How This Dad Lost 28KG In Just 9 Months

"I was always the fat friend."


Thaaqib Daniels, Photography by Teri Robberts |

It’s an age-old story: man has kids, packs on a bit of weight (more kids, more kilos), then develops what is now known as the “dad bod”.
But this phenomenon is reversible – just ask Hardus van der Berg. The Capetonian loves playing with his daughter, but there was a time where his weight would, well, weigh down quality father-daughter time. He had to make a change. In just 9 months, he minimised his gut and gained the body he wanted. This is his story.

Hardus van der Berg

Hardus – Before
  • Location: Cape Town
  • Occupation: Senior Teaching and Learning Advisor
  • Age: 33
  • Weight Before: 128kg
  • Weight After: 100kg
  • Time To Goal: 9 months

The Problem

“I was always the ‘fat friend’ – although I was very sporty – and I really wanted to be the best possible version of myself. But I just loved to eat. I wasn’t happy with how I looked in the mirror, especially in summer; I was scared to take my shirt off to swim if there were people around. I genuinely believed that I was going to be fat for the rest of my life, that it was part of my DNA and that I couldn’t do anything to change it.”

The lesson: It’s easy to doubt yourself and play the victim, so that you don’t have to  work hard for the change. You have to eliminate that doubt and believe in yourself.

The Change

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“I was a competitive powerlifter for 5 years, and then I injured my back. Without my training, I was gaining weight by the week. I went to Jo’burg for a work training session, and Dan Hurlin from Badger Athletics contacted me and asked if I want to train at his gym for the week I was in Jozi. He offered to help me to lose the unwanted weight, but keep my muscle. He also helped me set monthly goals.”

The lesson: Prioritise the changes you want to make – don’t wait for next week or next month. It’s going to take time, so be patient; and whatever you do, don’t take shortcuts.

The Strategy

I set out a goal: to lose 28kg in 9 months, and get close to 12% body fat. I was 128kg, and about 36% body fat (maybe a bit more!). So I had some work to do. I also wanted to still be able to lift weights and keep my muscle. I started training 6 sessions a week (3 upper-body and 3 lower-body), and had an eating plan I could follow easily. Dan educated me along the way, to help me understand the purpose of my training and diet.”

The lesson: To start is easy – you just have to make up your mind and create your own motivation, instead of waiting for it to appear.

The Result

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Hardus – After

“I lost that 28kg and managed to get my body fat to less than 12%. I started feeling like a new person. It’s now a lifestyle, and very easy, and I’ve motivated some people around me to do the same. My energy levels are really good, and I can play with my daughter every day; and it feels amazing. I can take my shirt off confidently at pool parties. My knees and back aren’t giving me problems any more because of my weight. I feel great.”

The lesson: You’re going to have bad days – plenty of them. It’s easy to give up; but the rewards if you don’t will be some of the best you’ll ever earn.

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