Denise Van Huyssteen, whose weight had fluctuated for most of her life, craved a leaner, more toned physique. With an exercise programme that left much to be desired, and eating habits to match, she felt like that dream body was pretty much unattainable…
Until everything changed. With a lot of hard work, determination and a supportive family cheering her on, she proved that, even at 58, it’s never too late to reach those goals. Here’s how she did it.
Denise Van Huyssteen
Occupation: Internal sales
Weight before: 52kg
Weight after: 47kg
Time taken to reach current weight: 8 weeks
Secret weapon: Hard work and determination
Having grown up with an overweight mother and sister, Denise tried hard not to fall into the same trap. For most of her youth, she kept an eye on her weight, but just couldn’t seem to find that sweet spot. While she did have a gym membership, she wasn’t fully committed. Add to that a weekly burger and chips, and results evaded her. It was obvious that two things stood in the way of her dream body: her lacklustre exercise regimen and those weekly takeaways.
Denise belonged to a gym, but never enjoyed the monotony of walking on the treadmill two or three times a week. She also recalls looking at a picture of herself and feeling ashamed. “I was tired of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin,” she admits. That’s when she decided it was time to take her fitness seriously.
She joined Parkrun, a weekly 5km timed run. Finally feeling challenged, the motivation to become a better runner prompted her to join Getfit, a full-body fitness class that includes cardio and weight-training.
But it wasn’t just her workout that got a makeover. Denise ditched the fast food and daily sweets. When the Getfit challenge became a competition, it gave her the extra motivation to take it to the next level. “I did a one week detox: no sugar, no dairy, no carbs.”
Now Denise’s favourite breakfast is good old oats with honey, peanut butter, a scoop of bran, cacao nibs, seed mix and unsweetened coconut milk. Lunch is usually chicken and veg, and supper is something small, like an egg pancake.
She runs 5km three times a week – and it’s actually become therapeutic for her. “When I run, it’s just me and the promenade with a stunning view of the sea; it’s where I forget about everything. If I’m unhappy, I go for a run because I know I will come back feeling 100 times better.” She no longer eats processed foods and dairy, but does treat herself to a daily cappuccino, which she can’t go without!
Denise’s determination and commitment paid off – she won the Getfit challenge. “When they told me I’d won in the over-40 category at 58, I was elated,” she exclaims. A competition photograph proved just how far she’d come: “I couldn’t believe the person in the photo was me!”
Not only did Denise win the competition, she kicked self-consciousness to the curb. “I no longer feel self-conscious in the bedroom because I know I look good.” And she feels so much healthier and fitter: “I ran a 10km last year in 1h:07 and my best time for a 5km Parkrun is 28:50, which I’m trying hard to beat.” Having been a long-time reader of Women’s Health, Denise has dreamed of being an inspiration to readers. “Now I’ve done it and still can’t believe it.”
Don’t give up. “Remember: it is possible. Even when you think you can’t, you can.”
Forget about junk food. “It’s really not worth it. If you need a ‘cheat’, drink a big bottle of water first – you’ll eat less.”
Challenge yourself. “Try entering a completion like Getfit to motivate yourself. Or take up running. It may seem hard at first, but once you get going, you won’t look back.”
Need more inspiration to reach those fitness goals? Have a look at this amazing woman who dropped 5 dress sizes and still had a cheat meal every week! Or read all about how this woman ditched her comfort eating, and found her confidence.
Image credit: iStock
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com
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