Trying to lose weight is no easy feat. Almost everything you do comes into play, from working out, eating well and even sleep. But personal trainer Kelly Smith lost 30kg – and kept it off. Here’s exactly how.
At one point personal trainer Kelly Smith, 27, weighed 100kg. She felt uncomfortable in her body and out of place at work – where the super-fit roamed and reigned. “I was instructing people to do all these exercises: push-ups, burpees and thought to myself, ‘I can’t even do that myself’,” she recalls. “What kind of trainer am I when I can’t do anything physically myself? I chose this profession. I need to look the part.” These thoughts formed the impetus that pushed Kelly to pursue weight loss as a goal. To start, she already had access to a free gym membership as a trainer, so she followed the script she’d been handing out to countless clients.
But Kelly had a deep-seated penchant that she’d been cheekily avoiding – she loved junk food. She was convinced that she could out-train her diet of Coca-Cola and chips (a habit she’d honed since her tertiary days, where cheap chip rolls were easy to obtain and even easier to consume). During her studies, she’d tuck herself away and enjoy KFC away from prying eyes. Working in the health and fitness space made Kelly ashamed of her habit. “I thought, ‘If I train extra and don’t diet, it’ll be fine,’” she says.
As a trainer, her eating habits hadn’t changed much and her fledgling efforts at the gym weren’t showing the results she’d hoped for. So, she enlisted the help of a trainer for extra motivation and found a nutritionist who could curate her diet. “I realised you kind of have to diet to get to where you want to be,” she says.
But it was a big change. The first to go? Sugary drinks. As a substitute, Kelly opted for sugar-free options and found healthier substitutes such as protein pumpkin doughnuts, instead of the refined kind. She also recorded everything she ate using a calorie tracking app and kept at it, through trial and error for two years.
Her training involved lots of weighted workouts and only 20 minutes of cardio. On top of that, she joined in on the daily HIIT classes she taught. “I think that’s what pushed me to get to my weight loss goal as fast as I did,” shares Kelly.
She would send her coach her data and, together, they built options into her menu. So, she could pick between a chicken salad for lunch or tuna and vegetables. They also built ‘fun foods’ into her diet: 200 calories that Kelly could play around with, so she didn’t feel too restricted. This often included chocolate protein bars, something she relished. “This made it enjoyable for me to not keep going back to my old habit of getting quick little takeaways,” she says.
A new lease on life
Now at her ideal weight of 70kg and having lost 30kg, Kelly feels fantastic. She also started competing in bikini fitness competitions and has gone on to become successful in her field – having won six gold medals, four overall trophies and even represented South Africa on the world stage. “It’s been a long journey with its fair share of downfalls and uprisings, but I feel it’s a story that a lot of women could be inspired by,” muses Kelly.
“There are substitutes for everything that you like. Yes, it doesn’t taste the same, but spice it up a little and you’ll get there.”
“Anything is possible once your coach understands you, as well as your training and your eating habits.”
“I had someone that was checking my form for me, someone motivating me to get to all the things I needed and then in that, found a gym community.”