In case you didn’t know, I have a rare disease called Myasthenia gravis and I also work for RDSA as my full-time job. However, I have other rare talents that you may not know about – my husband and I have mad dance skills (mad being the operative word); I am double-jointed and flat-footed; and I can give a mean massage. I can also dislocate my jaw and hip on command.
After all the negativity associated with the past year, RDSA has decided to flip the switch on their awareness campaign and get everyday South Africans to #ShareYourRare whilst encouraging others to do the same.
Can you spin on your head, or do the worm, or even do chubby bunny with 20 marshmallows? Is singing opera your hidden talent, or can you bounce a coin into a glass every time? This is YOUR rare, and this deserves to be celebrated.
Being RARE, by definition, infers being unique, highly valuable and possessing admirable or exemplary qualities.
A rare blue diamond 💎… Worth millions. A rare species 🦄… Highly sought after. A rare discovery 🍾… Highly newsworthy.
Except for Rare Diseases which are considered a financial burden, are overlooked by society and forgotten by the media.
The truth is that we are all RARE to some degree. We all have unique qualities, talents, features and abilities that make us different, and yet similar for that exact reason. This is something that deserves to be celebrated!
So how can you get involved?
This is super easy…
Share your rare on your social media platforms and tag Rare Diseases South Africa; challenge your friends or followers to do the same; and check out www.rareaware.africa for more details. You can also follow the Instagram page which has been set up especially for this campaign here.
Please also change your profile picture on your social media platforms to the “R” above, and include the caption “Join the tribe… Visit www.rareaware.africa#ShareYourRare“
With your support we can build a movement of Rare stories and get South Africa to share amazing positive stories building up to International Rare Disease Day on the 28th February 2021.
Founded in 2013 by Kelly du Plessis, Rare Diseases South Africa is a nonprofit organisation that has been successfully working to ensure that people living with a rare diseases and congenital disorders experience better recognition and support, improved health service and a better life overall.
Rare Diseases SA has 100% B-BBEE Social Development Recognition and is Section 18A certified with SARS making your donation tax deductible.
You can make a donation in many ways by visiting here.
Please help to create #RarenessAwareness and #ShareYourRare across social media. Let’s remind people about just how beautiful being rare is. Lets change our feeds to be filled with positivity and laughter through this difficult period. Let’s spread kindness and good by allowing our rareness to shine!
Some rare disease facts:
In South Africa rare diseases are defined as a dsease affecting less than I in 2000 people in the population
As a combined grouping, rare diseases affect 7% of the population, which is:
1 in every 15 people
4.1 million South Africans
70-80% of rare diseases are genetic. Some may be inherited in families while others only affect the individual
Other rare diseases may be acquired during life due to trauma, environmental effects etc.
For many rare diseases the cause is still unknown.
The weather currently is terribly cold. In fact, earlier this week I woke up and checked my weather app – we had a “real feel” temperature of -11°C. Cuddled in my warm bed, under a blanket with my pups and husband surrounding me, I began to think about those people who weren’t experiencing such luxuries. Those people that are going to bed with grumbling tummies and just cannot get warm in this extreme cold spell.
But what could I do? How could I, as an individual, make a difference?
And then I heard about Denny’s campaign where you can make any donation – from only R10 – and choose to #addgoodness. PLUS, with every donation you make, you go into a draw to win one of their gorgeous onesies and a mushroom hamper.
I know that times are tough (my husband hasn’t had work since the beginning of lockdown), and many of us are battling in our personal capacity, but if we could all spare at least R10 towards making a difference, we can quite literally save South Africa from starving. Keep scrolling to learn more about this!
Proudly South African mushroom brand Denny is bringing the ultimate comfort and warmth for winter. Aligned with the brand’s efforts to #addgoodness across a variety of environments, the #wintercomforts campaign is adding goodness through a range of activities.
Since the beginning of lockdown, Denny has donated many tonnes of mushrooms to shelters and old age homes across the country and continues to do so. A knitting initiative, which sees many Denny staff members picking up their knitting needles, will provide blankets to shelters. They are also partnering and volunteering at soup kitchens, such as Ladles of Love in the Western Cape, helping to hand out mushroom soup to those in need.
