Brothers in arms for a healthier life

Brand brothers complete one of SA’s toughest hikes after struggle with weight loss

Kempton Park brothers, Barend (43) and Mark (39) Brand, dreamt of completing the Otter Trail, and set out to complete the hike together in September 2016. Unprepared for the extreme physical and mental challenges that the arduous five-day, 45km hike, with a 20kg bag, in wild terrain along the Garden Route demanded, Barend dropped out on day two. Feeling disheartened, failure to complete the well-known hike together was a wakeup call for the brothers, who were both overweight.

While their causes were different, they had the same goal – they wanted to live healthier lives for their families, as fathers to two girls respectively. Determined to achieve their fitness goals, Mark entered them into “Slank” Season 2, a documentary lifestyle series on KykNet aimed at helping and motivating participants who have already tried every diet and health drink on the shelf, to lose weight.

“They put us on Slender Wonder; a medical weight loss programme that treats the causes of obesity and weight gain. With the support of Dr Gerda Scholtz, we began the journey in February last year with open minds and eager to succeed,” says Barend.

By May 2017, the brothers had reached their weight loss goals, with Barend losing 28 kg and Mark losing 30 kgs in just over 16 weeks. The two have both maintained their weight postions for over a year. In the past few months, Mark has completed four half marathons, and Barend has completed his first half marathon.

Two year later, the two have achieved their ultimate goal – together they completed the Otter trail. “Completing the Otter trail is a milestone that represents how far we’ve come. We have also grown through achieving this journey together. The feeling is indescribable,” says Mark.

Other than their physical achievements, they also feel psychologically stronger. “My mind-set is stronger and I have developed self-respect. I have also regained control over my outlook towards food and will never let it control me again,” says Barend. “I am more confident within myself and feel less stressed. Subconsciously, being unhealthy effects your state-of-mind – something you only realise when you become your healthiest and happiest self,” says Mark.

The Brand brothers are eager to inspire others to achieve their health and fitness goals, regardless of their current circumstances. “The most difficult part of the journey is to actually start. Keep persisting with the process and you can achieve your goals,” says Barend.

“We all start somewhere and we all fall back into bad habits at times. Remember why you started and keep envisioning where you want to be,” says Mark.

For further information and to view other success stories visit www.slenderwonder.co.za

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