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What’s your New Year’s resolution? Every year this question pops up as it is synonymous with people’s need to “start over” or to change, whether it’s the start of a new diet, exercise programme or changing a job. In the first segment of a series we are running for beginners who want tips on how to lose weight through exercise and nutrition, certified fitness trainer, Shaheem Laattoe, shares his weight loss journey with ROSHAN ABRAHAMS.
In 2002 Shaheem had an epiphany when he noticed a few signs that prompted him to change his lifestyle. It bothered him for a while when he saw he needed to extend his belt size, buy bigger pants and felt “out of breath” after climbing a simple flight of stairs. “I decided to join the gym, did lots of cardio machine exercises but progress was slow as I didn’t focus on my diet.”
When asked if it was difficult to commit at first to follow a fitness plan, he said: “It was difficult and time-consuming because in 2002 we didn’t have the luxury of the internet like we do today. I had to read many magazines, library books and try something for two or so weeks to see if I feel or see any change, then decide should I stick with it or not?”
Over two years of trial and error, Shaheem focused on weightlifting: “I started off at 110kg, to where I was comfortable at 85kg.”
His passion for exercise drove him to regularly build up a sweat and “I hardly fell off the wagon because I enjoyed it so much. However, I definitely (fell off the wagon) with my eating. I had to include more weightlifting in my programme and my diet changed to high protein.”
One of the mistakes made during Shaheem ‘s fitness journey was under-eating. “Most days I was under-eating, not getting enough protein in my diet and with limited knowledge of preparing meals, I often went for chips, chocolates and snacks.”
It is liberating when one loses weight but maintaining the achieved weight can be a bigger challenge. Shaheem believes meal preparation prevents one from reaching for convenient, unhealthy takeaways. “Meal preparation and making certain I eat in line with my goals. Sometimes, it’s a bit all over the show as I may have long distance runs to prepare for like recently with the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (42.2km), where I consumed more carbohydrates and increased my salt intake to offset cramps.”
Shaheem said he sticks to healthy eating during the week but weekends he loosens up a little. “I love the ‘lekker goed’ (luxuries), but I make certain I eat most of the good things most of the time and exercise daily – a weight training and cardio session.
“Weekends I am not as strict with the luxuries, as often when we meet with friends or family, there’s always food involved and most of the time it’s not the best choice,” he said.
His “takeaway” for those who want to embark on a healthier lifestyle: “Eat better, move more and enjoy the process of being fit and healthy but also, don’t be too strict on yourself as most of the time we use food as a part of our bonding time.”
If you have any questions for Shaheem, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
• People with pre-existing medical conditions should consult with a family physician before starting an exercise programme.