{Interview} An Inspiring Weightloss Story. 41 Kilograms Down, And Still Going.

Meet Beverly. My sister in law. When I first met Bev it was when I started dating my now husband. I remember going to their house for takeaway pizzas and a ‘meet and greet’ with her and her hubby, Craig. Bev was pregnant at the time with her son Daniel, now 5. I remember leaving their house a few hours later and saying to Barry “I’m not sure we can be together, your family just does not talk to me'” I’m glad I persevered, because even though it took what felt a lifetime to get Bev – and my in-laws – to open up to me, it was worth the wait. Also, Bev is no longer pregnant, and non pregnant Bev loves wine. And Wine fuelled Bev is an absolute hoot.

In December last year we had the family come round for an early Christmas lunch, and as Bev walked through the door I said to her ‘you look fantastic!’ and she did. She hadn’t told us but she had recently started a weight loss and exercise program, and even though at that stage she had only lost a few kilograms, she was absolutely radiant. Fast forward to 10 moths later, and Bev has lost 41 kilograms, and still going strong.

41 kilograms. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Because Bev is Bev and very quiet, she hasn’t (as I would have done) made a big deal about this absolutely massive achievement. So I’m going to do that on her behalf, because I am utterly inspired by this weight loss and lifestyle journey she has embarked on, and I think her progress and results deserves a medal.

I’ll let her tell you her story in her own words below, but I wanted to tell her just how proud I am of her. Well done sis, you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your remarkable story. 

{RA}Tell me a bit about yourself

{BN} My name is Bev and I am a wife, a mom of two amazing little ones and a career woman. My two greatest loves are reading and drinking wine and if I get a moment to do both at the same time – HEAVEN! I have always been a bit on the chubby side, and at varsity I gained a lot of weight, and then came the pregnancy weight, and then came the “I feel sorry for myself” weight. It got to the point that I was unhealthy and unhappy and needed to do something about it. I am currently on the best journey of my life – I am losing weight and I am happy and I am healthy.

{RA} What was the trigger for you that made you want to lose weight

{BN} I started a new job in September 2015 in a company full of young vibrant people. I loved the environment from day 1 but I felt that I didn’t quite fit in, not because the people around me treated me differently, but because I was fat and I felt like I didn’t belong. This played on my mind for a few weeks and I was starting to become unhappy, wandering if I had made the right job choice, wandering if I shouldn’t have stayed in my previous company where it had become accepted. At no point in all these commiserations did I think “maybe I should try lose weight” until the evening of 14 November 2015 when sitting in the lounge playing with my children, Daniel looked up at me mid-way through our game and said “mommy why are you so FAT?” My heart broke, I cried all night! I was not angry with him, he didn’t understand the hurt his words would cause, I was angry with myself. For the first time in all my fat years – I was able to admit to myself that I was fat and that I wanted that to change. The next morning I gave him the biggest hug ever and thanked him  – I had made up my mind – his words were going to change my life!

{RA} Have you started a weightloss program in the past or was this your first attempt?

{BN} Weight loss program – No! Fad diet – I have tried them all,  from taking close to 20 pills a day to eating only green foods for two weeks. You name it, I have tried it. I was always looking for the quick fix and I would lose some weight (5 – 7kg) . Then I would get bored of the dry chicken breasts and green veg, fall back into old habits (Carbs! Carbs! Carbs!) and gain it back together with a couple extra kilo’s.

{RA} How was it different this time do you think? What has made you stick to it?

{BN} Those innocent words out of my sweet child’s mouth (mommy why are you so fat). It wasn’t someone judging me (which has happened so much in the past), it wasn’t someone telling me that I needed to diet or exercise, it wasn’t someone being nasty or mean. It was my sweet child asking a question, an innocent question, a question that he didn’t know would cause so much anguish, a question that made me accept that I was fat. Before that, in my heart I knew it but in my head I could justify it. In that moment, all the justifications fell away – I was fat! Admitting it to myself was what made it different, I was making a change because I wanted to not because that is what people expected me to do.

{RA} How much weight have you lost?

{BN} I have lost a total of 41kg’s so far and 5 pant sizes.

{RA} When did you start on this journey? Tell me a bit about how it all began and whats happened in the x months since you’ve been on it

{BN} The journey started the morning after Daniel asked me why I was fat. I woke my husband up in the early hours of the morning and asked him if he could play “mom” for the next 6 months. I told him that I needed to take some time to get myself sorted out and asked him if he could help a bit more with the children. Now don’t get me wrong – he did his fair share of kiddie duty and is the most amazing father, but I needed him to pick up some more so that I could get out and exercise. He agreed with no questions asked.

That morning I joined the gym. And somehow the planets were aligned that day, because that night one of my very close friends asked me if I wanted to join her out running two mornings a week. So with all the exercise happening, it was time to start the diet. I found a lady close to work who specialised in weight loss and for the next 10 weeks she guided me through the lifestyle change. I was losing weight and I was happy! December came and December went and I still lost weight (I mean who loses weight in December right). I was exercising 6 times a week and was starting to feel more human.

One Sunday afternoon in January at lunch with the family, my dad challenged me to do 70.3 Ironman in Durban on the 20th of June. Now, I can’t blame the wine for this one since I was having a booze free January but, after a chat with the husband (because this was going to mean more time away from home), I accepted, it was on. I got myself an amazing coach (who also happens to be my brother), bought myself a bicycle and all the other paraphernalia that goes along with triathlon training and started the most gruelling training program ever. I was training 9, sometimes 10 times a week – and when I wasn’t training, I was sleeping. It was exhausting! I wasn’t eating right for someone training so much and although the weight loss lady I was seeing was amazing, I needed someone who was able to get me through all the training and still help me lose weight. I found myself a sports nutritionist (a rather fierce women) who developed a nutrition plan for me, and since the beginning of March I have seen her once a week – it keeps me accountable!

