Listen to Liz
I was approaching my 30th birthday and it occurred to me that for more than half my life I had been “on a diet”. As a teenager I developed disordered eating patterns which carried through with me for 17 years. Ever since I can remember I’ve been on and off diets and lost, then gained significant amounts of weight. At the age of 16 I was diagnosed with anorexia. I was constantly conscious of my body image and consequently food and exercise, and it was a source of intense pain for me. I didn’t know what it was like to just “eat normally”, or even how to exercise “normally”. I was in a vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain. I was fed up with being unhappy with how I looked, and tired of constantly thinking about it.
For a whole year before my wedding I worked very hard to lose a lot of weight. I was not going to be a “fat” bride, however I couldn’t wait to “pig out” after the wedding. I was hanging out for my wedding cake! I quickly put the weight back on after the wedding and completely undid a years worth of hard work. When I’d put on more than 20kg after the wedding, I was so miserable; none of my clothes fit, I felt unattractive and I felt as though I was a bad wife. I avoided going out or seeing friends as I didn’t want them to see how much weight I’d gained. I couldn’t even get a leg into the size 8 jeans I’d bought before the wedding and I thought I’d never see the day when I could squeeze back into my tiny wedding dress. I kept trying to go back on my diet and exercise plan I’d followed before the wedding but I would only last about two weeks and then just give in and pig out again.
A few months ago I had a check up with my GP and discovered I had high cholesterol. I was absolutely appalled with myself and realised that I had to lose weight for my health, not just for increasing my self-esteem. Even though both my husband and I are physiotherapists and know all the principles of exercise and good nutrition, I couldn’t put myself on another diet and exercise program like I had tried in the past. Something had to really change in order for me to make this a permanent change and not just another yo-yo down and up for me. I knew I could lose weight as I’d done it so many times before, but the real challenge for me would be to maintain this weight loss and to change my mind set and attitude toward food, to put an end to my binge cycles. I also wanted to form healthy habits and attitudes regarding food and exercise before having children, so that I can be a positive role model for them. I just wanted to be happy with how I looked and stop being jealous of all those “skinny” girls out there. So after much discussion and consideration with my husband, and encouragement from two of the gym instructors at my gym, we decided that I should sign up for a 12 week nutrition and training program with “Ideal Bodies Online”. I needed a professional to design a program for me that I could follow, and having to outlay money would also be an incentive to fully commit.
At first I was relatively negative about what I would achieve in 12 weeks. I was concerned that I’d lost and gained weight so many times that I may have lost my ability to lose weight. I was 75kg and my goal was to eventually reach 57kg. I thought it would be unrealistic to reach my goal in 12 weeks and that I’d still have a lot of hard weeks ahead of me after the challenge in order to reach my goal.
I faced many challenges over the 12 weeks. Eating out or going to parties became difficult. I would phone the restaurant ahead to ask whether they could accommodate my “dietary request” in order to stick to my plan, and felt like such a nuisance and very unsocial when I wasn’t ordering from the menu. At parties I’d try to inconspicuously eat my salad that I brought with me. People would constantly be telling me “go on, just have one cookie, sausage roll etc, it won’t make a difference”, or “you can skip the gym tonight, it won’t matter” and I was sometimes made to feel guilty for putting my exercise and diet first. I also felt terrible when most nights of the week I’d get home late from the gym and my poor patient and uncomplaining husband wasn’t getting his dinner cooked until about 9pm.
Diligently following the program given to me by Sue at Ideal Bodies Online simply worked. Joining was the best decision I ever made and I can’t thank Sue and my feedback coach Shelly enough. When I got on the scales at the gym on my final day, I looked down and said “holy moly…” The scales read 53.9kg. I never dreamed of achieving my goal weight in 12 short weeks, let alone weigh in under it.
I am so ecstatically, unbelievably happy and feel fantastic! I’m truly amazed at the change in my body, but also in my mind. I have had a total transformation inside and out, and I’m certain that I can maintain this. Previously when I’ve lost weight, like before my wedding, I was over trained, exhausted, hungry, and had constant cravings, dreaming about the food I couldn’t wait to pig out on when it was all over. But following my program with this challenge it’s been so different. I’ve learnt so much. I’ve formed such healthy habits and have completely lost my desire to binge. I attribute this to my program which was carefully balanced to ensure I was eating enough, particularly protein, to sustain my workouts and ensure I had plenty of energy. I came home from my photo shoot on my final day absolutely starving, but even though it was all over and I could relax I had no desire to pig out. Instead, I made myself my own favourite 12 week challenge meal – warm lamb Greek salad with wholemeal pita, and it was delicious! The fact that I didn’t plan nor want to binge at the end of all this is probably the most important change, regardless of how much weight I lost.
I’m skipping along the road toward maintenance with a smile from ear to ear! For the first time in my life I feel completely satisfied with my body and how I look. For the first time in my life I’ve reached my goal weight, which I made much more realistic and maintainable. What an amazing feeling not to be on a “diet” or “trying to lose weight”. I haven’t had that since before I was a teenager, and it’s such a relief! I now feel beautiful and confident and I’m absolutely loving being back in all my pre wedding clothes, including my size 8 jeans. And the icing on the cake – I tried on my tiny wedding dress…fits like a glove.
Footnote: I’d like to sincerely thank Sue for the huge difference she’s made to my life through her program, and for all that she’s taught me about training and nutrition. She taught me I can eat more and train less, that I don’t have to feel hungry, that I can have plenty of energy… and still lose weight. I’d also like to thank my feedback coach Shelly for being there to answer all my questions and offering support and invaluable advice the whole way. And finally I’d like to thank my husband for being by my side every day.
- Remain focussed and disciplined to make healthy eating and exercise become a habit and part of your lifestyle, rather than feeling like a chore.
- It is possible to stick to your program even when social occasions arise. When dining out phone the restaurant ahead to check whether they can accommodate your dietary request. When going to friend’s homes take your own meal or ask them prior if they’re able to prepare something for you from your program. Chicken breast and salad is no hassle! A good friend will support you and help you.
- In order to prevent cravings and possible binges, don’t allow yourself to get too hungry. Eat every three hours.
- Protein shakes, glutamine and multivitamins! I attribute a lot of my success to these supplements. Protein shakes (MRM Low Carb in chocolate is my favourite!) helped prevent hunger and sugar cravings and aided the muscle repair following weight training. Taking glutamine meant that I suffered minimal muscle soreness despite lifting heavy weights. Daily multivitamins ensured I always had plenty of energy and didn’t get run down.
- Be consistent, stick to your program and you will see amazing results at the end!
My favourite 12 week challenge recipe
Warm lamb Greek salad
- 4-6 cos lettuce leaves, chopped
- ½ tomato, sliced
- 10cm cucumber, sliced in fingers
- 50g avacado
- 6 kalamata olives
- ½ onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
- ¼ zucchini, chopped into small pieces
- ¼ red capsicum, chopped into small pieces
- 100g (when cooked) lamb, diced
- ½ tsp McCormick garlic salt
- ½ tsp McCormick garlic and herb mix
- Olive oil spray
- 1 tbs skinny Tzatziki
- Balsamic vinegar
Prepare salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avacado and olives. Stir fry lamb, onion and garlic with seasonings in non stick pan with olive oil spray until cooked, then add zucchini and capsicum and stir fry until soft.
Place lamb mix on top of salad and top with balsamic vinegar and Tzatziki.