Losing It

My mad, crazy journey to health and beyond

How to lose 15kg in 8 weeks



  1. Stop drinking alcohol. Have minor nervous breakdown. Get talked off the ledge by sister, friends, and life coach on an almost daily basis. Drink enough sparkling water to sink the Titanic.
  1. Train every day. Squeeze into gym pants that are two sizes too small but refuse to buy new ones because A) you don’t have money, and B) YOU WILL NOT BUY LABELS THAT SAY XXL! Start weightlifting again. If 40kg squats can ever be considered weightlifting. Go back to Adventure Boot Camp. Wear black T-shirts so no-one can see how drenched in sweat you are after the warmup. Sign up for trail runs. Reconsider the run part about 30 seconds in. Do trail walks instead. Push, push, push. Don’t stop. You can walk slowly, but you can’t stop.
  1. Eat actual food. KFC, McDonald’s and Mr D do not count as actual food. Go grocery shopping. Buy stuff that expires. Eat it before it does. Cook meals. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables, complex carbs. Make the best choices you can when you go out for meals. Say no to dessert. But eat the chocolate cupcake that your boot camp buddy gives you, because life is short and chocolate is sent from the gods.
  1. Talk to life coach. Your head is a fucking mess. Adulting is hard. You need help. Remember that survivors ask for help; victims sit back and blame everyone else for their mistakes. So go get some help. You badass surviving bitch you.




  1. Get out of the house and do things. Apparently there’s stuff to do in Cape Town other than sit in bars every night and get hammered. So go do it. Play bingo, take part in pub quizzes, go to the cinema, paint clay pots, go for hikes, cook dinner for friends, sing, dance, go to plays, concerts, parties, eat out in restaurants, say yes to anything that gets you out of the house and gets you living again. And then come home exhausted to a big comfy couch and a hard drive full of series. Because, balance.
  1. Connect. With family. With old friends you haven’t seen in ages. With new friends who are now part of your posse. With acquaintances who become friends before you know it. With women in your Facebook group. With yourself. Not with Tinder. Good Christ.
  1. Track your progress. Take before pics. Take before measurements. Try to fit into jeans. Think ‘fucking hell’, and pretend that you’re wearing a skirt because you want to, not because your tubby butt is now too chunky to even fit into your fat jeans. Keep at it, keep tracking and weighing and measuring, and keep remembering that even though it feels like a waste of time and effort, you will get to wear jeans again. Track your progress after 8 weeks and realise that you’ve lost 15kg, 50cm, and that your smallest pair of fat jeans is now too big for you. High five everyone you possibly fucking can. Feel like a rock star, because you are. Write this blog post, and get back to it. Life is too good to miss out on.




Food for thought

Skinless chicken breast, 100g. 23g protein, 2g fat, 0g carbs.

Egg, large. 6.3g protein, 4.8g fat, 0.4g carbs.

White potato, 100g. 2g protein, 1g fat, 17g carbs.

And on, and on, and on, and on.


For almost four years now I’ve followed this way of eating. IIFYM. If It Fits Your Macros. A lot of very clever people on a lot of very good sites can explain it far better than I can, but I’ll give it a shot. Essentially it involves you tracking all the food you eat in a day, adding up all the protein, fat and carbohydrate values of every gram of food you put in your mouth, to ensure that you don’t go over the collective total of protein, fats, and carbohydrates (also known as macronutrients) that you’re allowed to eat in a day – a total usually worked out for you with an online calculator, or preferably, by a professional nutritionist. If that’s confusing, then Google is your friend.


The point is that it works. It works like gangbusters actually. It helped me lose 55kg in the space of 3 years. The fact that I gained a shitload of weight back isn’t the fault of the eating plan, it’s the fault of my damn self. Not enough self-control, not enough self-care, not enough self-love. My water bottle says it best I think. Zero fucks given.


Before IIFYM there was moderate carb. Before that there was fat free. Before that there was eat as little as possible. Before that I can’t remember, but there was most definitely something, as I’ve been on one eating plan or another since I was 16 years old. As have most women I know. Being female is awesome.


But back to the here and now. January last year I was at 80kg, which sounds like a lot, but looks like this:




I’m smiling in that pic, but my head is going a million miles a minute. I had just run 5km into Knysna from the white bridge (my shirt is soaked through with sweat if you look closely) and I’m wondering how to track the breakfast I just ate, and what kind of oil my mom will be using to cook dinner that night so I can enter it in MyFitnessPal to make sure that I’m not over my macros for the day. And then I have to figure out who’s driving into town tomorrow so that I can catch a lift to the gym I signed up with so I don’t miss out on a weightlifting session. On my fucking Christmas holiday. There was no keep calm and carry on, there was only plan and track and work and sleep and plan and track and track some more and run and lift and push and pull and PRESSURE SO MUCH PRESSURE.


And eventually I cracked under all of it. All that time, eating right and tracking and training and making good choices and not drinking and being completely, totally, 100% focused on my health journey and nothing else. I cracked. And then I did the only thing I could do – I went 100% the other way. And ate and drank and ate and drank and did as little training as I could get away with. Because when I fuck something up, I do it good and proper. No half measures here.


I had the occasional glimmer of hope. I did the SleekGeek challenge in October last year and lost 12kg. Gained it all back. I went balls to the wall in February and lost 10kg. Gained it all back. And then somewhere in March or April this year, I came to a realisation. I just did not give a fucking shit. I didn’t care about being healthy, I didn’t care about losing weight, I didn’t care about eating right. I just didn’t care. It was too hard, and too much work, and too much effort, and I didn’t believe that I could do it again anyway.


