How gym broke and made me

I have been very vocal about my gym and weight loss journey, mostly as a reflection for myself and as a way to inspire others.

One of the greatest and perhaps worst thing about social media that I have come to realise is that it reflects a very narrow reflection of a persons life, people only show you what they want you to see. Personally, when I post images of my gym journey on social media, there is a checklist I go through before the image or post gets uploaded, I have found that this provides a very bias reflection on what I’ve gone through on my journey – Emotionally, spiritually and physically.

When I started taking gym seriously I was 22 years old and 15kg overweight according to my BMI, for the first few months, my gym routine was as follows:

  • 5 minute treadmill walk with a speed of 4 mph
  • I would push myself to jog for one minute at a speed of 6 mph (This was not always successful and I always found that I ran between 30-45 seconds and was panting straight after)
  • 10 squats (Although I later found out that I was doing them totally wrong)
  • 20 Skips (Jumping rope)

For me the above gym routine was a job well done!! I did not weigh myself and I ate everything I felt like eating, life was bliss. The furthest I could hike was Rhodes Memorial and this was with struggle, I could not go any further.

The thing about gym and health is that the decision to change and adapt a lifestyle is entirely up to oneself, I had to reach the decision that I was not happy with my appearance and that my weight was sinking me further into depression.

On the 30 of December 2015 I had about 1 or 2 months of serious gym (At this point I had lost around 4kgs of weight and was dedicated to gym), I was having a “chilled gym day”, work was closed, it was the festive season and I was only eating meat and salads when out, on this day gym was relatively quiet, I looked around and about 80% of the girls were so skinny and “fit”, I felt like a pig, I got so depressed that I couldn’t even finish my gym routine. My thighs were huge, my stomach was big, I had no shape and I felt like I will never reach my goal, I went to the ladies bathroom and balled my eyes out. I had always referred to myself as a confident and level headed person but I had never felt as small as I did on that day. After crying for about 10 minutes I dried my face and decided to shower and go home. While dressing up I had a conversation with this lady about health etc. she told me how she felt so fat (She was probably 10kg less than me at that time…Sigh!!). This lady went on to say “Oh but you must probably be 80kgs, that’s not bad  considering you’re 28 years old” YES, SHE DID!! I could not respond, tears just filled my eyes, I got my bag and left.

For about 2 weeks, I went on starvation, I only ate fruit and veg (As minimum as possible). For the first week this was hard as I had my mom around and she always cooks up a storm, I had to lie and find ways to make her think I was eating the food, when she left I went back on my “Starvation diet” with force, It became worse as I started to skip dinner. My gym lessons were not productive as I did not have enough energy for a proper session.

I remember one day I was at lunch break with my colleagues from my previous job and one of my colleagues, Claire (She is one of those people who eat whatever they want with no gym and still not gain weight), I don’t quite remember what she was eating but I looked at the brown packaging and said “That looks so delicious”, of course my colleagues thought that it was weird that I would say a food packaging looks delicious without actually seeing what was inside and started being concerned about my eating habits, that helped me realise I had an issue. I started experiencing muscle problems as I was not getting enough vitamins, my gym instructor had to call a serious intervention as I was not following his eating instructions and not attending sessions.

I had to sit myself down and decide on the way forward, “Do I want temporary results which will ultimately have a negative effect on my overall health” or “Do I want great results by following a healthy lifestyle and taking care of myself”? Ultimately, the decision was mine and I had to decide. As people we all have different body types and the worst thing to do when attempting to lose weight is to compare your body to those of others around you. For instance, my big sister eats all the junk food in the world and she never gains weight, in fact she is trying to gain 5kgs now and she is eating as much as she can but instead she is still on the same weight, which further proves my point about different body types.

