Choosing to put yourself first can be difficult, especially if you’re a mom. When Aameera Abrahams realised she’d lost a bit of herself, she decided it was time to change that. With the help of fitness and weight-loss programme Shedding For The Wedding, this mom of two took back her health and self-esteem, and proved to herself that she was always worth it.
Weight before: 100kg during pregnancy; 95kg six weeks after giving birth
Weight after: 82kg
Time required to reach current weight: 10 months
Secret weapon to your weight loss: Consistency in diet and exercise
“I’ve struggled with my weight for the greater portion of my life, but the real rock bottom was during my second pregnancy – I put on nearly 20kg,” says Aameera. After the birth of her daughter, she fell into a deep depression, which caused her to eat her feelings. “I’d go through at least half a loaf of cheese bread for breakfast, brunch was a bag of chips, lunch whatever leftovers there were from the previous night and afternoon snacks included a cup of tea, a packet of biscuits and maybe some sweets.”
She would often avoid eating supper because she felt guilty after her afternoon binges. Aameera’s favourite foods included fast foods, curries, chocolates, crisps, sweets and cooldrinks. “I would have four to five glasses of cold drink a day with a minimum of two chocolates a day. Then a regular home-cooked meal in between,” she says. Aameera also didn’t make exercise a priority. “The most exercise I did was walking up and down my stairs in my flat. Exercising was not on my list of things to do…”
When Aameera returned to work after maternity leave, she realised that her unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise had caught up with her. “I cried because my work clothes didn’t fit and I couldn’t bear the thought of people seeing that I was still fat.” This gave her the push she needed to change her lifestyle.
“My colleague mentioned in the staffroom that she missed running and exercising. I realised that this was my opportunity to shape up and get my life back. I mentioned to her that we should run and exercise together. I knew that asking her to do it together would hold me accountable for our training times and it would force me to show up,” she explains. They started running and walking three times a week, with Aameera slowly improving week to week.
Aameera stopped buying all her favourite foods, swapping them out for healthy alternatives. “I minimised the takeouts to once a week and made them healthier options. I also chose a sit-down restaurants because I wouldn’t be hiding and was able to start taking responsibility for what I put into my body. Also, I switched from fried to grilled and steamed food, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Once I’d cut out sugars, I discovered that I understood flavours better,” she says.
To learn more about nutrition and portion control, Aameera bought Shedding for the Wedding – and simply adjusted the eating plan suit her lifestyle. “The only part of the meal plan I didn’t follow strictly was supper. I chose to make the same foods I was used to, but using healthier [ingredients]. I swapped sunflower oil to olive oil and coconut oil, went milk-less in my tea and coffee, changed my rice to basmati, switched my pasta to wholegrain gluten-free pasta (an awesome swap with great flavour) and added salads to my meals. Until that moment I didn’t know that salads could be that amazing and delicious!
“The best and most valuable part of the diet was that it taught me portion control – [this] helped keep my cravings at bay because I finally understood how much my body needed for each food group.”
“Since embarking in this journey I’ve implemented better eating habits for my family, and set [myself] some goals, such as running a few more half and full marathons. [I want] to run Two Oceans marathon by 2021,” she says. “I feel healthier, fitter and stronger. I’m capable of running 10km and I dropped two dress sizes!” And one of the major payoffs from her new healthy lifestyle: self-love. “I learned to love myself and treat myself more kindly. There were many times when I felt lazy and my vision became blurred, but when I started writing down goals and planning meals, exercises and me-time, things became a lot easier.”
Write down your goals: “It’s important to understand where you want to be so that your vision doesn’t become blurred and you don’t lose motivation.”
Plan your goals, meals and activities: “[Having] a meal plan for the week minimised my cravings – I knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t have to snack while thinking about it. Also, planning activities and outings, like Saturday park runs, is a great way to get your family together and fit in a workout.”
Positive thinking: “For every ‘bad’ word or thought, tell yourself two good things about why that bad thought is wrong. Often my bad thoughts had no basis, so when I squashed them with two good thoughts I found that loving myself and focusing on my goals became a lot easier.”