Ncumisa discovers that healthy living is about more than just exercise

Ncumisa Transformation

Fitness has always been part of Ncumisa Pongoma’s life because she’s played sport since the age of seven. However, while at ‘varsity studying to become a qualified Chartered Accountant, she stopped playing to focus on her studies.

“It required a lot of focus and dedication, which took up a lot of my time, so I wanted more flexibility in terms of when I trained.”

But rather than forsake her active lifestyle, Ncumisa joined the gym. “Once you know what an active life offers, you never stop, but training in the gym broadened my understanding of what it means to be healthy.”

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Finding the best balance for a healthy life

Ncumisa explains that playing sport was a subconscious decision and she wasn’t fully aware of the benefits it offered. “As a result, I used to eat anything I wanted and didn’t make an effort of eating healthy foods.”

However, her single-minded focus on exercise without any concern for her diet meant she never achieved the results she wanted.

Her perspective changed when he learnt more about the benefits of living a holistic lifestyle that focuses on both diet and exercise.

“That’s when I achieved my goals. I now follow a diet that contains a good balance of all the nutrients mu body needs and keeps me energised throughout the day. If you pay attention you can easily identify the foods that leave you feeling sluggish and those that give you energy to get you through the day. I’ve come to realise that these energising foods are those that contain the most nutrients.”

In this regard, Ncumisa prefers a vegan approach. “Fruits and vegetables are my best friends. Breakfast is always oats and I eat a combination of fruits and vegetables throughout the remainder of the day.” She includes lots of leafy greens and avos in her meals.

A combined approach works best

She now varies her weekly workout plan, combining running and gym work, depending on her available time because of her demanding job as an auditor.

“My toughest workout is running anything more than 21km, while HIIT workouts are the toughest in the gym.”

Ncumisa says that entering races keeps her motivated to run often. “I feel happy after each run and it is a good stress reliever.”

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What I love about running 🏃🏾‍♀️ ___________________________________ 1. For the time I’m on the road whether it is an hour or two, I only focus on my mental and physical strength and nothing else in the world matters except the positive affirmations I repeat in my head.💆🏾‍♀️💆🏾‍♀️ 2. I feel a sense of achievement by the time 08:00 hits the ⏰. While most people are only starting their day, I have already felt a sense of achievement for 2 hours and I am just continuing with that momentum 🏃🏾‍♀️🏃🏾‍♀️🏃🏾‍♀️ 3. It challenges me to never be complacent, each route has its different challenges and that forces me to always strive to do better and never makes me feel like “I have arrived”.🙌🏾🙌🏾 4. To all the strangers that run in the mornings, thank you for your enthusiastic, “hello’s, good mornings and smiles”😊😊😊. They make a difference in my day so continue spreading the positivity 🙌🏾. ___________________________________ 📷: @blessed_ngwenya_ #NcumFit #Fitnesslifestyle #healthylifestyle #fitspo #Vegan #fitnessmotivation #abs #Fitgirl #mentalfitness #fitnessfun #Skipping #runner #Runnersofinstagram #OMTOM @adidasza #HereToCreate #OMTOM2019

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An average week with no disturbances looks like:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday – 5-10km run
  • Monday to Thursday – Strength training at gym
  • Saturday – 21km race or leg training in the gym.

“I include lots of HIIT workouts because you need to be a strong runner to improve your pace and endurance. That’s when you can run longer distances and achieve faster times.”

However, Ncumisa is mindful to take at least one rest day a week. ”Your muscles can only recover when you rest. There is no point in exercising all the time without giving yourself a break. I found that this has helped me become stronger.”

Defining her approach

Ncumisa says it was only when she broadened her horizons by following other influencers on social media that the right approach became clear to her.

Kevin Hart is a global celebrity who she rates highly as a source of inspiration and information. “He has managed to follow two passions successfully. He’s a fitness inspiration based on his success and he is also one of the best comedians in the world.”

By connecting what these people ate and how their bodies looked, Ncumisa formulated her plan. “I decided to try it for a month and was very strict. I only had a cheat meal on weekends and mainly ate chicken breasts and tuna with lots of green vegetables.”

After a month of clean eating, Ncumisa says she started to see her abs and felt lighter and more energised throughout the day.

“I then started reading about vegetarian eating and veganism, which is when I decided to try that approach. It made it easier for me to eat healthily because there aren’t many vegan junk food options. Based on the results I saw during that period, I’ve never looked back.”

Lessons learnt through her experience

Based on her experience, Ncumisa realised the importance of giving your body the correct fuel so that it can function optimally.

“I also learnt that you cannot cheat your way into having the body you want. You have to make healthy living a lifestyle. That’s when it becomes second nature and in the process you get the results you want.”

She is now working to build a fitness brand with her gym partner to impart this knowledge to others and positively impact on their lives.

“We want to create a friendlier environment for people because the fitness industry can be intimidating and quite harsh. We want to create a sense of body positivity among both guys and girls by removing the judgement that pervades the industry.

Quick facts:

  • Favourite music to train to? Anything slow and mellow, it makes me forget I am training.
  • Favourite exercise? Lunges
  • Favourite cheat meal? Steers fries
  • What do you do to relax? I go to the park and don’t think about anything.
  • What’s in your gym bag? Earphones, towel, water bottle, jacket, work clothes and shoes.
  • Lives: Johannesburg
  • Qualifications: Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting Sciences
  • Age: 23
  • Weight: 60kg


Connect with her on Instagram or Twitter.



Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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