Brand Manager of Denny Mushrooms, Samantha McChesney said, “Add goodness to every meal is Denny’s brand purpose. It speaks directly to how we bring goodness to everything we do as a company. It’s about the nutritional value of the products, the love and care that is put into each meal that the consumer prepares and our responsibility to community and planet.”
In true Denny style, added to this is a charity-based initiative to rally South Africans to #addgoodness and warmth themselves through a donation drive which will benefit Food Forward SA. Food Forward SA supports over 1000 beneficiary organisations (BOs) reaching close to 500 000 vulnerable people directly (and an estimated 1,5 million people indirectly) with food parcels to households. Denny’s parent company Libstar is a food partner to the charity.
There are distinctly Denny rewards for those who add some winter goodness to the charity. Consumers who heed the call to support Denny in its drive to #addgoodness stand the chance of being rewarded with a limited edition, bespoke onesie and hamper.
The campaign is in partnership with a leading South African feel good media title – Good Things Guy, as well as five highly influential, warm and fuzzy bloggers who are distinctly into #wintercomforts. They are Fit Like Mummy, Crazy Rio, Just Ella Bella, Modern Zulu Mom and Becoming You. Armed with onesies and goodies they will post and share Denny feel good winter content to activate their followers.
“Adding goodness to every meal has never been more pertinent. It’s winter and there’s Covid-19, which puts even more strain on communities in need. As a company, everything that we are doing – soup kitchens, knitting blankets and increasing donations – is about adding goodness. As a company, each one of us is giving time and capacity to help. In true Denny fashion we are bringing our consumers all with us. We are appealing to them to donate to Food Forward SA and also keep themselves healthy by including mushrooms in their diet,” concludes McChesney.
It really hit me as I was watching this that it was 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚖𝚢 𝚐𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚍𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚜. One of my grandfathers was a pilot, & the other was a marine engineer during World War II. One of my granny’s folded & packed parachutes during this time, & her second husband was a prisoner of war.
The cinematography was something that really needs to be noted. You felt like you were traveling with them, & it all felt so real. You were completely immersed in the action & stress. The attention to detail was completely unreal, & produces a film filled with nail-biting scenes that literally causes you to gasp in terror & jump out of your seat (yes, I did both).
Husband & I drove home in silence as we processed what we had just watched, & I couldn’t stop a few tears escaping down my cheeks. I don’t think we truly appreciate what our families went through, & movies like this are so important – especially when they are based on accounts of a soldier.
After seeing this film, I have to say that it is in my Top 3 movies ever watched, & I highly recommend you book your seats for it straight away!
Experience Oscar® Buzz movies with no interruptions
AND THE NOMINEES ARE…
All the sparkle, all the nail-biting drama… it’s time once again to try your hand at predicting the 2020 Academy Award winners and rev up some Oscar® Buzz! Ster-Kinekor’s annual Oscar® Buzz kicked off with a red-carpet screening on 16 January 2020, featuring the heart-pounding, Golden Globe winning war film 1917, directed, co-written and produced by Sam Mendes (watch the trailer here).
This is just one of the phenomenal Oscar-nominated films coming to Ster-Kinekor screens this week, along with finalist for Best Foreign Film, Les Miserables. Also look out for Renee Zellweger’s star turn in the recently released Judy, which has earned her a well-deserved shot at Best Actress.
1917, Jojo Rabbit, Ford vs. Ferrari, Little Women, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite and The Irishman are all vying for the top honour of Best Film.
Oscar-nominated films are the crème de la crème of film-making. Depending what a film is up for, it’s been directed by one of the world’s greatest directors, its cinematography is breath-taking, and its score a sound experience. A movie of this calibre should be appreciated uninterrupted on the big screen, with the first-class sound and picture that accompanies this – not watched at home where it can be constantly disrupted.
So, experience Oscar® Buzz films as they were made to be seen – at the cinema. Book at www.sterkinekor.com, download the SK App on your smartphone or book at the box office. For news and updates, go toFacebook | follow Ster-Kinekor on Twitter. For all queries, call Ticket-line on 0861 Movies (668 437).
