Pre 2012 I weighed over 135kg and at a medical aid check up my cholesterol was 13. As people will be aware the normal range for cholesterol is 3 to 5. It was a wakeup call and I decided that something must be done. I was on a certain path to destruction without even realising it. Fast food, bad food generally, sitting all day, sitting all night does not make for a healthy lifestyle.

Over the next few years my weight went up and down. I had not yet discovered the magic formula.

In 2013 I saw some trailer advertising for Dream Body Fitness (DBF). Even though I have always hated gyms, I decided to have a look. Being a slightly overweight person (Ok, very overweight) I was pretty apprehensive about what to expect. I was welcomed and encouraged to attend one of Steve’s straight-talking nutritional chat. Who would have guessed that I wasn’t allowed to go into the gym for a week? Taking the nutritional advice in hand, I spent the next week eating ‘better’.

I spent two months at gym and left!

Due to some exceptional circumstances (sore back, laziness, work, busy, etc etc) I never went back. (I’m sure this sounds familiar to many people?) After leaving my weight went up, my backache became unbearable, permanently uncomfortable, breathing heavily at the slightest exertion and I spent a lot of money on physio and specialists. Body fat percentage, what a joke, at over 33%! A third of my entire self was fat!

In November 2013 I was at my wits end and setup a personal meeting with Steve looking for some advice. Damn – wakeup call of note! I went home, thought about what was said and signed up at DBF again. The first instruction from Steve – you are not allowed to do anything except cage (bodyweight) workouts, no cardio classes and definitely no weights. “You have to get your core strong,” says Steve, “You can’t do anything without a strong core!”

The instructors were superb; it was like having a personnel trainer. I did try and hide on the treadmill a few times, but I’m afraid I was always caught out. “What are we doing today, Mark?”, “O look, you are over five minutes on the treadmill, Mark, let’s go!”, “It’s time for your cage work, Mark!”. Readers may notice the use of my name over and over. Why? Because they all knew my name! Not just Steve, the trainers too. Gives one an idea of what this gym is like. Personal, friendly, attentive and the list goes on.

Back to the weight journey.

Under the guidance of Steve and his fitness marshals I progressed. Going to gym three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) started to become a routine. I ate what was recommended, trained and even fell off the bus sometimes, or as it is referred to at DBF – I took a nutritional holiday. I think I was going through some sort of mind shift.

This time I remained focused and carried on eating well and going to gym. Eventually three days became four. The cage became ‘Burn’ and ‘Melt 60’ cardio classes and finally I made it onto the free weights. During this time I entered my first Warrior Race (an obstacle race) and constantly surprised myself with what I could achieve. All the time – building muscle and losing fat. Body fat percentage loss became my set goals.

It was towards the end of 2014 when I challenged myself to do an online 8 week body transformation competition. Gym went up to five times a week and with the assistance of everyone at DBF and a personal trainer, Gareth Pretorius, I managed to achieve second place, body fat percentage down to 14%, weight down to 84kg. To put it into perspective, if you had to pick up 50kgs, that was the extra weight I was living with around my frame permanently!

Earlier I mentioned that I hadn’t found the magical formula. I have learnt that there is no magic formula. There is however a change in lifestyle and attitude. There is no diet that will work (in the short term, yes, long term – absolutely not). It must be a lifestyle change, a combination of eating well and exercising regularly. This is my new habit, this is my life!

Who would have thought? All it took was a little chat with Big Steve!