Over the last few months, my entire perception of food has changed. I no longer eat because I enjoy it, I eat because I need energy to get myself through the day. I no longer crave carbs and can quite happily go through the day without thinking about eating anything I shouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong – I do cheat, but the cheat days are far fewer than the good days!

{RA} What was your starting weight and what is your goal weight? 

{BN} This one is hard for me to admit! Starting weight was 118kg – goal weight is 64kg.

{RA} What has been the hardest part of the journey?

{BN} Since I had my little boy in 2011, I devoted every minute I wasn’t working to spending time with him and then with him and his sister. My life was my children. When I started this journey I had to be selfish with my time, getting up early in the mornings and leaving the house before they even woke up, getting home late 2 evenings a week when they were already in bed and handing them over to my mom weekend in and weekend out when I went cycling and running. It was hard – at times I felt like “the worst mom in the world”.

In saying that though, I learnt that quality time with my children was far more important than quantity. As the months went on, I was able to play and run around with them and that was far more important to them than me just being there all the time.

{RA} Whats been the best part of your journey?

{BN} The confidence that comes along with losing the weight. I am not the same person I was 9 and a half months ago and I love the new me. Although there is still a way to go before I will be happy with my body.

{RA} Do you think its possible for someone to do this on their own, or would you suggest going through a professional?

{BN} If there is one thing I have learnt through this journey, it’s that nothing is impossible. So yes it is possible to do it on your own. Would I suggest that you go at it alone – no! The support I have received from my nutritionist has been wonderful. There are times where she has pushed me to breaking point and times where she has told me to go eat a donut. She has encouraged me every step of the way and she has kept me accountable.

{RA} What do you make of weightloss clinics who give injections and pills? Would you consider it?

{BN} Weight loss is a lifestyle change. There is no quick fix. If you want to lose weight you need to do it through blood, sweat and tears. Would I consider going to a weight loss clinic who gives you pills for 6 weeks, you lose 6kgs and then go on your merry way – no! Would I consider pills prescribed by a professional in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and lots of exercise  – definitely. I am currently taking pills to stabilise my bloods, and this together with the eating plan and lots of exercise is a win for me.

{RA} What exercise/training have you been doing in conjunction with your eating plan?

Once I had accepted the challenge of 70.3 Ironman Durban, I started training 9 to 10 times a week – swimming, running and cycling. I was going to do it – or die trying! With the guidance of my coach – I did it, I finished and I loved it. In the run up to 70.3, I learnt to ride a bicycle, did my first sprint distance triathlon and my first half marathon. Since then I have done an olympic distance triathlon and I am now training for my first marathon in November. I have cut back on the training a bit and am now training 6 to 7 times a week, which is much more manageable over the long term and I have a little bit of extra time with my children.

{RA} Take me through an average meal

{BN} An average meal consists of 1 portion of protein (200g fish or chicken / 4 egg whites) and two soup spoons of salad / vegetables. Sounds like a normal diet right – accept I am allowed to use salt and sauces! This makes the world of difference.

(Kate side note: I’m on the same eating plan. Im so hangry I could die. i have no idea how she does it)

{RA} Don’t you miss pizza? I would always miss pizza. 

{BN} Oh my word – YES! Pizza is probably the one thing that I really do miss, all that melted cheese.

{RA} How do you juggle it all what with being a mom of 2, a wife and a career women

{BN} Wine :)! Seriously though – with the never ending support from my husband. My husband has been my biggest supporter though out this entire journey and has helped me with everything, from packing my gym bags the night before an early morning swim / gym session, to scrambling my egg whites at 5am in the morning before I head off to gym. He took over a lot of the household chores so that when I was home, I was able to spend that quality time with the children. Without him being the GREAT man that he is – I would never have been able to juggle it all.

{RA} Have you encountered any negativity on your journey?

{BN} No, everyone around me has supported me every step of the way, from my family to my colleagues at work, everyone has encouraged me and cheered for me!

{RA} If I were you I would have been shouting my achievements from the rooftops, and telling anyone who met me about how well I had done. You are really modest and haven’t really made a big deal about it – why is that?

{BN} I let my appearance do the talking. Everyone I have seen since has seen the difference, I never felt like I needed to shout it out. I love to share my story with anyone who is willing to listen – but at the same time I am conscious that some people don’t want to hear all the gory details.

{RA} What are some of the best compliments/comments you’ve received?

{BN} Nothing beats hearing your dad say “I’m proud of you”. That is definitely something I am going to carry close to my heart for a very long time. And a bunch of my colleagues no longer refer to me by name, but refer to me as Slender.

{RA} How do you ‘reward’ yourself? Is it a cheat meal, clothes, holiday etc?

{BN} I haven’t yet! I avoid rewarding myself with food – since food is what made me fat in the first place. I have had to purchase myself new clothes a few times already (I can fit both my legs into one leg in my fat jeans), but I haven’t yet splurged on clothes I love. Once I reach goal weight – I am definitely going to reward myself with a shopping spree.

{RA} Speaking of, what is your favourite cheat food?

{BN} Pizza of course

{RA} Whats been the best ‘surprise’ for you on this journey – i.e buying smaller clothes, feeling healthier, feeling happier etc?

{BN} The confidence.

{RA} Has your husband become more healthy in the process – do you think your new good habits have rubbed off on him and the kids?

{BN} The kids and husband still do eat normal everyday family meals like spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese, but there are a lot more vegetables on everyone’s plates and there is very little junk food in the house.

{RA} How do you cope on weekends or at parties? That’s when most people tend to fall off the wagon. Do you pack Tupperware’s of celery sticks and much on those instead of the chip and dip?

