I have had the privilege of working with Jurese Venzke (33 year old concrete technologist), on a journey she was probably not expecting. Her story is tear jerking, REAL, raw and vulnerable. From surviving abuse to wanting to take her own life…..this is a story of courage, strength & showing what it takes to travel the path to discover self love, self acceptance & body freedom.
Jurese shares beautifully the journey one must take on the inside, in order to love oneself completely on the outside.
This is her story on how she learned to love her body & self (soul) again and in the process discovered her courage, confidence & a whole lot of hotness 😉 Jurese is what I call a fighter (literally, she does kickboxing), a modern day ‘shero’ and a woman I am now blessed to call a friend xx
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Describe your relationship with your body, food and exercise over the years.
Age 10-15: I was a very happy child, extremely active, I played all sports that were presented at school, netball, tennis, athletics, gymnastics. At this point I had NO body issues, I thought I looked perfect. I wasn’t aware of my body flaws at all. I was big into gymnastics and at 14 years old for a costume fitting, my mom told me that I had gained weight and that we needed to do something about it. That’s where it all started. I remember I was still busy eating a piece of bread in my room when the lady came to do the fitting. When she left I threw the bread in the trash. My mom put me on diet shakes and that helped to shake the weight. But in an instant my innocence was lost.
From about 15 years things went bad. I didn’t feel like I fitted in at school and I had problems at home, so to cope I turned to food. I would eat almost a whole loaf of bread in an afternoon and that was after my lunch. Then I would turn to cookies and chocolates. I gained weight so quickly that my school pants became too small in about a week or two. I went up 2 pant sizes in a matter of a month or 2.
A lot of personal things happened between the age of 16-21 and I gained about 26-30kg during this time. With every kg I gained I lost more confidence. I hated my body. I felt even more like an outcast. Everyone was starting their lives while I was just getting fat. I stopped living for a while. I would hide in my bedroom for days, spending all my time reading. I didn’t want to face people or the public. I didn’t want people to see me. It was a terrible time in my life.
Age 22-29: I think this was the worst part of my life…. At the age of 22 my mom suddenly died. This happened after I haven’t been speaking to her for about 2 years. We did speak again just before she died but we never resolved our issues.
Besides my body issues I was struggling with, I had this resentment hanging over my head. I struggled to forgive myself for not making peace with my mom sooner.
During this time I also met a guy. He was the one guy who actually looked at me with interest, even though I had been feeling ugly and worthless for how many years. So when he asked me to get married ….I said yes. It wasn’t the best decision; he had problems of his own. After we got married he started to drink and he abused me physically and emotionally. Of course I was ashamed of it and I tried to hide it all. When people asked me how I was doing I would always say great, but the truth was, I was dying on the inside. I had all this unresolved issues that I had never dealt with and I found myself on new territory with this marriage and I didn’t know what to do.
So one night on my way home from work, I phoned him and I realised that he was already drunk. Right there I decided I am not going home. I phoned a friend and asked if I could stay with her. The divorce was even more messy than our relationship. In all honesty I didn’t think that I would come out of it alive. He threatened my life several times and I believed that he would one day kill me. Luckily it never got to that.
At 26 I was divorced & totally broken and after that I started to party hard, real hard. I would drink every night hoping it would numb the pain. I even started doing drugs…. One night after a whole weekend of partying I got home. I fell to the floor and I cried my heart out. I was done with life, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was all too much. I took a handful of pills and I hoped that it would bring an end to my life. The next morning I woke up. I can’t tell you how distraught I felt. I felt like not even God wanted me.
A few days after the incident, after a lot of soul searching I decided its time to get my life back on track. I went to seek help & slowly I picked up the pieces and found myself again. It’s also during that time I met my current husband. He helped me and supported me so much. After I fixed my heart I decided it was time to fix my body. I started eating healthy and started to train. It wasn’t long until I started to see results.
