She didn't think much of it. Then one day she realised the midnight snacks, lots of junk food and not enough exercise had built up and she had gained weight.
Before she knew it, the once petite Chulumanco Mihlali Gqiba weighed 80kgs and wasn't comfortable in her body.
The Mdantsane, Eastern Cape woman, who volunteers at Keith Ngesi Radio as a news anchor, decided to take action.
“I gained weight late in 2018 but I never paid much attention to it until last year. I used to go to the gym, but I was never consistent because I wouldn’t go continuous for a whole month before stopping.”
While studying in Johannesburg, she started fluctuating between 70kg and 80kg. She had a roommate and they would eat all the time. Meals at 2am were normal and she found comfort in food, Chulumanco tells us.
She started even eating when she wasn't hungry and became addicted to junk food. Alcohol also didn't help the situation, she says.
By the time March rolled around, she was 80kgs.
When lockdown came into effect in March and home exercise videos became a thing, she decided to go for it and try and lose the weight.
"Why not," she thought. She gave herself 20 days, the initial period lockdown was scheduled for.
“When they extended the lockdown, it meant I should extend my training as well because I had made a promise to myself that I would finish my course of training throughout lockdown, not knowing that it would be extended.”
She got a bit discouraged when she didn’t see any visible results during that initial period so she decided to continue because she thought the extension would only be for a month and nothing more.
“That’s what drove me. The goals that I had set for myself and lockdown. When I started seeing results three months down the line, I thought to myself, ‘I’ve achieved and lot and why should stop now?’
“If I can notice the difference in such a short period of time taking into consideration the fact that I never took supplements and I was only working out religiously and eating clean then I can do more.”
Her weight loss journey was a tedious, dragging process, she says. She cleaned up her eating and did home exercises for a few days a week using videos she found online.
She was demotivated about 80 per cent of the time.
“I struggled to see results immediately and I got to learn that putting myself under pressure would not show me results. I decided to take it easy. I told myself, ‘let me take it easy, let me be kind to myself and allow the journey do its work and not worry about results'.”
Her mom and dad pushed her not to give up as they said they could see the results she wasn't seeing.
They made sure she stuck to her routine even when she was feeling demotivated.
Now she weighs between 58 and 60kg.
“I only started enjoying it four months into the process because I could visibly see and feel my body changing. If you have started your weight loss journey and you feel demotivated, remember why you started and find the inspiration where you can.”
Chulumanco is currently working on becoming leaner and building muscle to tone her body and is now working out as hobby and not necessarily to lose more weight.
“Don’t be under pressure to see results because that’s when you’ll lose track of the whole process and why you started. Find motivation where you can.”