at once. I literally had cold turkey. See, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I needed to get my health sorted out, like yesterday. It was time for damage control. I had smoked for 15 years and stopped right there on the 14th of September. I’ve never had or craved a cigarette since. I dropped sugar right there and thirdly, stopped my carb intake completely. I was never a stress eater and would often not get hungry for days, so ended up eating extremely little, drinking fizzy cool drinks and smoking too much. If you don’t understand how these things work, in short – if you don’t eat regularly your body stores anything you put into it in the form of fat deposits because it doesn’t know when it will be fed again. Basically it goes into survival mode deluxe. So, Nicotine. Sugar. Carbs. Everyone told me I’m crazy for dropping the three biggest habits at once but I’m one of those people – if it doesn’t hurt it wont work. Also, if you want to do it, do it all the way or not at all.
I had two friends from the beauty industry who jumped in and supported me from day one and I honestly cannot say what I would have done without them. I started the Banting lifestyle and loved every moment because lets face it – who wouldn’t love to eat enough cheese to feed a small eastern country with permission? I started flushing my system with loads of water and was militant about what I put into my mouth. I was so strict with myself that I wouldn’t even have a salad that had tomato or onion in it because of it’s sugar content. With this paradigm shift came the most amazing self control, motivation and discipline – I honestly don’t know how I mustered it, but I wasn’t complaining. People used to ask me how I’m keeping my mind so strong and stay so disciplined and motivated and I can honestly say that it felt like I’ve always been eating that way. Like I’ve always meant to be living like I am. It felt like no great effort to me at all, hard as it may seem to believe. Between you and I, I always remembered that morning on the kitchen floor…
I started losing weight and by the end of October I’d lost 14kgs, with no exercising. Then all hell broke loose. I had so much energy from eating correctly, anger about my unhappy personal life and wasted time and opportunities and motivation to see how far I can push myself that I needed an outlet. Lo and behold, I became what I always abhorred – a calorie counting gym rat. See, I have a good amount of confidence, so walking into a gym and seeing all those intimidatingly perfect bodies really didn’t phase me. I had a goal. I didn’t give a hoot about losing weight. I wanted to get my health where it’s supposed to be. The way I felt that morning on my kitchen floor put the fear of death in me – quite literally – and I never wanted to feel that way again. I started training twice a week doing small bits of cardio and toning with weights. Pretty soon, being the too-hard-on-myself person I am I had pushed myself so much, I was doing six days a week, an hour and a half of straight cardio and another 30 or 45 minutes of toning with weights, boxing or just the circuit. I had become unstoppable and on a roll so high, I was definitely not planning on scaling down anytime soon. People told me I’m going to burn out but I knew how far I could push my body. I was looking after myself properly for the first time in more than ten years. I had come to know it pretty well and had learned when to listen to it. It’s become my best friend and most prized possession. I had stopped banting and a trainer at the gym worked out a perfectly balanced high protein eating plan for me. For Pete’s sake, I was eating five times a day on this eating plan! My body shreds through protein and my metabolism became so fast, now I can go about ten days without training before I pick up weight again if I don’t watch what I eat. (Not that I’d be able to stay away from training so long, it’s become my lifestyle.) The human body truly is an amazing thing. Mine has come so far, in seven months I’d lost 50kgs. Look, I’m realistic. I am forty years old and my skin does not have the resilience, collagen and elastin it did twenty years ago, so a stretch mark here or there, a few added wrinkles (I actually started looking my age) due to the loss of substance in my face and a little excess skin is not going to have me crying all over my green veggies (and maybe a glass of red wine – I’m allowed red wine!) tonight, my main thing is I’ve become super fit, super strong and super proud of what my body has become. Not to mention that in that seven months I’d dropped around 4 bra sizes, up to date 5 dress sizes and don’t have to look at XXL or even XL anymore, I own size Medium things now too!
Physically I had control over what happened to my body because I trained like a beast. To such an extent that I’m (quite proudly) known as Princess Protein amongst friends. What was the most challenging was the workings of this battered and bruised soul. Looking back and being able to step away and looking at myself then and now – can you imaging what goes through a person’s mind that trains like that? When friends were having barbecues and dinners out on Friday nights, I was on a treadmill. When the same friends went to wine farms on Saturdays and enjoyed lush drinks, food and good times – I was on a treadmill. In retrospect I honestly don’t know where I got the willpower and strength from but I know that if it wasn’t for prayers and support from one or two friends, my family and the super powerful decision to make a better life for myself I probably would have dropped the ball after a couple of months. I needed to get to a point mentally where I could look at myself in the mirror and decide where I am and where I wanted to take myself and that only I can do it. I had to look at myself and literally visualize my end result – to #SeeWhatsPossible. This is the whole point of the amazing #SeeWhatsPossible initiative from Neutrogena. Everyone has a story to tell and every one of you has suffered in one way other the other. What got you out of it and on the road to recovery and bettering your circumstances was the conscious decision to fight for yourself. To #SeeWhatsPossible.
Over the months and the milestones I’ve achieved you become so focussed on not losing speed and reaching your goals that you really lose sight of what you’ve achieved. I was at a stage completely oblivious to what I’m actually getting right. I lost weight. Big deal. What I actually did was literally picked myself up off the floor, made a decision to change my life for the better and quite extraordinarily re-programmed a forty year old body to function in a completely different way, by sheer determination to #SeeWhatsPossible. Today my body is, although still not of Victoria Secret standard, healthy, optimally challenged, cared for, nurtured, loved and on the way to recovery at rapid speed. I have stopped having the dreaded headaches that used to immobilize me, I have boundless energy and someone very close to my heart recently described me as being vibrant – if they only knew what that compliment meant to me. It means what I’ve put my mind to achieving, what I’ve been working so hard for mentally and physically, all those nights of muscle soaking baths, a tired mind and body – that I’ve done it. I’ve done what I set out to do on 14 September 2015. Veni, Vidi, Vici. I really did #SeeWhatsPossible
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