At the same time though, I didn’t LIKE being overweight. I didn’t like that I couldn’t fit into any of my jeans, even the fat ones. I didn’t like that I was huffing and puffing like a stampeding rhino after climbing the one flight of stairs to my flat. And I didn’t like that I felt bloated and tired and lethargic and just plain crap. So even though I didn’t give a shit about being healthy, I WANTED to give a shit about it. Which meant that I had to ask for help. So I did.


I usually hate asking for help. I’d rather struggle on my own than inconvenience someone else. I have zero issue admitting that I have a problem, it’s not about that. It’s about imposing on other people, having them go out of their way, and thinking less of me for asking in the first place. So when I say that I asked for help, trust me that it was a big step.


But ask for it I did, and it came in the form of a health coach, who I’m still seeing. And I won’t bore you with the details, but we’re looking at a lot of stuff. Why don’t I value my health, why do I drink like a sailor on shore leave, why am I so stressed and anxious and worried about EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME??? I also began consulting with her partner, a holistic health practitioner, not about how to eat healthily (dear God I should bloody well know by now) but about how to adopt healthier habits, and to find physiological balance and healing through the help of natural supplementation. I am paraphrasing like a champ right now, but hopefully you get the picture.


What I also did, was make a promise to give up alcohol for six months, which you can read more about here, and to focus less on any kind of stress or trigger and fixation, and to focus more on living.


Which is what brings us to this. Five weeks of no alcohol, healthy eating choices, regular training, and an 11.6kg loss to show for it.






Simple. I’m not obsessing. I’m living. I’m not making healthy living THE ENTIRE FOCUS OF EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s important, sure, but it’s not my whole life – it’s just part of my life. I’m not following any type of structured eating plan. I’m eating all food groups, and following the basics that I’ve learned from IIFYM along the way. More carbs on days I lift weights, fewer carbs on days that I don’t. Big, low-calorie nutrient-dense meals, with no snacking in between. Food bursting with colour, taste and texture. Starch at night, if I’m eating any, so that I sleep better. Simple, sensible, easy-to-follow guidelines that I stick to without much thought. And I’m able to stick to them because after years of IIFYM I know the types of foods I can eat and the portion sizes I need to get the right kinds of nutrients for my body, while creating enough of a calorie deficit in order for me to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable, consistent way.


Here’s what I had to eat yesterday, if you’re needing more than that. I did an hour of weightlifting in the morning, so I got to eat more carbs, to give my body the fuel it needed.


  • Pre-workout: Fitchef green smoothie with apple, spinach and other stuff (I didn’t look at the label, sorry)
  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs on rye, with smoked salmon and mushrooms
  • Lunch: Homemade vegetable stirfry with chicken strips, and 1 tbsp of soya sauce
  • Dinner: Sirloin steak (with the fat cut off), garlic baby potatoes, and steamed vegetables


It was delicious, and eating tasty food like that, without stressing about it and tracking it and making it my one and only focus – that’s what’s helping me lose weight in a calmer way this time round.


As for training, yes, I’m doing it. Right now I’m doing four weightlifting sessions a week, three boot camp sessions a week, and one trail or road run. If you can count, that adds up to eight (well done you!) because I train twice on Fridays, purposefully. By the time I’ve finished my Friday night boot camp, I’m so exhausted I can barely walk, let alone drink. Which means instead of fantasising about drinking 12 bottles of wine and 90 tequilas at my local, I’m on my couch in my pjs, trying to lift my fork to my mouth while watching MKR. If you set up your life in a way that helps you succeed, that’s exactly what you’ll do.


And what else am I doing? I’m living, in a way that brings balance. I’m going out but I’m also staying in. I’m meeting friends and reading books. I’m eating out and I’m cooking at home. I’m weightlifting in the morning and going to pub quizzes in the evening. I’m crying with my coach about all the work stress I’m under, and I’m laughing with my friends and loving every moment. And while I’m doing that, health is becoming a part of my life, not my entire life. Will I fall down? Yes. Will I drink too much again? Absolutely. Will I become angry and frustrated and want to smash an entire lemon meringue pie in my face? Almost certainly. But there’s one thing I won’t do, and that’s make the same mistakes again. Life’s way too short to keep making the same ones anyway. Time to make some brand-new ones, and hopefully learn some brand-new lessons along the way.


*Disclaimer: While I may not be following any structured eating plan, the way I’m eating is very much based on IIFYM principles. So that doesn’t mean I sit around all day in my pajamas eating cake and drinking wine. It means I make healthy choices and eat healthy food. And I train every day. If you want to lose weight, those are things you have to do. What you don’t have to do, however, is obsess over them every second of every day. That’s all that’s changed. Just so we’re clear…




Promises, promises


On the western head of Knysna sits a house. Not just any house. My house. A house that was bought 26 years ago with two bedrooms, bunk beds and plastic chairs. A house that has grown as we have grown, doubling in size, filling with furniture, knickknacks, memories, and love along the way. It is the place I last hugged my grandmother; the place I first held my nephew. It has celebrated countless Christmases, Easters, birthdays and anniversaries, welcomed friends and family, seen laughter, tears, despair and hope. And yesterday, it watched as Knysna burned.

I’ve always loved my birthday. When I was younger, it was because of the presents and the cake. Now that I’m older, it’s because it gives me the opportunity to celebrate something special with my family and friends. And eat cake. Yesterday however, I couldn’t eat cake. I could only watch as reports came streaming in. 10 000 people evacuated and displaced. 150 homes burned. Our dear neighbours’ house, razed to the ground. Lives, possessions, security, sentiment, gone, in clouds of smoke and fury.

