Fedhealth Dream Chaser's training diet is literally driving him nuts

Watch the reality web series about three everyday South Africans pursuing their fitness goals

02 August 2019 - 15:22
Nkine Letsela and fiancée Phetheni making breakfast smoothies.
Nkine Letsela and fiancée Phetheni making breakfast smoothies.
Image: Supplied

Nkine Letsela is going a bit nuts at the moment. The Fedhealth Dream Chaser hasn’t been able to train for two weeks due to flu-like symptoms, that were accompanied by headaches that, at times, lasted entire days. And as if that wasn’t enough, the introduction of nuts, which he hates, to his diet has literally driven him ... nuts.

“Eating healthier hasn’t been difficult for me. In fact, it proved to me that I’ve been on the right path all along and now I’ve taken it to a higher level. But I have one problem: I don’t like nuts. I don’t like nuts at all. The dietician (Andrea du Plessis) said I need to eat these roasted nuts or put them in my smoothies for the natural protein,” says Nkine.

“When I put them in my smoothies they change the entire taste and it becomes the most potent flavour when I’m drinking them.”

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Nkine has been less than amused to miss out on training time. He will be tackling the 12km trail run on September 15 at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, and time is ticking.

He is part of Dream Chasers, SA’s hottest new reality web series, which also features the trials and tribulations of fellow participants Bonani and Hengie pursuing their fitness dreams. They will be running the 42.2km distance and 10km race and the 12km trail run. The contestants each receive expert coaching, nutritional advice and gear to bolster their efforts.

“I have bad ‘fomo’, I feel like I’m missing out, I feel like I’ll be behind with my training programme when I get back. I’ve actually improved my time significantly (he ran a 6km trail run in about 46 minutes in Modderfontein, Gauteng), so being out the game like this is devastating, because I feel like I’m going backwards.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Nkine, who says trainer Brendan McBirnie is still encouraging about his prospects. “He told me when I get back into it I should relax, because I won’t have lost momentum, and that as long as I ease myself back into it I should be fine.”

The 29-year-old says being part of the Dream Chasers campaign has been life-changing for him. The structured routine has substantially improved his eating, training and sleeping habits.

The recommended seven to eight hours’ sleep a night has come in handy for the father of twins, who are almost a year old, given his struggles when they first arrived. The lives of Nkine and his fiancée Phetheni had become so disorganised that they sent the girls to his parents to cope with the adjustment.

“It was so bad I once turned up at work with a shirt that wasn’t ironed and socks that didn’t match. I then went all the way to Cape Town on a work trip, only to realise I’d taken my fiancée’s laptop.”

Nkine says his early morning runs with Phetheni, a seasoned runner who will be competing in the full marathon on D-day in Cape Town, haven’t degenerated into the trash talk one might imagine during their 5.30am runs.

“We run the same route, but I always end up doing more distance because I run back when I can’t see her, leave her behind again and then go back again ... She’s much slower than me, but she’s got much more mental resilience and stamina than I do.”

His involvement in the Dream Chasers campaign is now a well-known fact among his colleagues and some have taken to making memes, saying: “You know you don’t have to run, right?” 

Nkine says the same motivation or drive that got him on this path is the same motivation that's keeping him on it.  He's not worrying about pressure from his colleagues or the public.

Follow the Dream Chasers’ individual progress by keeping an eye on the following channels: Fedhealth on Facebook and Twitter; TimesLIVE on Facebook and Twitter; and the hashtags #Fedhealth #DreamChasers

This article was paid for by Fedhealth.