From too heavy to Two Oceans
Five years ago Douw Prinsloo woke up one morning and decided to change his life. That day he weighed 133kg; today he is 48kg lighter. This is how he did it.
“One morning I woke up and decided, ‘This is it, no more…’ I was always uncomfortable, always sick, and in truth, an unpleasant, unhappy person. The day I decided my weight situation had to change, I got in my car and drove to the gym where I was paying for membership but never used the facilities. I spoke to a personal trainer and we started the next day. My plan was to approach the problem the old fashioned way, with hard work and commitment – no quick fixes, no shortcuts, and no potions or supplements.
“I worked with my personal trainer three times a week, but I was in the gym five times a week. I changed my eating habits, avoided the work cafeteria, packed my own lunch boxes filled with homemade foods and healthy snacks to get me through the day. The idea was not to go hungry and eat more often. Lots of people do not eat proper meals throughout the day and then when they finally get home they attack the fridge and eat whatever they can lay their hands on, usually unhealthy stuff. I used to do that and that was a bad habit I had to break. I also had to stay away from sugar and fizzy drinks. In the beginning the results were slow, but I can remember how great it felt when I started to lose centimetres, and this is when I started to really enjoy working out.
Setting off with goals for success
“The first milestone and the first goal I set for myself – and these are so important to success – was get below 100kg. The reward (equally important) was a tandem skydive at Wonderboom Airport. Living right next to the airport, I can see the drop zone from my house. I always wondered how amazing it would be to see the world from up there. But to tandum skydive, you have to weigh under 100kg for safety reasons.
“On 16 August 2009, one day before my 41st birthday, I did my first tandem jump, my weight was 95kg. I had lost 38kg. It was a happy day! But, it hadn’t all been easy. For me, the hardest part of my journey was staying motivated even when I saw no progress. But having a personal trainer helped, because I knew we had an appointment, three days a week, and I had to pitch up.
“From then on, the journey continued, but with one essential difference: it became easier and easier as I went along. I never thought of myself as a runner, but in January 2011 I ran my first 5km race, the George Claassen race at Menlyn, Pretoria. After the race we headed for Running Inn’s shop in Lynwood, Pretoria. I joined their running club, got my running shoes and since that day I never stopped running.
Changing more than clothing sizes
“When I started doing races, it took me to another place in my life. Instead of watching TV until late on Friday nights, I packed my race bag and went to bed early. More rest meant I felt more alive and revived the next morning. The fact is, when you lose weight, your size is not the only thing that changes. I started to feel different. I realised that I was hiding behind my fat as a sort of defence mechanism. Losing the weight made me feel more vulnerable, exposed somehow, and this forced me to deal with the underlying issues that made me overeat in the first place.
“When I embarked on this road to rediscover me, I realised how wrong I was and that food would never fill that kind of void. The healthy food I eat now is delicious and it fuels my body and my emotions. I deal with my reality, my life now, the new me, and this whole process has made me a stronger person and brought me to a place to where I can inspire other people and motivate them to also live healthier lives. I can say with confidence: “If I have done it, so can you.”
“To date I have successfully completed well over a 100 races and run a total of 3 657 kilometres in races and training. The races range from 5km right through to my proudest moment, completing the 2013 Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (56 km), in 6:02:10.
“Some of my running highlights are my first marathon, the Rudamans Kaapsehoop Marathon (42.2km) on 3 November 2012 (also my Two Oceans qualifier); my first international race, the Bangkok Marathon; and the Akasia 3-in-1 Marathon.
“My goal for Two Oceans was, as always, simple: ‘Enter for the race, pitch up, start, push on and finish it. Whatever you do, never quit.’ I cannot describe the emotions that filled my being when we came into the stadium with thousands of spectators welcoming us back home. I was elated!
Staying on the right track
“After this race, many other big ones followed, the Forever Loskop Ultra Marathon, a 50km in pouring rain (5:26:19); the Mandela Day Marathon, from Pietermaritzburg to Howick, 42.2km of hell (5:30:54); the Gauteng Challenge Marathon, also a 42.2km tough one, between Krugersdorp and Johannesburg (4:43:18); the City2City 50km Ultra Marathon between Pretoria and Johannesburg, 50km of hard work; my second Rudamans Kaapsehoop Marathon (42.2km), and a week later the notorious Bela-Bela Marathon, also a 42.2km race. I’d already qualified for the 2104 Two Oceans Ultra and the Comrades Marathon when I did the City2City 50km Ultra Marathon but I bettered my seeding at the Rudamans Kaapsehoop Marathon, when I ran my marathon personal best of 3:50:42. Right now we are in full swing with the training for Comrades and every day is a day closer to the big day on 1 June 2014.
“To reach your goals, you need to take advantage of the resources you have available. I appreciate each one of my friends, family and running mates who stood by me. When I joined Discovery Medical Scheme and signed up for Vitality it was a major stepping-stone towards my goal. A wellness programme that rewards you for getting healthier and all I had to do was know more about my health and take a few easy steps to improve it, sounded like a great idea. Those steps came easy because I was already halfway there with my healthier lifestyle; healthy eating habits, not smoking and obviously exercising, so joining Vitality just provided me with even more tools to keep me going.
“If you have the will to change your life and to make it better, healthier, then do it. If you wait for the time to be right, changes are good that the right time will never come. The time is now. Just do it.
“The Vitality page, which is conveniently part of the whole bouquet of Discovery products, all in one place online, was so easy to access and use. The rewards come in various shapes and forms and the more points you have the more you save on everything from healthy foods from Pick n Pay and Woolworths, discounts on healthy gear at Total Sports, cash back and rewards at Clicks and better offers from the largest gym groups and other fitness programs.
Going for gold
“Just for doing the basic assessments, completing the online questionnaires and logging all the gym visits and races I did, I reached gold status in less than a month. The rewards are endless and are not only health-related but includes travel rewards, like discounted flights and accommodation, and lifestyle rewards like discounted mobile and broadband offers.
“Discovery also adds to these rewards all the time, providing plenty of inspiration to live healthier and more responsible lives. Because of the easy access and functionality of the Discovery page I also moved my insurance to Discovery Insure, opening another world of great offers.
“If anyone tells me ever again that something is not possible I will remind them of the wise words of our beloved Nelson Mandela, who said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I have two mottos that I believe in: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” So, the only way I will get to live this dream is to work hard and put everything possible in to make it happen, then I have done my part. I will work hard, be committed and give it my all as I prepare for Comrades 2014. The rest will happen on that day when I take on the 90km from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. I believe that this ‘impossibility’ will become my possibility.”