Fulufhelo Siphuma from Pretoria has a story we can all relate to, but with one glaring difference.
Where most of us struggle to lose weight due to a combination of poor eating habits, work stress and pressure, and a lack of exercise, she’s had to work her butt off to add the weight needed to achieve the body of her dreams – more muscle weight that is!
Fulufhelo had always been active. As a kid she would fetch water from the communal street tap or draw water from a spring. “I also did numerous chores around the house and I played sports at school, even though we had very few facilities.”
This ensured she kept both body and mind in top shape, which culminated in a grade 12 pass as the best economics learner in the Limpopo province. This outstanding achievement enabled Fulufhelo to enroll in the Chartered Accountant stream at university.
“Due to the course work and load it was nearly impossible to do anything else, so I became less active. I also relied more on take-outs and convenience foods due to my time constraints.” As a consequence, her energy levels plummeted and her health suffered.
This pattern persisted as she entered the workplace, until she finally became fed up with feeling tired and unhealthy. “My days were filled with long periods of sitting, take-out meals between meetings, and computer screen eye strain. This wasn’t conducive to my mental and physical well-being.”
And while Fulufhelo wasn’t overweight, she didn’t have the sculpted and toned physique she aspired to. “I also realised that prevention is better than cure, as I didn’t want to have a health scare before I could actually start taking better care of my health.”
Getting back on track
To remedy her situation she went back to gym. “I first explored exercise to increase my productivity in the workplace and my health, focusing predominantly on bodyweight exercises at first. As my energy levels rose, I also benefited from improved mental clarity.”
She also swapped the take-outs and simple carbs in the form of cakes and chocolates for healthy pre-prepared meals that she took to work each day.
“Once I educated myself on the importance of a healthy diet, I realised that my old approach had been far from healthy, even if I didn’t pick up weight.”
Through this process, Fulufhelo learnt that no workout is good enough to transform a body without a solid diet plan behind it. “Once I got over the hurdle of actually showing up to the gym consistently, I then had to ensure that my results were not sabotaged by poor eating habits.”
As she progressed on her transformation journey, Fulufhelo’s focus shifted to a program aimed at building muscle. “I had fallen in love with the gym and wanted to see where I could take my physique, so I added weight training to my routine.”
Despite the shift in her training approach, Fulufhelo struggled to add muscle. “I had a hard time eating enough calories, so I started tracking my daily intake and expenditure in a journal to ensure I ate sufficient protein and kept my body in a positive calorie balance to achieve my goals.”
She also focused on consuming the right foods before and after her workouts. “Once I started fuelling my body this way, consuming high-quality carbs before a session and eating lean protein, complex carbs and good fats after my training, I started to see results.”
Since she uncovered this formula to success, Fulufhelo says her confidence has grown and new opportunities have emerged.
“By empowering myself with the knowledge needed to achieve transformation success, I’m now in a position to help others achieve their goals. That is how the Fulufhelo Siphuma-fitness Facebook community was born. I now use it as a platform to share tips to my over 32,000 followers. I’ve also started fitness boot camps and have a regular radio fitness talk slot as well. Through these platforms I hope to instil my new-found confidence and self-love in other women who may be struggling to find their inspiration.”
- Lives: Pretoria
- Occupation: Audit manager
- Weight before: 49kg
- Weight after: 62kg
- Time required to reach goal: A year
- Favourite cheat meal? Woolworths choc chip muffins.
- Favourite exercises? Weighted lunges, deadlifts and leg presses
- Secret weapon to your fitness journey: Discipline and proper time management
- Favourite motivational quote: “Discipline trumps motivation every time.”
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.