What prompted you to start your fitness journey, was there a particular moment or realisation?
I've always yo-yo dieted and exercised regularly, but I wasn't doing the right kind of exercise or eating the right foods for my body type. I used to think the only way to lose weight was to cut out carbs or count calories, neither of which ever worked because I would always deprive myself and then end up binging by the end of the week. I used to eat out for almost every meal and order Uber eats a lot on the weekends. I have struggled with anxiety on and off throughout my adult life and that doesn't help either.
I was at my heaviest weight before I met my Vision Personal Trainer Jesse Spinks and at the time I was eating what I thought was a healthy diet and smashing myself in the gym 5-6 days per week doing high-intensity group classes. I wasn't severely overweight but I just didn't feel like I was the best version of myself. I didn't feel confident in my own skin and would shy away from photos when I felt big. When I met my amazing trainer and did a BIOSCAN, seeing my body fat percentage really made the decision for me to achieve some serious body and health goals.
What was the first change you made to your lifestyle?
The first change was to limit eating out or eating on the run for almost every meal. I’m a 28-year-old woman who loves socialising and nice wining and dining experiences. To achieve my goal, I had to learn how to socialise without revolving every get together around food and alcohol.
What other changes did you initially make to your eating habits?
Jesse helped educate me about what good nutrition actually is, which meant I had to reevaluate my whole diet. I followed a macro based diet (protein, good carbs and good fats) and actually had to learn to eat a lot more (of the right) food.
Using the MyVision app to keep a food diary really helped me stay accountable for everything I was eating and allowed me to make sure I was hitting my macros. I had to learn to eat every 3 hours and never go hungry (because that's when I would reach for an unhealthy snack) and had carbs with every meal – I couldn't believe I was allowed so many carbs at first! I started getting creative with my recipes too! I refused to accept that healthy food had to be boring and plain because I just love tasty food. I started to go to the market on the weekends and prepare big batches of food that would last the whole week. My recipes have actually started to get a bit of a cult following at the studio. Once I started seeing results I was motivated to continue on this positive track, so eventually grew used to this being my new normal.
What other changes did you initially make to your exercise habits?
I started training three times per week. One session was one on one with my personal trainer Jesse which consisted of 30 minutes heavy weight lifting. We did a lot of heavy squats, lunges and deadlifts and focussed on different muscle groups each session. There is no way I would have pushed myself this hard or achieved my goal without her. I'm a firm believer that everyone needs a trainer now, especially one who educates you about nutrition, the emotional link to exercise and eating. Having those one on one sessions where Jesse paid very close attention to my technique meant I was on track, and wasn’t incorrectly exercising or tempting injury. On top of our three personal training sessions per week, Jesse had me walking every morning for 45 minutes to one hour on an empty stomach at a fast steady pace either on the treadmill or outside.
How did your weight loss/fitness progress?
For me, exercising has never really been a problem but food has. As nutrition is 80 per cent of the result I really had to change that. I still really love eating out and socialising with my friends on the weekends and I still indulge on occasions (I really do love chocolate) but it's about being able to balance it in a healthy way now.
What changes made the most difference?
Being consistent and not giving up is what made all the difference for me, I just had to keep reminding myself of my goals.
How did you feel during the process?
There are so many other benefits that have come along with changing my lifestyle to improve my health and fitness; I now sleep better, my skin is clearer, my anxiety is majorly reduced and I'm just a whole lot happier and confident. I also knocked 4.5 years off my bio age which is so cool!
What helped to keep you motivated?
Having a supportive partner who was incredibly understanding and patient and even did the challenge along side me, eliminating all the tempting food in the house.
Having a great trainer that checked in with me every day.
The MyVision app to enter and track my macros and keep me accountable.
Constantly reminding myself of my goals.
Do you have any favourite motivational quotes?
"If not you, then who? If not now then when?" I saw this in a fortune cookie and it stuck.
What are your current short and long term goals?
My goals now are just to maintain my new body while living a balanced and joy-filled life. As I've learnt so much about the importance of nutrition in any weight loss journey, I'm keen to share my new found knowledge so I'm working on my own start up business to do with health, fitness and nutrition. I'm really excited for what's to come of that long term.
What would a day on a plate look like for you now?
Oats with a good quality whey protein, berries, chia seeds and a splash of almond milk.
Almond milk latte
Rice cakes with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and protein such as turkey breast or tuna
Chicken tenderloins (130g) basmati rice (145g) with green beans and broccolini
Sweet potato (165g) chicken(130g) or another choice of lean protein) and salad with apple cider vinegar.
130g of protein (I mix it up - fish, chicken, eye fillet) and (165g)charisma (Low GI) potatoes with greens or salad
Vanilla Protein shake with berries (great if you have a sweet craving late at night).
I eat every three hours so my body is always processing food. I drink three litres of water per day and take a fish oil supplement daily. Don't be fooled by the above meal plan - I jazz all my meals up with lots of seasoning such as spices, including tamari, Sriracha and Peri Peri sauce.
I have my staple recipes now which taste so good, to name a few; my clean Chilli Con Carne, San Choy Bow, Chicken Cacciatore. It's all about enjoying the food or I won't stick to it.
What is your current exercise routine?
I simply walk on an empty stomach each morning for 45 minutes to one hour at a steady fast pace either on the treadmill or outside. I do this six mornings per week now, but during the challenge I walked every morning.
On top of that I do three 30 minute personal training sessions per week with heavy weights or resistance training including heavy squats, lunges and deadlifts. My Trainer and I focus on different muscle groups each session. Having a trainer is the best because I don't have to think about it - I just show up and do what she tells me.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Winning the International Body Breakthrough Challenge! Not only have I never won anything before in my life, I'm really proud to have completed it, giving it 100 percent no matter what challenges life threw at me during the nine weeks. I've watched a lot of my friends and family start these kinds of challenges and not be able to see it through to the end, so I'm super proud of myself just for giving it my all.
What advice would you give to others wanting to do the same?
Get a great personal trainer. Track your food and count macros — not calories. Get a good support network and encourage your partner to do it with you. Focus on being healthy and enjoying healthy food. And honestly, just don't give up — consistency is everything. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep!