Gail lost 80kg in two years Gail lost 80kg in two years

In just a little over two years, I lost 80 kilograms. Going from a size 26 (142 kilos) to a size 10 (62 kilos) has been physically and mentally challenging but I have had inspirational help and support along the way which was very important to my success. The physical changes and my increased strength and fitness make me absolutely amazed at how resilient our bodies are and how quickly they recover and can slow down the ageing process. I am still getting used to the new me and what I can do. People ask me what my secret is and I answer that they know the secret – exercise and healthy eating (easier said than done). This is my journey…

I started with small changes

After many attempts to lose weight in the past, my approach this time started with very small changes. I didn’t want to make massive changes in case I failed again. I started with five-minute walks six times a day and felt exhausted after each one! Slowly I increased the duration and speed. Next, I changed what I ate but not the portions. I made sure I still had “treat” foods but less frequently. If I wanted chocolate I would have it but made sure that I didn’t binge on it by buying a smaller bar and not a big block. This was my simple plan.

Meal planning helped me make healthier choices

I began to plan my meals, introducing myself to healthier choices and portioning meals so that the healthiest foods took up most of the plate. One of my biggest challenges was decreasing portions. I learnt to keep my hunger at bay by increasing the number of snacks … I literally eat all day now and that works for me.

I found an app which helps me to kilojoule count and makes it easier to plan the week ahead, including when I go out. Most restaurants have online menus and if I go to the movies I take my own popcorn and nuts so I don’t feel like I miss out when everyone else is crunching. If I can’t get my planned meal I hit my new favourite cheap takeaway places: supermarkets or fruit shops. Yoghurt and a piece of fruit are great for me to fill the gap. It may sound like I had everything under control but things did not always go perfectly. I think the key is finding what works for you. We are all unique individuals and one size does not fit all.

I had to learn to ignore other people’s ‘helpful’ advice

At first, no-one noticed that I was losing weight, which was a relief. The hardest part was the pressure to succeed when people did start to notice. I kept reminding myself that advice and suggestions were meant well, but it was my journey and I had to try my way.

Fernwood helped me learn to love exercise

When my gorgeous niece introduced me to Fernwood Everton Park, it enabled me to do something I never would have done on my own. I was terrified of walking through the doors to a gym but, placing my fears aside, I did. The staff have been fantastic ever since that first day and I have them all to thank for their ongoing motivation, support and encouragement. Admittedly, it took me six months to overcome the mental challenge of feeling like I deserved to be there.

I love going to the gym – the classes, personalised workouts, the supportive staff and in particular three magic personal trainers who have helped make me stronger mentally and physically. My PT Bree taught me that I could do anything and that I was mostly limited by my own thinking. Now, I am strong enough to do exercises that I was previously envious of other members doing. My PT Kim taught me to work harder and that my workouts were about me, and only me. I approach my gym time like I’m the only one there. My current PT, Rachael, keeps training interesting and directed towards my goals. She’s taught me to plan and be more strategic with my workouts. Fernwood was pivotal to my success, and still is.

Life is now a pleasure to live

I’m thankful for the love and encouragement of many others. My greatest supporter is my soul mate and partner of 27 years who has never said anything about my weight – no digs, no jokes, although he was worried about my health and is very happy that I am healthier now. He has always and still is proud of me and truly loves me unconditionally.

Life has become a pleasure through shopping for clothes, the taste of fruit and vegetables, flying on a plane again, giving and getting hugs, being able to garden and even do housework.

Sharing my story, and allowing people to see my “before” picture makes me feel exposed, vulnerable and embarrassed. But I’ve been told my journey could inspire others in theirs. I hope they are right, and someone out there is encouraged to start their own journey and know they can succeed.

*Fernwood client testimonial was achieved as part of an overall healthy diet and exercise plan. Regular exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult your healthcare professional before beginning any diet or fitness program.