I don’t pray often. I know that as someone who willingly identifies as Catholic, I should. But I don’t. I like telling people that I’m the worst Catholic ever, then ordering another round of tequila and lighting a cigarette. Street cred, yo. But yesterday I prayed. For the people of Knysna, for the town, for the animals, for the emergency workers, and for that house, on the western head.

But because I don’t talk to God often and I spend more time drinking than praying, I figured I had to throw something extra in. Just to let Him know I was SERIOUS. So at 3am on 8 June, just a few hours into my 40th birthday, I promised God that if He kept our home safe, I would give up alcohol for six months.

Your move, big guy.

Now, I have no idea why God would care if I gave up drinking. From all New Testament accounts, Jesus was a mad wine fan. And I’m certain the people of Knysna would care even less. My not drinking is in no way useful to them whatsoever. But as I say, I had to show the man upstairs that I was hella serious. So a sobriety pledge it was.

Spoiler alert: As of 1 July 2017, I will be giving up alcohol for six months.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that alcohol has always been a big stumbling block for me. You’ll know that I’ve gained weight, that I’ve been struggling with consistency, that breaking my ankle hasn’t helped, and that I’m seeing a life coach to help me get my mojo back. Believe it or not I was actually planning on giving up alcohol for 100 days from 1 July anyway. But in the great game of life, the big man has seen me, and raised me.

So yes. If in the coming months you’re wondering why I’m sucking on sparkling water while you’re getting tiddly on wine, here’s your answer. And you can laugh and think I’m an idiot or tell me why you think God doesn’t exist or try to get me to have JUST ONE DRINK or attempt to convert me to atheism or something. Go wild. Unfortunately I have this annoying characteristic where if I make a promise, I stick to it. It won’t be easy. From past experience I can tell you right now that it will be very, extremely, massively, fucking hard. But when I go home to Knysna, I’ll have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a lounge to veg in, a patio to braai on, and many many more memories to be made. And it will all be totally worth it.

On a completely unrelated note, does anyone want to get unbelievably hammered with me on 30 June?

NB: While my giving up alcohol will do sweet bugger all to help the residents of Knysna, there are plenty of ways to show your support. Click here to find out how you can make a difference.


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All you need is love


So I’ve been on my new eating plan for two weeks now (haha, EATING PLAN – funny thing to call something with fuck-all food on it) and it’s been going pretty well. Two weeks in, seven kilos down. Fist bump city.

I’d like to say it’s been plain sailing, but that would be plain lying. Funnily enough, the hard part hasn’t been the eating right and the training regularly. The hard part has been doing that while undergoing potentially the most stressful situation of my adult life. Ooh, dramatic! For someone who deals with every negative emotion, even the tiniest of frustrations, by drinking themselves into a coma, this has been HARD. It has been a situation that I have wanted to escape, ignore, stress about, worry over, get angry about – all things that I would usually turn to wine, beer and tequila to help me with. So the fact that I have instead been tap-tap-tapping away on my laptop, eating tuna salad and busting out deadlifts is nothing short of a fucking miracle.

It’s not something I’ve been able to do on my own though. If I’d had to do this on my own, I’d be face down in a dumpster right now clutching an empty bottle of Cuervo and trying to find my panties. Instead, I’m washed, dressed, fed, and about to start work for the day. But I couldn’t start to write for other people before first giving a shout-out to the people who have been talking me down from the ledge, literally (yes, I know how to use this word correctly) on a daily basis. I know that I shouldn’t be drinking tequila shots at 9am, but I do need people to remind me of this occasionally.

So to the people who have generously given of their time, support, kindness, and resources, my heart thanks you all the way from the bottom to the top. Mom, Dad, Caren, Corne, Sue, Pat, Lynn, Wendy, Jill, Lisa, Dom, Chantel, and everyone else I’m lucky to call a friend – my wins are only my wins because of you – no more so at this time. Going through rough patches is indescribably awful, but the one thing it does do is show you who your friends are.

I was telling Jill on Valentine’s Day about how things had been so bad that morning that I’d almost had a breakdown in the middle of a shopping centre. But I got my shit together just in time (for God’s sakes Nicola, have a word with yourself) and managed to have a thought that actually helped. That I may be (very) poor in cash, but what I’ve realised over the past few weeks (and honestly should have realised a VERY long time ago) is that I’m beyond rich in love. And if Valentine’s Day isn’t the perfect day to realise that, then I don’t know what is.

Strongs, love and hugs to you all. This too shall pass. And by the time it does, Imma look hot AF.




Pop quiz


I don’t usually blog on a Sunday, but since I seem to be at home rather than at a dodgy pub somewhere (weird, I know), I thought I should do something useful with my time, aside from sitting in front of yet another Big Bang Theory marathon. (Also, has anyone seen the new MacGyver reboot? Hollywood, what have you done to my childhood??)

So in my last blog, I mentioned that there were a few questions I was going to try to answer for myself this year. I think it’s good to have goals – I’m definitely the type of person who needs to work towards something – so this year, instead of simply working towards a scale goal and a can-I-get-my-ass-into-those-Levis goal, I’m going to be working on some answers goals as well. Because hopefully by working through these questions, I’ll finally find the solution to long-term health success. Huzzah!

