“I Became A Competitive Cyclist After Giving My Diet A Makeover”


Women's Health |

At age 13 she weighed 78kg, but Chennel has discovered the secret to weight loss. And after losing 28kg, she’s never looked – or felt – better!

Chennel Jagesur has completed more than 21 timed races in two and a half years, which is quite remarkable considering that by age 13 she weighed 78kg. “I was always the kid with the sick note because I couldn’t fit into my PE shorts,” she says. Now, after losing 28kg, Chennel has never looked – or felt – better.

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Before: 80kg
After: 52kg
Height: 1.54m
Time required to reach current weight: 17 months
Lesson learnt: “It’s not about being skinny; it’s about being strong”
Secret weapon: Low-GI eating, cycling and trail running

The Gain

“My immediate family is overweight and the history of weight-related illness runs deep,” says Chennel, who lost both her grandparents to lifestyle diseases. As a student, unhealthy habits were setting her up for the same fate. “I would binge on chips, cakes, white bread and creamy pastas. I couldn’t balance exercise and studies either, and found myself constantly glued to my desk, working, while eating quick, cheap meals.”

The Change

By the end of 2010, Chennel was more unfit than her parents – even becoming breathless when she bent to tie her shoelaces. “I was wearing a size 40 and deeply embarrassed by my body. On days when the weather was scorching, I would remain covered up in long pants and long sleeves. I was very unhappy both mentally and physically.” Enough was enough.

The Lifestyle

Chennel contacted a dietician at her local clinic. “I began a structured low-GI eating plan that was non-restrictive and satisfying. I ate three meals a day and two snacks; in fact, I ate more than I did before, but still lost weight! I learnt how to read labels and chose to give up drinking to attain my goals faster.” Chennel lost 10kg over five months. “I felt invincible – as though nothing could hold me back. I began going to gym three times a week for spinning classes. As the weight fell away, I incorporated light weights and circuit training. I dived into my first Aquellé Tour Durban (40km) without any training. Bravery and a desire to defy the odds helped me through it.”

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The Reward

“Among the many arduous races (Engen Dynamic, Hypersure Toti 69er, Tour Durban) I’ve done, completing the 2012 Amashova Durban Classic cycle race (109km) in four hours, 22 minutes, has to have been my all-time greatest achievement. I’ve also completed two duathlons and my new goal is to participate in the next half Ironman series.”

Chennel’s tips

Talk to the experts. “If you’re sick, you see a doctor. Why should weight loss be any different? Dieticians offer support and advice.”

Love the outdoors. “Change the perception that your perfect body lies waiting for you in the gym. See the world as your playground.”

Read everything. “By knowing more, you empower yourself to make the right food choices.”

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