{BN} My nutritionist told me at my very first appointment that if I go to a dinner party and the host serves lasagne, I should eat it. Life happens! I do however try to have a snack before I go anywhere so that I am not hungry and won’t pick at the chip and dip and I do try to eat only protein and veg when out and about, but when the lasagne lands on the plate I eat it and I enjoy it. Then I make sure that I jump straight back onto the wagon.

So many nutritionists and dieticians say it’s not about the number on the scale (to throw the scale away!) that muscle weighs more than fat, blah blah blah. Do you feel the same? Is body fat and muscle mass more important to you than actual numbers on a scale?

For me, at first the actual weight loss was important and I would weigh myself weekly. But once I started seeing the changes and having to buy smaller clothes, the weight itself became less important. I am determined to get to goal weight, but more importantly for me, I am determined to get into a size 10. And if the two can happen at the same time – that would be great!

{RA} What sort of advice would you give to someone looking to start on a weightloss journey?

{BN} Do it for yourself! Take some time and be selfish with it, make it about yourself and make sure that you have someone strong to support you.

{RA} Lastly, when this is all up and you have hit your goal. Whats next in line for you?

{BN} To be honest, I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I guess I will find another crazy event to take part in because exercise has become a big part of my life.

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Bev and Craig back in the day

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Bev, just after the birth of their daughter, Emma

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Bev and Craig on their wedding day

 

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The beginning of the journey… One of Bevs first training rides for Iron Man 70.3
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The day before Durban Half Iron Man… Bev had already gone through a few wetsuits before this as they were all too bog for her!
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Bev and Emma, July 2016

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A picture speaks a thousand words

 

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Why I’m Left Feeling Bitterly Disappointed By Half Iron Man.

Three years ago I took part in, and completed my first ever Half Iron Man in East London. Upon crossing the finish line I burst into tears. I was elated, so proud and felt like I had achieved the impossible. (Turns out, it’s the 2nd hardest course in the world, so my feelings were justified I suppose). Fast-forward to 19 June 2016 when I crossed the finish line in Durban, and all I felt was a heavy heart and bitter disappointment.

It’s been a few days since finishing the race, and I’ve been trying to understand why I feel so ‘let down’ about the entire experience.

The weeks and month leading up to the race were not kind, and as mentioned here, the odds just seemed to be against me. When I did the race for the first time three years ago, I had a lot more time to train, people to train with and it was I Summer, which meant Winter with its debilitating cold, dark and sickness wasn’t an issue. Back to back bronchitis, chronic anemia, no sleep, shin splints, planning a first birthday party, a resignation from work and massive stress in my life left me feeling seriously fragile for most of my training.

We arrived in Durban on Thursday – to give us enough time to register, chill with the friends whose house we were staying at, and acclimatise for the race. The big rule before any event like this is easy; REST UP. Unfortunately, the Monday before, Carter had started with some severe gastro that was so bad we did what we have never done before and actually panicked enough to take him to the hospital. There, they declared a viral gastro infection and asked us to ‘wait it out’. On the Saturday before the race (having waited it out for 7 days) he was only getting worse; there was blood in his stools, he wasn’t sleeping, had a raging fever, was as miserable as sin and we were exhausted. We took him to the hospital in Durban and within twenty minutes he was admitted for dehydration and on a drip. Emotional doesn’t even begin to cut it, I was devastated for two reasons – one for my poor sick baby in hospital, with a now bacterial dysentery (the guilt!) and two, for the race in less than 15 hours time – which Barry and I had both trained so long and hard for, sacrificed family time for and had been planning for, for the better part of half a year. Barry insisted I still race – knowing that after this 70.3 I was probably going to give up triathlon for a bit and focus on finding some balance in my life. With a heavy heart I left the hospital to go and pack my transition bags and rack my bike. If it wasn’t for my friend Eryn who we were staying with – who had just completed the Full Iron Man – I probably would have given up there and then. Thankfully she got my mind right(ish), helped me pack my bags, nutrition and bike and helped me get to the race to set up. She also took me down to the race the next morning at 5 am and stood on the cooking hot pavements, with her hubby and son, and supported me the entire day.

On the same Saturday that Carter was admitted – before we took him to the hospital – we had the pre-race training swim. Normally the pre-swim is a free for all where athletes get to play in the water, get a feel for the waves, the current and the ocean. This year the ocean was not playing ball, and the race organisers seemed uneasy. They made it a swim where you had to queue up and head off 10 at a time, with the organisers checking people in and out using our timing chips. Alarm bells were ringing in my head, and as the queue got longer and longer and more and more swimmers were coming you the water looking less than happy, I was in full blown panic mode. After about an hour and a half of waiting to go in, they abruptly cancelled the pre-swim. The water was just too dangerous. My heart sunk a bit further into my chest. The swim was my Achilles heel and mentally I had been preparing myself for this single discipline the entire time. Distracted by a very unwell baby though, we left and took him to the hospital, as above.

After a last visit to see my baby and Barry in the paed ward, I went home to Eryn and Greg and slept surprisingly well (could be the red wine or Xanax..or both). Up to this pint I had also picked up a tiny bit of Carter’s gastro, which meant an upset tummy and zero appetite – also not great before a race).

Race morning arrived and I was up at 4 am. For those who take part or spectate in triathlons, you understand its not as simple as arriving and running in to the water. It’s a mammoth task of logistics, planning and time. Even though your bike and two transition bags are packed and racked the day before, you still have to get down to transition the morning of the race to pump tyres, stock nutrition and triple check you have everything you need in the relevant bag. I did this all and left the transition area to find Eryn. It was dark and fresh and a beautiful morning. My tummy was feeling better, Carter seemed to be on the mend, and I suddenly had a bit more optimism about the race. Then the race organisers made the announcement: The swim had just been cancelled.

