Being a mom is stressful enough, right? Add the strain of a career, and weight loss tends to slip to the bottom of the to-do list. But not for Galebalwe Ramorola, whose resilience and passion have pushed her through running two Comrades Marathons — and resulted in a whopping 37kg reduction in her body weight.
Name: Galebalwe Ramorola
Occupation: Nestle market safety health and environmental specialist
Weight before: 98.5kg
Weight after: 61.5kg
Time required to reach current weight: 7 years
Secret weapon: Calories in, calories out: burn more calories than you consume
Gale picked up weight gradually while facing unimaginable personal challenges. “In 2002, I gave birth to twins; one passed on and the remaining twin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy,” she says.
Her family tried to placate her with the myth that being “big” meant being “happy”. “After my second child in 2005, a work retrenchment followed in 2009,” continues Gale. “The [weight gain] spiralled out of control and I was left depressed and with low self-esteem.”
Gale found food and eating comforting. “I would indulge in fatty food, carbs and fizzy drinks, magwinya [vetkoek, fat cake or deep-fried doughnut], bread, pap and meat. I also used to drink ciders on weekends.”
Eventually, her unbalanced lifestyle caught up with her — and it didn’t do unnoticed. “People started thinking I was five years older than my actual age, older than my sister,” she says. “I was invited to school reunions and didn’t have anything to wear. So I rejected invites several times and decided to work on myself.”
Gale started indoor cardio training — an hour of spinning, treadmill and weights — three times a week. But without a good diet, her weight fluctuated. “I saw no results because I was still eating the wrong food,” she admits.
“[Then] a friend of mine invited me to her 5km weekend run,” says Gale. From then on, running became her “life addiction”. She found her fit, and recalls finishing her first 21km in three hours 15 minutes. After joining a running club in 2016, she completed the Soweto Marathon — a whopping 42.2km.
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Running For Gomo
Inspired by her daughter Gomostegang, Gale started running marathons to raise awareness for cerebral palsy. “In 2017 my personal coach, who I met through my running club, decided to run Comrades for my daughter Gomotsegang under the theme Run4Gomo.” Moved by her coach’s support, Gale decided to run Comrades the following year — for the same cause.
Her coach tailored a programme for her that included running, strengthening, flexing and nutrition. “We trained hard and in 2018 I was able to complete my first Comrades for my daughter. I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” she says.
To date, Run4Gomo has almost 150 supporters across a range of sports, from walkers and runners, to cyclist and triathlon. “The bigger goal is to adopt underprivileged NGOs, raising funds and donating wheelchairs and other essential equipment,” says Gale.
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Gale’s winning routine
Currently, Gale runs over 60km every week, which is broken into speed training, jogging, hill training, distance running and swimming. Her rest days are Fridays and Sundays.
She’s also made dramatic changes to her diet. “I had to consult a dietician for support and learned about healthy eating.” Along with portion control and cutting out frying in her food prep, she’s learnt to adjust her nutrient intake for her long-distance and HIIT exercises. “I increase my carb intake and afterwards I decrease carbs and increase protein for muscle recovery,” she explains.
Lessons she’s learnt along the way
- Socialise with people of the same mindset – they will motivate you.
- Put yourself first – like I did, breaking the family myth that we are a “big” family.
- Adjust your grocery list to include more healthy options.
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“There is no-one size-fits-all piece of advice on how to raise children with cerebral palsy,” says Gale. “It takes time, effort, empathy and patience.” She urges moms to ask for help, and to prioritise self-care. Choosing health and fitness has changed her life. “Run4Gomo gave me a new DNA, hope and purpose in life. I feel so good, especially when I bump into my schoolmates, ex-colleagues, friends and family members.” And right now, Gale is busy gearing up for her third Comrades Marathon on June 14!
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