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.

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