Getting Into Gear
Malem Heymans took charge of his health by investing in a bike and cleaning up his diet
THE GAIN At 98kg I was a fullblown asthmatic with a so-called learning disorder. It had been a gradual decline, but I hit rock bottom when I realised that my eating habits and irregular exercise routine affected not only my health but my studies too.
THE CHANGE I finished my first year at varsity failing four subjects and dropping another. I’d passed only half my 10 subjects, and had no motivation, not to mention self-esteem. At the end of that first year, I realised that I had to do something about my academic performance; I wasn’t even thinking about my health at that time. My first step was to spend more time with my textbooks and less time procrastinating. But even after spending much more time studying, my results hadn’t improved much. And having spent all that time indoors, I started itching for quick ways to clear my mind. I started taking daily runs, of 30 to 60 minutes each, around the hockey field – and it soon became clear that these breaks had a remarkable impact on my ability to concentrate on my coursework.
THE STRATEGY Taking these quick exercise breaks as a mental and physical release every day was enough for me (or so I thought at the time). I completed the semester successfully without any poor results. At this point I got hold of a mountain bike, which turned my daily breather into a fun adventure. The result: I finished my second semester with distinctions for each subject.
THE REWARD I have more selfdiscipline and motivation than ever. I have a positive outlook on life and my academic results are on another level.
THE RESULT Exercise turned me into a healthy person, mentally and physically. Not only did I lose 20kg (which was a great bonus) but I also completed my undergraduate studies with a total of 14 distinctions. I never dreamt of doing a master’s degree in solar energy, but thanks to a healthier lifestyle I was able to graduate without major problems. My asthma is no longer sports-induced and I hardly ever struggle with it.