Die moets en moenies van jou gewigsverlies-reis

Met sowat die helfte van ons land se bevolking wat oorgewig is – sommige dalk net 5kg, maar andere meer as 30kg oorgewig – is daar altyd mense wat graag die oortollige vetjies wil afskud.

Dr Riekie Smit

Maar daar is goeie en swakker maniere om dié reis aan te pak. As ‘n eerste stap vir sommige mense, is dit aan te beveel om eers sekere moontlike mediese oorsake uit te skakel soos onder meer lae tiroïedfunksie. Dan is daar ook baie dinge wat liefs vermy moet word.

Marí Hudson gesels met Dr Riekie Smit, ‘n algemene praktisyn van Pretoria, oor gewigsverlies. Sy het ‘n spesiale belangstelling om pasiënte te help om op die gesondste manier moontlik gewig te verloor en hul ideale gewig te handhaaf. Sy is ook bekend vir haar werk in nie-chirurgiese estetiese geneeskunde soos botoks- en vullerbehandeling.

Luister om 11:30 na Gesondheid op RSG.

Luister na die volledige gesprek:



Have a plan and stick to it!

Looking and feeling good does not only boost your self-esteem, but it is also one of the key factors that contribute to your quality of life. Losing weight is a goal for so many, and a very common New Year’s Resolution. The question is – how do we turn the resolution into reality and later, into a lifestyle?1

South Africa has very high rates of adult obesity. More than half of the female population and over a quarter of the male population are obese, and up to 70% of the female population are either overweight or obese2. Dr Riekie Smit, a medical practitioner from Pretoria with a special interest in weight management, shares some valuable advice about starting and maintaining a healthy weight loss journey.

  1. Before starting any weight loss programme, it is important to consult with your General Practitioner (GP) for a medical health checkup. Your doctor can also check your insulin levels, thyroid levels, and hormone levels, all factors that can affect your weight3,4,5.
    – The thyroid is one of the most important organs in your body as it regulates your metabolism1. An underactive thyroid is a condition in which your thyroid gland does not produce enough of certain crucial hormones and can lead to fatigue and weight gain. This condition can often go unnoticed for many years and can become more apparent as you grow older, and as your metabolism slows down more3. The good news is that this can be treated1.
    – A hormonal imbalance happens when you have too much or too little of a specific hormone, with even small changes in hormones having the ability to affect your health. Because hormones play a significant role in regulating your metabolism and the way your body uses energy, a hormonal imbalance can cause weight gain4.
    Insulin is a specific hormone that regulates the levels of glucose in the blood and can, in certain circumstances, cause weight gain when the cells absorb too much glucose, and the body converts this into fat. Weight gain is a common symptom of diabetes, insulin therapy and other insulin-related medical conditions5. Fortunately, losing weight can help people manage diabetes symptoms and even reverse prediabetes and insulin resistance5.Having these medical checks done can assist you on your weight loss journey by identifying any underlying problems early on1.

2. Often, the most difficult change to make for those starting their weight loss journey is to take back control of their habits. Dr Smit says that it is important to have a goal, that is not only realistic, but is also specific, measurable, attainable, and time bound.

3. It is important to understand that to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in1.
One of the key factors that may contribute to losing weight is exercise.  Dr Smit says that instead of viewing exercise as a form of punishment; it should be a celebration of what your body can do.  She suggests that striving for a healthy balance on your weight loss journey could include eating less on the days when you skip your exercise, which could help balance the calories used versus the calories burnt1.
Besides possibly aiding your weight loss, exercising has multiple benefits which also include strengthening your body and improving your metabolism1.
According to the World Health Organisation, recommendations include that adults should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week6. Worldwide statistics show that approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men do not do enough physical activity to stay healthy6.
Remember that some physical activity is better than nothing and that by becoming more active throughout the day in relatively simple ways, these recommended activity levels can be achieved6.

4. Starting a new lifestyle can be lonely. Dr Smit says to try and find a friend or family member and surround yourself with people that are health conscious, which can be very motivating1.
She also recommends that you use social media to your advantage.  “Review your social media pages to avoid being negatively influenced and follow fitness trainers and health enthusiasts who will have a positive impact on how you view your weight loss journey and will keep you motivated”1.

5. Dr Smit says that there is no need to be afraid of the scale, and to remember that there is always room for improvement. She recommends tracking your progress by using food and exercise diaries to get an overview of how your daily routine is contributing to your overall goal1.
“Incorporating your weight loss journey into your everyday life means that you must have a plan and stick to it,” she says1.

6. Dr Smit says to be cautious of using products you can buy off the shelf at a pharmacy or herbal supplements you can purchase online. While these may be a motivational addition to your weight loss journey, there may be no guarantee of their efficacy and safety, especially as these products are not medically tested. Prescribed medication for weight loss may be beneficial from a safety perspective as these medications have been scientifically tested. As with any medication, medication for weight loss may have side effects which your doctor can discuss with you should a weight loss medication be prescribed1.

7. Along your weight loss journey, and as your efforts are being rewarded and you are losing weight, you can hit what is called a weight-loss plateau7.
Being stuck at a weight-loss plateau is very common and can happen to anyone who is trying to lose weight7. Dr Smit advises not get despondent when this happens, and that there are ways to break this phase. Changing your exercise pattern and adjusting your calorie intake may help1.
The bottom line is to not let a weight-loss plateau lead to an avalanche! Speak to your doctor or a dietician about possibly reassessing your goals or adjusting your weight loss programme7.

If you are worried about your weight or health, or for any further information, speak to your doctor for advice about how to lose weight. Check your BMI and weight circumference and get access to professionally developed dietary guidelines and other useful tools.

Remember that if you are overweight or obese, even modest weight loss can improve chronic health conditions related to being overweight8.  Celebrate your success and continue your efforts to reduce and maintain your weight loss7.


  1. Dr Riekie Smit – Facebook Live webinar – 19 January 2021 at (https://www.facebook.com/1880936725566798/videos/883886989090749
  2. Q&A with Dr Riekie Smit – 26 January 2021
  3. Mayo Clinic Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) (2020) at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284 (Website accessed on 2 May 2021)
  4. MedicineNet. Can Hormonal Imbalance Cause Weight Gain? (2020) athttps://www.medicinenet.com/can_hormonal_imbalance_cause_weight_gain/article.htm (Website accessed on 2 May 2021)
  5. Medical News Today. What to know about insulin and weight gain (2019) at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325328#tips-to-avoid-weight-gain(Website accessed on 3 May 2021)
  6. World Health Organisation. Physical Activity (2019) at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity (Website accessed on 5 May 2021)
  7. Mayo Clinic. Getting past a weight-loss plateau (2020) at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss-plateau/art-20044615# (Website accessed on 5 May 2021)
  8. Pietrzykowska, NB. MD, FACP. Benefits of 5-10 Percent Weight-loss. Obesity Action Coalition. (Accessed on 15 August 2017).