People were complimenting me and that inspired me to push even harder. I managed to lose about 25kg. My story got published in a magazine and on a website. We made a fitness video and I was on top of the world. After doing my first photo-shoot with a friend, more photographers contacted me to do shoots. This was totally crazy to me, because who would have thought that me, “the fat girl, who was too scared to go out in public” would ever get the chance to be a model???
My confidence was soaring……The problem was, my confidence was totally dependent upon what my body looked like and what other people thought of me. I never took the time to work on my inner confidence. I never understood what it was to really love myself.
Age 30-35: With all of this going on, I decided to prep for my first competition, I wanted to be on stage. What a big mistake….. Mentally I was definitely not ready for that. I went on a very strict diet and trained very hard. I dropped even more weight. The funny thing was, instead of seeing my progress every week and focusing on that, all I started to focus on was what was still wrong with my body. I would tell myself “I can’t go stand on a stage in a bikini in front of the world with all these “flaws” on my body”!…… I never made it to stage. This is when the next downward spiral in my life started…
After depriving myself for so long I started to eat EVERYTHING. I would binge day after day, week in, week out. Every week I would start to diet again, just to fail by Wednesday, this would cause me to binge straight until Monday again. Very quickly I gained weight again.
This was a big problem, because I completely established my identity as this girl who lost so much weight. Who am I going to be if I get fat again? Will people still love and accept me? So every month I would go on a different diet, never being able to stick to it for more than 2 weeks at a time. During this time I gained about 12-15kg back.
I got to a breaking point where I was just sick of this cycle. On top of being tired of feeling like a constant failure I also started to develop health issues. I was constantly tired. So much so, that I had to take a nap during my lunch break just to have enough energy to get through the rest of the day. My body was sore with tension, I felt weak, I was constantly getting sick with flu or bronchitis. I was just such a mess. The one day I went to see a friend and he encouraged me to start living more naturally. He introduced me to energy healing, meditation and eating more plant based foods.
I had been following Jody for a few years and always enjoyed her posts, but all of a sudden it was like her posts were just speaking to me. So I contacted her and asked her if she could help me. I knew that my problem wasn’t diet or training. I’ve had so many great coaches in my life who gave me great advice on nutrition and exercise, but I needed someone who could help me sort out my head. And someone who also believe in doing things the natural way. I wanted to get away from your normal gym training and chicken and broccoli diet and just wanted someone to help me quiet my mind, someone to help me find myself…. I needed something different.
So we began to work together. I don’t know what I was expecting but this was everything but that, haha. Some part of me was still focused on the physical transformation, but during this process I underwent the biggest mental and emotional transformation.
When we started working together I hated my body, I was completely over stressed, I didn’t know how to quiet my mind and I was just generally completely overwhelmed by life. Slowly I learned how to quiet my mind. Slowly I learned how to appreciate my body. Not to constantly look at the flaws but to rather see the beauty of it and how wonderfully it was created. During the process I learned that I needed to prioritize my life. That I was overwhelming it with so many unimportant things and that I was missing out on the precious moments. I wasn’t living, I was just existing.
I was rushing from one moment to the next without taking the time to appreciate life and all it’s beauty. Yes, I still have my days where I feel, gosh I don’t like the way I look today, but thanks to the tools Jody taught me I now easily identify these bad moments and I can immediately rectify it.
I’m living a much happier and more fulfilling life. I realised I wasn’t doing anything in my life that I truly enjoyed anymore. My life was filled with duties and obligations, so now I have changed that as well. Every day I take time to do something I enjoy. Even though I might not be the size I want to be, I love my body. My confidence is no longer linked to the size of my body or what other people think. I live for me now. And I refuse to miss out on anymore special moments because I am self-conscious. I try to live life to the fullest!
What have you struggled with the most when it comes to your health and body?
Besides my weight, I think the biggest battle I have had, has been my relationship with food and my relationship with myself.
Has that affected any other areas of your life (work, relationship, friendships, faith etc)….and if so how?
Absolutely! It affected my confidence which affected my whole life. I remember 2 incidents very vividly.