  1. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy for the love of god must it be all or nothing all the time? Why is it either stick to your eating plan 100%, stay away from booze and train 6 days a week, or sit on the couch in your pajamas for a month working your way through the Mr Delivery menu? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Seriously, it’s the biggest problem in my life and it’s a total pain in the ass. I hope I find an answer to this soon, because I know that when I do, I’ll make a fricking fortune out of it.
  2. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy must having a drink be the answer to everything bad and stressful and annoying and irritating and boring and otherwise blerg? Why can’t I be one of those people who goes to the gym instead or phones a friend or watches Sex and the City or gets a haircut or whatever? Why can things only be solved with 3 bottles of chardonnay? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Even after 15 months of sobriety, I was back on the bottle quicker than Charlie Sheen on a hooker’s ass. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.
  3. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy am I finding it so hard to stay consistently motivated and committed? 2015 it was as easy as falling off a log. 2017 and I’m consistent from breakfast till about lunchtime (and sometimes not even that long). I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. So many healthy habits, so painstakingly cultivated, and so easily swept aside like KFC chilli salt off a counter. Don’t judge me, that salt is awesome.

I think that’s enough for now. Considering I’ve spent most of my life trying to answer just those three questions, it’s actually plenty. I know that some things are human nature. It’s human to want to stay in bed on a cold morning rather than get up and run. To want to go for the easy takeaway option when you’re tired, rather than having to cook. To want to sit on the couch all day blaming everyone else rather than having to get up and take responsibility for your actions. But I think if I can find a way to balance work and play, to cope with life constructively and to sustain healthy habits in the long term, I’ll find running in the rain child’s play by comparison.

Get your scoresheets out people – I’ve got some ticks I need to start putting into boxes.


Keep on moving, the time will come one day

I really struggled with finding something positive to write today. In fact, I’ve just spent the past half hour watching 90s music videos on YouTube, procrastinating. Which is where my headline came from. Thank you to Jazzie B and the gang.  

Why is today’s blog such a hard one? Because after seeing this on the scale last week, I was absolutely CONVINCED that today I would finally, FINALLY, move down into the 70s, after having had a full-on relationship with the 80s for the past ten months:


So when I got on the scale this morning and saw this instead:


You can imagine how devastated I was. Usually I only allow myself to feel the emotion of a weigh-in, good or bad, for the amount of time I’m actually standing on the scale. As soon as I step back onto the bathroom floor, it’s out of my mind and back to work. But this morning was a little different. Instead of immediately going to my room and changing into my gym gear, I sat on the (closed) toilet seat for a few minutes, taking some deep breaths and trying not to cry. I also made a mental note to put my underwear back on before doing that again, because that toilet seat was COLD.

It’s one thing to see a gain on the scale when you’ve been sitting on the couch stuffing your face all week. Sure it’s never fun seeing that you’ve picked up weight, but you know you deserved it. Pizza isn’t a food group, and neither are chocolate brownies (more’s the pity). But when you’ve been training like a motherfucker 6 days out of 7, hitting your macros spot on every day, and saying no to all manner of sweet treats and cocktails and calorie-laden awesomeness, having the scale tell you that you’ve gained weight is like a slap in the face. And a cruel one at that.

A few years ago, seeing that would have sent me straight back to bed, then straight to McDonald’s as soon as they opened. Because fuck it, if being healthy won’t help you lose weight, then who gives a shit anymore. Might as well be unhealthy and enjoy life, right? Thankfully, those days are behind me. I might not like seeing the scale go up, but I’m made of sterner stuff now. So I went and put my gym gear on, had my oats and coffee, watched QI, and then banged out some back squats like a boss. Because that’s what I do now. And it’s better than being knee-deep in Big Macs.

I won’t lie though, I’m not exactly feeling full of the joys of spring right now. It’s times like these where I honestly and truly question if I’m ever going to reach my goal weight. As soon as I think I’m making progress, it’s like I take two steps back. It is massively, hair-pullingly frustrating, and I am exhausted.

Thankfully, I’m not quite at the ‘fuck this shit, where the McD’s menu’ stage quite yet. But I have to carry on somehow though. Which is why, instead of focusing on what I haven’t achieved this past week, I’m going to focus on what I have. Such as:

  1. I ran my fastest 5K EVER on Saturday!

Parkrun result

  1. I fit into a dress that I haven’t been able to wear since I was TWENTY YEARS OLD!


3. I ran (ignore the mileage on the watch) 12.5km WITHOUT STOPPING ONCE!


  1. I was in a photoshoot for Women’s Health! No pics now, but wait for the May issue. I am planking like a rock star!
  2. I look better naked! Although I’m not showing you any pictures of that. You’ve already seen me in my underwear – I have to draw the line somewhere. You’ll just have to use your imagination 😉
  3. Finally, and most importantly, I’m blessed with the support of family, friends, and Facebook groups, reminding me why I’m doing this, reminding how far I’ve come, and reminding why I still need to keep going. There are too many of you to mention, which is a reward in itself, and I thank each and every one of you.

Mostly this is what they keep reminding me about.

So that’s what’s going to get me through the next week, and that’s what I’m going to be focusing on, rather than my relationship to gravity at 4:45am this morning. Although I’m still giving the scale the finger every time I walk past the bathroom. Because that’s what it deserves.


5 life lessons I’ve learned from trail running


I am a trail runner. You wouldn’t think it to look at me though. I’m not fast, my form is non-existent, my breathing sounds like a cross between a stampeding rhino and a hippo in labour, and most of the time I have to push just to finish. But I can run for a few metres, and do so on a trail, which automatically makes me a trail runner.


