‘Banting saved me’
How did you become overweight?
My weight gain was a gradual process, which started when I left the army and entered the working world. I spent five years in London, where I had a lot of beer and carbs. I now realise that I am carbohydrate intolerant, but I didn’t know that at the time and was confused as to why I was putting on weight. At my worst I weighed 163kg. In 2010 I was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and put on medication – a very high dose of Glucophage. But even then, I didn’t take my health seriously; I took my medication infrequently and I didn’t change my lifestyle or my diet. I was ignorant about the disease; even though I had horrible symptoms – aching joints and blurred vision – I ignored them.
I’d sometimes get a bee in my bonnet about my weight. I’d see dieticians and try to lose weight, but none of the diets worked for me and I’d give them up. I needed a wake-up call. Halfway through 2012, I took my two sons on holiday to Victoria Falls for a friend’s wedding. I couldn’t fit into my economy-class seat and needed a seat-belt extender, which was embarrassing. To add to this, some family members I hadn’t seen in a while were shocked at my appearance. They carried out a group intervention in which they communicated their concern about my weight. It really hit home.
How did you lose weight?
Back in Cape Town I went straight to my GP. She did lots of tests and told me that I needed to lose weight urgently. (After I’d lost the weight, I found out that I had been six months away from a possible heart attack.) My doctor referred me to a dietician but I went online instead and researched different diets. I came across Tim Noakes, who had just started talking about LCHF eating. I found out that we become insulin resistant because of carbs and that we should only have 50g of carbs a day, or 25g if we need to lose weight urgently. It felt as though a light had been switched on. I continued reading. I phoned the Sports Science Institute of South Africa for more information. Then I devised my own eating plan based on Noakes’ diet, including what I liked to eat, but cutting out carbs and sugar. And I started seeing a personal trainer five times a week. I could barely walk on the treadmill but I was determined and I started seeing results straight away. In the first week I lost 1,8kg. After two weeks, people started noticing that I had lost weight. The first few weeks were tough and I literally dreamed about bread, but then it became easier. After seven months, I had lost 84,6kg. I went back to my GP, who couldn’t believe the transformation. She tested my blood sugar levels and my blood pressure, and told me I could throw away my diabetes medication. This was the most amazing thing for me; I no longer had diabetes, the so-called ‘incurable’ disease! It was like having a death sentence removed.
How much weight did you lose?
How did it change your life?
Banting isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle. It works because – unlike so many diets – it isn’t a punishment. Granted, you have to become an avid label-reader and always check for hidden carbs and sugar, but I still go to restaurants and braais; Banting hasn’t limited my life, it’s improved it. One of my favourite dishes is rocket and baby spinach salad, with a drizzle of olive oil. I also eat a lot of avocado and fish. I gym regularly and I no longer have limits. Noakes has become a dear friend; he is very supportive. He saved my life and I am forever in his debt. He receives a lot of criticism but I have not heard of any failures, only success stories. For me, this has been a phenomenal journey. kg's
Over what period?