Lebogang Sithole was first motivated to lose weight while planning a trip to the Bahamas for her birthday.
Unfortunately, her bikini body never materialised, and today she knows the reasons why.
“While I have always loved fitness, I didn’t understand anything about exercise and nutrition. I didn’t even know what a calorie deficit was. And I lacked discipline. I would exercise for two days and stop for months. That is why I didn’t have that bikini body for my birthday.”
The calorie conundrum
Lebo thought that being active and healthy simply meant going to the gym to burn calories.
“I would then come back and put whatever calories I wanted back in because I felt I had earned it during the workout. I also didn’t know what I was supposed to eat so I would eat anything I could find!”
But Lebo soon learnt that you can’t outrun a bad diet.
“Exercise should create a calorie deficit, and sometimes people feel the need to reward their physical activity. You might not burn as many calories during exercise as you think. So knowing how many calories you put in versus the calories you burn, will help you get results.”
Lebo learnt this truth and many others after she decided to join a health and wellness programme.
Diet dos and don’ts
“At that point, I started to understand that you can’t lose weight with exercise when you follow a bad diet. I needed to find a new routine for myself and to balance everything.”
She had also never heard of the 80:20 rule, which suggests that you need to focus 80% of your efforts on nutrition and the remaining 20% on exercises.
“These revelations were game-changers for me. Shifting the focus to my food and nutrition has had a huge transformative role in my fitness journey.”
While Lebo does not follow a specific diet, she changed her bad eating habits and introduced healthier ones.
“I’ve always trained but it was only when I changed my diet that my body started to respond.”
Lebo’s transformation stats
- Starting weight: 87kg
- Current weight: 65kg
- Body fat loss: 4.8%
Improving her food choices and nutrition have also helped Lebo with her sleep and energy levels.
“Following the right nutrition guide has changed my whole mood! I appreciate the fact that I can still eat and achieve my body transformation goals. What’s important is understanding the right food groups as opposed to what not to eat.”
As someone who loves to plan, Lebo finds it easy to juggle staying healthy with her busy lifestyle.
“I always like to plan. I never miss breakfast as it gives me the energy that I need to last until lunchtime. I’m vigilant about making sure my son also gets a healthy breakfast every morning, and we both have healthy snacks in between meals. I tend to choose easy meals that don’t take too long to prepare but are still healthy.”
Lebo also keeps temptations out of her kitchen by not buying foods that they don’t need and she always has a list when she go grocery shopping and she sticks to it.
With regard to her training, Lebo steadfastly believes that the early bird catches the workout worm.
“The first step to success is to get up early. I wake up every day at 4:30am and do my personal development and breakfast. I then go to the gym for an hour and a half.”
Lebo has learnt through her experience that when you start exercising, the progress you make happens inside your body first.
“Your heart is learning how to pump blood more efficiently, your body is creating more mitochondria in response to this new demand, and your muscles are getting stronger to adapt to your workouts. These are things that simply won’t show up on a scale.”
Lebo turns to social media when she needs more support and encouragement, with Instagram her primary source of motivation.
“Instagram helps keep me accountable and committed to my personal goals. Getting encouragement and support from my followers when I put up a photo showing my progress motivates me to continue with this journey. It’s no longer about me but it’s about how many lives I can change with my consistency! My transformation helps me preach health and fitness through social media platforms to impact other lives.”
“When I come home from my morning gym session, I get my son ready for school and then drop him off. Then I do PT sessions with my clients before coming home. After getting ready for school, I run and then have lunch.”
One day a week, Lebo does classes on Zoom in the evening. After the session, she helps her son with homework, cooks dinner, then sits down and chats about his day at school.
“Having that moment with my son is important to me because I get to bond more with him. It’s easy to get carried away when things get busy, so having that quality time with him is important.”
As her day winds down, Lebo checks her emails and diary and prepares for the next day.
“Much later on, I have a bath and do my reflection about the day. Lastly, I pray and go to bed.”
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.