If I’d had any sense, I never would have taken up this sport. It is HARD. But when I started almost 18 months ago, I was completely clueless, blissfully ignorant, and heavily overweight. I had also stopped drinking in an effort to shift some poundage, and needed something other than lifting a glass to fill my time. I entered my first trail run without a notion of what I was getting myself into, with no clue that many experienced road runners would rather fake an injury than run trail. I didn’t know that it was hard, I didn’t know about injuries, I didn’t know about your lungs feeling like they were on fire, your legs feeling like lead and molasses at the same time, I didn’t know about grass and sand and dirt and mud and water crossings and single track and switchbacks. And most of all, I didn’t know about HILLS! But what I did know was that at 108kg, with very little cardiovascular fitness, something needed to change. And slowly, one finish line at a time, something did change. Not just me on the outside (since starting trail running I’ve lost 28kg), but me on the inside as well – as the more I hit the trails, the more a number of realisations started to hit me right back. Five, to be exact.


  1. Live in the moment


On any given trail run, my thought process usually goes a little something like this.



“Everything hurts. Like, everything.”

“Surely I must have done at least a kilometre by now. ONLY 600 METRES??? WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY???”

“Ok so I’ve done 2km and the race is 8km long. So I only have to do what I’ve already done another three times and I’ll be finished!”

“Five kilometres left? I can’t, I seriously can’t.”

“I’m dying. I am actually dying right now.”



“The hills are so NOT alive with the fucking sound of fucking music.”

“Why am I doing this stupid race in the first place?!! I hate my life and everything in it!!!!!”


Anxiety, stress, pain, exhaustion, irritation, and sometimes anger. Pretty much part and parcel of my trail running experience. When I’m in a race and I’m thinking about how few kilometres I’ve done, how many there are still to go, the insane elevation I have to look forward to, how hot/cold/rainy it’s going to be soon, I become overwhelmed with negativity. And thankfully, after many, MANY runs, I finally realised why. Because I was too preoccupied with the past, and too focused on the future, to be able to fully embrace the present. As soon as I sloughed off the worries about having covered so few kilometres, and having so many more to struggle through, I was immediately able to find comfort and pleasure in the present. In appreciating my surroundings, in becoming fitter and stronger, in enjoying the beauty of nature, and in getting to my goal one single step at a time. And the minute I began to live in the moment, the more fulfilling each of those moments became. The finish line is still a challenge to get to, make no mistake, but the getting there is now infinitely more rewarding.




  1. The bigger the struggle, the sweeter the success


Ask any trail runner what they hate most about trail running, and they’ll reply “Hills!” (At least I hope they will, otherwise I’ll look like an idiot.) That’s what my answer would be anyway – particularly as I’m still incapable of running up hills, so I have to walk them every step of the way. Ridiculous elevation, usually 1,500 degree heat, huffing, puffing, burning, dying. Hills. Like seriously, what the F man???


By contrast, my absolute 100% favourite part of trail running is going downhill – particularly after a nasty, backbreaking uphill. The sweet release, the air in your lungs, the sensation of flying, the claws of Satan finally retracting from your screaming quads – there’s nothing quite as freeing, or as blissful. But one day as I was revelling in the awesomeness that is the downhill run, I asked myself, would it be quite as stupendous if I hadn’t just come off a blistering uphill? If trail runs, and life, were all downhills, wouldn’t bliss eventually become the norm, and one day even the mundane? Aren’t the downhills, the successes, the pleasures we experience made all the greater by the struggles we go through to achieve them? And don’t we need the struggles to make us resilient – to build our fitness and strength on the trails, and our power and confidence in life? Forcing myself up a strenuous uphill isn’t fun, but it damn sure makes me a better runner – just as successfully working through challenges makes me a better person. So while I may not like the hills, I’ve learned to appreciate them for the learning experience they are. And man, do those downhills feel good afterwards.


Mont Rochelle 

  1. Happiness is in the quiet moments


It’s easy to find happiness in the big, bold moments – in celebrating a birthday or an anniversary, in buying a new home, in being promoted, in driving a new car. But I’ve found that the purest form of happiness lies in the spaces between – the calm, quiet, often overlooked moments that whisper, rather than shout. Like when you’re drinking the perfect cup of coffee. When your favourite song suddenly comes on the radio. When you finally get the hang of winged eyeliner. Or when it’s just you and the trail, your feet crunching against the dirt, the sun rising over the vineyards, the wind at your back, the cool, crisp air your companion, and you realise that maybe, just maybe, this being alive thing isn’t so bad after all.


Bastille Day


  1. Always be grateful for what you have


I am an extremely slow runner. I wish this was false modesty, but it’s the truth. If I’m ever in a race against a tortoise, I advise you to put your money on the tortoise, because it’ll be a safe bet. When I started trail running at 108kg, I was literally the slowest runner at every single race – crossing the finish line last, coming in with the sweeper, sometimes so far behind everyone that the organisers had packed up and left. I hated it, and I was mortified. I found it beyond embarrassing that I was so slow, and so bad at running that I was dead, stone, absolute last every single time. I didn’t want to come first (hahahahahahahahaha chances!) but just coming in somewhere in the middle would be enough. Please, just for once!!!


And then during one race, something strange happened. For some bizarre reason unknown to man, at the beginning of the race, I found myself in the middle of the pack, able to keep pace with the other runners for a bit (ok, two minutes). And I absolutely hated it. I hated being caught in a huge bunch of people, I hated the noise, I hated having to move aside every two seconds for faster runners, and I hated the frenetic claustrophobia of it all. That’s when it struck me. That all those times I had been right at the back, I hadn’t been losing – I’d been winning. I’d won freedom from the chaos at the front, I’d won the chance to complete my race at my pace in blissful peace and quiet, I’d won the opportunity to work on my technique, and I’d won valuable advice and insight from the sweepers as we finished together. Lightbulb. Always, always give thanks and be grateful for where you are at any given time – because chances are, it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. I’ll get to the middle of the pack when I’m good and ready, but until then, as long as I’m grateful for what I have and where I am, I’ll be winning at running and at life.