3000 athletes went in to panic mode. This was the first time in 20 years that the swim had been cancelled – which meant that the ocean really wasn’t in a good mood. Many people were angry and quick to judge. I was gutted. The biggest challenge for me, and one that I finally felt ready for had been pulled form under me. Which meant we technically weren’t doing a triathlon – we were doing a duathlon. I, along with 2999 other athletes felt cheated.

The race, instead of a well oiled slick machine now turned into disorganised chaos. The pro athletes (only about 16 in total) still had to do the swim, and the rest of us plebs would start on the bike once they were done. We walked down to the swim, my mind now completely unraveled and watched them start. ‘The waves aren’t that high’ I thought to myself as I looked down. Then the gun went and the pros went off and the only thing I can liken it to was confetti being tossed into a gale force wind. Swimmers were everywhere. Some immediately got pushed several hundred meters to the left, others got pushed to shore and some just could not get past the surf. Two ladies had to be rescued and many of them (remember, all pro athletes) said they thought they were going to die. To give more context – take a look here.

It was while watching the pro swim that I realised the organisers had definitely made the right call. I can guarantee that several people would have lost their life that day should the swim not have been cancelled. However, that still didn’t stop the thoughts banging in my head. People just aren’t going to respect us now. People will say it wasn’t a real race.

Now, this is where I think I started feeling like a loser, and why the race has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The bike start – instead of happening as people came out of the water – ie a staggered approach – but still relatively in line with your age groupers happened with all 3000 athletes at the same time, but actually not at the same time at all. Which meant a 2 hour queue as they let people off, five at a time every 15 seconds. I happened to be one of the very last in the queue, which meant that by the time I eventually started my bike, other athletes had already been out there for almost 2 hours. That does a lot for ones psyche, and even though your time only officially started once you had got on your bike and started cycling, mentally it felt like you were already behind. As an example, if athlete A started at the front of the queue and cycled a 4 hour race, and athlete B started at the back of the queue and cycled a 3 hour race, athlete A would still finish the bike first and start the run while athlete B was still riding. This is what happened to me, and even though I feel I had an OK’ish bike time (for me anyways!) I came off the bike and started the run when pretty much everyone had already started. Because of my late start, and the mentality of the organisers and volunteer staff being that of a normal race (ie cutoff times after swim and bike), by the time I turned around at the 40 km mark, people had already started packing up cones and aid stations and cars were flying past me on the freeways. Not cool. That, coupled with a really bad stitch in my shoulders made me a glum chap.

I got off my bike in transition and looked around in dismay – it seemed as if 90% of the bikes had been racked – which made perfect sense when you thought about it logically, but totally threw me, because even though I was well within my cutoff time, it felt like I was coming stone last. I started the run when most people were on their second lap, and so by the time I started my second lap, I had marshals rushing me along – again forgetting that I was making decent time and that time on the clock wasn’t an indicator of athlete performance. “I started 2 hours after everyone else!” I wanted to scream.

The run was shitty, and I will never again underestimate a ‘quick 21km’ again. Because it was completely flat I assumed it would be the best and easiest part of the day. It wasn’t. Flat means no hard uphill, but it also means no lovely downhill to relieve your legs. It was also 1 pm by the time I started, and 36 degrees.

I just felt the spectators at that point were disinterested, and I felt lonely for most of the run. Even my parents, who had come all the way to see me race, looked bored. I think it had been a long day of waiting, and due to the slow start, there wasn’t much excitement in terms of masses of athletes all competing at the same time. I could see them thinking ‘really, is this it?’

About 8 kms in I started running with a girl Siobhan who I met along the route and who mentally helped me a lot. I left her after a few kms as I was feeling a bit stronger, and she needed to walk a bit more. (I hope she somehow stumbles across this blog and makes contact – I never caught her last name, but we did commit to having lunch in Joburg together to celebrate not dying). The last 10 kms were much better than the first, and I kept a very slow but steady pace (race day goal was a 6:45 and I was managing between 7:30 and 8. I was hurting and the tummy cramps of the previous few days had flared up.).

On those last 10 kms, again due to the lateness of the day and mentality of how it’s usually done, a lot of the aid stations had closed up, sponges and water had run out and the promenade had been opened properly to the public. I ran into 2 people, was hit by a wayward soccer ball and had to dodge more than one child running in and out the crowds. By then I was close to despair and started going in to a very dark place.

Eventually, I finished, in my slowest 21 km time ever of 2:44. I crossed the finish line happy, grabbed my medal and T-shirt and made my way back to the supporters area. It was completely empty. That kind of (un)welcome does a lot for this already battered ego, and I felt so sad and despondent.

The positive to the race was that my baby boy was discharged that afternoon so he and hubby at-least got to see me on the route, which was a beautiful sight when you are empty and broken inside.

Sadly, I don’t feel as if the organisers handled the delayed start well, and I’m bitterly disappointed by how I was made to feel like a B grade athlete out there – at no fault of my own. I think the organisers had been prepped for a 7:30 am start and a cutoff by 15:30 – so when the plans changed and the time got pushed out, they weren’t aware that it was OK and athletes competing were not a bunch of losers. I also definitely know that having had the swim portion cut out – which actually made the race harder for some reason, has made me feel like a 2/3 Iron Man.

Does that mean I have unfinished business, and will be coming back next year to see it through? Probably not. I’m feeling a massive sense of relief that this race is over, and that I can focus on some other aspects of my life right now. Nothing that looks or sounds like a swim, bike or run… although, that’s what I said straight after my very first Half Iron man in 2013…

CJ was less than thrilled as well
CJ was less than thrilled as well

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I took this photo when the pros went out on their swim. You can see the lifeguards rushing in to assist a swimmer

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Carter in hospital with bacterial dysentry
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Race registration with Eryn
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Finishing in a time of 6:26
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On the Friday we did a team swim. The water was harsh but not unmanageable.
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Half Iron Man 70.3 (and the uneven, pothole infested road that’s got me there).

