Q&A: my weight loss experience


I’ve been a member of a lovely Facebook group for people with more then 30kg to lose for a couple of years now.

The group occasionally asks members who have lost a lot of weight to share their experience by answering the following 10 questions and they kindly invited me to take part.

I thought I’d share those answers here as well.

1. When did you know you weren’t going to give up?

I had lost around 22kg, was five months into my journey and my sister was getting married.

Having often dreaded the formal family photos, I felt rather good on the day. And when I looked at the photos both on the day and afterwards, it was a visual reality check as to how far I’d come.

I went from waiting for everything to go very wrong to being quite certain that I was able to do this.

2. Name some winning moments in the early days and some now.

  • Early days: I think it wasn’t a one off moment in the early days, but there was a massive relief in ‘doing’ something about my weight issues and no longer having that inner ‘mean girl’ in my head, nattering away with all of those negative should, could and would messages. Instead, I just started to feel better, and then feel good. Good about doing something about my problem. Good about moving my body. And good about what I was eating. And hitting 99kg. That was a winning moment.
  • Now: Squats with 45kg of weight across my shoulders. It is seriously heavy. And I’ve lost just shy of 40kg. It’s confronting stacking that on my shoulders and feeling what my body was carrying around before. I can also do some pretty cool yoga poses. Buying a fitted size 12 dress (I am definitely not size 12 yet, more 14-16, but thank you Laura Ashley all the same). Seeing people I’ve not seen for some time is always fun. Being an average sized person in a room and not the biggest person in the room is cheering.

3. What have been your keys to success?

  • Acceptance that major weight loss requires major, permanent, lifestyle changes.

4. Anything you know now that you wish you could tell your former self?

Without a doubt, you have the ability to win at this.

5. Any tips for not giving up? How did you keep going?

  • On the harder days, when you fancy eating ‘All The Things’, get busy with tasks and activities; fill your time, do some exercise, take a class, meet with family or friends or go and do something interesting. If your mind and body are engaged elsewhere, you won’t be thinking about food. There are definitely days where I’ve had a pedicure, manicure, massage and coffee all in a row to relax and pass the time until I feel more in control, instead of losing it and eating everything something I shouldn’t be.
  • Connect with other people living a healthy lifestyle. Find your tribe, or your community. I’ve made friends at the gym and in classes. This is especially important if you have people in your life who aren’t that supportive of what you’re trying to achieve. Get yourself some new peeps!
  • Sometimes, when I am over the hard work and just fancy quitting, I have to really sit and think through what I would be going back to.  What’s on the other side of quitting? And what does the healthy life at a healthy weight that I so desperately wanted at the start of the journey look like? And it looks a lot like what I’m doing and how I live now, but with the addition of another 400-600 calories a day. Of the same types of food and the same training program. So really, when I rationally go through that thought process, going back to my binge eating, emotional eating and excess eating and drinking makes absolutely no sense at all.

6. What’s something nobody ever told you that you wish you knew earlier?

  • Exercise isn’t designed to make you miserable, rather it’s for rehabilitating your body from the rigors of daily life and being strong, well and physically able to live the life you want.
  • And that exercise is actually enjoyable once you get to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
  • Sugar is more addictive for your body than you could possibly know.
  • Moderation is not an option.

7. When did you start?

My friend did an intervention mid-March 2013 and made me go and see a personal trainer and wellness coach (Chris). I started with Chris in April 2013 and have gone on from there.

8. What is a valuable lesson you learnt the hard way?

  • Stress and weight loss are not friends. The times when my weight has stalled has often coincided with stressful times and lack of sleep. I work hard at minimising stress and negativity in my life.
  • There’s no such thing as a free pass. I don’t often eat what I shouldn’t (though sometimes I go through phases where I just eat too much food), but the couple of times I’ve had a little mini-break from my program (twice to date, once for my sister’s wedding and then a second for a four day trip with girlfriends to the Adelaide wineries), it’s been very hard to get things back together afterwards, and it takes a few weeks to detox, undo the damage and get back on the program. Which is okay, but being mentally prepared for that is important.
  • I’ve learned to say no to people, and state (politely) what I need, like coffee and not lunch or dinner out, or specifying restaurants that suit my diet, or explaining (firmly) that I choose not to drink at the moment. Some people won’t be supportive of your new healthy lifestyle. And that’s okay. Connect with those who do.

