First Name: Chanel
Surname: Van der Westhuizen
Where you live: Johannesburg
Occupation: Graduate pharmacist and current final year medical student at Wits
Tell us more about yourself
What are your personal fitness goals?
My fitness goals are to focus on what I can GAIN, rather than what I need to lose. Being physically active is about empowerment, and feeling healthy, beautiful, and powerful in my own skin.
How will you use your #BiogenFaceOfFitness ambassadorship to inspire women to lead a healthy / fit lifestyle if you win?
Growing up, my circumstances have taught me to be strong, fierce, confident, proud and most importantly how powerful women are when they unite. I am not a professional trainer. I am not a model. Training is not part of my full time job and I have never even done a training course. I am a sleep deprived final year medical student who believes that everybody should already be an inspiration to someone of some sort. I endeavour to inspire the people around me every single day. Whether it is one of my patients, the cashier at the shop or a friend. I was born with enthusiasm and WAY too much energy that I constantly direct into all the things I am passionate about. I was born a servant to the health of others even when it is sometimes detrimental to my own.
The only knowledge I have is only what my body has taught me; that it loves squats and sugar (haha) and hates arm day and pasta (yes, pasta!). With that said, I still get faced with the same struggles and make the same excuses as you. Social media is one click away from thousands of role models living the perfect life by eating well, always having time for training and just placing so much pressure on women to look a certain way. These societal ideals are sometimes so unrealistic that it can be easy for especially young girls to quickly lose self-esteem and feel as if they don’t measure up. Getting in shape should be about the desire to live a healthy lifestyle and making yourself feel better.
The last thing the next Face of Fitness should be, is to disappear into this pool of “apparent” health. I will inspire others because they can and will relate to my lifestyle. I want them to know that whatever guilt feelings they might have for not training, eating badly or making excuses is completely irrelevant and in the past. It does not matter to me and it should not matter to you. What matters is what you will be doing differently TODAY that will enable you to move in a healthier direction. Each day I try and add something healthier whilst I never ever ever forget to LIVE the life that I so badly want to extend.
What health and fitness quote or mantra do you live by?
Do not live to exercise, exercise to LIVE.
Tell us about your fitness lifestyle
When I think about fitness I automatically connect it with health. Not because being fit is always healthy in everyone (we have all seen the extremes), but because being fit is part of MY health. We all know that health consists of 3 pillars: physical, emotional and mental fitness. But sometimes I find that this is meaningless to people. YOU must attach meaning to health. I can tell you all these nice things, but looking deeper, the reason why health is physical for me might not be the same as yours. You might be a diabetic who urgently needs to lose weight whilst I want to gain some strength. It is of utmost importance that we attach meaning to these 3 factors otherwise we will never reach a level of maintaining good health. I used to do a lot of cardio because my diet was extremely bad and I didn’t want to suffer the consequences of it. I was still in good shape but that is not healthy at all.
Balancing these 3 pillars only became apparent to me last year when I started my clinical hospital rotations. What initially motivated me was seeing the detrimental effects of bad habits in patients. It just so happened that at the same time, major loss and bereavement crossed my path and I truly believe that is what KEPT me going. 2019 was my far toughest year for me and I had no control over anything that happened. The only thing that I was able to control, the light in my tunnel, was my body. It was the first time I realised how powerful it is in treating itself and how grateful I am to still have the ability to change it. With this mindset I find myself currently fit mentally, emotionally and physically!!!
Why do you think you’re the Biogen Face of Fitness?
I stand for balance, feminism and empowerment. Every single person has a different reason why they started, and what drives them not to stop. I hope to help people find theirs. I hope to share my experiences and be real. I hope to attach meaning to meaningless fitness motivational quotes and last of all – I hope to enable you to empower and uplift others.