We all want to be our own #bodygoals, but that’s often easier said than done. Mamakiri Molokwane knows the love-hate relationship that sometimes comes with fitness – but through battling to find her feet, this 25-year-old medical student finally struck a balance. Now she wants to help others do the same…
The Yo-Yo Game
Mamakiri has always loved being active. “My fitness journey started back in high school, but I was unable to pay for sports trips, so I joined the gym. I was surprised at how the female body can [transform] and enjoyed the way my body changed, so I invested in magazines for guidance and inspiration. During that time, I also gained an interest in medicine.”
Although Mamakiri loved the way her body was changing, her academics were suffering. “I matriculated with horrendous results. I had a dream of becoming a doctor, but I didn’t push myself. I had a fantastic body, but I wasn’t accepted [to study medicine].”
She went on to study food technology, but her heart wasn’t in it. “A lecturer mentioned that it’s better to follow your dreams than to be miserable in a career you don’t want. I called my mom and told her I wanted to improve my matric results.” So Mamakiri redid her matric, passed well and was accepted to study medicine at the University of Pretoria. “With the joy came weight gain… I felt like I deserved the food and went from size 32 to 38 in seven months,” she says.
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Realising she was heading down an unhealthy path, Mamakiri started following any diet she could find. “I did tons of cardio and aerobics – I was almost fainting because I was so desperate to lose weight. I got a little distracted from school. A year later I’d only managed to lose seven kilos, weighing in at 70kg,” she explains. She felt ashamed – fitness was becoming something she used as punishment for what she ate.
Tired of the constant diets, she found a trainer and worked out with her for three months. “She taught me that it wasn’t just about what I ate, but about the portions too.” This got Mamakiri back on track, but she would soon fall back into old habits.
It was clear that her relationship with food was the problem. “I wasn’t disciplined and consistent. I would eat ‘clean’ the whole week, then train hard on Saturday so I could eat junk food. The following day I’d wake up feeling fat, so I felt pressure to cut calories and be strict, then repeat this cycle over again.”
Given her area of study, Mamakiri realised she was displaying signs of binge eating disorder. “I would binge on popcorn, oats and all-bran flakes. While you may consider this to be healthy food, I’d eat uncontrollably till I was full, to the point where I would cry – remember that these foods are super-high in fibre. This cycle continued for months until I confided in my ex-personal trainer and she helped me [to] heal my mind [and change] how I view food.”
Finding Her Feet
Fast forward to the present, and Mamakiri is happier – and healthier. “I can’t say I’m healed from the disorder, but I see food as fuel now, and when I’m stressed, I take a walk or visit a friend. I don’t limit my food and make sure I eat for my goals. I’ve learned to differentiate between hunger and thirst and eliminated sugar altogether. Living with no sugar means fewer cravings!”
Now Mamakiri is focusing on sports medicine. “I enjoy giving my patients advice on exercise and how to eat healthier on a budget. I want to inspire and motivate people because no one deserves to hate their body or suffer due to a lack of nutritional knowledge.”