Couch potato to kettlebell king – how this #DiamondWarrior gave his heart a second chance


Kobus Pretorius was among the first Vitality members to qualify for Diamond Vitality status in 2008. Eleven years on and he’s managed to maintain it, even while managing hypertension. Here this #DiamondWarrior shows us how it’s done!

“I was a couch potato on my way to a heart attack,” Kobus Pretorius (61) freely admits. The semi-retired entrepreneur from Ballito remembers the moment he realised enough was enough: when his unfit body literally got in the way of being able to complete simple, everyday tasks.

“I was very overweight in 2003 – around 135 kg – and I couldn’t bend down to fasten my shoes because my stomach was in the way,” he recounts. Not only is obesity and overweight associated with a low quality of life, it’s strongly linked to a host of serious health concerns, like Type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems, colon cancer and heart disease – as Kobus soon found out.

‘I became serious about my health’

“When I got diagnosed with hypertension, I made the decision to start changing my lifestyle. I joined Virgin Active through Vitality and began going to gym. I tried to stay away from processed foods and fizzy drinks, and my wife made sure I got enough vegetables and fruits daily. I cut down on alcohol and I stopped smoking. And I have never looked back!”

Kobus puts a lot of stock in regular screenings to get an accurate reflection of your health – a smart attitude, considering that almost half of South Africans (46% of women and 44% of men, according to a 2016 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey) live with high blood pressure.

“Knowing the state of your health puts you in control of your life,” Kobus says. “There are lots of people out there who think they are healthy, but they are not.” The stats prove him right – it’s estimated that of the total number of South Africans with high blood pressure, nearly half of them have never done a check and are unaware that they have it.

‘Knowing my health status motivated me to stay on the right track’

“To me, doing the Vitality Health Check once a year is invaluable, plus it’s covered by my membership, so why not? The check-ups tell me if I’m healthy and show me where I can improve. Knowing my health status and seeing that what I was doing was working for me gave me the motivation to stay on the right track.”

All Kobus’ lifestyle changes are paying off, as evident in a transformed, stronger body and health measures that prove his organs are under far less strain – but he understands that getting healthier is an ongoing journey. “Over the years, I’ve been able to bring my weight down to under 100 kg, and it’s getting less by the month. The last time I was under a 100 kg was when I was about 27 years old. I feel fantastic and my hypertension is under control.”

Kobus does weight training thrice a week, paddles as often as he can and tries ‘not to sit so much’ during the day. He’s currently on a record streak – week 97 of consecutive weekly Vitality Active Rewards goals reached!

Kobus’ top 5 tips to becoming a #DiamondWarrior

This #DiamondWarrior knows that getting healthier takes effort – all the more so when working to lower your blood pressure and lose weight in middle age – but he’s living proof of how worthwhile aiming for the top is, especially when it saves ‘thousands of rands.’ His favourite Vitality rewards are travel savings, weekly and HealthyFood cash back.

Kobus is convinced that if he can maintain Diamond Vitality status for over a decade, so can any member, even with a chronic health condition. Here are his top five tips to help others get their health measures under control:

  1. Make the effort to do all the checks that need to be done.
  2. Be consistent and don’t give up – you will get there.
  3. Remember, just going to gym won’t get you to Diamond Vitality status – it’s a lifestyle change.
  4. Don’t wait, start now. You will be amazed at how your life changes.
  5. Most importantly, have fun.

Do you know your health status? Don’t wait to find out – book a VHC today

The Vitality Health Check is a simple and convenient set of the most needed health screening and preventive tests that check your blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and weight, and includes a non-smoker's declaration.

Vitality members will also be able to earn up to 22 500 Vitality Health points. You can also earn 2 500 points for finding out your Vitality Age and 5 000 points for doing a voluntary HIV test. This means that you can earn up to 30 000 points at a Discovery Wellness Day if all your results are in range! Learn more here and book your test today!

Get valuable info and access to professionals with DiabetesCare

The DiabetesCare programme helps you actively manage diabetes. It offers you access to various tools to better monitor your condition, as well as high-quality coordinated care through healthcare providers like dietitians and biokineticists.

Any Discovery Health Medical Scheme member registered on the Chronic Illness Benefit for diabetes can join the programme. Learn more or sign up here.

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