This past weekend one of my most favourite people in the world came to stay with us. We joke that we are “sister wives” as she lived with Warren & myself for some time, & we often got odd looks when we went out together. This time together allowed us to really bond & she became my family in Joburg. We have the same sense of humour, & could sit & chat for hours – which is something really special. When she moved back to KZN I shed so many tears & we still catch up often – but it isn’t the same without her here. One thing that we often enjoyed together was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. So when we found out that Alaska was coming to South Africa, we immediately made a plan to go!
Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 (primarily known mononymously as Alaska) is the stage name of Justin Andrew Honard, an American drag performer and recording artist best known as the runner-up on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the winner of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. New York magazine named Thunderfuck one of the top 100 Most Powerful Drag Queens in America in June 2019. (source: Wiki)
We couldn’t contain our excitement & spent the day getting ready, listening to Alaska’s music & squealing every time we popped out of the room to see each other. I was so nervous that I would be that awkward person that wouldn’t even be able to say hello when we met her – Desre had bought us VIP tickets so we were really getting the best treatment possible.
The Drag Show was at Platteland in Centurion & we had never been there before. When we arrived, I was thrilled to see one of my childhood friends & his partner – it really shows what a small world it is, & how many fans RuPaul has here in South Africa. I was blown away at the beauty of Drag Queens in the audience, & the amazing outfits of all of those attending – including one girl who had dressed up as Lil’ Poundcake. We were made to feel so welcome, & there was absolutely no judgement felt at all. I can’t remember the last time I felt so much love & inclusion at an event.
We enjoyed some South African Queens before Alaska, & these included A Rose With Thorns, Betty Bangles, Babaganoosh, Miss Evoque, Regina Blaque, Riri Rouge, Cosmo LeCruz, Sally Werq, & Adam. You guys, we have such awesome talent here in South Africa & this immediately got the whole vibe going.
Alaska on her way to the stage
I can’t even put into words how stunning this evening was, & what a fantastic performer Alaska is. So here are some sneak peek pics…
I cannot WAIT for the next one! This exceeded every expectation that I had, & their next show is in February 2020. Will I see you there?
P.S. Love is love is love
P.P.S. Did you hear her counting to 3 in Afrikaans? Flip we had such a chuckle – but gosh she was a good sport to give it a go!
Last week Thursday I was invited to attend Chalmar Beef’s 50th Milestone Celebration in Bapsfontein. They were hosting an auction with beef from 45 selected animals, that had been fed for longer – whole carcasses as well as individual cuts of meat were auctioned & I was super excited to see how this all worked!
The late Oom Wimpie Wethmar started this business 50 years ago, in a simple small building. He had great dreams for Chalmar Beef, & together with his wife, they built this up into the thriving business it is today. This family-run business has a feeling of coming home (especially since I am from a farming community in KZN), & the staff are all so friendly & welcoming. I was so impressed with the stories from people involved with & working for Chalmar Beef, & you could really see their passion for the entire business as well as the Wethmar family.
“The Chalmar Beef farm and abattoir operation includes over 300 dedicated and passionate people, it has a farm feedlot capacity of 20 000 cattle and a further 19 000 cattle on pasture. The farm also produces maize silage on 1 000ha of high potential soil.
Our farm is still owned by the Wethmar family who are involved in the daily operations.”
Profits from the sale of some of the beef also went toward assisting Little Eden Society. Founded in 1967 by Domitilla and Danny Hyams, LITTLE EDEN is the permanent home to 300 residents who have profound intellectual disability, the majority of whom have been discarded and abandoned by society. Within the confines of LITTLE EDEN these precious souls find daily warmth, care and love together with all the ancillary programmes and therapies to make them stars in their own right.
Besides the 2 healthy & nutritious meals provided weekly for all residents of the home, they are also able to make a further 2 soups/sauces with the bones & leftovers. The Wethmars live for their community & providing support, & this really showed throughout the afternoon I spent there.
I had never attended an auction in any form, so when they sat us down for the festivities to begin, I felt a flutter of excitement in my tummy. The bidders were registered, & I saw the paddles being held in tight hands & you could feel the electricity in the room. We had sampled some of the delicious meat for lunch, & when my knife simply glided through the meat as if it were butter, I knew that I would be a meat snob after this spoiling!
