Real Bodies: Charming Chantelle
Chantelle is a woman to be reckoned with in every sense of the word. Not only has she had a fantastic journey to health and fitness but she has gone on to bigger and better things every step of the way. This dynamo is taking part in her 2nd Iron Man 70.3 competition this weekend! The amount of training she has done is insane. I am holding thumbs for an easy race, Chantelle!
Please tell us a little about yourself
I am a proud Bloemfontein girl, however, always dreamed of being a sun kissed, bikini beach body, Durbanite……… (raises an eyebrow, with a side grin)
After experiencing a traumatizing earlier childhood, I attended schools where I was seen to be an easy target for bullying. Spent my school career in an all-girls school (girls are cruel!), where, as I grew older, found my inner-strength and independence. I rebelled after Matric, and when I sort of came to my senses, I packed a bag, a black bag of clothes, grabbed my hi-fi and got on a bus to Durban. It was me and the big world! Met my husband not long after arriving in Durban.
My 20’s - I can’t decide whether I am happy it is a blur, or wishful that I could remember more. In general, I am an overachiever, so spent all that time working, studying and chasing career. It was during this time, that at the age of 27 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This must’ve been the darkest time of my life. It is so difficult to describe to people what it feels like having this miserable dark cloud wrapped around you, and all you wish for, is for an end.
And then a moment happened. I saw myself. I really looked at myself, and did not like the person looking back at me. She was old, drained, sick, unhealthy. It was then that I went to get help. Received medication to help with the depression, anxiety, and other medical conditions that came with the 27 years of stress. It was time to turn things around. I stopped smoking and started living a more active and healthier lifestyle. At the age of 30, I had done away with all my depression and anxiety medication. This is when I started being in the healthiest condition I have ever been. At age 35, I can truly reflect and say, I am happy with who I am and what I have been through, and what I have achieved.
What does body positivity mean to you?
It has taken me a long time to accept my body for what it is. I have done extreme weight losses, to the point that I had ribs sticking out, looked sickly, which resulted to some health scares. We have been fooled to live in a world of what people perceive what the perfect body should be, and will be critical that your shape is not ideal. My turning point was finishing my first sprint triathlon distance. Being the shape that I am, I was so proud to have finished. This made me realise, my body is capable of so much more.
If you could tell your younger self (or your daughter) on thing in terms of self-love and acceptance, what would it be?
Be kind to yourself. The world is already such a cruel place to live in, at least respect and appreciate who you are as an individual.
What was the best body positive message ever given to you?
I am a girl with thighs. Always hated my thighs. The best compliment I received “you have strong legs”.
Do you ever try to speak positively about the way you look?
I do now. After 2 years on my IronMan journey, I’ve learnt how amazing my body is. The challenges I have put it through, the harder I push it, the stronger it gets. The least I can do is say thank you to my body, you really put up with a lot that my mind (crazy ideas) and heart throws at you ❤
Do you have any words of encouragement for women or young girls who may deal with shaming of their body type? Or even something you, yourself may still need to be told?
We all have our secret talents. That perfect Instagram girl, with no stretch marks, no cottage cheese thighs, perfect boobs, she too has flaws but it is hidden with Photoshop, airbrushed (or whatever app is used these days to remove what you don’t like about yourself). Be true to yourself, be your own person.
To conclude, complete the following: I will love my body more positively by..
Doing what I love and what my body loves too.