Weight loss is a personal journey. We’ve talked about women who’ve shed kilos to save their lives, women who’ve learnt to love themselves and women who simply wanted to reveal a different silhouette. For Fallon Finlayson, however, weight loss was all about conquering physical feats. This is her story.
Occupation: Graphic designer
Time taken to lose weight: 4 years
Secret weapon: Race competitions
“Being a bit overweight was the norm for me and I had basically accepted it,” says Fallon of her life before sport. At school, she dabbled in swimming, but never considered herself particularly fit or healthy. Her parents had always fed her nutritious food, but what Fallon ate in between (chocolate, burgers, pies, and doughnuts) was her true vice. Since swimming was the only thing she enjoyed, labouring in the gym was a chore. “I attended a few aerobic classes a week, but that, along with the junk food eating, didn’t do anything for my weight loss,” she says.
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In 2007, Fallon got a call from her sister. The company she worked for was entered into the Midmar Mile and wanted Fallon to join the team. Fallon, who still considered herself to be a good swimmer from her school days, agreed immediately. “I got into the pool that evening and I battled to swim two lengths,” she says. “I was out of breath and my chest was on fire.”
But she’d committed to swimming the race and after a few weeks of training, she became comfortable in the water again. From the swim training, Fallon dropped five kilos in five months and completed the race. “I remember thinking, ‘Now what?’,” she says. “I loved the transformation, getting fitter, completing an event.” So she decided to take up running– but it was painful at first. “I felt nauseous and wanted to throw up, but I persisted,” she says.
From jogging slowly around the block, Fallon graduated to running non-stop and then completed her first 5km race. The bug had bitten and she slowly changed her eating habits to fit in with her new training schedule. “I knew going cold turkey would never work for me – it was a long, slow process,” she says. Ten years down the line, Fallon is now an endurance athlete and competes in triathlons in her spare time.
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“I am an absolutely different person,” says Fallon. “I’ve turned into an endurance junkie.” One of the biggest changes is the amount of energy she now has. “When you’re a healthy weight and you don’t feel lethargic– there’s a new sense of happiness inside you,” she says. The best reward, though, is the thrill of completing an event. “I love seeing how much my body can take and when I get to a race I’ve been dreaming about for months or even years, taking part in that event and crossing the finish line for my purpose… Nothing beats that feeling.”
Find your mojo: “Dance class, walking, boot camp… Whatever it is, make sure you enjoy it.”
Limit starch: “Try to stay away from bread, rice, potatoes, anything baked with flour. Eat as many veggies as you want!”
Set a goal: “Find a goal so meaningful that it creates a drive inside you.”