Let’s Break The Ice, what are we drinking?
We are drinking a shot called the “Invincible”. It’s packed full of Turmeric, Ginger and Cayenne Pepper; which is good for your gut and will kick-start your metabolism. So I always try to have this whenever I am at Wellness. Just a warning – It’s going to burn, I promise you!
Cheers! Wow, it burns!
Let’s start at the beginning, what was the moment you realised you wanted to make a lifestyle change?
For people that don’t know my story- I, like many women, was caught up in something called “Yoyo dieting”. I think I started my first diet when I was probably 7 years old. I was in grade 1 and I remember being slightly more overweight than the other girls in my class- probably about 7kg’s heavier. My parents were a little concerned and they put me on an eating plan – which started the cycle of Yoyo dieting. I was unhealthy and was carrying more weight than normal so something did have to happen but I don’t think they could have predicted what would happen in time.
So from 13 years old until about 20 years old, my weight was never stable, I was either gaining excessive weight or losing weight, I was never in the “maintenance” stage where many normal sized women are.
Whilst I was studying a Law degree and Post Grad – I didn’t have much time to eat a balanced diet and certainly didn’t have time to gym. I then gained almost 50kg’s over a 3 year period and was weighing 114kgs. That’s basically gaining an entire child. The “Ah ha” moment came for me in July last year- I got quite sick and it wasn’t going away so the doctor informed me that I had to do something or I would face catastrophic health concerns. I was also told that I would be diabetic in two months’ time if I didn’t change my lifestyle.
What was so interesting was that even when I looked in mirror I was in so much denial. I felt like I had something called reverse body dysmorphia. Most girls who are bulimic or anorexic will see themselves as bigger whereas I saw myself as smaller- I was in complete denial about how big I actually was.
Today, having dropped 35kg’s – people say that I must feel amazing; and yes it is great – but at the end of the day it’s the little things that have been the biggest achievements; for instance I can now have a conversation while climbing a flight of stairs and not be sweating and out of breath by the time I have done two flights; which previously was embarrassing for me.
The way that you think about yourself has surely changed because of that?
Oh absolutely! I am much kinder to myself and have more positive thoughts. “Treat meals” (that’s what I call it) actually form part of my program and I need those meals in order to do the physiological things which need to occur. For instance, having those meals at certain times will spike my insulin and leptin levels, which help to promote weight loss.
My thinking around nutrition and portion sizes has completely changed.
I started fitness girl in January and for about 7 months – I never had guidance from my coach on what a healthy portion size was. I would go to a healthy establishment and I would order a chicken salad and a cacao smoothie – that meal alone, in terms of calories, could be more than a Steers burger.
I had to retain my mind and learn that eating a lot of healthy food could still be bad for you – because of your calorie intake. I don’t weigh every single item of food now – but I have learnt that I should eat healthy and in moderation.
A lot happens to us as children that affect us as adults. How did your childhood assist with the constant weight gain?
I’m so glad you said that- I can give you an example of where I think my positive reinforcement of food came from. When I was very young, I had separation anxiety specifically with my mom. I think it was dormant in my first two years of school – but something happened thereafter, I don’t necessarily know what started this thought – but I was convinced that I was going to be abandoned at school. It was a really hectic time in my life. I don’t know what triggered it but I remember it would be story time and remember grinding my teeth because I had so much anxiety.
I was then put into cognitive behavioural therapy. My mom started to park outside the therapist’s office, where I could see her – The therapist told me that if I was able to cope with seeing my mom drive away, then she would reward me with liquorice. She didn’t foresee that this would start a healthy obsession or reward based thinking when it came to food. So every time I did something great (in the future); be it a celebration of some kind, I would reward myself with food.
What made you decide to put this journey on social media?
It is such an interesting question – To be honest, there wasn’t really a moment where I thought I wanted my journey to be an Instagram blog. I was quite familiar with Instagram and enjoyed my photography account which I had created. I then created a secondary fitness account and just put some healthy cool things up. I never thought that it would turn out like this.
It was never about creating a brand- it was just a journey to living a healthier lifestyle. This account was my own personal commitment device – a way to hold myself accountable throughout my weight loss journey. Things started moving quickly though, and I got my first thousand followers in six months. I was surprised that people really do want to see this kind of stuff.
I have tried to always be as honest as I can be – it is a very vulnerable journey and I have never wanted to make it seem glamourous in any way, because it isn’t.
How do you put in 100% into your life? In the context that you are a lawyer, fitness influencer, involved in a relationship, have family and events happening all the time?
I have very good time management and planning skills. You always make time for the things that matter most to you, and if it is important to you then you will do it; otherwise the only person you are letting down is yourself. I try to sit down on a Sunday, and look at my coming week – and plan a schedule for myself; ensuring that gym falls within the week, around other plans.
Is mindset key to achieving goals?
Absolutely- everything starts in the mind. Eating the right food and going to gym is consequential. Making the decision in your mind to get out of bed when your alarm goes off and do the things that you have committed to do- that is where the strength comes. Strength is the decision that you make before you take the action because once you have made the decision, the ball is rolling. For me, I think, your mind-set has to be right first before you will achieve anything because if your mind doesn’t believe it, you won’t achieve it.
Would you have been able to do any of this without the team that surrounds you, such as your coach?
