Woman Of The Month – Toni-Anne Smith

What do you do for a living?
I work for an amazing company called Personal Africa, we’re a DMC; a Destination Management Company that oversees the logistics and arrangements for an itinerary that occurs within a specific locale. DMCs are usually specialised in a certain destination and maintain relationships with the local tourism product supplier. I work with bringing international guests to Southern Africa and planning their best holidays.

If you are comfortable sharing, please describe how your lifestyle was before signing up with SHE FIT, and what inspired you to join.
Life pre-SHE was one filled with obsession over food, the scale, the calories and chasing the next yo-yo diet. I was lacking consistency in ALL areas, not just a healthy lifestyle, and I had no motivation to do anything. I developed a love-hate relationship with food and body dysmorphia very early on in my teen years and felt I would always feel this way in my adult life. I grew accustomed to body shaming, low self-esteem and no self-love… until SHE.

Working in travel, my job has virtually been in limbo since March this year. My mind and body took a massive knock and started dwelling in limbo too. Like the entire world, banana bread baking became my thing, as well as any activity that involved laying on the couch and finding another new recipe for cooking ANYTHING that was comfort food. Eventually in July, wallowing in my self-loathing and the complete breakdown of my mental state of mind, I said I need a change – but what?! Then SHE started their free-running programme and I was like, well this is free, I have no excuse NOT to do this and at this time, my mental headspace was at an all-time low. I decided it was time to regain back some sanity for
the sake of my kids and myself, and take back my own power, one baby step at a time.

I started SHE mainly to get out the house and curb my boredom, as it gave me something to look forward to each day. I will always cherish that first day of running with SHE – the first 30 seconds of that run (brisk walk for me!) had me completely flushed. I felt as though my lungs were on fire, I was shy and awkward with those extra banana bread kgs I had racked up. Nonetheless, I walked more than I was able to jog, but the feeling of getting my blood flowing again and meeting a wonderful group of like-minded women gave me a sense of ‘wow! I did something today.’ It kept me hungry for me… so my journey to running began that day.

What activities in the programme do you participate in, and which one is your favourite?
I participate in running and online strength training mostly. I’ve also enjoyed swimming classes.
Each discipline offers an experience to better one’s form and after the activity, I feel invigorated and look forward to the next session with even more enthusiasm! Running has changed my life. not just physically but mentally and emotionally.
The SHE coaches are invested in helping with our form, techniques and overall performance, and have challenged me on every run, pushing me to do better, which is something I’ve not had before. I say to my friends before we need to do something, “I’ll join you soon, I just need to get a quick 2km or 5km in for the day.” This is a first for me!

What results / changes have you noticed? (To your body, state of mind, feelings of wellness)

I started SHE not to lose the lockdown weight – I know right, crazy to say… BUT it was for my mental well-being. I know from experience if I am NOT mentally ready to improve ME, I will remain stuck in my excuses. So, becoming accountable and being consistent has been my biggest game changer. Running for me has become something that is tangible, I can see my times getting better, faster and longer. My body slowly changing to become stronger, fitter and healthier. My mental state is more positive, I can handle situations more calmly, in a clear state of mind. I am a better and more fun mom to my 7-year old twin girls, and I am a lot more active all because I chose to change my mindset. I am now 6kgs lighter and 17cms smaller! I’m a lot more comfortable in my body and I have a lot more confidence in how I carry myself. I make better food choices; I eat a range of food now without beating myself up for having that piece of cake. SHE and the life coaches have taught me to find a peaceful balance between ‘living to eat and eating to live’. I no longer see food as this toxic relationship, but one where food fuels me in a healthy way. If I decide to eat that cookie I don’t eat the entire box nor do I have guilty feelings associated with eating that biscuit instead of a celery stick.

Why would you recommend SHE FIT to a friend?
It does not matter your fitness level, or who you are, what job you have or your size. Only that you get up and show up.
SHE has given me back my sense of ME, my pride in myself again. It has helped my ability to connect with good emotions and fueled my desire to achieve more in my running journey. I am conscious again.
I feel alive, positive, energetic and ready for each day, despite the current changes happening in the world.
I am surrounding myself with like-minded women who empower each other and want to be better than their yesterday. The inspiration that flows from one woman onto the next in this group is so encouraging and when one of us is down, there is always another strong woman reminding us, we are enough.

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