I don’t think any picture could do the food justice, but believe me when I say I never have, & probably never will, taste food like that. Restaurant’s such as Marble, The Grill at 120, Chaplins Grill, Square Time Café, Pachas & many more made our mouth-watering meat dishes supplied from Chalmar Beef. I was teasing my husband with sneak peeks from throughout the day & he was extremely jealous!
The auction went off with much support & excitement, & I definitely noticed that some people were bidding on more than others – I’m not sure where they were from, but we should be asking where our meat is supplied from, & if you hear its Chalmar then you are in for a definite treat.
With our tummies full, & our wallets empty, we were entertained by talented singers before being led through their shop on the property. This is open 6 days a week, & they even have cyclists that stop off along their journey to enjoy an ice cream & drink. If you aren’t able to get to the shop yourself, you can now place your order in their online store & have it delivered to you (if you live in Gauteng). This shop is run by friendly staff who assist you with everything you could possibly want – including an amazing cup of coffee.
You feel Oom Wimpie’s presence all over the farm – from his picture proudly displayed in the shop; to the way the staff remember him with so much love; to the pride the family has in continuing his work. They WANT you to come to visit them & learn more about this passion project of theirs, & you can even get some recipes that have been created in their home with the delicious Chalmar Beef.
All in all, it was a day that I will always remember with such fondness. Besides all the awesome bloggers & media members that I got to meet, I also learnt so much about the importance of loving what you do, & how family will always support you in reaching your dreams. I can’t wait to go back, & know that I will be doing all my meat shopping online from now on.
You can stay up to date with their events, as well as their recipes & so on by following them on Facebook & Instagram. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!
And please try some of their meat – I promise you will love it.
Even if you are not directly part of the Rare Disease Community, I am sure that you have heard of Jenna Lowe. Perhaps you were even lucky enough to meet this young lady. Maybe you have visited her website, & became an organ donor when you heard from someone waiting for her lungs how dire the situation is.
Gabi & Jenna Lowe
Jenna was an inspiring young lady who never allowed her diagnosis to hold her back. She lived life to the fullest, encouraged & inspired others, & was constantly striving to create awareness around organ donation. You see, Jenna had Pulmonary Hypertension.
Jenna was young, bright, beautiful and articulate. Lead SA’s Youth Hero of the Year in 2015, her death was mourned by thousands of people whose lives she had touched. During her short but full life, Jenna and the Lowe family raised much needed awareness around this rare and devastating disease, highlighting the dire need for access to medication and organ donors locally. Although desperately ill, Jenna became the face for organ donation in South Africa through the hugely successful #GetMeTo21 campaign in which she invited all South Africans to attend her 21st birthday celebration by clicking on a link to become an organ donor. Tragically Jenna died three months before reaching her milestone.
Brilliantly written, riveting in all its terrible truth and pain, in this brutally honest memoir Gabi Lowe shares her family’s desperate fight to save Jenna’s life. Despite their tragic loss, Get Me To 21 will inspire you to believe that the ability to face even the darkest and most unimaginable lives deep within us all.
Author: Gabi Lowe studied a BA before embarking on a successful career in media and marketing. In 2011 she was catapulted into a totally new world, that of rare diseases, big pharma and transplantation, filled with massive challenges, learnings, losses and love. Gabi is now a sought-after life coach, facilitator of workshops on emotional resilience and inspirational speaker. She lives in Cape Town with her husband Stuart and daughter Kristi.
When I heard that Gabi Lowe was coming to Joburg for the launch of her book, I knew I had to be there. #RareWarrior friends would be there, as well as the CEO of Rare Diseases SA. Jenna’s story had touched me & I was desperate to learn more about this girl who has left such a footprint on the world.
I had tissues at the ready, & appreciated the courage of the entire Lowe family for allowing us a glimpse into the battle they went through as an entire family. Gabi read from the book for all of us (this is where the tears started), & told us the hard truth about the lack of resources & awareness in South Africa. There were fellow PH patients in the crowd, as well as another mum who has lost 2 of her children to this dreadful disease. When I saw Shaakira, my heart broke – I had known her daughter & here she was supporting her “family” & standing up in support of the Lowe’s. They had leant on one another throughout their journey’s & now they are both grieving the loss of their precious children – how is that fair?
