As a kid, Sarah DeArmond, now 28, was teased about her weight – for being too skinny. “My metabolism must have been great, because I got away with eating fattening foods like mashed potatoes and fried chicken,” says DeArmond. Taking dance classes for 10 years helped, but once Sarah hit uni, a lack of physical activity and devotion to fast food took their toll – she put on 7kg. Convenience continued to trump health after DeArmond married in 2009. The pair ate a lot of pizza, pasta and frozen meals. Over the next three years and several attempts at fad diets, Sarah’s weight climbed. By February 2013, her 162cm frame was carrying 91kg.
DeArmond was alarmed to notice that her size 18 pants were getting tight. “Once, someone asked when my baby was due… and I wasn’t pregnant,” she recalls. Worse, she felt exhausted all the time for no particular reason and found herself wheezing for breath whenever she had to go up a flight of stairs. To top it off, her blood pressure was sky-high.
“I knew obesity could actually kill me,” she says. “I wanted to live.”
In the spring of 2013, DeArmond started overhauling her diet. She searched Pinterest for recipes featuring lean meats like turkey and chicken and cooked those instead of nuking frozen dinners. She learned to lower the fat content of her meals – without sacrificing flavour – by using seasonings such as garlic and cayenne. The change was instantaneous: “I felt so much better that I honestly didn’t even miss my greasy go-to foods,” she says. Between dietary swaps and her new habit of speed walking at least three kilometres a day around her hilly neighbourhood, DeArmond’s weight dropped steadily for the next two months.
Then the scale seemed stuck at around 81kg. Eager to keep losing, she took up strength training. “I read that building muscle helps speed up fat loss,” she says. “Plus, I wanted to look more toned.” De Armond began working her upper body with 2kg free weights, doing moves like biceps curls and shoulder raises for 30 minutes almost every day. Eventually, she advanced to 4.5kg weights and stepped up her cardio routine to eight kilometres of daily power walking. By the following spring, DeArmond was a trim and healthy 54kg.
DeArmond’s new lifestyle hasn’t yielded only a slimmer pants size. She’s showing off an improved complexion and stronger, shinier hair. “Everything about me feels healthier!” she says. She rocks tank tops and shorts with confidence, and she’s no longer intimidated by staircases – these days running up them. “I feel like my old self again,” she says.
Sarah's Top Tips
Making fitness convenient: "I got an exercise bike so I can work out whenever I want. I like to pedal while watching TV."
Shop smarter: To deflect temptation at the supermarket, have a 'no junk in the trolley' rule. "I don't even set food in the chip aisle," she says.
Fake-fry it: DeArmond makes 'fried' fish by dipping fillets in egg whites and wholemeal panko and then baking it.