Christelle Mutombo’s story isn’t your typical transformation tale. She’s been healthy and slender for her entire life… too slender, in fact.

I loved my physique for the most part and the fact that I managed to stay slim while so many of my friends complained about gaining weight. I went through all life’s milestones in great health and had no problem with my weight until I turned 30 that is.”

Too extreme

That’s when she started to hear the phrase ‘you’re so skinny!’ far too often. “While I enjoyed being able to wear just about anything, I began to feel that this was said more as an accusation than a compliment.”

That idea wore at her and Chris, as she’s more commonly known, eventually decided that strong really is the new skinny. “As I hit my thirties I felt I wanted to change my body to see what I would look like with more muscle and definition.”

Hooked on weights

Once Chris shifted her perception about what was deemed right and healthy, she discovered a whole new world of vitality and renewed strength.

“And when I entered the gym I found something that was my own. When I realised that I could hone and craft my body and have complete control over how I looked, fitness and exercise became an absolute joy.”

To start her transformation, Chris first increased her portion sizes and meal frequency. “I learned the difference between good and bad carbs, discovered the importance of protein and high-fibre foods, and worked out how to balance my macronutrient intake.” Her initial diet focused on good carbs and proteins with a smaller percentage of high-fibre foods.

Kick the cardio

Chris combined this new diet with regular exercise. At first, she made the mistake of focusing predominantly on cardio, with some leg and ab work.

“I soon realised my error and shifted to a more traditional split body-part routine. I now train six days a week predominantly with weights, with two ab and cardio sessions a week.”

To arrive at this approach, Chris says she engaged with many wonderful individuals within the industry – some who are qualified fitness professionals and others who are on their own transformation journey.

“Everyone has kindly shared their knowledge with me, but it is my sister’s brutal honesty that has contributed the greatest value to my efforts. She has really pushed me and kept me grounded and focused.”

12 months, 12 kilos

It took Chris a full year to gain 12 kilos, but she is now super confident with her appearance and is extremely proud to have achieved the challenging goals she set for herself. “I’ve even turned play into work by becoming a personal trainer and group class instructor.”

Through it all, Chris has learnt how important it is love and be kind to herself. “I’ve also come to realise that maintaining healthy habits, regardless of what the scale reads, is really important, whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight.”

And it is these lessons that Chris now shares with her clients and the other women she engages with on their transformation journey. She’s even managed to get her mom to become a fitness fanatic, which she credits as one of her greatest achievements!

Her message to everyone is: “Be yourself. Focus on your efforts and avoid comparing your body to others on social media.” She also encourages others who have succeeded to share their experience and knowledge with others to help them achieve their goals.

Quick facts:

Favourite healthy dish: Greens and seafood!

Favourite training routine: A combo of squats into curtsy lunges.

Top diet tip: Understand what your goal is and then research the right way to eat for it. Oh, and be disciplined!

Age: 32

Lives: Randburg, Johannesburg

Career: HR/Compliance, Personal Trainer/Gym Instructor

Follow Chris on Instagram @chrisfitbody