As a teenager we went to my aunts farm most December holidays. It was close to Suncity so we would always end up there. The one holiday, I was lying next to the pool, fully dressed in the heat. I had a hat covering my eyes and I was lying there crying because I felt too self-conscious to go swim with my family. I missed out on a fun day.
Another time was for one of my best friend’s bachelorette party. The theme was burlesque. I spend the WHOLE day trying to find an outfit and I ended up not going because I couldn’t find anything to wear. I also spend the whole evening crying on my couch. These are just 2 of so many occasions.
What was the big “a-ha” moment that made you want to take a different approach compared to what you have done in the past?
It was the beginning of this year. Apart from feeling like a complete failure for not being able to stick to any diet my health was in a very bad place. I was desperate to try ANYTHING to make me feel better. (As explained above)
What made you want to work with me?
Your posts really spoke to me…. I believe in signs from God and it was almost like He was pointing out your posts. Your program is completely different to anything I have done and I realised I needed to do something different. Also I liked the fact that you help your clients on a much deeper level than just nutrition and exercise. I needed that. I needed someone to help me work through those mental blocks and to help me overcome those insecurities. Also I loved the natural approach. I wanted to learn how to eat more plant based foods. Before my idea of eating plant based was a Greek salad with every meal. I hate Greek salad so I needed someone to teach me how to make veggies taste delicious and you did.
What has been the biggest lesson, biggest eye opener or biggest revelation you have learnt through working with me?
Gosh there are a few big ones. I realised a lot of my issues in terms of self sabotage or a need to look good stem from my insecurities. It’s so important to love yourself. It affects us so much deeper than what we realise. And your techniques really helped me to improve that A LOT.
Another big one was learning how to deal with stress. You can only do so much a day, it’s important to accept it and plan accordingly. It’s extremely important to quiet your mind and constantly re-evaluate your life to decide what serves you and what is just stressing you out. I stopped enjoying life because I was so over committed and stressed. You helped me to find the joy in life again and to prioritize what is really important.
What have you began to understand or appreciate more now, compared to the past where you would never have considered or given attention to it?
I learned to appreciate quiet moments. Previously when I would wait in a que or sit alone at a coffee shop I would constantly be on my phone. Now I take so many moments during the day to just breath and clear my mind. It immediately calms you down and it also gives you these moments of clarity and inspiration.
Also, I have learned how to really appreciate my body and what it is capable of. Previously I just used to see flaws but now I see beauty, even in the so called flaws. And daily I’m amazed at what my body can do. It is truly God’s best work.
What are your new daily/weekly habits that help you stay calm, focused and on track or that help you get back on track when you feel yourself lose focus?
I would take a lot of moments daily to breath and quiet my mind. Even if it’s just 5 minutes. I write my goals and affirmations on my mirror and when I quiet my mind I would think of it. Everyday, I look in the mirror and compliment myself. Every morning before I leave the house I would tell myself how beautiful I look.
I plan my diary weekly, this include training sessions and me time to make sure I don’t over commit myself again. I also plan my meals and treat meals in advance to make sure I stay on track. I prep meals and freeze it weekly to make sure that there is quick meals available when I don’t have time to cook or more importantly to have food when I’m starving. And I make sure there is always enough healthy and quick snacks available in the house.
So its’ all about planning and affirmations. I also try to meditate as often as possible.
What has been your favourite part about working with me?
My favourite part is definitely the mental break through. That feeling of let go and acceptance. It’s been so liberating. I also love that you never judge and that you understand. And you see the lessons in everything. So when things go wrong, you don’t see it as a failure you saw it as a lesson. This taught me not to be so hard on myself, to have grace on myself and of course now when things go wrong I try to look for the lesson instead of beating myself up over it. It’s all about discovering yourself and finding what works for you. I LOVED that.
What has surprised you most about food, health & the relationship we have with food?