*Disclaimer. You’re about to get knee deep into the biggest pity-party this side of 2016. Sorry.

In 13 days’ time I will be standing at the start line of 70.3 Durban, and hopefully finishing less than 8.5 hours later, with a second Half Iron Man medal under my belt.

I’m dreading it. I feel like the odds have been stacked against me from the very start of this race.

Firstly, the race is on 19 June, slap bang in the middle of Winter. Which means training has been happening leading up to, and in Winter – dark mornings, dark nights, freezing weather and less than ideal circumstances. Have you ever been swimming at 5:30 am on a Monday in -2 cold degree, in the dark? It’s super kuk.

When I last did the race I was kid and fancy free. I could train twice a day, and train with my now-husband and some friends. Now that we have a son we have to split our time – so one of us will do the morning run while the other trains, and visa versa in the evening. That means apart from a very lonely 5 months of exercising alone, I also never see my husband, and get to tuck my child in bed 50% of the time. We are like 3 ships in the night.

I’ve also had the worst year, health wise. I was recently diagnosed with severe anemia, which is a relief, because I genuinely thought I had caught a bad case of the stupid. I’ve given and received bronchitis several times and had more throat infections than Zumas has wives. I’ve pretty much trained through antibiotics, iron drips and the plague.

And then the broken sleep, and sick baby, and teething baby and baby in general. Holy hell. My one-year-old gives zero shits that mommy needs to be up at 5 for a spinning class, and then a full day of work afterwards. And it’s fine, because I have dragged this kid through the trenches with me. We wake him up at godforsaken hours on the weekend, bundle him in layers of clothing and trek him from race to race. He has been a champ, and I think when he gets fed up of having to attend one more training session or Club V class he decides to grow 18 molars in the space of a day. Just for payback.

So I’m really tired, and exhausted, and so looking forward to this day being done. I’m also really scared that I don’t finish in time because despite it all I’ve given it 100% and tried my absolute best from day 1. I’m so worried of what people will think or say if I fail – how silly am I?

Also, have I told you that despite training 7 days a week for the past 4 months I HAVENT EVEN LOST ONE KILOGRAM? Anyway.

My husband slash coach asked me yesterday what my next goal is after the race is done. My answer? Chill the fuck out. (Until the next family gathering when after one too many glasses of wine I agree to another race, like Comrades or something equally stupid).

Freezing morning rides
Freezing morning rides
Solo Wattbike classes
Solo Wattbike classes

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Early dark morning at Germiston Tri
Early dark morning at Germiston Tri

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Finishing Germiston Tri
Finishing Germiston Tri
Supporting mom at her race
Supporting mom at her race
Does an iron drip qualify me as an Iron Man?
Does an iron drip qualify me as an Iron Man?
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Parenting: A joyful chore

Several weeks ago we went away on a weekend with friends, to watch a few of our mates (my husband included) take part in a triathlon. Amy, her hubby Chett and their 10 month old baby Ben, came along. Amy and I have been friends for more than 17 years and weekends away with the 4 of us are nothing new. Until they became weekends away with the 5 of us. That’s when everything changed. 

This particular weekend was hard. Ben had started teething, and crawling, and being a bit of a homebody felt horribly antsy at being in a strange environment, in a strange cot and with a strange new routine. Over and above that, traipsing a 10 month old around a triathlon course in 30 degree heat, would bring even the strongest of people to tears. 

To make matters worse, Ben wasn’t sleeping, which meant that neither mom nor dad were sleeping, and to say the least, tempers were frayed and nerves were shot. I remember, post race, and after about 23 minutes sleep between the 3 of them, Chett, while trying to rock Ben to sleep, looked up at me with vacant eyes and muttered ‘Don’t EVER have kids”.*

Like a moth in a windstorm, I was frazzled. Hubby and I had been taking about starting a family and now here we were, getting told by some of our closest friends that it was the biggest mistake we could make. I was ready to quit any idea of motherhood right there and then, and resign myself to being childless forever.

But – guess what – a few weeks later Ben had stopped teething and had turned back into the adorable kid he was. Amy on the other hand, fearing she had scarred me (and closed my uterus for life) kindly offered to write a guest post on motherhood, explaining why it was the hardest yet most rewarding thing one human can ever do.

Take a read – let us know your thoughts – and then congratulate every parent you speak to from here on out. Because they deserve it. 

Parenting: A Joyful Chore

This morning I woke up to my ten month old son crawling to the side of my bed, lifting himself up, and kissing me on my cheek. It was one of those moments that makes you wonder how you could have earned such love. Of course, it only takes a few seconds until you come to your senses and remind yourself that you’ve worked damn hard for this love. Damn. Hard.*

A few months back, we went through a particularly difficult patch. Ben had undiagnosed allergies and wasn’t sleeping much. He was also prone to bouts of tonsillitis and ear infections (because of the allergies) so nights with less than two hours of sleep were a regular occurrence. My husband and I couldn’t agree on anything. We walked around in a daze thinking ‘What have we done?’ and ‘Why do so many people choose to have kids?’. In an effort to feel that we weren’t alone and out of genuine curiosity, I started on a research journey to answer our ‘why?’ questions.

My initial findings weren’t encouraging. Research is pretty clear: Parents are less happy than non-parents. Children are more likely than money, sex, work, pretty much anything, to cause arguments in marital relationships.

For mothers, the news is even worse. The wage gap between working moms and equally qualified childless women is bigger than the gap between men and women.

So yes, parenting is hard. It makes our days less happy, our marriages harder, and our salaries lower. Why then, do we choose to have children?

One

Have you ever considered that holidays are less enjoyable while they’re happening than they are when you look at the photographs? Picture your last holiday and try to put yourself in the moment, say walking through a market in Thailand. It’s hot, you’re sweating, traders are haggling you to buy things, your partner is on his own mission. In the moment, you’re uncomfortable and irritable. But if you look at a photograph now of you standing in the midst of fake Polo shirts and incense holders, you’d feel very differently.