The great thing about falling so low is that you have nowhere else to go but up. I had to tell myself that it cannot get any worse than what it already was, the only option I had at that point was to move forward. It’s so easy for someone who has never had weight issues to tell you that “it’s not that serious” but please walk a mile in another person’s shoes before coming to that conclusion. Imagine not being able to fit into your favourite clothing, only being able to buy on the XXL section or Extra Size when shopping (In your early 20s or teenage years) it shatters one’s confidence. Ultimately, we all need to find balance, a balance between being overweight and being skinny and the balance is being healthy, confident and happy.

I have learnt so much since I took my first step on this journey and it has made me a better person. When people ask me what my secret is I tell them that it requires discipline and character. You need to forgive yourself, it’s not ideal but sometimes we find ourselves eating that chocolate slice or that extra pizza slice with everything on it, you need to have a goal and work towards achieving it, work your butt off, appreciate who you are and know that eventually things will come together in full circle, patience is key. Before you criticize your body, remember that it is keeping you alive. Find the balance between health and happiness and always…ALWAYS…applaud yourself for all your efforts. Do not be discouraged when you see “Fit” people on social media as you don’t know the bigger picture on what it took for them to get there. Embrace your body and your own journey!

blog-gym-journey-picture   gym-journey-blog-picture


Published by Sibahle Teyise

Mholo, Hello, Groete, Sawubona, Lotjhani, Dumela, Ndaa, Avuxeni! I’m Sibahle Teyise, JAGWAT founder and head content writer. I have an Undergraduate Degree from UCT majoring in Public Policy and Literature, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma from UCT specialising in Marketing, Events Management and Business Communication. I am an author under construction, working on my book to be published soon- "When It Happens For Girls Like Us". I started JAGWAT in 2017, following the success of my personal blog - Tales Of The Mute. The inspiration to start JAGWAT came after hearing the sad stories of women being murdered on a daily basis, the violence against women as well as the many stories of women taking their own lives because of suffering in silence. JAGWAT provides a platform for women to take back the power by sharing their stories on a public central platform and with this, they show other women that they are not alone. I believe that when women stand together great things happen. No women should suffer in silence and the more we speak up as women and create a sisterhood and support group, the more powerful we can become. I am passionate about communities with women from disadvantaged backgrounds and JAGWAT supports Women Initiatives as well as making a difference in various schools from the township by offering assistance to learners in the form of mentorship and tutoring. I am a self-proclaimed book-worm and although I am a shy person, I am a motivational public speaker. I was heavily bullied in primary as well as high school and I am extremely passionate about Anti-Bullying campaigns and initiatives. I read, I write, I gym, I pray, I cycle, , I hike, I run, and pretty much everything in between. I am a weight loss motivator having lost 16kg in the past 2 years, which is quite an achievement for someone who can’t cook. (Thank GOD for food that can easily be boiled!!) I am a firm believer that an empowered women can empower other women and JAGWAT aims to be that platform for Women Empowerment. On a lighter note: I have the worst music playlist in the history of playlists.

21 thoughts on “How gym broke and made me

  1. This is such an inspiring post Sibahle, thank you for sharing such intimate details of your journey, you are an inspiration to many.


  2. Thanx for sharing. I want to loose weight and I struggle with discipline hei. But reading your inspirational story assures me that if i put my mind to it I can do it…thanx


    1. Thank you for the support Aquinar. You can definitely do it, all that is required is discipline. Please shout if you need any extra pointers


  3. So proud of you girl…keep it up, gym is life. Mna, whenever i feel down as soon as i hit the gym i seem to forget yonke into that was bothering me but i suddenly find solutions to that problem. All in all…IYANDIVUSELELA.


    1. Hi Thulani, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I feel the exact same way, gym helps improve ones mood. I appreciate all the support.


  4. Yhooo mntase you inspire me like for real.. . .what is funny is that I am also 22years I even loose confidence😞,slowly but surely nam ndizoqhela BT ts not easy especially xa u gym(a)endlin….thanks cc keep it up😘❤


    1. Thank you so much for the support. It’s a very difficult journey and it’s even worse when you don’t have the proper support, have a look at our facebook page – Tales of the mute – I will be posting weekly tips. If you have any questions, just let me know


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