Nella’s Story

Nella’s Story

(Please note that Nella’s story is from an article published in 1998/1999.)

Nella Jonker

It was 12am on a Thursday and Nella Jonker of Valhalla in Pretoria lay in the double bed without moving. She didn’t have the energy to get up. Her domestic came to the door with a tray stacked with slices of bread and tomato sauce. Nella struggled to sit up and put some pillows behind her back. She was out of breath and talked laboriously, unable to tear her eyes away from the food in front of her. She dipped the slices in the tomato sauce one by one and stuffed them into her mouth. When she’d finished she called for more. Soon another tray of bread and tomato sauce was brought in and she wolfed it all down, sank back in the bed and stared at the ceiling. Although she felt full and was struggling to breathe, she was already wondering what she’d have for supper.

For four years Nella had been living like a hermit, struggling to move her 300 kg frame from one side of the bed to the other. Living only for the next meal, she was drowning in a sea of fat.

Today Nella (47) is a changed person. Since early last February she’s lost 196 kg with the help of “the diet everyone’s talking about”, and she’s determined to lose another 30 kg. “I’ve always been overweight,’ says Nella, sitting in the Centurion pharmacy, where Nurse Ina Bester helped her lose all her weight and still monitors it weekly.
“I’m the only one in my family who has a weight problem.” “When I was 14 my mom took me to a doctor for hormone treatment. He put me on a strict diet, which was disastrous, because I wasn’t allowed to eat anything. Some days all I ate was a hard-boiled egg! I admit I lost weight, but I was starving.” The death of her first husband – and later her mom – made her turn to food again for comfort. “Initially I convinced myself I wasn’t overeating, but later stopped trying to fool myself.

Nella Jonker

I didn’t care. Eating starch made me feel better and I just packed on those kilos.  One day, I woke up feeling desperate – I couldn’t fool myself any more. I tried every diet under the sun. I even tried hypnosis, but nothing worked. “At that point I just gave up. I felt I was wasting time and money.” Nella’s health went downhill from there. “I woke up to the problem only when my husband told me to see a doctor. The doctor had to inspect and diagnose me in the car, because couldn’t get out. His diagnosis frightened me. He told me I was at serious risk if I needed to take any medication or have an operation.”

Nella walked around for months with an article she cut out about a certain diet she’d heard about. “I chose that diet because it was the one with the nicest food!” she says. She’ll never forget that day – February 5 – the day her life turned around.
With difficulty, she took herself off to the pharmacy in Centurion and started a new life. She could only take two steps at a time, before she had to stop and catch her breath. “I was so embarrassed that day, but it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
That first month she lost 40 kg.

“For the first time in my life I followed a diet without cheating,” she confesses shyly. “Other diets leave you hungry, but not that one. I didn’t even feel I was on a diet – it was that easy.” Slowly she began to overcome her obsession with food – this time for real. The diet was developed by Gert Coetzee, a Meyerton pharmacist, and his brother, Josef, a Vereeniging pharmacist. “I used to be overweight myself and tried all those different diets out there,” says Gert. “They never worked, because I’d put on all the weight I’d lost.

I kept thinking there must be a way to help people who love food, but are controlled by it. “Josef and I started doing research and came to the conclusion you should eat food that suits your build and metabolism. You must learn to choose the foods that are right for you.” The two brothers don’t prescribe special powders or milkshakes as food substitutes. You also don’t need to weigh your food. “We haven’t come up with a magic potion – it’s a diet plan where you use your common sense. You eat food you like, but you control the amounts. “You see food differently and the diet can be adjusted to everyone’s needs.” The diet has been around for nearly 10 years and there are currently about 60 pharmacies countrywide offering the services of a pharmacist who’ll help people shed unwanted kilos.

Nella Jonker lost 216 kg – in the first photo she is seen with some of her previously all time favorites: Coke, butter and tomato sauce – 216 kg in total!

In the second photo she shows 216 kg of charcoal!




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