Parenthood is like that. The day-to-day business of feeding, clothing, and entertaining children is tedious and frustrating but when you look back, it’s the greatest adventure of all time. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense because it means you’re likely to have more than one child despite having first-hand experience of how tough it is.

Two

Did you know that we don’t care for our children because we love them? We love them because we care for them. At least, that’s what some studies say. The more we sacrifice for something, the more we love that thing. If you think about this in context of some of the projects you’ve taken on, your garden for example, it makes sense right?

Parenting isn’t rewarding in spite of some hard times. The tough stuff of parenting is exactly what leads to the good stuff.

Three

My Ben, as you know, had a traumatic arrival. I didn’t get that precious moment when mom holds baby for the first time and dad leans in lovingly. So many moms describe that moment as a lightning bolt realisation that *this* is everything and that your heart will never be whole again. I did get the lightning bolt a day or so after birth when I went up to the ICU to see my tube-covered, fighting-for-life baby and the nurse commented on how his heart rate calmed as soon as he heard my voice. I realised then that our connection was deeper than emotional or practical, it’s biological. That’s an amazing thing to know.

Psychiatrist and researcher George Valliant is an authority on adult development who followed the lives of 268 men for 75 years. His research was able to track many of the things that most sociology research can’t quantify and he’s quoted as saying that “Joy is connection,” and that connection is the strongest predictor of life satisfaction there is.

So if the ‘fathomless connection’ that parenting brings is mixed up in sleepless nights, arguments with your spouse, despairing over a baby that won’t eat textured foods, then I’ll take it.

* I don’t leave Ben to crawl around the house when I sleep. My husband had fetched him from his cot and was watching him play on our bedroom floor.

Amy and Ben
Amy and Ben
Ben - Proud Triathlon Supporter
Ben – Proud Triathlon Supporter

About Amy

One times 10km race runner (you may remember this post), perfectionist, empathetic and revoltingly fitted back into her size 8 jeans just minutes after Ben was born 

About Ben

Weeks away from his first birthday, Ben’s favourite activities include playing in the garden, crawling around the house, drooling… and occasionally keeping his mom and dad up at night. 

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One, Two, Tri-Rock

After finishing the Half Iron Man in January last year, swore I would never do another triathlon, let alone a Half Iron Man distance.

“2014 will be about making babies and buying homes” I’d exclaimed.

Well, the jokes on me, because I’ve agreed to do another one in October this year. OCTOBER people. I’m the fattest and most unfit I’ve ever been (swear, I nearly lost my breath walking up the office stairs this morning) so this is going to be a challenge. Thank goodness I’ve roped in my friend Shannon who is up for anything, so I will have a training partner. There are also a few friends who are doing it as well, so its going to be vibey and enjoyable (I hope).

Tri Rock takes place in Durban on 10 October. 

Is anyone else taking part? 

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My April Must Haves

It’s that time of the month again where I count down my top 10 must-have items for the month:

1. Labello Lip Butter

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It’s creamy, it’s pink it smells angelic and it works. ‘Nuff said.

2. Home decor.

Obsessed doesn’t even cut it. I spent my last ronds on this rug today which leaves me with R7 to get through the month. Worth it? Totally.

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3. Antiques and quirky collectibles

We have been helping my almost 90 year old Oma move out of her home, and with that comes a treasure trove like you cannot believe. I’m lucky enough to have been given some gorgeous items, including (my favourite) being this chair. It’s currently resting under a window in my entrance hall. I’m not sure if I should recover it though – your thoughts?

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4. Up-cycling

Keeping in mind that I have a mere R7 left to my name, I’m becoming quite thrifty and learning to use old things in a new way. My friend Amy gave me some gorgeous leftover fabric and I convinced my mom to sew new slipcovers for these revolting old orange ottomans I had lying around. The result? Gorgeous! (Clearly Bella’s also a fan – shown here inspecting the before and after)Image

5. Triathlon training.

Yes, I’ve entered another one. Its happening in Durbs, and because of that my training needs to step up a notch (by stepping up I mean removing myself off the couch ad doing some bloody exercise. I find that new workout gear always gets me motivated – and I’m loving the selection of fun sports bras and tops from Cotton On.

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6. My TV

Sies – bad habit I know but in my defense we didn’t have one for a month and I Nearly Died. It’s good to have you back, TV actor friends.

7. Living Seeds

I’m a huge fan of planing herb and gardens and up until now have used this formula:

Buy Seeds

Buy Potting Soil

Plant Seeds

Hope for the best.

Thankfully, help has come along in the form of Living Seeds – a local website dedicated to all things that grow. The site tells you what is grown best, when, planting tips and you can also buy online. I’m currently growing garlic, garlic chives, beetroot, onions, lettuce, kale and cauliflower.

8. My Dogs

I flipping love these frogs! Rupert and Bella are just fabulous. They eat my furniture, dig holes, at times cannot wipe their own bums, are awful watch dogs and can fart bad enough to empty a room, but I love them. Here they are in all sorts of glorious pictures.

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9. My Stove

Nerd alert right. I don’t care. She’s silver, and shiny and cooks with gas and I.Love.Her

(If anyone feels like tossing some ideas for a splash-back for the wall as well, that would be super)

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10. Woolworths cappuccinos

It’s been a tough call, deciding between Seattle and Woolies in the competition of ‘who makes the most delicious cappuccino’. However, Woolworths wins by a fraction. (I think its the kraft paper coloured cups and the extra creamy froth that did it for me)

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Iron Man 70.3

22 days into 2013 and I have yet to upload a blog post. So much for new years resolutions! I do however think that this post will make up for my absence, well, for me at least 🙂

I’m sure by now you are all aware that I have been training for the past several months for the Iron Man 70.3 which was held this past weekend in the thriving metropolis (I jest) of East London.

