The long walk to weight loss

Run and walk for fitness

I come from a family where only three things truly mattered: braaiing as often as possible, going to church on Sunday, and sport. In his heyday, my grandfather was an exceptional boxer, and at 80 years old, he still cycles to the shop and does his own gardening. At one stage, my grandmother and my two aunts made up three of the seven players in the Namibian national netball team.

While my mother also tried her hand at sports like netball and drum majorettes, it is my father who truly carries the sport gene. As a child, I spent countless weekends watching him play everything from rugby and cricket, tennis, volleyball and everything in between. He held SANDF records in various athletic field items and can still have a pretty good day on the golf course.

I’ve already penned down two immodest paragraphs and I haven’t even reached my siblings. My sister, the personal trainer and swimming coach, has a résumé filled with gymnastic achievements and accolades. Her achievement wall is nicely complimented by my brother’s rugby awards. He is the real star of the family, and is still balancing life between club rugby, the golf course and the occasional cycling challenge.

Academic achievement holds such a distant second place that my father often boasts about passing matric, despite the fact the he handed in his textbooks weeks before the exams, attempting to fail, in the hopes of having just one more year of high school rugby.

Yes, my family is good at sport. Who cares? You would, if you were the fat one! You guessed it – I am the one who either needs to write a book or do a PhD. (I haven’t done either – yet.)

It is not for lack of trying, though. Oh, and did I try.

Of all the sports, cricket was probably the worst. The only sporting photo my mother has of me, is of a cricket match when I was about 7 years old. Apparently, it was quite an intense game of mini cricket. I wouldn’t know, since the photo clearly shows me sitting on the ground, fast asleep, while I was supposed to be fielding.

I thought tennis would be more exciting. I am sure it would have been – the only problem was that I sucked! Every afternoon at tennis practice, the kids who had some ball sense got a real racket and were coached to get the ball over the net. Me and about three other kids were handed wooden tennis bats and were ordered to walk around the court bouncing the ball up and down. After a couple of days going around in circles, I decided to hang up my tennis shoes and search for something that doesn’t include a ball.

This was when I found karate. My sister and I joined the karate club together. She must have been about five years old at the time. It was going fine at first, until it didn’t. We were standing in the massive school hall with what felt like hundreds of kids doing the same kicking and hitting moves. In front, the Sensei was counting aloud. Ichi, ni, san, shi! My sister pulled on my sleeve to tell me something. I told her to be quiet as I threw another punch. Ichi, ni, san, shi! She pulled again, indicating that she needed to go to the bathroom. I brushed her off, and continued my mission of achieving a coloured belt. By the third time she tried to grab my attention, she no longer needed the bathroom. With her wet Karategi, we left. I never got my yellow belt.

In the 7th grade, a teacher forced me to try out for shotput. He assumed because I was fat I would be able to throw an iron ball. He was wrong.

The rugby coach knew better and suggested that I only return after doing some eye-hand coordination exercises. Lots of them.

As a young adult I dabbled in long-distance running a bit, but injury, a comfortable relationship, an obsession with food, a demanding career and a TV addiction ended my running before it even really started.

They say that if you want to be fit, you must just find something that you love doing, and you’ll be sure to continue doing it. I despise pieces of wisdom that sound like something you might hear on an infomercial for a fitness machine that supposedly gives you abs in only 60 days. I can, however, say that at the age of 30, I did find a fitness activity that I don’t completely hate… walking. Some people might think that walking is only for people who can’t run, but trust me, it takes everything I have to get off the couch after a busy day, put on a reflective bib and go for a walk.

With the help of the incredible people at the Run/Walk For Life Fourways branch, my sister as my personal fitness guide, my partner and friends – who have also since joined Run/Walk For Life – I am on a mission to lose weight and be the best walker I can be. How will I do it? One step at a time, of course!

If you want, you are welcome to follow the journey of Run/Walk For Life members like myself by regularly checking in on our blog.

We will be sharing regular updates and experiences, tips and guides, and you are welcome to share advice or your own story, too.

These posts will be kept as honest and real as possible. Run/Walk For Life is, after all, a programme for real people. Personally, I will never post a blog on here suggesting that anyone try kale chips, or pretend that I am above binging on a McDonalds burger, or advise anyone to give up their Netflix subscription.

Here we go!