Tired of being body-shamed, Nombulelo turned to fitness – and look at her now


People embark on a health and fitness journey for various reasons (a healthy body, gains, even Insta fame), but for Nombulelo Mgabadeli’s it was to find peace with the way she looked physically. 

What drove Nombulelo to find fitness

“I’ve always been tiny – I mean, really tiny,” Nombulelo fesses. So tiny, in fact, that she was body-shamed almost every day. “Sometimes the shaming was low-key and subtle, but I still felt it because it was something I was really self-conscience about,” she says. As a result, a bubbly, happy child spiralled into a state of low self-esteem and depression.

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“Honestly, I started working out for the gains, but as I did I fell in love with the process. I understood the journey and realised what really worked for me,” she says. In the end, her journey was no longer just about what reaches the eye (physique), but rather an emotional and spiritual one. Nombulelo believes that you can never be fully healed when parts of yourself are not at peace.

READ MORE: 5 most common mental health issues that affect women

And that body!

“Not to brag or anything, but my body looks amazing,” Nombulelo says jokingly. It really does look amazing. “I put in the hard work – fitness is my favourite hobby,” she says. Nombulelo has since become leaner, gained muscle mass (from 42kg to 54kg) and has poppin’ skin. But she isn’t the only one benefiting from this journey of hers – “I’ve got everyone at home hooked on leading a healthy lifestyle and exercising,” she says.

A day in the life of Nombulelo

Mondays to Fridays, Nombulelo has a stable eight-to-five job that keeps her busy; by night, she’s behind the desk, hustling. “I’m also busy with my honours degree and I attend class three times a week in the evening, then I squeeze gym in at least four times a week and Church on Sundays,” she explains.

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Push-ups are her go-to moves; otherwise it’s the usual arms, strength and cardio. She preps her lunch and dinner meals on Sundays (time isn’t really on her side!), and wakes up to oats and peanut butter every other day.

How she keeps on keeping on

“Discipline… That alone plays a really huge role. You won’t always win at one go. I still get tempted to eat junk food, but I set goals for myself and I have to keep them – that’s where discipline comes in. I have to say, ‘No Nombulelo, have fruit instead.’” But besides that, her gym gear gets her going. “My gym bag always has Adidas gear, gloves, trainers, Shield body spray, a towel and my access card, obvs.”

Three fun facts about Nombulelo

She’s inspired by Mapule Ndlovu and Amanda (Fitfanatic); she’s obssessed with Adidas gym gear; and her fave cheat meal is Chicken Licken hot wings.

This article was originally posted on Women's Health South Africa.

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