Neo Maarohanye wasn’t living her best life – and it was all down to complacency. Stuck in a toxic relationship, she’d lost sight of the woman she used to be. But when that relationship ended, she knew it was time to start taking care of herself. Knowing that she couldn’t do it on her own, Neo found guidance in Women’s Health Shedding For The Wedding (a healthy meal and exercise plan, designed by experts) — and it totally changed her life!
Weight before: 74.2
Weight after: 66.5
Height 167 cm
Time required to reach current weight: 3.5 months
Secret Weapon to your weight loss: The Women’s Health 12-week fitness and weight loss programme
Neo was always body-conscious. “Growing up, I was obsessed with health and fitness,” she says. But that all changed when she entered the working world. “I could finally afford to buy all the food I couldn’t eat growing up.” Neo used her newfound financial freedom to experience restaurants, but she never chose healthy options. “I had the worst diet ever. In the morning I would eat my All-Bran cereal with sugar, but the portion was ridiculous. I literally filled my bowl, which wasn’t even small. I would indulge at least twice a week on a slab of Top Deck chocolate, and every Wednesdays I had to have an Oreo McFlurry.”
Even the pizza delivery guy knew her by name. “I had no self-discipline. If I wanted McDonalds at 2 a.m. I’d get into my car and go buy it. Whatever I was craving, I made sure I got it.” Added to her love of junk food, Neo loved fizzy drinks, along with a few glasses of alcohol during the week.
While she was exercising most days, she wasn’t challenging herself during her workouts, and the weight crept on steadily. “I didn’t even notice until my jeans stopped fitting, and even then I thought it was okay to gain weight because I was working out. Within a year, I’d gained 12kg.”
Everything changed when Neo left that toxic relationship. “I looked in the mirror and could no longer recognise myself. I missed the person I was before the relationship. My health and fitness were no longer a priority in my life. I would rather chill with my boyfriend than go to the gym. And we both led an unhealthy lifestyle: eating junk and [drinking] lots of alcohol.”
“I realised I needed help on this journey, some guidelines to follow. That’s I why I decided to buy the Women’s Health Shedding for the Wedding (SFTW),” she explains.
Neo started by following the SFTW eating plan. It wasn’t easy initially, but she stuck it out. “I felt like I was constantly hungry. Like I wasn’t eating enough because my body was used to having huge portions of food three times daily. Chocolate and sweets were the things I used to snack on, and now I had to snack on an apple, nuts and yoghurt.”
But as time went on, it became easier to stick to the plan, especially when she began to meal prep. Neo gave up fast food and unhealthy snacking; instead, she started practising her culinary skills with the SFTW recipes. She also learnt how to snack the healthy way. Next to go was her fizzy drinks and alcohol. “I quit alcohol and started drinking a least four litres of water a day.”
Now that she had the eating on lockdown, Neo worked on her fitness. “I couldn’t afford a personal trainer, so having the book was great. I would warm up on the treadmill, then do the workouts from SFTW. The book is amazing as it told me what to do step-by-step,” she explains.
“When the number on the scale started decreasing and my clothes fitted better, I was motivated to continue,” says Neo. She’s since become more flexible with the eating plan, but still sticks to the basics. “The plan helped me learn that food is a source of nutrients and fuel for my body. It didn’t give me a quick fix, but helped me create a lifestyle I can maintain forever,” she says. As her fitness levels increased, she started adding more exercises, like high-intensity interval training and squash.
Neo is happier, healthier and fitter than she’s ever been. She’s dropped two dress sizes, lost 11cm around her waist and can now run a 5k in 37 minutes. “I’m able to push my body to its limits. I lift heavier weights now. And, most importantly, I’m confident in my body, I love my body — I’m now my own #bodygoals,” she exclaims.
According to Neo, the ironic part is that the book was meant to help women who were heading for the altar, but instead, it helped her fall in love with herself — and you don’t get a greater love story than that.
- Set a goal: “It helps to keep you motivated and driven. It can be to lose 10kg, fit into a dress, run a 5km — just set a target for yourself.”
- Enjoy the progress: “Don’t be too hard on yourself — patience is a virtue. Take progress pictures, compliment yourself on your hard work, and don’t wait for other people to see the difference. You know your body best.”
- Leave your comfort zone: “This is very important when it comes to the exercise part. The reason you might not be losing weight is because your workouts have become stale. Push your body to new limits. Challenge your body and try new exercises.”