How I Lost 56kgs

Lerato Maluleke (33), mother of 3, struggled with her weight gain for three years until she decided to take a stand and fight. She chats to us about how she lost it all.


How old were you were you realised you were gaining weight?

I was 31. I had just given birth to my third child. I had literally ballooned; I felt so uncomfortable and hated looking at my body. I was depressed – it got to a point that I wanted to quit everything, including my studies and church. I hated myself; something had to be done.

What were your first thoughts when you saw your body was changing?

At first I didn’t really take it seriously; I thought it was a part of becoming an adult and after giving birth to three children; my body was bound to change. Our first child was stillborn, and that’s really when the depression started to set in. In a way I was comfortable with being fat but I was also very sad – I accepted it as my fate. The only way I knew how to deal with it was to eat all the time.

When and how did you decide you wanted to lose the weight?

I felt so ashamed of my body, I was emotionally depressed and felt that I couldn’t cope anymore. I started hiding from my husband; I couldn’t look to him for support because I felt like I had let myself go. I was scared that he wouldn’t find me attractive and that he would reject me because of my size.

How did you lose it?

I started to go to the gym and began to run. While at the gym, I met someone who had been attending Adventure Boot Camp classes – she looked so good and toned and she was happy! I decided to join a camp; I needed the motivation from people who found themselves in a similar position to me. My life and health just got better and better afterwards. After the first week of classes I started noticing a few exciting changes to my body, and this was all the encouragement that I needed. The support I got from our trainer and the ladies at the camp was amazing, and just the inspiration that I needed. They gave me a reason to hold on and to do more every day. My eating habits gradually started to change and now the only language I speak is one of a healthy lifestyle. As I became fitter and healthier, I was able to run further distances and now I run on average 70kms per week. I participate in Saturday races that are organised by different running clubs. My life is just getting better and better.

How important is exercising and eating healthy to you?

Very important! Exercising and healthy eating have become a way of life; there is no alternative to this lifestyle. My husband has been incredibly supportive, and it’s become a personal mission of ours to teach our kids about the power of exercising and healthy eating. The earlier you start with this lifestyle, the better – at three and six years old, they already know the difference between junk and healthy food. They understand my lifestyle and I don’t leave them behind. I sometimes take them to a race and do the 5km option with them. Not only is this a healthier way to live, but we’ve also found it to be so much more affordable. We spend so much less on groceries, so it’s more ching ching and less calories!

What were some of the challenges you faced while you were overweight and how did you overcome them?

There are so many; not being able to play with my kids, not being able to wear what I like, not being able to socialise without feeling deeply embarrassed and judged. I overcame all of this through a deep dedication to health and wellness and through the support of my family – all of whom have adopted a healthy lifestyle with me.

What are some of the challenges you faced on your quest to losing weight and how did you overcome those?

Negative people pose a huge challenge. I realised that I needed to surround myself with like-minded people who cheered and supported me all the way. That’s why I loved the Adventure Boot Camp classes – I had so much support, it really motivated me. Being stagnant and overweight frustrated and frightened me – stepping onto the scale and weighing in at 140kgs was probably one of the most depressing things that I ever had to see, but it also kicked me into action and quickly! I eventually stopped using the scale and started measuring my weight loss in centimeters; I also used my clothes to gauge my weight loss. Giving up was always an option and there were days that I was tempted to throw in the towel. On those days, I’d read health and fitness magazines, specifically the weight loss journey articles, and make sure that I did some form of exercise to remind myself how good I felt afterwards.

What advice would you give someone who has given up on themselves?

I live by this Winston Churchill quote; “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” During your weight loss journey, you will fall but you have to keep at it, you’ve got to get up and keep going, which is far better than seeing your weight get out of control – trust me, I speak from experience.