9. What are your top three tips for success?

  • Get comfortable with monotony. Being successful in this is about being able to stand the monotony of consistently doing all the things you know you need to do, every single day, for a long period of time. Eventually these things become a habit, and habit will trump willpower every time. But habits take a long time to create. 21 days is definitely not enough!  I’m still habit forming; it’s an ongoing process. And every time you turn down the cake at morning tea, the wine on Friday nights or the take away at the end of a busy day, you’re putting money in your habit creation bank and getting a little stronger. And slowly the monotony becomes less, well, monotonous. It becomes the way you live now, as a healthy person taking care of yourself.
  • Don’t obsess about food. Eat and move on from the kitchen. Don’t wander back in! Don’t look for shortcuts or food substitutes for ‘treats’. Treats are for dogs, and you are not the dog! Spend as little time preparing food for every meal as possible. Instead pack your salads, cook in bulk and get things pre-prepared so that for the majority of your week, you’re just assembling meals. Repeat meals. It’s just easier. You’re in this for the long haul, so the less time you’re faffing in the kitchen, the less time you’re potentially eating something you shouldn’t be. And the bonus is that you’ll have more time for exercise, sleep or doing something lovely for yourself.
  • Sleep. Sleep a lot. As much as possible. When you’re losing weight your body is very busy metabolising fat. And you’re exercising. And eating at a calorie deficit. Sleep gives your body a chance to recover. In my first six months I lost 24kg and was sleeping around nine hours a night at a minimum. And I prioritised sleep. I gave up watching television and went to bed instead.

10. What do you really want someone who is at the beginning to know?

  • You 100% have the ability to make epic change in your life.
  • Have faith and patience in the process.
  • Don’t obsess about the weight day to day, or week to week. Your body will do its own thing. It’s not a machine and it doesn’t operate in seven day cycles. If you’re doing all the right things, the right things will happen.
  • Keep the big picture in mind. Who you want to be. How you want to live. What your future looks like.
  • It’s damn hard work. It doesn’t really become easier, but it becomes habitual. Which makes it easier.
  • You are more powerful than you know yet.
  • Accept that making major change won’t be easy.
  • Wake up and decide every day that this is who you are now.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • And finally it’s a cliché, but it’s true; this will be hard, but worth it.

Over to you frock friends. Comments and questions are most welcome.

If you have any tips or experiences you’d like to share, please do comment below or email me if you prefer.

  • Sara Reynolds

    WOW- so amazing emma- i did a Detox, it was part of a competition and as soon as the comp was over i very easily slipped back to my old ways cause in my mind “comp was done” id lost nearly 13 cm off my waist in 21 days i was so proud i cried when i saw the results, but then psyched myself out of it. Prep is a big thing for me.. as a teacher having something easy to take to school- fills me up etc.. and with detox after a while the coconut milk, almond meal coconut oil etc i just couldn’t stand the taste anymore lol xo HELP

    • Thanks Sara! It sounds like you did really well with your detox – well done on that, those are hard! I think this is perhaps the tricky thing when it’s a short program, you can hang in there, get through it and then you’re done, but then it’s so easy to stop because you made it to the end! And even reward yourself for getting there!

      I do think rethinking how to approach it all could help – I know that for me I have had to just relax and settle in for the long haul, as I had (and still have) a lot of weight to lose, and it has (and will) take so much longer than a month or 12 weeks or even a year, and that the new, healthy living is for good, with no fixed end point where I’m ‘done’.

      I think the acceptance of this has been a really big part of making this change for me, as I’m not waiting to ‘be free’ of the program and move on with my life, the way I live now *is* my life, and the longer I live this way, the more normal and habitual it has become. It isn’t easy (not at all!) but the rationale helps me to stay focused on and accept what I am doing and not ‘rattle my cage’ to often.

  • This was a great read Emma, it’s so clear you’ve really made permanent change. Congratulations! And more frocks please 😉 x

    • Thanks Andrea. It’s constant work, but yes hopefully more and more towards permanent change. More frocks coming ASAP – I’ve added a new post today about frock #4!