I honestly never expected to enjoy a vegan meal plan. I was born in Namibia, land of meat. My idea of veggies was eating chicken. I never enjoyed it, so I was very skeptical if I would be able to stick to the plan. The flavours really surprised me. Even when we went to eat out, I would order vegan food and every time I would be pleasantly surprised at the amazing flavours. I discovered a whole new world. I honestly thought that the food would be bland and boring but it was everything but that.
My health improved a lot. It’s been a rocky road in that department, because I got sick so often, but its definitely improved. I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. I have a lot more energy and can get through a day without having to take naps.
DO you view food differently now and how so?
I do yes. Previously I just used to see healthy eating as protein (chicken), carbs(rice) and fats(avo). Now I realise there is so much more to healthy eating than that. You don’t have to eat dry chicken and broccoli to look and feel my best, you can eat delicious, flavourful food and see incredible results.
What is your favourite recipe from my program and why?
The Mediterranean Roasted Veg. OMW have you tasted it??? Haha I can eat it every night. I never thought that veggies could be so flavourful. It’s definitely one of my all time favourite meals.
Your photo-shoot is BEAUTIFUL beyond words……tell us about how that came about and how you felt when doing it?
Thank you!! Ever since I started doing shoots I’ve been following a lot of photographers. I’ve been following for about 2 years and I have been dying to shoot with her, her work is AMAZING. When she did a call for models I grabbed the chance… Sarah was so great and made me feel so comfortable. Seeing the photos afterwards really gave me even more of a confidence boost.
Here is a post I wrote explaining exactly how I felt about the shoot:
This past week I had the opportunity to shoot with a photographer that I had been dying to pose for, for about 2 years. However for a moment i hesitated. This is definitely the biggest I’ve been for a shoot, and on top of that, I had to pose half naked in revealing attire and try to be seductive.
A few months ago I was invited to an open day photoshoot with a few photographers. When I got there, the one photographer who was really keen on working with me initially based on comments from previous photos made no secret of it that he REALLY wasn’t interested in shooting with me anymore.He never told me why, but I guessed it was because of my size, which is terrible! Even though I am bigger than what I used t o be, i am honestly not that big. He made me feel so inferior and self-conscious. I even contemplated not doing photoshoots anymore. For weeks afterwards I felt bad about myself and like I wasn’t enough. So when this opportunity came along I almost passed up on it.
Then I decided NO!!! This is who I am! I am proud of who I am. I have come so far in my life, regardless of so many obstacles. My curvaceous body tells so many stories and this is an opportunity for me to celebrate that.
I am not going to feel like I’m not good enough because I don’t fit into someone else’s box. I fit into my box and my box is happy, real, honest, content and at peace. There is so much more to me than just a size. And man when I look at these pics I am so glad I went through with it.
Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are not enough. You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.
What do you think about the examples women have today on social media?
Gosh I think social media makes it really hard to love yourself. Most people only post the highlights of their lives, together with photos taken at the perfect angle under great lighting and then photoshopped. So I have found that social media can be very depressing.
Luckily there is a rise of people trying to be real, posting about their ups and downs. I prefer to follow these kinds of people. They inspire me and let me know that I am not the only one with struggles. So I also try to be one of those people, posting about my highs as well as my lows.
How would you like to see that change?
It would be great if more people can become REAL and honest about their lives. Instead of using social media as a highlight real, use it to inspire and motivate.
From what you have experienced and learnt, what message would you like to share with other women?
I would like to say, stop comparing yourself to other people. Be you and love you for you. Self-love is not always easy and it’s something that you actively have to work at, but it is definitely worth it. It affects so many areas of your life and if you want to experience true happiness you need to love and accept yourself.
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What a story? I hope you feel as inspired about self-love & body positivity as I do. Jurese is still on her journey because she now sees it as a life long adventure, not a 1 time event. She will always have me on her support team, never to travel this road alone xxx
If you want to find out more about the program she did with me, make sure you check out BLUE OCEAN BODY, by clicking HERE.
If you want to stay up to date with her journey & get some amazing REAL WOMAN inspiration, make sure you join her here:
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