To avoid any further suspense, I will tell you now that I finished the race (7 hours 35 minutes) and that I could not be happier or prouder of my achievement. Boastful perhaps, but when I think back on the past 8 months and the early mornings, late nights, tequila sacrifices and lack of lie-ins, I think Im allowed some bragging rights 🙂

And so begins the longest blog post in the history of blogging. Sorreee.

The closest I’ve ever come to an Iron Man is watching my fiance tacking a wrinkled work shirt on a Monday morning (yes, I’m a modern day women – I let him do the ironing) so I was blown away by the entire event, from start to finish. The amount of organisation, man power and effort that goes into the event is insane, and I now know why they charge so much money for the entry.

This event has cost me a small fortune, so when we saw the price of plane tickets to East London (R18 000 return, cough splutter!) we decided to drive down. We left at midnight on Friday and drove through the night, arriving (exhausted) at 10am to blue skies and a buzzing environment. Our hotel, like something out of the 1970’s, was to be our home for the next 3 days and we put up with horse sized cockroaches, broken aircons and foreign hair in the shower.

We spent the day on Friday registering, attending the expo and briefing session and then hitting an early dinner with the crew. I felt like such a noob, and honestly felt like I had neon red ‘VIRGIN’ lettering stamped across my forehead. It was much to my relief then, when I found out that 53% of the athletes were 70.3 virgins. That meant 2000+ doing this race for the very first time.

FYI – 70.3 stands for a total of 70.3 miles which is the distance of the race – I’ve had a lot of people asking.

Registration
Registration
All the items needed for race day
All the items needed for race day
Friday night race briefing
Friday night race briefing
Friday night carbo loading session
Friday night carbo loading session
Friday night carbo loading session
Friday night carbo loading session

On Saturday morning I woke up man down with a migraine. I was devastated to miss the training swim in the sea but had no choice but to take a small country’s worth of meds and try sleep. The crew went on without me and I managed to get one in a few hours later. I must stress that the sea swim was my nemesis, so getting a practice one in was imperative. Thank god for modern day medicine!

Shaun, Eryn, Xavier, Nick and Dax heading off for their training swim.
Shaun, Eryn, Nick, Dax and Xavier heading off for their training swim.
Spot the noob - putting my wetsuit on backwards
Spot the noob – putting my wetsuit on backwards
Heading into the training swim with Dax
Heading into the training swim with Dax

Feeling much better after the swim we headed off on a short ride to test the bikes and make sure everything was in working order.

Training ride
Training ride
Ride with Dax - he began to feel like my training husband!
Ride with Dax – he began to feel like my training husband!

Saturday afternoon consisted of racking bikes and sorting out our bags in the transition area.

Transition area - Before
Transition area – Before
Transition area - After
Transition area – After

Considering my tendency for nervous insomnia, I passed out on Saturday night and woke up fresh, excited and terrified at 4 am on Sunday. Race day. I think the photos speak for themselves, and I was contemplating not posting some – especially the post-race red face teary ones and mid run sweaty and cellulitey ones – but what the hell. I just did Half Iron Man, Who cares how shit I look, right? (Disclaimer, I did ask coach Barry if there would be time to apply foundation before the finish line and nearly got a smack)

This is what terrified looks like
This is what terrified looks like
Then the tears came
Then the tears came
TP Eryn giving a supportive hug
TP Eryn giving a supportive hug
All smiles
All smiles
Tash - what a supporter!!
Tash – what a supporter (and hairstylist!)
Getting ready
Getting ready

 

The race was staggered in age groups, and the boys left us to go start their swims

The guys are in there, somewhere
The guys are in there, somewhere

 

The ladies age group and 55+ men getting ready for the swim
The ladies age group and 55+ men getting ready for the swim (Im in there somewhere too)

The swim (1.9km) was my biggest fear and I have a dismal track record for not crying during an open water excursion. My game plan? Keep calm and walk in last. In the below picture I am the third last person from the back, taking my sweet old merry time. It helped a lot, and even though the water was as unstable as Brittneys music career, I made it out (unscathed apart from a wave/person induced black eyed) in 45 minutes. Yay me.

Where's Wally
Where’s Wally

I was NOT going to show this pic – but in the spirit of baring all and having mentioned the black eye – this is what I looked like post swim. (I also look like this first thing in the morning. I must have a great personality)

Sea Broken
Sea Broken
Leaving transition for the ride
Leaving transition for the ride

The ride was tough! I pushed hard to do it in the allocated time limit, and eventually finished the 90kms in 4 hours and 10 minutes. Broken, but excited to get my bum off the seat and start the run. I also wasted 7 minutes in transition looking for my lost chip (apologies to everyone who was SMS tracking me – I know I went AWOL for those 4 hours!)

Starting the 21km run
Starting the 21km run
Somewhere along the run route
Somewhere along the run route
Nick looking strong during his run
Nick looking strong during his run
Xav looking good during his run
Xav looking good during his run
The Marot brothers crossed the finish line together
The Marot brothers crossed the finish line together
Eryn on the run
Eryn on the run

 

Dax on the run
Dax on the run
Finally, the finish!
Finally, the finish!
Tastes like victory!
Tastes like victory!

Finishing was such a surreal experience  and I actually did a dance up the red carpet, and subsequently burst into tears at the finish line. It was also then that I heard about the tragic deaths of two of the swimmers in the mens category. The news put a massive dampener on the day and I am still in shock that it happened  I never knew them, but the news hit me, and everyone there, hard. I’m sure I echo the sentiments of all the athletes and supporters when I extend my deepest condolences to their friends and families. The official press release can be found here.

