Well done to everyone who took part in Move Month 2023 and congratulations to our runners-up. We look forward to seeing more fitness achievements and goals reached later this year!
After being diagnosed as insulin resistant, I realised immediately that if I did not make serious lifestyle changes, I would get diabetes. As a result my fitness journey started in October 2022, when I weighed 125 kg. I stopped eating takeaways and junk food and all food containing sugar, spices and salt. I started drinking lots of hot water and eating one healthy meal a day between 3 pm and 4 pm. I don’t use lifts but choose to use the stairs and walk at every chance I get. I realised that we feed our bodies more than we need. In March I had already lost 19 kg – and counting!
After having three back-to-back pregnancies, a heart-breaking loss and a divorce, I could not find the will to do anything, much less exercise. After giving birth in November 2018, I found myself more than 20 kg overweight. In May 2021, I decided it was time to start training again, and I have been on the most rewarding mental and physical journey since. I train 5 – 7 times a week at the gym and have taken up hiking which I do at least once a month if my children have not depleted my energy!
My overall objective is distance and endurance fitness. My goals are to prepare for a solo Namib Desert Dash (400 km 24-hour mountain bike race) and an Iron Man event in 2024.
Eight years ago I had to prioritise my mental health and decided then and there to avoid medication and focus on my wellbeing through exercise. I started running in November 2015, and completed my first half marathon in 2020. In 2021 I fell in love with Cape Town’s mountains and trails, which led to me completing the 13-Peak Challenge. After Ramadan this year, I took up the Move Month challenge and was back to moving, come rain or shine. I keep a physical record of my activities including running, strength training and trail running.
I took the Ice Plunge challenge – a RESET of body, mind, and soul.
Deciding to take the “plunge” was a really tough decision as I was filled with fear and doubt. However, an even bigger part of me wanted to face that fear and remove those limiting beliefs. I was also sold after understanding the health benefits.
My mentor’s approach to the mental preparation for the ice plunge was a big part of achieving my 3.36 minutes on the day. My experience was filled with many emotions, thoughts and sensations but thanks to my mentor, family, and friends’ support on the day, I was able to push through and stay in longer than expected. Becoming conscious in the present moment will allow you to notice yourself being anxious, leverage that energy and not be paralysed by your fearful thoughts. Concentrating on the ins and outs of your breath is a great way to raise your awareness in the now. This heightened focus gives you the ability to rise above fear and see beyond it. By having something else to concentrate on you’re taking away its power and using it against anxiety.
As you traverse into the water, your immediate reaction would be to tense up and become stiff. It’s a natural response. The body experiences a stressor and starts fighting it by causing these physiological adaptations. But to actually adapt to the freeze, you must not fight it. You have to yield to the cold. Fully accept it for what it is and really feel how the temperature is affecting you, how your muscles come to life, cells exploding, neurons firing, blood flowing. Your perception shifts because you’ve made a conscious decision of dwelling inside the cold and thus not being afraid of it. My immediate wins after the plunge, were a change in lung capacity, there was a noticeable difference as I have adult asthma – a mental shift in handling stressful situations, emotional resilience, reduced stress, increased alertness, improved circulation, muscle recovery, and improved sleep. Ice plunge has become part of my regular fitness regime with a goal to reach 15 minutes a week. 10 minutes 36 seconds is where I’m at now. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act in spite of its presence.