That’s an interesting question. I think that I do owe a lot to my coach, Jack and to SES. I was in a position where I needed to be accountable to somebody else – rather than myself…which helped me stay on track.
As much as I wanted to do this myself and make myself proud, I also wanted to be a good ambassador for SES and really show others what SES can do for you. It is more than just a diet and workout plan that I get from them; it’s also the emotional support.
I have had so much support from many people including my boyfriend Dean, as well as my family. So the people I have surrounded this journey with have definitely assisted with the outcomes.
That’s why my Instagram account is so amazing, because people that are following my journey are sometimes people that have had the same experiences as me. We support each other online and that is a win-win.
How often do you change up your workouts?
About every 12 to 15 weeks and then things will change up slightly from there. Essentially, my workouts are based around cardio and strength training. I can also do other classes at SWEAT1000 for instance, as long as I get through my main workouts.
In the last few weeks, I have noticed that strength training (using weights) has actually moulded my body so much more than cardio ever has. In the beginning of my journey, I had a lot of weight to lose, so I was doing a lot of cardio but my body didn’t look toned. In the last few weeks we have upped my strength and lowered my cardio and what I have noticed is that even though I technically haven’t lost huge amounts on the scale, my body is still changing every single day.
If you are a female and you want to burn fat and tone – cardio alone is not going to do that for you. Cardio is great but it has its place, but for a toned physique, I would recommend that you do around 20 minutes of High Intensity Training – such as sprinting, incline walking and/or spinning; and then go into lifting weights.
Do you believe that anything is possible?
Absolutely; you can do anything that you believe you can do.
Make the commitment, believe in it, focus on it, visualize it, eat, sleep and breathe it. People need to realize that they might have these amazing dreams but if they are not putting in the work, they will never achieve their goals. Visualization and commitment are my keys to ensuring that anything is possible.
If someone is starting out and wants to lose weight, what’s your advice for them?
I think people that want to start the weight loss journey, need to be very honest with themselves and figure out whether they are prepared to put in the hard work and the hours. They need to be aware of what is required of them and that they should wait until they are fully prepared for the task (mentally). Then if you want to do it, just do it. Educate yourself on correct eating – it is all available online.
Also they should follow fitness people on Instagram, as you can get workouts and nutritional guides from some of them. Moral of the story is that you don’t need to break the bank in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
What do you love most about yourself?
I’ve always loved that I am approachable and have an engaging personality, whilst being able to chat with anybody in a room. I love that I am warm-hearted; and enjoy listening to peoples stories.
What do I love about myself today… I love that I can fit into jeans (laughs)! I can finally wear the clothes I have always wanted to wear – and that’s really cool.
Have you discovered a new Tracy or found the old one?
I’ve found the old Tracy. I became completely introverted at one stage which was strange because I am such an extrovert. I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to see people; and just didn’t want to be around. I didn’t even want to eat in public because I was so worried of what people would think. I cared so much about other people’s opinions of me and was in such a dark place that I completely lost who I was.
I have completely found my true self again and have also grown as a person. Throughout this journey I have developed my self-discipline, commitment and learnt what self-love is.
What do you see now when you look in the mirror?
I am almost 100% happy with my body – and am working towards being able to confidently wear a high waist bikini to the beach, by the end of the year. I want to lose a bit more weight though, which will ensure that I am in a more content place.
It’s very important to set goals and strive for things in your life.
Why do you think you have been recognized by some of South Africa’s top brands?
I don’t want to put words in their mouth – but I think it’s because of my honesty. It’s not a glamourous journey that I am on, and I have looked to show the truth behind it. I think that brands noticed that I was the one brave enough to tell this story, on “behalf” of so many women.
My journey isn’t different to anyone else’s journey, weight loss is weight loss but I think I am telling the story of the average weight loss journey and I think no one has really done that.
There are days when I am in tears and complaining – yet I don’t try to hide this side from social media. I’m very blessed to be working with the likes of Woolworths, Dermalogica, Adidas and Wellness Warehouse. These are brands that I have loved my entire life. It’s crazy how everything works out- I’m so blessed to have their support.
Do you have a workout playlist?
I do, but you are going to laugh! Mostly filled with Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift songs; and some pop songs. I love to listen to emotional music when I train – my pick of them is – “Rise Up” by Andrea Day. The words resonate with my journey – it really was about me rising up and taking initiative in my life; showing that anything is possible.
If you could Break The Ice with anyone, past or present, who would it be and what would you do?
Two-fold- the first would be my grandfather (on my dad’s side) and my grandmother (on my mom’s side). I have been told that I am very similar to both of them, yet we never met.
My musical side comes from my grandfather; and he was apparently also outspoken as well as assertive.
My grandmother was very extroverted, also had anxiety issues but was a very warm social butterfly. Apparently, we are the same person and that is probably why mom and I have such a close bond.
Celebrity wise- I love Chinae Alexannder, also a brand ambassador for Adidas. She is very real, down to earth and tells it like it is. I relate to her a lot because I feel like we are quite similar. She has also got an incredible Instagram page, so I would love to Break The Ice with her.
Photography & Videography: Justin Coomber
Fitness Girl: Tracey Lee Lusty
Host: Kendal Olivia Barrett