Gaby reading for us.
Gaby discussing the book with us.
Following the launch, I needed some time to process what had been discussed before beginning the book. I knew it would be a tough one to work my way through, & emotionally I did not know if I was ready. Realising that a lot of this fear stemmed from the fact that I am relapsing & fearful of what this means for me & my family, I knew I had to just suck it up. This is a book of bravery, a book of loss, a book of pure love.
Within 2 days I had finished the entire book. I literally could not put it down, except to clear my head for a few moments when it all became too much. I felt completely drained as I finished the last page & I was amazed at the strength of the Lowe’s. Jenna’s story needed to be told, & needs to continue to be shared. This book was honest & raw, & included excerpts from Jenna’s actual diary. It showed the truth of what it is like to have a Rare Disease & the fear of the unknown. It showed the hope of a miracle, & the emptiness that follows a loss that cannot truly be explained. It showed courage.
This book has changed my life – for the better. And it is a book that will keep Jenna’s legacy alive, whilst continuing to touch everyone who reads it.
The book is available online, or from local book stores in South Africa – I got mine from Exclusive Books at the event itself, & have seen it many times since then.
I leave you with the song that Jenna wrote, & her sister Kristi performed.
“You should set goals beyond your reach so you always have something to live for.” – Ted Turner
Life post-transplant has certainly been interesting!
I have learnt a lot about myself, as well as others. I have seen where my priorities truly lie, as well as those that would give everything to see me healthy once again.
I have seen family rally, & friends disappear (as well as the other way around…)
But mostly, this year has been about LIVING. It has been about trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone, meeting new people & constantly living the best life I possibly can.
This past weekend was a perfect example of such an activity – along with questioning my stupidity & capabilites…
“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
I signed up for my first ever trail run through Catch Me If You Can. I had heard of them through some of my fitness pals I have made, & thought it was a good excuse to try them out whilst improving my fitness & getting out in nature.
Catch Me If You Can (CMIYC) is South Africa’s largest all women running community that connects ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes. They’ve helped thousands of women connect and build lasting friendships whilst improving their health, fitness levels and lifestyles.
The CMIYC Leaders are phenomenal women with a common goal to encourage women of all fitness levels to join a community where they will feel comfortable and celebrated for who they are! They run all over South Africa, giving you the opportunity to discover the most beautiful routes and races in your area. They offer safety in numbers and a chance to get out and have some fun!
From beginner to Comrades Marathon – start your journey with them. Their diverse team of CMIYC Leaders will support you all the way! Their weekly activities include running, walking, hiking, and trail running.
They believe that running is about so much more than putting one foot in front of the other – they know that running will change your life.
They’ve put their everything into building the 1st Women Running App just for us and know we will love it!
I arrived at Rietvlei Zoo Farm nervous for what I was about to do. They had 5km, 10km & 15km options – & of course I had gone for the biggest challenge. I was filled with trepidation & all the comments from the nay-sayers were playing through my mind.
“You will never manage.”
“Do you know how far 15km is?”
“I’m fit & I wouldn’t even manage that distance.”
“You’re being stupid.”
“You’ll never make it.”
And then I remembered all the encouragement I received too…
“Your mind is strong Megs.”
“You make me so proud.”
“Do what you can.”
“Just enjoy it.”
“Think of how far you have come!”
“You can do it.”
With renewed passion I went to register & received my pink band that I put around my wrist. I saw some ladies I had met previously, went over to say hi & then prepared for the adventure ahead…
(note to self… Serious trail runners do not carry water bottles. They have those fancy-pants backpacks with water, or nothing. Do not be that kippy that takes your own & then has to hide it somewhere at the start to collect once the race is finished. You’re welcome.)
When the race started, I felt butterflies in my tummy & an excitement that I have not felt in years. I was actually doing this. Last year I was walking with a cane & now I was taking on a literal mountain. I took a deep breath & started putting one foot in front of another… Every step for the Rare Disease patients who can’t. Every step squashing the negativity & hurt that I have been carrying for way too long.
Yes, there was pain.
