From losing weight to lifting weights

How much do you think losing 83 kg would change someone’s life? In Sarah’s case, absolutely everything changed.

Sarah joined the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet morbidly obese at 158 kg and suffering from all the pains, physical, mental and social, that come with being overweight. With hard work and a discipline it’s hard to imagine she steadily lost weight for 2 years until she hit her goal of 75 kg*.

*Individual results may vary

At her heaviest Sarah suffered from crippling headaches and pretty much lived on headache tablets. Today she can't remember the last time she had a headache.

She went from avoiding physical exercise at all costs to being active every day. In fact, her new passion in life is weight lifting.

How did it all happen?

Sarah has struggled with her weight pretty much since childhood. As she grew up, she was always aware of being the 'big girl' and got used to sitting back instead of participating in activities.

"My mother used to make meals all the same size so even as a young child I was eating the same size portions as my older brothers; and I was always told to, “eat everything on your plate," Sarah says.

Sarah Before After

"As a result, not only did I gain weight, I became accustomed to eating big meals and large portions of food which then set me on a cycle of steadily increasing weight over the years as I simply ate far too much food."

The uniform is too small

Sarah made the decision to change her life when her work rebranded their work uniforms.

"I was too embarrassed to say that I needed a size 28 so I asked them to bring their largest size. When they arrived the largest size they had was a 26. I tried it on and of course it didn’t fit – I couldn’t even get my arms in the sleeves let alone get it around me," she says.

And that was the moment when Sarah made up her mind.

I was mortified but bought the shirt anyway - 2 shirts in fact - rather than let anyone know. We still had our old shirts which we were allowed to wear until the new shirts arrived and I thought; 'Well I better do something or the new shirts will arrive and I will have to explain why I can’t wear it!'

Trusted the CSIRO

Sarah joined the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet because she felt the CSIRO had an integrity she could trust. It also helped that her father had worked for the CSIRO and that she could get a refund of her fee when she completed the program successfully. It was pretty much love at first meal.

"I loved the foods which were just simple, everyday things I could buy from the supermarket. I loved the way that I could choose to have different meals everyday but could also choose to swap meals so that I could eat the same thing," she says.

Sarah Bench

A problem Sarah found with other diets was exactly that: meal plans were too prescriptive and complicated which often meant buying a whole lot of food which ended up not being eaten.

Sitting in the car park of the gym

After losing a bit of weight on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Sarah decided it was time to start working on the exercise side of things as well. A small gym called Trend Fitness opened up in her neighbourhood and she gave it a try.

I went and sat in their car park several times wanting to go in but felt sick with fear of embarrassment and drove away.

A few weeks later, she found the motivation and went back and joined up.

"The gym is owned by the most amazing, wonderful husband and wife. They were warm and friendly and so helpful. The wife, Holly, arranged to be my personal trainer and we started straight away," she says.

Sarah Gym 898W

"There are no gym jocks or bunnies at my gym. We are people of all shapes and sizes and we all support and encourage each other, motivate and help each other".

How life has changed

From sitting in the car park too embarrassed to enter the gym, Sarah is now the reigning Grand Champion of the gym's body transformation challenge. As well as weight lifting, she enjoys boxing, high intensity interval training, bike riding and simply walking.

"I now hate sitting still and just love being active and living life. I have never felt better or been happier than I am now," she says.

At the end of the challenge I bought a pair of size 10 jeans and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days!

So, what's changed for Sarah since she lost the weight? In a way it's the everyday things she appreciates the most.

"It’s crazy simple, silly things that count when you’ve been obese your whole life," she says.

"Fitting into chairs in restaurants, not always being the biggest person at the party, doing up the seatbelt on an aeroplane, not having to hide at the back of a group photo to try and not be seen, walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath, walking anywhere without being out of breath."

Sarah's advice for people in the same boat

Sarah says that for her losing weight was 100 percent about mental commitment and to make the right diet choices every single day.

That includes writing down your goals so you know what you're trying to do, and aim for smaller, more achievable goals in the short term.

Log your food and drink every day and record your weight weekly. This will help you understand where you're at and where you should be going.

Make time to exercise! There is no such thing as no time. This is the most overused excuse and it is rubbish! If you need to find an extra hour, then get up earlier or go to bed later.

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