When overindulging at work became an all-too-common habit, Carly Wilson realised the need for change. The BodyBlitz challenge inspired her to rise early, prepare healthy meals in advance, and see exercise as a routine part of her family’s life.

Carly Wilson – May 2014 BodyBlitz winner - Women's Health & Fitness

I am a stay-at-home mum with a four-year-old daughter and I also work two afternoon or night shifts a week. My job can be quite stressful and busy at the start of a shift, but towards the end there can be a lot of down time when I am generally starving. Before the BodyBlitz challenge, I would often find myself overeating simply out of boredom and drinking coffee to feel alert for the long drive home.

I recognised I needed to change my habits, so I started a food and exercise journal. This was a great way to see my behaviour patterns, and I realised I was always eating at particular times of the day simply out of routine. I decided to keep a ‘hunger scale’ and little quotes on my diary pages to keep me on track. Through this I also realised my fluid intake was severely lacking and I was becoming dehydrated. Once I upped my water consumption and reduced my coffee intake, I felt less tired and noticed my skin became a lot clearer. I now take a healthy meal in to work with me plus some portion-controlled snacks to keep me satisfied.

At the start of the challenge it was hard to resist the temptation of readily available chocolate and chips at work, but halfway through the challenge I was placed on a low FODMAP diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Because of my IBS, packaged food is now something I really have to avoid. This new way of eating is not forever as I am gradually reintroducing certain foods, but it has certainly made me rethink what goes in my mouth. It has challenged me to cook differently and I now take my own food everywhere, which is a great way to control what goes into my body. Even once I work out the right foods for me to control my IBS, I will still continue to be in control of my diet as it has really empowered me and helped me get out of the habit of mindless eating.

A great quote I read somewhere that has stuck with me is, “If it’s a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t eat it.” What wonderful advice that is! I am extremely lucky to have a large vegetable patch and thoroughly enjoy picking fresh herbs, vegetables and salad greens each day. We also have some chickens, so I eat good-quality free-range eggs most days of the week.

Meal plan
BREAKFAST: Cooked quinoa with lactose-free yoghurt, chia seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds and frozen berries + coffee
SNACK: Banana + rice cakes
LUNCH: Salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red capsicum, bean shoots, cheese, tuna and fresh herbs
SNACK: Handful of nuts
DINNER: Lean meat/fish + vegies
SUPPER: Homemade mini muffin

The biggest test for me during the BodyBlitz challenge was trying to get the balance of this new way of eating and exercise right. At the start of the low FODMAP diet, I became quite ill and really lacked energy. But as I further educated myself and experimented with food quantities, I started to get the energy I needed to complete my daily exercise. I have since learned that ‘low fat’ foods are generally not good as they’re often full of sugar and additives, so I now eat a very balanced diet, including fats.

Exercise routine

MON: 1-hour cardio (cross trainer and treadmill), upper body exercises

TUE: 1-hour cardio (cross trainer and treadmill)

WED: 1-hour cardio (treadmill), lower body exercises

THUR: 1- hour cardio (cross trainer)

FRI: Rest SAT: 1-hour cardio (cross trainer and treadmill)

SUN: 1-hour cardio (treadmill)

Another challenge for me was finding the time to exercise. As a stay-at-home mum of a young child, I am always in demand and being able to fit exercise into my day uninterrupted was not happening.  To overcome this, I started getting up at 6am to fit an hour of exercise in before the rest of the household got up. At first this was hard and I didn’t want to get out of bed, but as the weeks progressed I found myself waking up ready to go. Soon I was waking up at 5.30, and then at 5am! Nowadays my body clock is synced to get up at 5am every morning, even on rest days. It has been wonderful because my exercise time is ‘my time’, where I put on some music and zone out to the needs and demands of family life. I generally do one hour of cardio indoors, followed by 30 minutes on the cross trainer and 30 minutes interval training on the treadmill. I finish off with a good 10-minute stretching routine. I also hope to be able to get back to weight training once all of my medical tests have been completed for IBS. On my one to two rest days a week I will sit out on the deck with a cup of tea and a book instead.

The BodyBlitz challenge has taught me that I am important! It has taught me that my needs can be met and must be met. A healthier and fitter me means I can perform better as a mum, wife and friend. I’m more confident in the clothes I wear and take more pride in my appearance now. I care about what goes into my body and realise that quality over quantity in both food and exercise are so important.  

I have continued my daily exercise and I’m still keeping my food and exercise journal. I’m so pleased that my daughter will be growing up seeing that healthy food and daily exercise are part of everyday life. I want her to see that living healthily is the norm, and not just when you want to lose weight. My little one and I now bake healthy snacks once a week that we wrap up into portion-controlled serves and pop into the freezer. We shop together and discuss what food does and how we can make better choices. Of course, exercise has now become something that is so normal to us, just like brushing our teeth.

My advice to anyone taking on the challenge is to keep a food and exercise diary, to tell everyone you are starting a healthier journey (so they can support your food choices), make the time for your exercise (even if it means getting up a little earlier, as you will soon get used to it) and be prepared. Write a grocery list and stick to it, make meals in advance, take your lunch with you and don’t be too hard on yourself.

My golden rule is to start again every 60 minutes. What that means is if you indulge in a piece of chocolate cake or some takeaway food, don’t write off the rest of your day by overeating or punishing yourself. Just get back on track at the start of the next 60 minutes and you will feel much better for it.

The next stage for me is building more strength and lean muscle as well as maintaining my fitness. I’m loving the new me but realise this is still a work in progress, and I have made a lifelong commitment to myself.

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