Yes, there were moments of wanting to give up.
But, there was also so much laughter. So much fun. So many friendships.
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” – Rabindranath Tagore
A while back I met the most wonderful person, & I was instantly drawn to her kindness & zest for life. Over time I have been lucky enough to see more of her, & spend time with her & see why people are so attracted to being around her. Izzy is a “celebrity” yet so down to earth & caring. She has had advice for me throughout my journey to health, & always has a little positive message for me. Next month (eeek!) we are actually doing a trail run together to raise funds for Rare Diseases SA, as well as prove to ourselves what we are capable of doing. If you would like to follow this journey, you can follow us here.
Izzy is a fellow Rare Warrior, yet really does not allow this to hold her back or define who she is. She inspires me so much & I knew that I had to do a feature on her so you could be encouraged by this Wonder Woman too.
Tell me a bit more about yourself: I am a simple girl who is just too passionate about the health and fitness industry. Just trying to change peoples lives, with one lifestyle tip at a time.
How did you get into fitness: After studying health coaching, I found it was the next best step. Plus I wanted to learn how to really train properly.
Why do you think taking care of your health is so important: Without health we have nothing, I know as I have been there. There is nothing as painful as not having your health, or loved ones not having their health. We have this one body to live our lives with, we better make that quality of better if we can!
I know you do online coaching, can you tell me a bit more about this: I have slowly started advertising challenges and one on one training online. I coach groups or one on one and am really focusing on growing into weekly group coaching sessions where ladies can sit together around their computers and chat in a live chat room about their concerns and help each other out. I can sit back and give a coaches perspective but sometimes we just need human interaction to help motivate us and give us clearer vision of where we are going.
If someone wants to make a change with their health, what would you recommend for them? Reach out to an expert! Even myself as a coach have used coaches in my life. There is so much contradicting information out there, that if you just have that one person you can rely on weekly it can launch your lifestyle further.
What are some gym products you simply can’t live without? (eg fitbands etc) Haha definitely fitbands! They make such a difference to lower body workouts. I also love my BCAAs, I call it my liquid motivation.
Quote you live by: Everything is always happening for my greatest good.
Anything else you want to add: I try to live in gratitude as much as I can. Life isn’t easy, circumstances can throw you off where you thought you should be but without gratitude you will lose your mind.
Isn’t she gorgeous? And doesn’t she inspire you to be the best she can be?
Izzy, thank you for being you. Thank you for bringing so much joy to us. Thank you for your love & enthusiasm for life. And thank you for allowing me to interview you. I can’t wait for our time away in the bush xx
About 2 months ago I plucked up the courage to join a gym.
I haven’t exercised in over 15 years, & my body has taken huge strain. Having Myasthenia Gravis meant that I couldn’t exercise, as stimulation of the muscles meant that they were weaker overall & it could even affect my lungs & breathing. Well-meaning people would say I need to get fitter, or lift weights in order to try strengthen my muscles, but it just isn’t possible with MG. It is a very frustrating situation to be in, as we all know the importance of exercise as well as the associated endorphins.
But now, with my second chance at life causing me to jump out of bed every morning & be excited to see what I can do today, I knew that I needed to lose weight in a healthy manner & start caring for my body the way it deserves.
Starting at a gym terrified me. There are super fit people there & I was so nervous that I would be judged for the way I look, my inabilities & just because I am the newbie. But I put on my big girl panties & headed to Virgin Active Cedar Square – it is close to both home & work, & I immediately got a good vibe from the staff when I walked in. They were welcoming, kind & made me feel so comfortable.
I had no idea what to do on any of the machines, so decided to ease into this journey by trying out some classes. There were so many to choose from – dancing, boxing, yoga, pilates, The Grid, spinning… How would I know what I would actually like? And would I stand out like a sore thumb in the class?
First up was boxing… Oh boy! I huffed, puffed, groaned, grunted, sweated & wanted to cry – that was just trying to fit into my tights in order to get to gym. I didn’t have proper takkies, & had to wear a t-shirt I had been sleeping is as I literally had no active wear. I didn’t want to spend unnecessary money if I didn’t enjoy this fitness journey, plus my goal is to lose weight so I didn’t think it was worth buying clothes that would (hopefully) be too big for me.
