'How I lost 103 kilograms'

2010-08-11 00:00

THE love of food, beer and wine is what led to Bernard Schäfer’s weight gain.

“I love food,” says Schäfer, “especially German delicatessen.”

Schäfer says that in the past he was never really concerned with what and how much food he ate, especially when he was hungry.

“I had a very sweet tooth and being a very social person, it was difficult to control how much I consumed. Also, my work forced me to travel considerably over the past 10 years or so and as a result my eating habits deteriorated,” he says.

Health issues

Schäfer’s weight gain eventually led to fatigue and high blood pressure.

“I felt it mostly physically. Work required me to stand and walk around quite a bit, so it was quite taxing at times if I had to walk for a long period of time or travel in a car,” says Schäfer. “I have had problems with blood pressure in the past, and had to take medication. I had problems with breathing and had trouble sleeping in a comfortable position or even sitting upright.”

Schäfer also found it very difficult to tie his own shoelaces, because he was overweight and couldn’t bend down easily.

The turning point

Schäfer had been on Weigh-Less about 13 years ago and reached his goal weight, but his work got him off track. Schäfer’s turning point came when he was in a serious car accident in Tanzania just over two years ago. He had serious injuries to his leg and his chest.

“I had to be flown back to South Africa for proper treatment and being overweight (almost 200 kg) did not help at all,” says Bernard.

The medical care that he was receiving in Tanzania wasn’t very good and he couldn’t continue with work due to the pain he was experiencing in his leg and chest. He needed to be properly assessed and he was hospitalised for two weeks upon returning.

“I was in excruciating pain when I tried to walk and had serious difficulty breathing when I was lying down. I then decided, while I was in hospital, that I had to do something to get my weight down, and I decided that I needed to join Weigh-Less again to help me get the weight off.”

Second time lucky

Schäfer’s wife and his daughters had also been on Weigh-Less before so it wasn’t a difficult decision to join for the second time.

“I got really good results last time and decided to do it again. Also, my wife and daughters were on it too, so it was easy to decide.”

The Pinetown NG Kerk Group hosted by Sumaya Mohamed is the group that Schäfer decided to join.

“Sumaya was very supportive and always tried to motivate me when I didn’t get the results that I wanted.”

Schäfer was in and out at his first meeting due to self-consciousness and a low self-esteem.

“I just wanted to get myself weighed in and then go home,” says Bernard.

The challenges

When trying to achieve anything, you will be presented with challenges. It is how you overcome them that lead to your success. There were a couple of times when Schäfer wasn’t happy with what the scale said.

“I felt like stopping a few times, because the scale was saying that I hadn’t lost, but I felt that I had had a good week.”

It was his family and group leader Sumaya that kept him going.

“At times I felt that the weight loss was too slow. I wanted to lose weight much quicker than I was. I didn’t enjoy weighing my food and some of the food choices, but my wife made sure I got the right food servings.”

Reaching Goal Weight

After two years, Schäfer finally reached his Goal Weight of 125 kg.

“I felt ecstatic. I was relieved that I had at last achieved what I set out to do when I first joined Weigh-Less.”

Another goal that Schäfer wanted to achieve was getting fit and he achieved it. Today Schäfer exercises regularly to keep fit.

“I train at least five to six days a week. My routine consists of three to four days of cardiovascular training, that is either done in the gym or I walk around my neighbourhood. I normally do about 40 to 90 minutes in a cardio session. I do two to three days of resistance or circuit training depending on the time I have available.”

For all those who are still to embark on this journey, Schäfer says:

“Make sure that you have a good support structure, family, friends and a group leader to help you achieve your goal. It is important to develop a routine that is easy to follow and make sure that you exercise on a regular basis.”

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