Speaking of the sweepers…


  1. Don’t fight the slide


Without a doubt, this is the most valuable piece of advice I’ve ever been given, and it came to me via the sweeper on the second trail run I ever did. Don’t fight the slide. At the time, it made absolutely no sense, and given that it was said to me as I was busy careening 400 metres down a muddy hill on my backside, I think my reply went along the lines of “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCKING FUCK??”


After I had recovered from my minor aneurysm and he had recovered from his laughing fit, he explained. Don’t fight the slide. If you feel yourself falling, don’t correct yourself, just go with the flow. The same way you’re supposed to steer into the turn if your car skids. If you let the slide take you, the worst that can happen is mud, dirt, and some bumps and bruises. But if you fight against it, that’s when you run the risk of real damage – sprains, breaks, snaps and potentially months at home in casts and rehab and traction. It’s the same with life I’ve found. If you go with the flow, go with ease, go with positivity, you’ll get to where you need to be far more quickly, far more safely, and usually with a laugh as well. But if you flail and flounder, caught in a storm of negativity and unease, you may just fall down and never be able to get back up again. That’s why since that day, I don’t fight the slide anymore. I ease into it, I fall down, I get up, I wash my muddy clothes, and I come back for more. Because that’s how you fight, and that’s how you win. Every single time.


La Capra


The school of life. Now open at a trail run near you.


Seven days

No, this is not a Craig David song. No-one was making love by Wednesday, and on Thursday, and Friday and Saturday. Although we did chill on Sunday.

Monday: Taking a break from civilisation. Up early to train. Healthy meals all day. Work till 9:30pm. TV. Bed. Watch stuff on laptop. Know I should really be going to sleep. Watch more stuff anyway.

Tuesday: Up early to train. Healthy meals all day. Work till 7pm. TV. Bed. Watch stuff on laptop. Big Fat Quiz of the Year cracks me up. Even though I’ve seen every episode 3 times now.

Wednesday: Up early to train. Healthy meals all day. Work till 4:30pm. Watch The Cutting Edge. For the millionth time. TOEPICK! Bed. Watch stuff on laptop again. Starting to develop a crush on Jimmy Carr. May need to return to civilisation sooner than I thought.

Thursday: Up early to train. Healthy meals all day. Work till 5:30pm. TV. Bed. Watch stuff on laptop. I like Noel Fielding’s hair. And his dress. That was a weird sentence.

Friday: Up early to train. Healthy meals all day. Work, then return to civilisation. TV. Bed. Watch stuff on laptop. Wishing the year would hurry up and end so they would bring out a new episode of Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Obsession with Richard Ayoade is now at an 11 out of 10.

Saturday: Up at 4:30am. What in the name of all that is holy??? Eat breakfast half-asleep. Drive 500 miles (ok, 50km) through to Landskroon Winery. Not to drink. To run. Because I am mad.


Run 10km in 1:16. Not quite last, but almost. Eh, don’t care – was a beautiful run. Realise that left arm is in an immense amount of pain, with almost zero mobility. Drive home, shower. Carefully. Drive through to hair salon. Changing gears is excruciating. Yay for me. Sit in chair and wonder if everyone looks revolting in those awful hairdressing capes, or if it’s just me. How come I never noticed I had so many chins??? Drive home. Ow. OW! Healthy lunch, watch tv, take drugs given to me by pharmacist. Drape hot pack over arm. Pray for slow death. Realise that getting dressed for function later will be almost impossible. Call friend over to help. Drink bubbly, get dressed very slowly. Bubbly helps. So does friend. Call Uber. Thank fuck I don’t have to drive. Get to Pigalle (fancy!) for freelance Christmas party. Have super awesome time with friends!



Eat healthy food. DRINK ALL THE DRINKS! Move on to some other clubs. Not feeling it. Some weird-ass dude is trying to feel my face. Dimly recall there’s some sort of song about that. Realise that when I am in a club surrounded by 25-year-olds on E, it’s probably time to leave. Pour myself into an Uber and go home to pass out. Getting undressed doesn’t hurt quite as badly. Thank you alcohol.

Sunday: Why am I asleep on my couch? Remember moving there in the middle of the night. Don’t question it. Headache. Arm still hurts like a mother bitch. Yay Myprodol and Rehidrat! Healthy breakfast. Shower, Cavendish, Mockingjay Part 2. Biltong snacks. Home after decent movie and appalling Point Break trailer. Crave pizza. Have a chicken and salad wrap instead. I would high five myself but it’s too much effort. So traumatised by previous trailer, watch real (and only!) Point Break to calm myself down. Snooze on couch. Wake up to Keanu yelling “I AM AN FBI AGENT!” Yes you are baby, yes you are. Skype parents, watch random crap on TV. End off day with a healthy dinner and half of Ghost. Apparently I’m in a Patrick Swayze kind of mood. He would never put me in a corner.

Monday: Up and at ’em, go go GO! Drive through to Clifton, climb a fucking ridiculous amount of stairs (whatever 280 x 14 is). Die.


