Mom of four goes from fat to fab after dropping 83 kilograms
Madeleine Ray, 32, of Polokwane in Limpopo, may be half the woman she used to be, but she says her life is twice as full. Having been thin most of her life, Madeleine’s weight began to spiral out of control after the birth of her four children. No matter what she did, she just couldn’t shift the unwanted kilograms. As the weight piled on, Madeleine began to feel more depressed, turning to food for comfort.
“As a child and teen I had a normal relationship with food and never had to watch what I ate,” says Madeleine. “I was a slim and trim 52 kilograms when I got married in 1999. Unfortunately, I was one of those people who thought I would never be overweight. With my first pregnancy (twins, which sadly ended in a miscarriage), I gained six kilograms. A year later, I fell pregnant with twins again and gained over 30 kilograms. I remember weighing in at the doctor’s consulting rooms and being 98 kilograms. By the time I had the C-section I weighed more than a 100 kilograms. Thereafter, I didn’t keep track. My weight just snowballed with my third and fourth pregnancies, until I had gained 111 kilograms. My weight was out of control and so was my life. I turned to food for comfort, eating loads of carbohydrate-rich foods like bread and pasta and lots of take-aways.”
On a typical day, Madeleine would consume more than four times the recommended daily calorie intake.
“I would start my day with bread or a pie. I’d have takeouts for lunch (usually fried chicken) and fish or steak, with chips or pasta for dinner. I drank two litres of Coke, or more, a day. In addition to my own meals, I would finish the kids’ leftovers. I made myself feel better by saying that wasting food was bad so I never left anything on my plate, or on theirs. I was an emotional eater. If I felt down, I ate. If I felt good, I ate. Afterwards, I would feel guilty for overindulging, which led to more over indulging. It was a vicious circle.”
At her heaviest, Madeleine weighed 163 kilograms. “My weight peaked in 2007. Then, in August of that year, I had a light bulb moment. I was struggling to get out of bed to start my morning routine. As I passed the children’s bedrooms, watching them sleeping peacefully, it hit me. I realised I had to do something about my weight if I wanted to see my children grow up. I started dieting and trying to exercise but nothing worked. In 2000, I tried a highly recommended diet programme where a consultant visited me every two weeks but, after the second month, I gave up the programme. I tried Atkins – the high protein diet – but that didn’t work for me either. I tried the British Heart institute diet... you name it, I tried it, but nothing worked.”
The weight not only affected Madeleine’s physical wellbeing, but also her emotional wellbeing. “I changed from being an extrovert and social butterfly to staying in the house most of the time. I lost friends and was embarrassed to be seen. I became extremely depressed. My parents were concerned for my health and they constantly reminded me about the consequences of being overweight. I was tired all the time and had no energy. Like most people, I wanted to be thin with the least amount of effort. I wished someone could just wave a ‘thin wand’ and I’d lose the weight, but we all know that there’s no such thing!”
In February 2011, Madeleine and two of her work colleagues saw an advertisement in the local newspaper and decided to give Adventure Boot Camp a try. “Adventure Boot Camp is an outdoor fitness programme for women of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. It’s like a gym, but outside. Each camp is four weeks long and you exercise for an hour a day, before or after work. The different time-slot options make it extremely easy to fall into an exercise routine. You can choose to either attend three or five days a week which makes is easy to fit into a busy schedule, especially if you are a working mother. The type of exercises you do differ every day, ensuring that you work the areas that women worry about most. Monday and Thursdays we do general body exercises, Tuesdays and Fridays we concentrate on upper body and abs, and Wednesdays you do legs and cardio. On the first and last Friday you are assessed so that you can see how much you have progressed during the four-week camp.”
In addition to doing Adventure Boot Camp, Madeleine cut out fatty, sugary and starchy foods and began eating healthy meals, and only at meal time. She is now attending her 16th Adventure Boot Camp, is still going strong, and has lost 83 kilograms since the start of her weight loss journey. “I have also done my first five-kilometre run/walk and I went tandem skydiving with my sister. I feel ‘lighter’ and happier. I can breathe and at long last I have my life back.” Madeleine admits that staying motivated has at times been challenging. “Sometimes weeks went by without losing any weight – it was so hard to keep going. I kept my ‘big girl’ pants for motivation. I actually still carry them around in my Adventure Boot Camp bag. Whenever I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, I would look at them and I would feel better.”
Having lost such a large amount of weight, Madeleine has been left with sagging and stretched skin and will be undergoing plastic surgery next year to remove the excess skin left behind. “Losing weight is mostly about being healthy but also about feeling good about yourself and looking great. With me having picked up so much weight and then losing the first 30 kilograms so quickly, the amount of loose skin cannot be fixed without surgery. It does not feel right to lose 83 kilograms and not be able to wear spaghetti strap tops and shorts or even a bathing suit! I am so tired of hiding the flab and skin. I still cannot look at myself in the mirror from the neck down. Sad, isn’t it? Hopefully I will be able to do surgery next year!”
For more information on Adventure Boot Camp, log onto www.AdventureBootCamp.co.za
, or call (021) 447-2746.
Madeleine’s Golden Rules To Losing Weight
Take baby steps – one kilogram at a time! One hundred kilograms seems so much more unreachable than one or two kilograms. Give away your ‘fat’ clothes. You do not want to keep the backdoor open. Calories in, calories out. Remember that you have to burn more than what you consume during the day.
Madeleine Ray, weight, Limpopo, fat, fab