My name is Naèma, runner, fitness enthusiast & health foodie. I live in the small, peaceful City of Gaborone, Botswana in Southern Africa.
Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in the 80’s and growing up in Francistown, Botswana - people often teased me for being a ‘plaas meisie’ (farm girl). I definitely gained my love for the outdoors and nature from spending school holidays with my cousins on their farm in Brakpan.
I was always sporty as a child, I ran cross country and represented my school for swimming; but I constantly struggled with my weight, yo-yo dieting and depression all through my teens into adulthood.
After gaining a whopping twenty-two kilograms during my first pregnancy I knew I had to start taking my health seriously. It would be no easy feat to get fit or healthy, especially with a baby to take care of and being a working mum. This was where my true running journey began. I found a ‘couch to 5km’ running plan in a Shape magazine and decided that no matter how hard it was, no matter how much I HATED it, I was going to do this! That was in 2010, ten years later I have an overflowing medal rack from the number of races I have completed including two full marathons – the Diacore Gaborone Marathon and the grueling Soweto Marathon; as well as a third-place trophy for a 15km trail race and a Bronze medal for a local fitness obstacle course.
I have battled through divorce, an auto-immune disease, severe depression and anxiety leading to self-harm as well as bulimia, all while caring for and raising my two young sons as a single mother. My journey has been colourful to say the least! Somewhere along the line I gained a passion for food and I completed two years of Nutrition with UNISA, after which I transferred to the University of Botswana where I am currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Biological Sciences with the aim of gaining my degree in Pediatric Nursing Science.
Three years ago, I became a vegetarian and I now follow a mostly plant based diet. I did this for health reasons and have reaped the benefit immensely.
I am also the lead runner and founder of an all-women’s running group The Pack GBE
Dream.Run.Free started out as just an Instagram account. A platform to share my running and food journey and my struggle to find myself, my place in this world and to express myself finally in a way that I never had the courage to. As my passion for sharing my struggles and triumphs in running and life grew, I also developed a love for creating healthy, nutritious, but tasty food because it became clear to me that health and food are synonymous. I knew I needed to share my knowledge and experience and how better else to do that than to start a blog where I can relate my stories to others like me.
I hope to inspire women (and men) who read my blog to change their lives for the better, to take that first step towards conquering their fears, attaining their goals and achieving the life they have always wanted but never had the courage to pursue.