How I lost 78kg in 18 months
It took Janja 18 months to shed 78kg – but she still wants to lose more weight so she can achieve her dream of becoming Miss Fitness SA
ALITTLE more than a year and half ago she could barely take a few steps without becoming out of breath, and her weight was affecting everything – her selfesteem, her relationship with her daughter and her social life. Eating was her No 1 activity. She'd have an entire packet of bacon with a loaf of bread for breakfast and three more loaves of bread during the day. She’d also polish off several large packets of chips a day along with anything else she could lay her hands on. At her heaviest Janja Wills tipped the scales at 186kg – but she’s adamant those days are over. She’s already 78kg lighter and wants to shed another 28kg to achieve her ambition of entering the Miss Fitness SA contest, an annual bodybuilding showcase where people strut their stuff on stage. And she’ll get there, she says. She’s already lost a whole person by doing things slowly and steadily and she’ll reach her goal. There are no quick fixes for weight loss, Janja says, which is why she did it the old-fashioned way – no diet pills, no crash diet, “just plain hard work”. And she’s reaping the rewards. She used to struggle to find clothes that fit and bought men’s clothing, she says, showing us an XXXXL men’s jacket she can now wrap around her waist more than once. Even her feet are smaller. “I used to wear a size 10; now I wear a 7.” Janja, who owns a business that distributes fresh and frozen vegetables, is revelling in being active too. She walks 8km a day – four in the morning and four in the evening – and does cardio and weights in the gym for two hours a day, six days a week.
And she has plenty of energy left for her five-year-old daughter, Zinike, too. She used to be ashamed that she couldn’t do things with her little girl such as playing and running – now these activities are no problem at all.
JANJA (31), who lives with her daughter and parents, Marina and Nols Wills, in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, says it took a wake-up call for her to turn her life around.
“One morning after breakfast I felt as if I was having a heart attack,” she says. The pains in her chest turned out not to be serious but it was enough to prompt her to reassess her life.
She approached Marek Zodlo (29), who works at a wellness shop, and asked him if he’d become her fitness instructor. He agreed and they set to work.
The first time they walked around the block was a nightmare. “I told Marek it was a walk in the park for him but I felt as if I was dying. After about a month he told me, ‘See? It’s a walk in the park for you too now’.”
He also taught her about nutrition. She now eats eggs, chicken, fish and veggies and rarely touches bread.
Janja, a single mom, realises food was an emotional addiction for her. “I ate when I felt sad or unhappy,” she says.
Her focus now is that Miss Fitness SA contest. And she doesn’t just want to enter – she wants to win.
She knows she has a way to go and she’s desperate to have plastic surgery to remove the loose skin left behind after her weight loss.
“The skin is sweaty and uncomfortable,” she says. “It gets in the way when I exercise. I’ll feel thin, pretty and feminine only when that skin is gone. And when I’m free of it I’ll have a red cocktail dress made.”
RIGHT: Janja Wills at her heaviest, when she seldom left her house and ate up to four loaves of bread a day. ABOVE: Fitter, leaner Janja is a new person.