Michelle Venter – who lives in Kloof, Durban – is the winner of the Makeover Your Health Challenge with Lisa Raleigh and Get It Joburg North magazine. And it was no easy feat!
This eight-week challenge gave readers the chance to improve their health and fitness – and to win some prizes.
Michelle emerged victorious from the challenge, and in an interview, she describes what led her to take up the challenge, shares her fabulous results and encourages others to boost their mental health through exercise.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Leslie, for 16 years and we have two great kids – a teen and a pre-teen. I homeschool both my kids and I’m a wedding photographer. Before Covid-19, our weekends were filled with wedding photography and other photography gigs. Since lockdown, I spend my weekends at home with my family. I do art journaling as a hobby/obsession – it’s a great creative outlet and way to document life.
How was lockdown in 2020 for you? Did you maintain a wellness and exercise schedule?
Lockdown hasn’t really changed our day-to-day lives as we are all mostly at home anyway. My husband runs his time-and-attendance business from home and, obviously with homeschooling, we are homebound anyway. I was never really active due to a running injury, so not being able to go to the gym or for a run was no big deal for me, although I knew I had to do something to get my health back on track. But instead of doing something about my ever-expanding waistline, I embraced leggings and took up sourdough baking – not great news for the said waistline!
What made you take up the makeover challenge?
As I have a running injury, high-impact exercise was out of the question. This led to anxiety and depression, a never-ending cycle of bad eating and self-loathing. After getting the all-clear from my chiropractor in September, I bought a rebounder from Lisa Raleigh and I was hooked from the first bounce. When the challenge was announced, I wanted to do it but was hesitant as I hate diets. I’ve seen the damage yo-yo dieting can do to people and it’s not something I wanted my mind or body to go through. But alas, I signed up on the last day and decided to give it my all. When I saw my before photos, I was appalled that I had let my body get so out of control, I was always very skinny, even after having my babies, and suddenly I weighed more than on my last day of pregnancy.
How did you find the challenge?
It was not easy! The Elimin8 Programme was tough – depriving my body of things like dairy and salt was torture – but I persevered. I made a whole heap of meals in advance and kept them in the freezer so I’d always have a ready meal and no excuses to ‘cheat’. Then came the meal plan, which at first seemed to be impossible to me. It seemed like there was definitely not enough food, but to my surprise, I was never starving and I felt really, really good with intentionally eating so many veggies. I don’t drink coffee or alcohol and I’m not a fan of sugar. I started cutting out meat a few weeks before the challenge – so thankfully the detox symptoms weren’t too severe. The no-excuse exercise programme was hard but certainly doable and, combined with rebounding, was very, very effective. I could feel my body get stronger and my anxiety getting less and less.
Were you pleased with your results from the makeover challenge?
I was so happy to see my after photos! I had lost eight kilos over the eight weeks! And around 60cm all-round.
Michelle’s before photos:
Michelle’s after photos:
What was the best part of the challenge for you?
The feeling of getting stronger. I loved seeing how far I could push my body. I thought I was too old to build muscle, but I was building muscle. I loved the feeling of accomplishment after a workout, especially on those mornings where I really had to dig deep to get going and keep going.
Have you continued to exercise and implement the knowledge about wellness in 2021?
YES! I can’t see a future in which I don’t get up early every morning to put my health first. I can’t see a future in which I make bad food choices. I have learned how food affects my body and I have learnt to choose food based on how it’s going to affect me long-term. So instead of grabbing chocolate which will only satisfy me in the now, I rather have a protein bar that will satisfy the sweet craving and will provide my body with much-needed protein.
How would you encourage others to take up a similar challenge?
Lisa has a quote in one of her booklets, it reads, ‘You can have results or excuses, but you can’t have both.’ I made this quote my mantra. During the challenge, there were days I had to repeat it in my mind and out loud every time I walked into the kitchen. Other days, only when my alarm went off in the morning, other days not at all. I live by this quote and I say it often to friends or family. We have to choose what we want for our lives. And signing up for one of Lisa’s classes or challenges will be a choice that will bring you results. Look at what it is you’re telling yourself and decide if your excuse is really worth sacrificing your results.
Can you share some words of wisdom with others?
I think with the pandemic, we have all suffered a mental blow and we are all struggling with our mental health in some way, shape or form, even when we don’t admit it to ourselves. Exercise is the absolute best medicine for mental health, it boosts our happy hormones and, if you don’t want to exercise or eat healthy for your body’s sake, at least give it a go for your mental health which, in my opinion, goes much further than a lean body.
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