Home. Breakfast. Doctor. Cortisone and anaesthetic. Bliss. Work till 6:30pm. Healthy meals all day. Perve new intern on Grey’s. Again. Assessing whether or not this means I am in need of a life. Bed. More Big Fat Quiz. Wonder if Eddie Izzard is straight or gay. Google. Straight apparently. You learn something new about transvestites every day.

Tuesday: Step on scale.


Realise that after a week of regular training, healthy eating, positive thinking and doing a lot of what I love, I have managed to lose 3.7kg in one week. Because I am a fucking legend.

And that, my friends, is balance.


Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve been writing a lot of FAQ pages recently in my professional capacity, so I thought, why not write one in my personal capacity too and tackle some of the queries that have been coming my way. Just go with me on this.


Q: So where’ve you been recently Nicola?

A: At home. Away. Home some more. Away some more. Not wearing pants. Bars. Also bars. And then bars. I did wear pants in the bars though.



Literally do not remember this photo being taken.


Q: So does that mean you’re drinking again?

A: I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me.


Q: You know we’re in South Africa right? The Fifth Amendment doesn’t apply here.

A: Oh for fuck’s sakes.


Q: Would you like to try that again?

A: OK FINE! YEEEEEEEEEEES I am drinking again.


Q: What are you drinking?

A: Kenilworth mostly.


Q: Why are you being so difficult?

A: Permission to be acknowledged as a hostile witness Your Honour.


Q: Again, not an episode of Law & Order. Seriously, what’s going on?

A: I don’t KNOOOOOOOOOOOW! Ok well actually I do know. Drink, drink, drink some more. Make some very questionable choices. Throw name like a fucking champion. Wake up feeling like SHIT. Eat all the food. Have one to two days of making healthy choices. Ooh I feel like a drink! Repeat ad infinitum. Feel guilty, feel like crap, feel ashamed, feel like burying myself under the duvet and never coming out, feel li… WHERE IS THE MYPRODOL???


Q: Yeah no, that’s not good.

A: That’s not a question.


Q: Ok, so here’s the question. What the actual fuck is going on?

A: Genuinely, honestly, I have no idea. It could be a number of things. Work is BEYOND insane, so there’s that. I’ve been working relentlessly at my health and fitness journey for nearly 18 months now non-stop, so there’s that. And it’s the end of the year, when everyone is naturally tired and exhausted and broken down anyway, so there’s that. Throw my biggest trigger and my knee-jerk go-to coping mechanism on top of all of that, and it’s like chucking a Molotov cocktail on top of all your hard work and watching everything go up in flames.





Q: So are you going to go back to sobriety again then? Because it seems that all your issues started as soon as you took that first sip of wine a few weeks ago.

A: I’ve seriously contemplated it. Giving up alcohol and committing fully to my health journey was a massive catalyst for change in my life, and it not only introduced me to new friends and new pastimes, it introduced me to my authentic self, and a better quality of life overall.


Q: So that’s a yes?

A: You would think so, but no. I thought about it a lot, I discussed it with friends, I mulled over it at 3am when I couldn’t sleep, and I most definitely considered it when I was hunched over a toilet at 5am having a dramatic technicolour conversation. And at one point I was genuinely convinced that I was going to embrace lifelong sobriety. But then I realised, I don’t WANT to be sober for the rest of my life. What I want is to be able to go to wine festivals and dinners and lazy lunches and ladies’ nights and enjoy some drinks, some giggles, some good conversation, some blissful tipsiness, and embrace everything that life has to offer, not just part of it.



Case in point.


Q: What do you mean by that?

A: Well, when I gave up drinking, it was the absolute best thing for me at the time. It forced me to confront the fact that there IS a way of existing, of living, of coping and of being happy without having to depend on alcohol constantly. I’d heard this was possible, but I’d never experienced it for myself. So that’s what sobriety allowed me to do – enjoy life to the full without any chemical enhancement. But looking back on it now, I realise that it wasn’t a balanced way of life. There were a lot of things I sacrificed and missed out on while I was so determinedly focused on my health journey. And that’s fine, I was fully prepared to give up those things for the sake of my physical and emotional health. But now I want to embrace life in EVERY way – to enjoy the same awesome moments and the same amazing quality of life I did while I was sober, AND to enjoy the fun of partying and socialising with my friends too. I want both sides of life, and even though I’m struggling to reconcile them at the moment, it’s something I know I can make happen for myself, if I work hard enough at it.


Q: How?

A: Well isn’t that the fucking million dollar question. Obviously I don’t know right this moment, hence the struggle and the falling and THE SHAME and the everything. But I’m determined to once and for all find the thing that has so far escaped me for most of my adult life – BALANCE. Drinking all the time obviously wasn’t balanced – but then neither was being sober all the time too. Both were very all or nothing ways of existing, and yes, while sobriety worked wonderfully well for me, it was a temporary phase, not a permanent way of life. Now that I’m finished with that phase, it’s time to move on to the next, far healthier, far more sustainable one – BALANCE.


Q: And you think you can?

A: I gave up alcohol for 15 months. If I can make it through dinners, parties, blind dates, concerts, my high school reunion, and a freaking car accident without resorting to alcohol, I can do this. Embracing sobriety was literally the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I genuinely didn’t think I could do it. I’m looking forward to surprising myself again.


Q: Don’t hit me, but I need to ask. Has all this up and down and sideways and what what affected your weigh-ins at all?



Q: I’m taking it that’s a yes?

A: That’s a big fat yes.


Q: Ok, so what are you going to do about it?

