'Set a target' – how Maema masters his annual resolution

 

Diamond Vitality member Maema Morake, 35, believes that setting a target beyond 'just exercise' is key to sticking to a fitness goal. And maximising on the benefits of integrated Discovery products doesn't hurt either!

"For me, vague resolutions on their own – like 'I need to go to gym more' or 'I want to get fit' – are not enough. There's no target,” says Maema Morake, an avid runner who, along with his brother, heads an athleisure and fitness clothing factory. "It's always important to have a specific goal. Mine is completing the Comrades Marathon, and I want to maintain that goal every year for as long as I'm able.”

"In fact, I think we set our resolutions at the wrong time,” he muses. "We should set them in December, so that your mind has time to prepare for the work in January. My training essentially starts then. It's minimal – I do about 100 km throughout December – but I know that January will be a write-off if I don't do that.” This year's Comrades will mark the fourth time Maema runs South Africa's most revered ultramarathon.

'I check out my heart rate and consciously calm myself down'

The first-born son of a Harvard-educated economist mother and entrepreneur father, Maema is a seasoned marathon runner and distance cyclist with a Kilimanjaro climb and London Marathon under his belt. To help him keep track, he wears a Garmin 235 running watch, which he purchased at Sportmans Warehouse and received cash back with the HealthyGear benefit.

Maema says the device motivates him to keep reaching his personal fitness goals and allows him to easily earn Vitality points. "But I also use it during business and board meetings. When the emotional temperature in the room gets high, I check out my heart rate and consciously calm myself down."

An array of products supports his lifestyle and saves him thousands

Maema's active lifestyle enhances his returns on his long-term insurance, investments and credit card benefits. His annual guaranteed Discovery Life PayBack is the result of the Integration of his Discovery Life policy with Discovery Vitality, which Maema has access to as he is a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member. Maema receives annual guaranteed PayBack of at least 12.5%, which can increase to 20% should he spend a certain amount on his Discovery Card on average each month.

"My many physical activities go directly towards enhancing my Discovery Life Plan and PayBack benefits. Besides consistently achieving my fitness goals and being rewarded for that, the way I spend on my Discovery Card credit card also brings me rewards," he enthuses. His Discovery Life default Cash Conversion Benefit means he'll receive a lump sum pay-out at age 65, which he'll almost certainly increase by maintaining his current Vitality Diamond status.

'I realised the need for proper financial planning from early on'

Physical fitness is one aspect of wellbeing, but financial fitness is just as important. Having previously worked in financial services for over a decade, Maema has a passion for creating opportunities for young people and teaching them about savvy investing. "I grew up in Lesotho and saw people passing away and leaving heavy financial burdens. Their funeral policies came nowhere near to covering their needs, and I soon realised the need for proper financial planning from early on in life."

He has himself covered with the LifeTime Severe Illness Benefit, which gives him up to 115% of his sum assured at the time of claim, for a host of severe illnesses. A key element of the benefit is a minimum payment of 100% for Stage 1-4 cancers and qualifying mild to severe heart attacks.

Maema also has policies with Discovery Invest. "I have a Discovery Retirement Optimiser and an Endowment Plan. They go back to the same principle as life insurance – the Retirement Annuity makes sense tax-wise and you only get the full tax benefit if you draw at retirement, so it teaches you to be in for the long haul. "I use my endowment policy to plan for the future."

A health plan that gives him options

Maema loves being a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member as his co-payments on out-of-hospital healthcare consults, treatments, medicines and supplements come to between just R10 and R100.

"It's a step up from using my medical savings, which I had to dip into eight times in 2016 while recovering from a knee injury. I guess you could say I was over-insured for the previous 10 years because I only ever used half of those savings. I typically use my medical aid to fund physiotherapy, medication and flu shots in winter," he adds.

Diamond status gives Maema more benefits

"I am particularly excited about the benefits that accrue from my Vitality Diamond status," says Maema. This status gives him an up to 35% discount at all Vitality travel partners which include Emirates, Qantas, British Airways, kulula.com and more.

For accommodation at sporting events outside of Gauteng such as the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town or the Comrades Marathon in Durban he also gets the standard up to 35% Vitality Diamond status discount. "I just love running, and this set-up works really well for me. Without Discovery, the total big sporting event costs would be out of reach," he adds.

Maema says he eats well, using his Vitality HealthyFood benefit to get up to 25% cash back for buying healthy food from Pick n Pay and Woolworths. "Things like bananas, certain kinds of complex carbohydrate foods, lean fat foods – they all benefit my training hugely," he says. He also pre-hydrates for big events, using electrolyte drinks or magnesium from Dis-Chem outlets where he gets up to 25% off, and through which he can increase his Discovery Miles by up to 10 times.

'When I'm fit, I'm a lot more alert and creative'

Asked about the emotional benefits of staying fit, Maema says he noticed that in between leaving his job at a large financial services company and starting up his own business, work became all-consuming. This led to him going for two and half weeks without exercise.

"I noticed I wasn't as productive as I could have been. I was irritable and wanted everybody to do things my way, even though I was not well-versed in certain new disciplines and needed guidance. I had a mental fog. When I'm fit, I'm a lot more alert and creative. I find my number-crunching abilities are vastly enhanced and I solve problems a lot quicker," he says.

Starting off a new year 'younger'

Considering his passion for staying active, it's no surprise that at 35, Maema's Vitality Age is 32. (Vitality Age is calculated by considering the effects of lifestyle behaviours on quality of life and mortality. These include smoking, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol use and more.) A person who lives a very healthy lifestyle will have a lower Vitality Age than their actual age, highlighting the years of life added by healthy behaviours. All this means that Maema is not feeling any older despite the dawn of a new year.

His advice for sticking to a New Year's resolution? "Put yourself in a corner. Register for a race. Whether it be a swimming, cycle or any kind of race – just set a target. That'll give you incentive to work out. It'll be something you look forward to, and you know you want to do well. Or, at least, you don't want to suffer too much while doing it.”

Along with following Maema's lead in goal-setting, why not determine this year to make the most of your own Discovery benefits? Who knows – 2019 may just become your holistically fittest year yet.

  1. Discovery Life Limited. Registration number 1966/003901/06, is a registered long-term insurer, and an authorised financial services and registered credit provider, NCR Reg No. NCRCP3555. This article is meant only as information and should not be taken as financial advice. For tailored financial advice, please contact your financial adviser.
  2. Discovery Health Medical Scheme is an independent non-profit entity governed by the Medical Schemes Act, and regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes. It is administered by a separate company, Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, an authorised financial services provider.
  3. Discovery Vitality (Pty) Ltd is an authorised financial services provider. Registration number: 1999/007736/07. Limits, terms and conditions apply. 
  4. Nothing contained herein should be construed as financial advice, for any advice related matters please contact your financial advisor. Discovery Life Investment Services Pty (Ltd): Registration number 2007/005969/07, branded as Discovery Invest, is an authorised financial services provider. All life assurance products are underwritten by Discovery Life Ltd. Registration number: 1966/003901/06. An authorised financial service provider and registered credit provider, NCA Reg No. NCRCP3555. Product rules and Terms and Conditions Apply.

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