Nana Nonkelela

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Q. Who are you and what you do for a living? 

I am Nana Nonkelela a 33 year old mother of 2. I work for one of the top banks as an Investigator in the Forensics Technology environment. 

Q. How do you balance your exercise regime and your professional life? 

My work schedule is very hectic therefore making it hard to have a set/stable exercise regime. I set my exercise regime weekly depending on my work schedule. As hard as it may at times to keep up with both I try by all means to have 5 days of exercise and 2 days of rest per week. 

Q. When and why did you start running? 

a. Why did I start running – Growing up I was always slim and my body was well proportioned even when I didn’t have an active lifestyle. When I reached my twenties and had my first child that’s when all hell broke loose. I had an unhealthy pregnancy, ate just about anything because I made myself believe that you are allowed to when you are pregnant. My pregnancy term went over 40 weeks and I was booked for an emergency C-section because the baby was in distress.

Traditionally in my family after giving birth one ties their stomach in an effort to make it go back to good shape quickly. I refused to tie my stomach and made the C-section an excuse. 2 years later I had what we called a “FUPA” FAT meaning Fat UPPER Pubic Area. It didn’t bother me or I totally ignored it. 

4 years later had I had my second pregnancy which was more petite and manageable I loved it because I looked cute in everything I wore. Post-Partum the FUPA was there again and I thought well this is how my life should be. Life distresses happened and I went on an uncontrollable binge eating and drinking habit. I was in total denial of my weight gain until I reached over 100kg. At this point I still didn’t do anything about this. I bought a new wardrobe to cater for my new physique. 

One night in 2015 I was asleep but I couldn’t feel my left side of the body while trying to turn. It bothered me that night because I could feel I was losing my mobility. Morning came and I rushed to the doctor feeling very faint. He confirmed I was almost close to having a stroke as my blood pressure was at a high of 182. He stabilised it and advised that he was putting me on medication to be reviewed a month later. He gave me tips on healthy living habits and exercise. 

I refused to accept that I was 30 years old and at a verge of having a chronic illness. That day I went an enrolled at a gym and started exercising. Well in a month’s time the BP went down but I was still not out of the woods. I continued to exercise but changed little to nothing on my diet. My weight never went down. In 2016 June I decided to sign up with a personal trainer (Thabiso Mehlolo). We pushed for a month and still there were no results. I felt demoralised. 

Someone advised me to leave gym a bit and run the streets and see if I can’t shed some weight. At the time Soweto had introduced the Nike Run Club and when I saw the pictures I thought the runners there were elite I needed to polish myself first before joining NRC. 

b. When did I start running – In July 2016 I decided to change my diet to strictly clean eating. I quit drinking alcohol and hit the streets. I ran 3km every day until my body told me I could go further. I felt lighter. In November 2016 I ran my first 5km with NRC and January 2017 I ran my first 10km with Thesis Run Cru. I’m currently weighing 74kg with a body fat at 28% (still need to get it below 25%) I have lost 26kg in two years.

Q. What motivates you to go out there, when you do not feel like it? 

a. The reason why I started motivates me . I have been surrounded by people who suffered severe strokes and some didn’t make it. I don’t want to be like those people. I have seen how easy it is for one to gain weight from a slight lifestyle change, I do not want to go back to the Nana I was between the ages 20 and 30. 

Q. What is the longest distance you have ran? 

I recently just ran my first 42 km – amazing !! 

Q. What gives you the confidence to run in the streets? 

a. I was once featured in a local newspaper article with Thesis Run cru founder Wandile Zondo, and that made people aware that I am a runner and those that know me knew how running assisted me in losing weight. When I run the streets in my hood, the cheering I get from my neighbours and a passer-by is amazing. I hear a lot of people telling me how I motivate them and how I made them start running. Motivating people in the streets gives me confidence.

Q. What do you think about the lack of exercise? 

a. It makes one unhealthy not only from a physical point of view but from an overall health perspective. In the course of my healthy lifestyle years I learned about Visceral Fat which is fat stored around the most important internal organs which we cannot see and which is also a cause of some deaths. Exercise and eating healthy minimises that fat storage. Lack of exercise also makes one look dull and old. 

Q. What was your best running experience? 

a. Running my fastest 1km in 05:21 mins 

b. Running my first furthest and longest run which was a 42km 

Q. What was your worst running experience? 

In every long run I experience the best and the worst. The worst being the mind over matter. When my body can carry me but my mind just aint there. Pep talking it and fighting that demon and eventually winning over it and crossing the finish line or finishing a training session. 

Q. How do you push through the pain? 

a. I have never bailed out on a run and I promise myself not to. When the pain hits I find a technique one which has worked for me , not to listen to the pain and try to run one pole and walk one until the pain subsides and I am able to run 5 poles and eventually a km without minding the pain.

Q. What advice can you give somebody who wants to start running? 

a. Always know why you want to start running because that is the constant reminder you will have when you want to give up “Why did I start running?”

Q. Which Social media sites are you on and how can one follow you? 

a. Instagram - @teamsqathi 

b. Twitter - @teamsqathi 

c. Facebook – Nana Nonkelela


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  1. Anza_de_roadrunner15 October 2018 at 09:39

    Love reading about runners experiences and why they started running. Reading the stories always motivates me also to keep going. Thank you for such great inspiring stories.