Suvannah McPhee - November 2013 BodyBlitz winner

After an autoimmune disease diagnosis in 2010, Suvannah McPhee was determined to get active, eat clean and overcome her illness. Through hard work and unwavering commitment, she’s never been healthier or happier.

I have struggled with my weight and body image issues for as long as I can remember and I have been a serial yo-yo dieter for my entire adult life. Sure, I’d get results, but as soon as I went back to eating normally, well, it was that all-too-familiar story of gaining it all back – plus some.

I was misdiagnosed with a few different illnesses and diseases before being correctly diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2010. I have fought the fight of my life every day since to get better. After initially taking several prescription medicines (all which gave me new and exacerbated symptoms because I was misdiagnosed), I am finally down to just one thyroid medication.

After much research, I realised that the main factor that would aid in the improvement of my health was a complete overhaul of my lifestyle. No more bad diet, no more couch potato. I had to get active and eat clean. I’m not sure what triggered my autoimmune disease but I have no doubt that my unhealthy lifestyle had a starring role. I made a commitment to myself on 14 April 2013. I got serious! I joined my local gym and put everything I had taught myself about diet into practice. No more shakes or fad diets, no more diet cola (considering I was consuming two litres a day, this was a big commitment).

This time I was determined to achieve lasting results. From the moment I finished my first session at the gym, I knew I was on the right path. It wasn’t long until I was thriving in my new environment and the lifestyle I had adopted was making me feel like a machine. I was happy for the first time in three years. I faced my first obstacle about three weeks into the challenge when I came down with a serious case of the flu. Having a weak immune system, I really struggled. I felt myself coming down with something for over seven days and I even questioned at times whether I had just lost my motivation.

I knew in my heart that it wasn’t my mind that was weak – it was my body. Once I realised this, it armed me with foresight and I was able to rest and recover for a week. After nine days of not going to the gym (but still eating healthy), I started back with my exercise routine. I felt like I was starting from scratch, but after another week my mental space was strong, my diet was impeccable and the gym became familiar rather than intimidating. That’s when the weight really began dropping off.

I utilised the free PT sessions at my gym to organise a program for me to follow; this made a huge difference to my motivation. It not only gave me goals and held me accountable to myself, but ensured that when I reported back I had actually improved. I pushed myself to beat my scores each time I stepped foot in the gym, but that’s what works best for me. I also found some free online interval training resources through Youtube, perfect if I was short of time. No excuses. That’s the promise I made to myself in the beginning and I stuck to my word. Eventually, I enjoyed exercising so much that I was disappointed when I couldn’t get a workout in. Rest days became the hardest days to endure. I just wanted to train but knew I had to let my body rest and recover.

The whole time I exercised, I maintained a healthy diet. I simply excluded all soft drink and processed foods from my diet, choosing instead to eat only whole foods such as vegetables, grass-fed meat, fish, fruit, nuts and seeds. My body thrives on clean food and the better I eat, the better I feel. I enjoy eating healthy because it makes me feel amazing. Every time I eat, it’s a choice. So if I made a choice to eat something bad, I didn’t dwell, the next meal would be extra healthy. Eating well and exercising has given me a new outlook on life.

I have more energy and I enjoy getting outside in the vegie patch with my children. I realised the less cluttered my diet is, the better my attitude is. I don’t feel like my disease is a burden anymore; instead, I see it as a gift because it is going to change my life. The passion I have regarding food and health is not going to diminish, it’s only going to grow, as will my knowledge. I intend on paying it forward and helping others, one way or another.

My advice to other people wanting to take on the challenge is to commit to finish. No matter your results, commit to submitting your after photo. It will encourage you to do well and who knows, you may be writing your own success story. Not only am I a winner in every sense of the word, but my family are winners, too. They get a happier and healthier version of me and my children are beginning to follow in my footsteps and lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

EXERCISE ROUTINE

  • Monday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

  • Tuesday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

  • Wednesday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

  • Thursday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

  • Friday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

  • Saturday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

  • Sunday: 15 minutes HIIT on treadmill, full-body weights circuit, 10 minutes cross trainer, five minutes rowing machine

When I couldn’t make it to the gym, I rode for 30 minutes on my stationary bike or completed a free HIIT workout on Youtube.

MEAL PLAN

Breakfast: Egg, avocado and chilli flakes on a slice of whole meal toast or oats with sunflower and pepita seeds with sultanas warm lemon water coffee.

Morning snack: 20g almonds and a piece of fruit. Water

Lunch: Tuna and salad with sweet potato or rice OR kangaroo fillet with cauliflower mash and mushy peas. Water

Afternoon snack: Greek or natural yoghurt with mixed berries and a drizzle of honey or raw snow peas and celery. Green Tea

Dinner: Homemade broth soups (beef or chicken) or chicken stir-fry or grass-fed steak and vegetables.Green Tea

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