Arriving at the gym, I swiped my card & made my way to the room in which the class was to be held. There were a few other women there & I looked around nervously. Not one of them greeted me. They acted like I didn’t exist. Running around the room as part of the warm-up, I had to keep taking breaks & sips of my water. I explained to the instructor that I was very unfit & hadn’t exercised in some time – he was so understanding & spent extra time helping me with every exercise to ensure I was doing it correctly to prevent further injury. But I was put off by the eye-rolling & judgement coming from some of the women in the class. They made me feel self-conscious & embarrassed. I couldn’t wait for the class to be over & ran out at the end before jumping into my car & letting a few tears escape down my cheek. What was I doing? I wasn’t ready for this.
The following week I decided to try dance class. I had done competitive dance before I was diagnosed, & had always enjoyed moving to music – it brought me so much happiness & transported me to a better place.
As I walked into the room, I saw the same woman that had been at boxing. My heart sank. But she ignored me & acted like she hadn’t seen me. Perhaps she didn’t remember how terrible I was, or maybe she was just so caught up in her own world?
Dance class was everything I could possibly dream of & more. The instructor was so full of life & made me feel so welcome. She was beautiful inside & out, & didn’t pick me out in front of the others for not knowing the movements. She laughed & I left feeling on top of the world.
This first class was over 2 months ago, & I have been going on a weekly basis. It is my pure escape & something that I look forward to every week. I love the feel-good vibes. I am still catching up to the others that have been going for ages, but when I look back on the fact that I was walking with a cane this time last year I am FLIPPING PROUD.
But this woman & her cronies… Gosh. She is literally destroying my enjoyment & happiness, & I even skipped dance class this week as I couldn’t handle having to deal with her. I feel like I am back at high school, & there are the “cool kids” in the corner of the class room who are judging me. I feel like I will never fit in, or really be good enough. I hide away in the corner, & always stand at the back of the class so nobody will see me. The enjoyment of the class is totally destroyed by the fact that I feel like I don’t fit in & that they are judging me.
This past weekend I took my sister to gym with me as they had an open weekend. She commented on how friendly all the staff were, & we both love the fact that they know me by name & make everyone feel so welcome.
And then, can you believe it, THE woman came to the same class I had signed my sister & I up for. Now, I am not your usual lady at the gym. I still don’t have much hair. I wear crazy tights. I laugh out loud when I can’t do something. But yet this one still acts like she has never seen me. I was standing at the entrance when she walked in, & offered a nervous smile. She looked at me & immediately looked away – pretending she had never seen me. Weird right?
Then helping the instructor set up the equipment for the class, we were standing next to each other. I thought I would try again – my mum has instilled good manners in me & has always encouraged me to be friendly. I greeted her. She looked at me like I was poop on her shoes & walked away. My sister noticed this interaction & reminded me to be the bigger person. I think if she hadn’t been there with me I would have immediately walked out & probably shed a few tears on the way.
It took a lot of guts to join a gym. I know I am overweight. I know I am unfit. I know that there is a LOT of stuff that I cannot do. I don’t have a workout buddy that I can go to gym with, & have had to step out of my shell to make friends at the gym.
There are some wonderful ladies at the gym that greet, encourage & support one another – but there seems to be this nasty little clique that cuts through to your core & reminds you that you will never really be good enough.
I don’t know if I will go back to dance class. It really upsets me, but I just can’t deal with being made to feel small, insignificant & not good enough by other women who are there. I am better than I was this time last week – better than this time last month – & a whole new person compared to who I was this time last year. But I will still never measure up to anything compared to the “cool kids”.
My personal trainer, Zander, is one in a million & really encourages me on a daily basis. He shows me I can be strong. He shows me I can be a fighter. But then I walk into a class with the mean girls & I lose all of that. I lose myself. I become that little nerd from school who didn’t fit in & my insecurities are front & centre.
I just want to remind everyone that you have no idea of the battle that people are fighting. You don’t know what is going on at home. You don’t know what medication they are on that has caused them to gain weight. You don’t know if they had an accident & haven’t been able to exercise in some time. You don’t know what they are feeling. You don’t know if your smile could brighten their day. You don’t know if your snotty, judgmental look could completely ruin it.
