Transformation Journey: Exercise Renewed My Self-Esteem And I’m Stronger Than Ever!

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Wellness

If you’re on a transformation journey, take heart from the stories of others who’ve been there. Here, Louné Maree details how she went from skinny – and unhealthy – to strong and happier than ever.

The Starting Point

On the 28th of March 2023, I underwent my fourth and final surgery with the skilled Dr Nerina Wilkinson, marking a pivotal moment in my transformation journey. The decision to undergo a double mastectomy in 2019, following a positive BRCA2 gene test and the heartbreaking loss of my mother to cancer in 2008, laid the foundation for my path to self-discovery.

Before the surgery, my passion for fitness and self-care defined my active lifestyle. However, post-surgery, I faced the challenge of re-entering the gym amid a toxic relationship that left me feeling unworthy. Throughout this period, lacking the necessary support at home and facing delayed re-entry into exercise, I made the crucial decision to remove toxic individuals from my life and relocate. By the end of June, I made a bold decision to relocate to Hout Bay in Cape Town, embarking on a journey to rediscover myself.

By then, my muscles had atrophied, leaving me merely skin and bone. My once-perky butt and solid physique were replaced by a reflection in the mirror that revealed protruding hip bones and a stark change in the texture of my thighs. I weighed just 55kg.

READ MORE: How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

Trying something new

Before embarking on this transformation journey, I practised intermittent fasting, restricting my eating window to after 9 at night for a year. However, a pitfall was overindulging during those moments, leading to unhealthy habits of going to bed and feeling bloated. My objective shifted towards a healthier approach, aiming to eat more frequently with smaller portions. It wasn’t until the end of November that I realized being skinny isn’t synonymous with being healthy. With the goal of achieving my best shape before turning 33, this journey is still ongoing. Every week brings progress, and I can feel myself growing stronger.

By the end of November, I transitioned to heavier weight training, eliminating cardio to focus on muscle building rather than further weight loss. I incorporated whey protein and creatine into my diet, prioritizing protein, vegetables, and fruits.

READ MORE: How One Personal Trainer Lost 30kg – And Kept It Off


Embarking on this transformation journey has been a solo endeavour, with the unwavering support of my sister, work colleagues, and friends. While I’ve always had a passion for exercise and fitness, this time around, it became a mental challenge. Some mornings, training before work meant conquering the temptation to hit the snooze button. Initially, even donning my gym clothes posed a challenge, but I recognized that once I started my workout, I was on a mission with unstoppable momentum. Surprisingly, cutting out sugar, alcohol and fast foods turned out to be the easiest part of this journey.

I now maintain a robust and healthy weight of 60kg. Achieving this transformation spanned a dedicated five-month period.

I experience increased energy, find daily tasks more manageable, and feel a new-found confidence in my physique. Building muscle has instilled in me a sense of strong willpower and improved mental well-being.

READ MORE: How To Lose 1kg A Week: Safe & Healthy Exercise & Nutrition Tips

Louné’s tips

Get support

“Begin by surrounding yourself with a supportive circle—I have a group of female friends I fondly call my cheerleaders. They uplift me during lows and celebrate my achievements.”

Get an eating plan

“Establish a well-balanced eating plan. As this gains momentum, consider joining a gym where like-minded individuals share your goals and energy. While setting personal fitness goals, always keep in mind that fitness is more than a goal; it’s a lifestyle.”

Uplift yourself

“I appreciate the concept of women empowerment. Recognizing our emotions, let’s uplift one another through genuine compliments on success and appearance, fostering self-confidence.”

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