A horrific accident and third-degree burns left Phumzile too self-conscious to go to gym. Then something happened to make her swap her emotional eating habit for something healthier.
After numerous failed weight-loss attempts, a simple act of love finally gave Phumzile Gambushe the motivation she needed to conquer poor body image, boost her self-esteem , and drop 31kg.
Vitals: Phumzile Gambushe, 31, Pretoria
Occupation: Electrical engineering technician
Time Taken To Lose Weight: One year
Secret Weapon: Healthy eating and passion for exercise
For years Phumzile was self-conscious about her appearance. “I was in a horrific accident and suffered third-degree burns at just three years old. As I grew into a young woman, this affected my self-esteem badly. I became an emotional eater,” she says. “At the age of 12, I was wearing size 40.” Embarrassed by her scarred body, Phumzile avoided the gym. That, combined with her diet – fried steak and bread for breakfast and pap and stew for supper – kept the scale climbing.
How She Lost The Kilos
It was her daughter’s love that finally inspired Phumzile’s weight-loss journey. “My daughter was the one person who always told me, ‘Mommy, you are beautiful.’ She saw such beauty in me, which helped me start the journey to loving myself.” It was difficult at first. “I had to face my scars and appreciate the fact that I did not die that day,” explains Phumzile.
Phumzile took stock of her diet. “I knew I could do better. I now have bran flakes with soy milk in the morning. For lunch, a shake or chicken salad. And for supper, I’ll have a vegetable stir-fry with chicken or fish,” she says. As her weight decreased, her energy surged and she did something she’d been afraid to do – she joined the gym. Now, she trains five days a week (!). “I do spinning, Pilates and loads of strength training,” she says. “On Saturdays I run 12km outdoors. I also love the step machine – it does wonders for my booty.”
Phumzile is not the only one who has benefited from her lifestyle changes. “I’ve gone back to my community in KZN and encouraged women and young girls to eat healthily, exercise and never let any past experiences take away their joy in living life.” And the biggest reward? Confidence. Last September she went to the beach in a bikini for the first time.
> Easy come, easy stay. “Make choices that you will be able to sustain for the rest of your life. Yo-yoing is unhealthy.”
> Keep testing the waters. “Join a gym or group exercises. Start with a five-kay and increase your distance and pace as you become more fit.”
> Don’t go back on your word. “Make it a lifestyle and, always remember, you are what you eat.”
Looking for more real-life weight-loss success stories? Check out how Celeste went from sitting on the couch eating fried-chicken to becoming a personal trainer in a year.