A: Well I’ve taken a few lessons from the fuck-up that has been the past five weeks – the biggest one being, never, ever, ever, EVER drink the night before a trail run. I’m serious kids. Don’t do it. There are few other guidelines I’ll be putting in place for myself in order to achieve more balance in my life, but the biggest one is, just let it freaking go man. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, you don’t have to be better than anyone else or hold yourself to a higher standard or be perfect ALL THE TIME. Because you can’t. So when you fall down, don’t lie there yelling and screaming and drowning in your own shame and guilt. Just let it go, get up, and get back to work. Ain’t nobody got time for that. As for the few (ok, ok, 6) extra kilograms I’ve picked up, the rest of the year I’ll be making as many healthy choices as I can, as often as I can, I’ll be getting back on the trails and back in the gym, and come January, I’ll have lost it all and be ready to pound 2016 into submission!


Q: High five sister!

A: High five.


Q: Ok so those are all the questions I have for you.

A: Thank god for that, I’m starving, and my chicken and lettuce wrap awaits!


Q: One more thing.

A: I knew it was too good to be true.


Q: Don’t think that because you have a blog and do health coaching and post transformation pics of yourself and have a health and fitness group that you can’t ask for help too. This shit is HARD, and no-one expects you to be Little Miss Perfect, 24/7. Because frankly, how boring. Don’t feel guilty, don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel fat – just learn, get up, do better and don’t stop sharing. Because people care, and you’ll see that whenever you fall down, you have hundreds of hands waiting to help you back up. Don’t ever forget that, ok?


Birthday fun

I see what you mean.


Things I have realised

1. It’s important to take time out to relax. Too much focus for too long can lead to burnout, swearing, hair pulling, and a bizarre need to stick one’s head into a vat of wine at 9am.

2. Trail running is awesome.


3. I don’t need this blog quite as much as I used to at this stage of my journey. When I started this blog, I needed it to share things about my journey as I learned them, whether from a nutritional, training or emotional standpoint. Now, nearly two years later, I’m comfortable with my weight loss journey and what I’ve learned so far, and I don’t have as strong a need to share everything – mostly because there’s nothing new to share. Wait till we get to maintenance. I know fuck all about maintenance. That’s going to be fun.

4. I need to learn how to say no. I say yes far too often – to work, social engagements, people, situations, all out of a desire not to let anyone down. I now find myself overwhelmed with work and in a number of convoluted, undesirable situations, all because I find myself physically incapable of saying no. And at the end of the day I’m letting the most important person down – myself.

5. Wine is awesome.


Too much wine, however, is not. I have two more social situations planned between now and when I go away for Christmas – the only two situations in which I’ll be drinking between now and the end of the year, and while I know I’m totally going to drink too much at these events, I’m actually ready for moderation now – which is the plan for 2016. No more sobriety, but alcohol and macros all the way. Will someone please call Guinness because I don’t quite believe it myself.

6. I don’t like eating junk food anymore. Fucking bloody fucking hell. Seriously? My one go-to for when times were tough, and it doesn’t even work anymore. After drinking a spectacular amount of Pinotage on Saturday (it’s called Pinotage on Tap, what do you expect from me?) I did what I would normally do which is eat a bunch of food the next day (this was planned, fear not). And to my surprise, disbelief and horror, I didn’t enjoy it. Sure, the food tasted good while it was in my mouth, but afterwards I felt overfull, sluggish, lethargic, bloated, tired and generally like crap. Plus my feet were the size of dinner plates thanks to all the water retention. So bang goes that strategy for making me feel better. I’m alive with pleasure now.

I enjoyed this lunch more than I did the pizza I had on Saturday. I actually want to cry right now.

I enjoyed this lunch more than I did the pizza I had on Saturday. I actually want to cry right now.

7. I don’t even know what my freaking size is anymore. I had to get a lady at Woolies to measure my bra size FFS. 38 D as it turns out. I don’t even remember the last time I was a D. When I started my journey I was about an F, now I’m a paltry D. Someone said to me the other day something about how “oh but you only have small boobs” and most of me wanted to cry. Big boobs and blonde hair has always been my thing. Now that I’ve lost 55kg, oh yay well done me, but now all I have is blonde hair (and even that’s mostly fake). Come back boobs, all is forgiven!

8. This journey really and truly is one of self-discovery, and not just of salad. Here I sit, not knowing what my size is, not knowing how to reward myself, not knowing how to cut loose, not knowing how to enjoy myself – because all the ways in which I used to do these things, and all the things I used to know about myself have been stripped away. Mostly because they were bad, sabotaging, damaging things. I had a minor freakout yesterday – WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW???? – and started feeling resentful because everything I used to love now no longer loves me. And I guess I could have stayed in that negative space, feeling annoyed and irritated and hard done by. But that’s not really me. There are a lot of things I’m unsure about at the moment, but the one thing I know is that I’m a positive, optimistic person. And so instead of getting upset at the fact that certain external stimuli no longer hold the same value for me, I’m going to get excited about the fact that my internal support structure of self-love, worth and esteem has grown to the point where I’m able to validate myself, rather than rely on other people and other things to do it for me. I might not be able to say no, but there’s a lot I’m able to say yes to, and I’m looking forward to finding out what excites me, what soothes me, what cheers me, what fills me with joy and passion now that food and alcohol no longer do. They should never have needed to in the first place, and although it’s taken a fuck long time for me to realise that, there’s no going back now. So let’s see what the future holds. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to find out!

9. Oh and the last thing I’ve realised – never weigh yourself after a weekend of drinking and eating carbs. I found this out a long time ago, so I didn’t even bother weighing myself today. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. Which means if you’re looking for a scale pic, you’ll need to check back in next week 😉