“This Is My Number 1 Secret To Losing 21 Kilos”


Women's Health |

A slim hurdle athlete and hockey player at school, Leoni van Zyl packed on the kilos after falling off the fitness wagon at varsity. “I gradually put on weight by not exercising and eating badly,” she recalls. But then Leoni rediscovered her passion for exercise and got back into shape. Today she takes part in mountain bike events whenever she can and runs 10km races. “I’m 21 kilos lighter – yes, that’s right – and I feel fabulous!”

Before: 91.6kg
After: 70.6kg
Height: 1.78m
Time required to reach current weight: 15 months
Lesson learnt: “It takes self-discipline to make the right choice every moment of every day”
Secret weapon: Adventure Boot Camp

The gain

Leoni’s weight problems came to a head when she moved out on her own and began working long hours. “It’s no fun cooking for one, so I ate a lot of takeaways. My standard meal was a burger, chips and a fizzy drink. And my portion sizes were always too big because I enjoyed eating so much!” To make matters worse, she also stopped exercising. “I pretty much became a couch potato,” she admits.

The change

By May 2011 nothing in Leoni’s wardrobe would fit. She was squeezing into size 40 clothing and knew in that moment she’d had enough. “I didn’t like the person in the mirror. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin,” she explains. This realisation inspired her to make a change. “I heard about Adventure Boot Camp for Women through a friend and joined immediately.”

leoni-van-zyl

The lifestyle

Leoni attended boot camp five times a week. Each class included an hour of cardio and strength training, mixed in with ab work. Twelve weeks in, she was down six kilos and had the energy to boost her regime with mountain bike rides and runs. But exercise wasn’t enough, so she also changed her diet. “I don’t believe in quick fixes or short cuts, so I didn’t want to follow an eating programme that wasn’t sustainable.” Instead she made small changes, cutting down her portion sizes and slashing her sugar and starch intake. The rewards Leoni’s journey has meant more to her than just seeing a slimmer figure in the mirror. “Being active has become a lifestyle; I’m more confident and have more energy. I also make sure I have time for exercise. I haven’t rewarded myself officially yet, but I do allow myself occasional treats, like chocolate.”

Leoni’s tips

Safety in numbers. “Join a training group that will support you and hold you accountable.”

You’re worth it. “Don’t lose weight to impress others; do it because you owe it to yourself.”

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