“Mum, are you very fat?” The question posed by Belinda Vagg’s four-year-old daughter was the wake-up call she needed to take control of her diet.

Belinda Vagg – April 2014 BodyBlitz winner - Women's Health & Fitness

With the help of the BodyBlitz challenge, she’s since ditched the over-indulging and self-pity and is on track to looking and feeling her best.

When my daughter asked me if I was fat, she was completely oblivious to how it would make me feel. I was size 20, 105 kilos, and she was just observing things as they were. This was about a year ago and it was a bittersweet wake-up call. I already felt like an embarrassment to my husband, and I hated the idea of my children growing up and being ashamed of my weight.

Every day for the last seven years I have told myself ‘tomorrow’, and I can honestly say tomorrow never comes. My youngest child was almost two and I was still wearing maternity clothes. My wedding rings no longer fitted and I just wanted to disappear into the background. I was once a fun and bubbly person, but I had let the business of life and motherhood and self-pity become my normal. I had tried diets with some success but would always reward myself with food and gain weight straight back. I was miserable and believed I wasn’t able to take control of my life.

My sister-in-law visited us earlier this year, raving about a book she was reading – Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar. I was intrigued and enticed by the yummy looking recipes so bought myself a copy. I decided to make a start and change my eating. Over the next eight months I lost quite a bit of weight by dieting alone and was feeling better than I had in a long time. I wanted to start exercising to complement my diet and decided I would sign up for the BodyBlitz challenge that had inspired me so much.

I used to enjoy DVD exercises and stumbled across a two-month program of DVD workouts called Insanity and thought it would be just the thing to see me through the first stages of the challenge. The first workout I did made me feel ridiculous and made me question if I would actually be able to see out 12 weeks of exercise. I started the BodyBlitz challenge with the DVDs as exercise alone. As month two approached I realised I could do much more and added a  six-km run, some interval running on the treadmill and Pilates to balance out all the plyometric training. I used to do Pilates and run to the beach in the mornings when I was in high school, and doing it again was empowering and made me realise I could be as fit as my teenage self.  

Approaching month three made me re-evaluate my regime when I discovered I was no longer losing weight, despite my strict sugar-free/grain-free diet. I decided I needed some professional input and went to see a PT. It was just what I needed. Even though my diet was healthy, I learnt that our bodies can become accustomed to good eating, resulting in a weight plateau. My PT suggested I try ‘diet confusion’ (like muscle confusion) and I added snacks of lemons and meals of tomatoes to create large calorie deficits to shock my metabolism back into action. I also learnt that I needed to rest my body to enable recovery and weight loss, which I was not doing.

Belinda Vagg - BodyBlitz winner - Women's Health & Fitness

During the challenge I made a decision to consciously filter out all my negative thoughts. I battled the most in my mind knowing that I had to start believing in myself and that I was able to exercise even when my feelings told me otherwise. I sacrificed my morning sleep and was up before the sun almost every morning. I would talk about what I was embarking on and that my goal was to eventually fit a size 10. Starting at a size 20, I understand how people would raise an eyebrow, but if I didn’t aim for such a stretch I wouldn’t have dropped three dress sizes in three months. Now my goal is only two sizes away instead of five!

I always bought WH&F magazine and pored over the BodyBlitz winner page, dreaming that one day it could be me. I was constantly on the WH&F website looking at all the past contestants and sought advice from people who had taken the challenge before. I used an app called Polyshot to visually track my progress and was so excited to see changes from the first week!

Now that the challenge has finished, I get motivated when I bump into friends I haven’t seen in a while and they say how much I’ve changed. I feel spurred on when I fit into clothes that I haven’t worn since being a teen. The first time I put on my old jeans I sat and cried! I can’t even find words for the overwhelming relief that came with that accomplishment. Knowing that I was no longer plus-size, realising that I was able to lose weight and that all the positive words I was speaking were true – nothing compares to the moment you accept yourself again.

I now feel so much better. I feel lighter, I can bend down to play with my kids easily, I don’t have to moan and pull myself up from sitting on the ground. When I run I get to a point where I feel weightless, focused and completely in control. My kids love seeing me more active and like doing Pilates with me, and sometimes even by themselves! My four-year-old tells me I look like a princess and sometimes I feel like it too. My wardrobe is no longer confined to black and I don’t feel like a burden anymore.

I still have a way to go but I believe I can get there. My next goal is to fit back into my size 10 wedding dress, and for the first time in years I know I will get there!

MEAL PLAN
Breakfast: Protein shake
Snack: Almonds, carrot sticks and cheese or tuna.
Lunch: Egg, avocado, rocket, cherry tomato salad with olive oil, pepper and garlic.
Snack: Small chicken and rocket salad with sugar-free, full-fat mayonnaise.
Dinner: Fish or chicken with broccoli, carrot, mushroom, spinach with a mustard/olive oil dressing or salt and pepper seasoning.
Supper: Protein shake; two pieces 85 per cent dark choc.

EXERCISE ROUTINE
Weeks 1–6:
Insanity DVD six days a week, walk three days a week.

Weeks 6–12:
•    5am: 60-min run/walk outside to the beach and back – 6 days a week.
•    6am: 60-min Insanity DVD – 6 days a week.
•    8pm: 30-min HIIT or one-hour Pilates DVD – 5 days a week.
•    Once-weekly PT session.