Paying Homage to A Soul Sister: Keshni Pillay

Ambush is the word I use to describe my relationship with food – because struggle suggests resistance – and let’s face it, food never puts up much of a fight. It just sits there looking delicious and lets me eat it all. For me, my struggle with carbs and sugar is to create an induced coma, which in turn prevents me from feeling much. Mission accomplished. I overeat because it works. Not in the long run of course. Which is where I find myself now – a place of enlightenment and ready to face my demons.

I’ve said it before, that truth is a boomerang. As women, our stories are different threads of one tapestry, generation after generation. For me personally, there is a deep and profound connectedness when I “feel” someone else’s words. My friend, Keshni Pillay, highlighted exactly how I feel every single time I ambush food. And how, through her own journey, there is hope for the rest of us. This is her story.


I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in October 2009 – an autoimmune disorder where my immune system attacks my thyroid and results in my thyroid not making enough hormones for my body’s needs.  Coupled with severe anaemia, I had no energy to work out and comfort ate my way through a depression caused by my relocation from KZN to JHB, with no family support.  Regular gym had zero impact until I was diagnosed and put on medication. Eltroxin is no miracle worker and while it may slow down weight gain caused by Hashimoto’s, I did not miraculously lose any weight as a result of being on it. I tried working out five times a week, training with a personal trainer and even completely cut out carbs from my diet… but it didn’t last very long. While I did lose a few kgs, I gained it all over again and was still at least 20kgs overweight. My self-confidence was at an all-time low and I was constantly moody, tired and upset with myself for being overweight. A heartbreak in 2010 left me even more depressed and comfort eating.

Fast forward to 2012 – I had met my soul mate the previous year and suddenly life didn’t seem so bleak. But, at age 26 I was bordering on a size 16. Fast food became my best friend. Pizza, Chuckles and Pringles washed down with Tropika became a regular treat – and that was all in one night! In March 2012, I was introduced to SureSlim by a friend and I embarked on the most difficult yet rewarding weight loss journey. By November 2012, I had lost 20kgs and a total of 53cms and found myself wearing colour again (I used to only wear black so I didn’t draw more attention to myself).

Although I had lost all that weight, which I have maintained, give or take 1kg, I realised that I was still rather unfit. In 2013, I tried my hand at pole fitness for the first time, which I fell in love with, but stopped after a year due to a host of issues such as work pressure and load-shedding traffic. I missed it every single day for a whole year but just didn’t make any effort to start again. In 2016 I joined the SA Polefit Academy and I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in! I haven’t lost any more weight but I am stronger and more toned after every single class. I have stopped obsessing about that scale and instead focus on how many burpees, squats and push ups I can do. I can even dance a 3 minute routine without passing out!

I’d be lying if I said losing weight was an easy journey. There were many days when I could think of nothing else but carrot cake and a latte for dinner. Yes, I succumbed to my cravings many times along the way, but I picked myself up again the next day and got back on track.

I would not swop the self-confidence and freedom I’ve gained for all the carrot cake and lattes in the world!  While maintenance isn’t easy, I vow never to be that miserable woman again. I owe it to myself and my loved ones to be the best I can be.

Some of my recent hang-ups have been focusing on the lumps, bumps and stretchmarks instead of celebrating the fact that I earned those stretchmarks when I lost 20kgs. I have obsessed over the size of my arms to the point where I would not leave the house in anything sleeveless. I have focused on the 1 or 2 more kgs I’d like to lose rather than appreciate how far I’ve come in my fitness journey. However, over the past year, I have made a concerted effort to celebrate my body for all the wonderful things that it can do instead of focussing on how much it weighs. Pole fitness has helped me to overcome those hang-ups. I am a work in progress and that’s perfectly fine, and, I have biceps now!

Last year I came across a quote that absolutely resonated with me, “other women’s bodies are not our battlegrounds.” As women, we constantly compare ourselves to and measure ourselves against other women and their beauty. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with admiring another woman’s beauty however, being kind to yourself means that you don’t question your own beauty in that process. Being kind to yourself also means accepting compliments as graciously as you dish them out. Why is it so hard to just say “thank you” rather than side step a compliment?

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by positive influences. My supportive family, pushing me to new heights… the fun, fearless females at my pole-fitness classes who celebrate every new pole victory and my muscle “gains” with me… but most of all my fiancé who tirelessly strives to make me see my body the way he sees me. All these people have positively influenced the way I see myself.

You can lose all the weight in the world but if you don’t love yourself, you’re going to be weighed down forever.



Relatable? Definitely. I know that I often vacillate between staying on the cold floor (eating my way through stuff) or getting up, and showing up for my life. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together and can’t be separated. It’s about embracing both and living well, hard and real by being healthy, kind and loving to ourselves first.

Thank you Kesh for sharing your story xoxo

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