I’ve never been very athletic.

In fact, my dabblings in sport at school were limited to one miserable season in my year’s B-team hockey squad. (Where, it’s worth noting, I won a prize for scoring the most goals. But only because my coaches counted all the own goals I managed to whack into my own side’s net. Bless them.)

So, when I started my very first nine-to-five, as an intern at a magazine in Johannesburg, I found myself hunched over a desk for most of those painfully slow-moving eight hours – with nothing to break my day other than a hearty Alfredo pasta from the greasy cafeteria downstairs.

My new, deskbound life, coupled with the fact that I just moved in with an old school friend who was as thin as a rake and an unbelievable baker, meant those sneaky kilos started creeping up on me.

By the time I realised, “Hey Kirst, you’re pretty chubby and unhealthy, maybe we should look at doing something about this,” I was about 10 kg overweight. And desperate.

Now, that may not sound like much but on a slight, 1,59 m tall lass, it felt revolting. And it meant I was on the cusp of overweight, with a BMI of 25.

So, in my desperate quest to drop that blubber – and avoid the gym at all costs – I must have tried every fad diet I could get my hands on. Cutting out carbs, living on SlimSlabs, ghastly reality TV star-endorsed diet pills… I even convinced some poor hapless GP into prescribing me some hardcore appetite suppressants. Absolutely nothing worked. I’d drop 0.5 kg and be so desperately hungry I’d binge – and put on more weight. And so, my unhealthy relationship with food was born.

In the interim, I’d moved to my magazine’s Cape Town office, where I got into the magical world of Instagram.

It was here I found Kayla Itsines. The Australian trainer was already becoming wildly popular, on the cusp of exploding into the global fitness phenomenon she is today.

Of course, even the idea of a 28-minute workout three times a week – which is was Kayla’s Bikini Body Guide (BBG) is in a nutshell – sounded terrifying to clumsy, uncoordinated old me.

But then I started exploring the BBG community. These girls were not athletes or fitness model. Some of them were geeky, some were pudgy, some very overweight, some were just trying to enhance their curves…

It struck me – these girls are just like me. And they’re just getting stuck into the programme and going for it. So why couldn’t I?

Ready, set… BBG!

So I finally made the decision to get off my ass and get my health back on track. On my 24th birthday in fact. I marched into my local gym with a pdf of the guide on my phone.

I bumbled through my very first BBG workout. Legs. I thought I was going to die, and I could hardly sit down the next day.

I had a day’s rest, and managed to get through the arms and abs workout, then the full body two days after that.

Slowly, I began to get the hang of the moves, and looked slightly less ridiculous in those wall-to-wall gym mirrors. I started incorporating the LISS, (Low-Intensity Steady State cardio), which Kayla recommends off the non-resistance days.

I started a secret Instagram account to communicate with those inspiring, just-like-me girls who were also wading their way through the programme. Random women from all over the world, who didn’t know each other from a bar of soap were double-tapping, commenting, egging each other on through every #deathbykayla session.

I became immersed in the world – and when I finally looked up and took stock, I was four weeks in. I felt the change before I saw it. The squats were no longer excruciating. I could do a full set of push-ups – not on my knees! And, quite miraculously, I was making it through all 24 damn commandos.

Halfway there…

I pushed on. Six weeks in, I was 5kg down – and not ‘dieting’ either! I was being sensible about my food, sure, using Kayla’s meal plans as a rough guide. But if I was hungry, I ate – carbs and all! Which, compared to the life of fasting, calorie-counting and binging I’d become accustomed to in the past few months, was sweet relief.

8 weeks in – another couple of kilos down. By now, I was comfortable in my own skin again, no longer hating the girl in the mirror.

10 weeks in – it was getting tough. But the results, those tiny little abs threating to peek through, kept me more motivated than ever.

12 weeks – it was over. It. Was. Done.

Or was I?

The weight-loss wasn’t the biggest change I saw after starting BBG.

Not even close. You see, the biggest change was not physical – it was mental.

I had gone from a chubby, binge-eating coach potato to a fit young woman. Working out no longer filled me with dread – exercise had become my solace, my refuge. If I didn’t get my body moving every day, I would feel sluggish, like I didn’t have the energy I needed to get through the day.

Sure, I don’t have abs that could slice cheese, and a totally lump-free bottom. And my journey hasn’t been free of struggles and setbacks (you can read about that here).

But I’ve transformed into a happy, confident, *healthy* woman.

And I’m so, so proud of her.

Hi, I’m Kirsti and this is my little blog. Tell me what you think in the comments section below!

Hi, I’m Kirsti and this is my little blog. Tell me what you think in the comments section below!

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Adventure with me

@itsmekirsti