I realise now, food became my crutch (I was sexually assaulted at a young age, and my therapist eventually helped me connect the two things)—but at the time, I didn't understand why or how I would eat an entire pizza in one sitting. By the time I made it to my senior year of high school, I had gained 45kg.
At my heaviest (after having my son), I was 137kg—and I started seriously considering weight-loss surgery.
I’d tried so many of my own methods to lose weight—restricting calories, eating bland foods—but nothing I tried was sustainable (plain chicken with steamed, unseasoned broccoli for dinner every night was just not going to happen). So I’d quit as soon as I’d start.
At that time, I knew I wanted weight-loss surgery, but in order for it to be approved by my insurance, I had to provide proof of a failed weight-loss program. So, I tried WW (formerly Weight Watchers) totally expecting it would fail me and I’d be able to get the surgery I wanted.
To my surprise, I actually lost weight—that's when I knew the program was going to change my life.
Before Weight Watchers I had no limits when it came to food. I was eating fast food almost every day: ordering the largest burger, the largest fries, and a large soda. I didn’t really think or care about what I was putting into my body, and WW changed that. The program’s point-based system made me think about what I was eating—and it prompted a complete lifestyle change.
In fact, to hold myself accountable (and to pay it forward), I started my Instagram account, @feliciafitnesshealth, to document my weight-loss journey. I had been so inspired by other weight-loss accounts like Lexi Reed's @fatgirlfedup, that I wanted to give others the same motivation.
Another lifestyle change: Not feeling guilty about eating something I thought was "bad" for me. Before, on other diets, I would let my eating habits spiral if I had a treat (I'd already "ruined" my diet that day—why bother eating healthy otherwise?). But Weight Watchers taught me that eating one cupcake is not what got me to 137kg and eating one now won’t halt my progress—I can enjoy treats guilt-free and then get back on track.
I'm also finding ways to make healthier versions of the meals I used to enjoy most, which means I don't get bored with my diet, and I always feel satisfied. Here's what I usually eat on WW:
- Breakfast: Protein coffee (two shots of espresso poured over a protein shake) with fruit or a Smartcake, a gluten-free and low-carb snack cake.
- Lunch: Eggs and turkey sausage, or a grilled cheese made with whole-grain bread and a side of cottage cheese.
- Dinner: Two-ingredient pizza dough, made from non-fat Greek yoghurt and self-raising flour, with light cheese and marinara sauce. Or sometimes, a cheesy broccoli casserole with cauliflower rice.
Once I started to lose weight, I began working on my other goal: to become more toned.
I started off at a small gym that I’d walk to with my son (my weight made me insecure about getting a membership at a bigger, busier gym). At first, my workouts consisted of light cardio on the treadmill and the elliptical for 20 to 30 minutes, followed by weight training with five-pound dumbbells.
As the weight started coming off, I switched to a different gym where I focused more on heavy lifting and incorporating high-intensity cardio into my routine. Now, six days a week, I use the StairMaster for about 20 minutes and lift for 30 minutes.
I won't sugarcoat things: Losing weight was tough, and I couldn't have done it without help.
Balancing life with this new lifestyle was hard, but I knew I had to do everything I could to succeed—that meant attending weekly Weight Watchers meetings. My family doesn't live nearby and my husband was often gone for training in the Marine Corps, so I had to rely on friends to watch my son while I was at the gym or at meetings.
I’m so thankful for the incredible support system I’ve had throughout this process, it means a lot to me. My loved ones were, understandably, worried about me at my heavier weight and it means everything to know that I’ve made them proud.