When Dominique Fredericks, a medical doctor, was diagnosed with lupus, a combination of meds and bad eating habits led to weight gain. But when she started to feel uncomfortable in her own skin, she realised something had to change. Her health depended on it.
With determination and persistence, she managed to drop 12 kilos – and is healthier and more confident than ever. Here’s how she did it.
Occupation: Medical doctor – general practitioner
City: Cape Town
Weight before: 89kg
Weight after: 67kg
Time required to reach current weight: 10 months
Secret weapon to your weight loss: patience and consistency
Dominique was at a pretty healthy weight – until university. “It started during my second year of medical school when I was diagnosed with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus), which had affected my kidneys. I had to be put onto high doses of immunosuppressants and cortisone. One of the major side-effects was an increase in appetite and weight gain,” she explains.
Admittedly, Dominique used this as an excuse to indulge. “I ate whatever I felt like. I have a bad sweet tooth and would snack on foods containing lots of refined sugar, such as chocolate and biscuits,” she says. “I was constantly yo-yo dieting and would exercise on and off, losing and gaining the same five to 10kg over 10 years. I was inconsistent with my eating habits and exercise, which was the biggest problem. I had an all or nothing mentality – I would either be on a very restrictive diet and exercise a lot or not be active at all and eat whatever I wanted.”
Her turning point came in October 2017. “I remember constantly feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, my clothes felt tight and I hated being in photos. I remember stepping onto the scale for the first time in months and seeing my weight, which was a shock. I weighed almost 90kg and had a BMI of 30, which is classified as obese.” As a medical professional, Dominique knew the risks that come with being overweight. It was time for her to stop making excuses.
She started by sticking to the basics. “I started eating whole foods, I stopped eating refined sugars and processed foods and started working out four to six times a week.” Her diet consisted mainly of lean proteins, like chicken and fish, which she’d grill, plus steamed or roasted veggies and a side salad.
In an effort to limit temptation, she swopped unhealthy foods for healthier low-kilojoule snacks. “It was tough in the beginning, but it got a lot easier as I went along and the change to a whole food diet actually curbed my cravings for unhealthy snacks.”
As for exercise, she started with 30 to 40 minutes of mixed cardio at the gym four to six times a week. “I did this for the first month to establish a routine and improve my cardiovascular fitness, then I started to incorporate strength training. I also started working with a personal trainer once a week to work on my weaker areas,” she says.
Over the first two months, Dominique saw no change – but she persisted. “I could have easily gotten discouraged and given up, but this time I was determined to stick to the changes I had made and I knew I had to be patient,” she says.
With persistence, she finally started seeing results – and feeling them too. “I felt great during the process because I knew that this time I was changing my lifestyle for different reasons. I was doing it for myself and for my own health. It wasn’t for anyone else.”
Since dropping 12kg, Dominique has reintroduced some of her fave foods – but in moderation. Other than that, her diet and exercise regimen haven’t changed much: she still works out four to five times a week, alternating strength and cardio.
Dominique has taken up running, and is clearly loving it. “I was never able to [run] because my weight caused knee pain. I recently completed my first 10km trail run, I’ve signed up for two more 10k races and I’m hoping to eventually work my way up to a half marathon.”
Besides being fitter, Dominique feels more confident than ever. “I don’t feel the need to hide behind lots of layers of clothes anymore. I don’t mind having my photo taken and I’m able to talk to others without constantly feeling self-conscious or as if people are judging me because of my weight,” she explains.
The most important thing that Dominique has learnt during her journey is patience: “Healthy weight loss takes time and making it a lifestyle change will help you to stick to your goals and help you to maintain the weight loss.”
Stick it out: “Be patient – losing weight takes time. Healthy changes don’t happen overnight. Stay consistent and you will see results.”
Celebrate the small stuff: “Non-scale victories are very important. Don’t just rely on the scale – the number constantly fluctuates. Look at it in conjunction with how you feel in your clothes, what you see in the mirror and your measurements in centimetres.”
Don’t be too hard on yourself: “We all make mistakes every now and then. If you mess up or eat something ‘bad’, don’t give up and go back to old habits. Admit you made a mistake and just get back to your usual routine. One unhealthy meal or snack is not going to reverse all of the progress you’ve made.”
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