I also wanted to use this platform to say a huge congratulations to each and every person who took part, finisher or not, as well as the supporters along the rote. To the ‘other Kate’ who kept me going on a tough hill on the bike route, to Tim who walked with me up Bunkers hill, to Shaun for his words of support just before the swim and to my friends (old and new) who did the race for the first time – Eryn, Xavier, Nick Dax and Pete as well as the support crew – Louise, Darryl, Tash and Meggyn. You are all flipping amazing and I couldn’t not have asked to be surrounded by better people this weekend. To Dean the mean pasta machine, and Shaun, congrats on yet another 70.3 notch in the belt. To all my friends and family for bugging the hell out of Barry on the day (it shows you care :)), for the messages, calls Facebooks and Tweets – it got me through the hills and wind and Bunkers Hill! Lastly – to my number 1 supporter on the day, as well as ‘Coach’ the man who got us through this entire thing. Thank you for the training programs, the Whatsapp groups, the organising of the numerous runs, rides and swims and for keeping me sane leading up to this race (even though i know there were times he wanted to kill me). Barry – my love – thank you! I can’t wait to be your biggest supporter for Iron Man next year March.

"Coach"
“Coach”

Well done team! We deserved the tequila that followed!

Tequila!
Tequila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The top 12, of 2012, on 12.12.12

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock – today is 12/12/12 and the next time we have such a matchy-matchy date we will all be dead.

This date also means we are 12 days away from Christmas and 19 days away from 2013. So, I thought this was as good a time as any to recap on the year that was, and summarise 12 big things (some good, some bad) that happened in my year.

1) I ran and finished my first Two Oceans Half marathon

2) Two of my best friends got married

3) My blog made a profit! (Yay)

4) My brother got engaged

5) I got engaged

6) We lost a vibrant friend

7) I took part in, and finished, my first 94.7 cycle challenge

8) I took part in, and finished my first Triathlon

9) We got Bella AKA ‘Pig’ our second addition to the furmily. (Who subsequently got bitten by a puffadder, put us through weeks of stress and sadness and has pulled through like a champ!)

10) I lost a dear, kind, wonderful Uncle

11) My Fiance ran and completed his first Comrades (in under 9 hours let me tell you!)

12) I made some fabulous new friends, and removed some not so fabulous ones from my life

What were the highlights, and lowlights of your 2012?

Welcoming Bella!
Welcoming Bella!
Amy's Wedding Day
Amy’s Wedding Day
Lauren Packett
Lauren Packett
Brother and Future Sister-In-Law
Brother and Future Sister-In-Law
The crazy, wonderful people in my life
The crazy, wonderful people in my life
Two Oceans Marathon
Two Oceans Marathon
Bella in Hospital with a snake bite
Bella in Hospital with a snake bite
Barry @ Comrades Marathon
Barry @ Comrades Marathon

 

 

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What would you do , if you weren’t afraid?

What would you be capable of doing, if you didn’t have fear? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for several months now, and the answer is ‘much more’. I’m not sure if this fear I am feeling has something to do with growing up, nearing my thirties and generally becoming more aware about the futility of life? When last did you see a young child not jump in the water, for fear of the cold or harm? Not often I’m sure. Post swim, said child will be all blue lip smiles and chattering teeth. Why then, as adults are we so terrified to do what brought us so much joy only a few years earlier?

Lately I have been even more bothered by this question, as I’ve experienced something so utterly terrifying, I’m actually embarrassed. As you may know I started training for the Half Iron Man event in January next year – an intense race broken up into a 1.9km sea swim, 90k cycle and a 21 km run. Who would have thought that I’m considering quitting the training and selling my entry because of the swim?

I jokingly recounted my first open water swim a few weeks back, and even mentioned how I was going to do another swim (part of a triathlon) the next weekend to ‘get over my fear’. I may as well have stated I was just going to ‘hike to the moon’. That swim proved to be one of the toughest and draining experiences of my life. To find yourself suspended in 13 degree dam water, surrounded by hundreds of swimmers, 200 m from land, whilst having an panic/asthma attack, sobbing and needing to throw up was a horrendous experience I wish never to repeat. Even after the lifeguards had come to take me to shore, I still refused. Some (still sane part of me) refused to quit. ‘Harden up Kearney’ I told myself, more than once, as I repeated the above process for 3/4 of a kilometer until I managed to get to dry land. (I can honestly thank my very patient boyfriend for not leaving my side the entire time, for me not completely losing it). Once I got to shore I handed in my timing device, quit the rest of the race, and spent the rest of the day in a very dark and sad place. Not my proudest moment.

So what now? Now I learn how to face my fear, and not feed it. I grew up swimming in pools and swimming for my school. Pop me in the clear blue waters of a Virgin Active and Im positively dolphin like. So why the fear of open water? Too dark? Too cold? Too open? Who knows, all I know is that my fear of that, along with every other paranoid feeling and thought I have needs to be eradicated now. So there you go fear-demon – from now on you shall be starved and left to die.

Off to give it a 3rd attempt on Saturday. Hoping it will be a ‘dam’ good experience!

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What would YOU do, if you weren’t afraid? 

 

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BSG Triathlon Series

After months of training for each discipline I finally merged the three and took part in my first triathlon. It was the Hartabeespoort leg of the BSG series. The distance is what’s known as a ‘sprint’ (600m swim, 27 km cycle and a 5 km run)

I hated the swim and almost got out the water after having a mild panic attack. It was my first open water swim, and having several hundred bodies crash into you, pull you down and kick you while you battle to breathe is very uncomfortable. I walked/breaststroked most of it. the cycle was brilliant and I loved every second – it also helps when the route is fairly flat. Pity about the no-road closure as I found myself waiting behind some slower riders at times. The run felt like I was walking backwards in cement shoes, but I finished in a decent time. 

Swim – 15 mins

Bike – 57 mins

Run – 27 min

To overcome my fear of the water I’m taking part in another sprint tri this Sunday.

Less than 3 months to Half Iron Man!

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