It costs you nothing to be kind. It takes nothing to be kind & welcoming. But it can be the turning point in someone’s life.
So if you are this woman, please #ChooseKind. Please don’t make others feel like they will never measure up to you. Please just smile at me & others like me. At the end of the day we are all people & we deserve mutual respect & love.
On my quest to being healthy once again, & learning to love my body, I came across Fit Bands. I had heard of them before, but because my health was so shocking, I couldn’t even dream of making use of them or really finding out more. But then I had a life-changing experience & now I am able to actually EXERCISE! And I am still determined to support local in this new path that I am on – so I knew that Fit Farm Girl was on my radar & that I really wanted to find out more.
Then I heard about their event – mind.booty.soul pop-up experience which is happening this weekend. I am so excited to attend this, & if you haven’t bought your ticket then quickly go over here to get one before they sell out! They are only R290 each…
The mind.booty.soul pop-up experience brought to you by Fit Farm Girl.
A fusion of yoga for the mind, a workout for the booty and healthy food for the soul.
Spend a morning with us, get a custom Fit Band, and explore our exhibitors stands to shop for your favorite health and wellness products. You’ll also get a goodie bag and a light post-workout meal when you’re done. Spot prizes and selfies guaranteed 😉
Suitable for ALL fitness levels, so bring your friends and make it a morning to remember!
Tell me a bit more about what you do: I own and run an online store. I’m the founder of Fit Bands by Fit Farm Girl, the first of their kind in SA material resistance bands: which don’t slip, snap or roll.
How did you come up with this idea: I was an online nutritional coach, working out from home. I wanted to start selling small pieces of equipment for use at home when I came across material resistance bands. No one else in SA was doing it and I jumped on it to create ‘Fit Bands by Fit Farm Girl’ which has now developed into almost 10 different items under the Fit Farm Girl Brand!
What is a fit band: A Fit Band is made out of a woven fabric blend which is sewn to create a loop resistance band. The Fit Bands are used to activate the glutes – especially helpful for those at a desk all day and incorporated into various exercises to work the lower body
How long have you been running (business-wise) for: May 2019 we are officially 1 years old!
How did you decide on your business’s name: When I was doing online coaching I was living on a Game Farm and working out from home. It came time to decide on a name and I wanted to make it descriptive for me, and so Fit Farm Girl happened. When I moved to e-commerce it made sense to keep the name and let that reputation already created work in my favour.
I see you have introduced more products recently – can you tell me a bit more about those: We have recently launched an active wear range – I have always LOVED fashion and this new range allows me to join two passions of mine! Besides for the Fit Bands and active wear, we also have THRUST pads, Core Sliders, Ankle bands (Fit Bands V2.0) and Kick Straps. And we are also venturing into events with our mind.booty.soul pop-up experience on the 25th May in JHB
What is your favourite fitband: I love the Pink and Purple bands as they were my first and have a special place for me. Also the Signature Series which are custom print bands we release now and then for a limited number, once they sold, the print is never repeated – it takes me months to decide on the right prints, haha.
Why do these make such a difference to your workout: Many people are sedentary and even when they do go to gym, their glutes have become so lazy, they aren’t fully engaged and activated. Using a Fit Band ensures that glute activation. They are also unlike conventional resistance bands which snap and wear quickly. Our bands can be washed and do not snap, ever! Their size also makes them perfect for travel workouts 😉
Where can people order these from: Our website makes for easy check out
Quote you live by: Decide. Commit. Succeed
Anything else you want to add: I absolutely love owning my own business but it is also the most challenging thing I have faced in my life. Make sure you chose to do something you LOVE and you’re 100% passionate about because then it will be worth it. NEVER just do it for the money, not even money can make you less miserable if you don’t love what you do. Start with what you have and don’t expect it to be perfect. Everything will fall into place, but without action there can be no progress. Take action, take risks and get used to being uncomfortable!
I am so excited about this company, & have ordered my very own sliders, as well as a tote bag – & can’t wait for my very own Fit Band this weekend at their event! Luckily it has just been my birthday so I will be able to treat myself to some more of their products too…