“My Fitness Journey Led Me To Complete Body Acceptance”

"For the first time in years, I am no longer self-conscious about my body."


Cally Silberbauer |

Yolandi Stegmann found herself at the lowest point of her existence at the end of last year. As a self-admitted emotional-eater, she decided that instead of turning to her usual crutch, she’d turn to exercise as a coping mechanism. “Whilst it started out as a desperate distraction, little did I know I had embarked on a [fitness] journey of self-discovery, healing, and growth,” she recalls.

Here’s how it went.

Yolandi Stegmann

  • Occupation: Lead payroll
  • Age: 35
  • City: Cape Town
  • Weight before: 86kg
  • Weight after: 73kg
  • Height: 1,76m
  • The time required to reach current weight: 10 months
  • The secret weapon to her weight loss: Every day is a new opportunity

The Gain

“My weight has always fluctuated,” Yolandi admits. When she did reach a goal weight, it was always a struggle to maintain it. “I ate a lot of junk food, mostly takeout, and I was an emotional eater.” Along with this, she would also enjoy several glasses of red wine — by several, we’re talking occasionally the whole bottle with a meal.

“I was very inactive during this period, your typical couch potato,” Yolandi continues. While she enjoyed hiking, she often felt self-conscious and uncomfortable. “I suffer from depression and anxiety,” she adds, noting that she often had to deal with feelings of not even wanting to get out of bed. “I finally reached a point where I’d stare at myself in the mirror wondering how I had gotten to this point.”

READ MORE: “Getting To Grips With My Emotional Eating Habit Helped Me Lose 28 Kgs — And Now I’m A Personal Trainer”

The Change

In December 2018, Yolandi went through a breakup that left her at the lowest point of her existence. “I turned to exercise as a way of processing this pain and rejection,” she explains. “I hated the way I looked. There was no self-love and I had zero self-confidence.” It was time for a change, she just wasn’t sure what or how yet.

“I wanted to incorporate regular exercise into my life,” Yolandi says. The gym environment didn’t appeal to her, but rather she opted for excising out in the fresh air. Enter ABC Bootcamp. “Joining a group would add accountability and having a personal trainer would provide direction and structure.”

When it came to food, Yolandi didn’t follow a specific diet or restrict her eating in any major way. “For me, it was imperative to implement permanent changes,” she explains. “I focused on improving my relationship with food and making healthier choices across the board.”

READ MORE: 5 Mindful Eating Tips That Will Change Your Relationship With Food

The Lifestyle

“During the first few months of ABC Bootcamp, my diet didn’t change that much,” Yolandi admits. “I cultivated healthier habits such as not skipping any meals, increasing my protein, drinking more water and choosing my carbs wisely.” And while she adds that she does still enjoy the occasional glass of red, she’s definitely cut back.

ABC Bootcamp consists of short-distance running, weight training, obstacle courses, core training, circuit training, and jump rope. “For the first few camps, I trained for a minimum of three times a week,” Yolandi adds. While it was a hard routine to stick to in the beginning, the girls at ABC would help to keep her motivated and committed.

The Rewards

“It took a while for me to see the kilos come off since I made gradual changes,” she continues. “But once I physically started to feel better, it became easier to stick to [this fitness journey].” After a few months, Yolandi started to notice the kilos coming off. “Once people started noticing a difference, for instance, the girls at camp, they started commenting, and this just motivated me to keep pushing,” she continues.

It was more than just a healthy eating and fitness journey for Yolandi. “It was also the emotional struggle that I had to overcome.” And the rewards were so worth it. “For the first time in years I am no longer self-conscious about my body,” she says. “I feel much healthier, more energetic and I am less easily fatigued.” She also completed the 40-day challenge at ABC Bootcamp which was a big achievement for her. Plus, it’s alleviated her depression and anxiety.

Yolandi’s Tips

  • Every day is a new beginning. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today. Get rid of that mindset that you’ll start tomorrow. Don’t set yourself up to fail — be realistic, and remember that something is always better than nothing.
  • Do NOT compare yourself to anyone else. Your journey is your journey so progress at your own pace. The only healthy and worthwhile comparison is you yesterday versus you today. Focus on your own goals and accomplishments and if you must compete, compete with yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who are going to motivate and inspire you. You need support and encouragement so surround yourself with friends and family that will keep you motivated and accountable. Especially on those days where you just want to give up.

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