Working nights and studying full time wasn’t about to stop Jane Saxby from shedding stubborn excess kilos. She entered the BodyBlitz challenge to change her habits – before it was too late.

I decided to sign up for the 12-week BodyBlitz challenge to give myself some accountability. I had been making some half-hearted attempts towards improving my lifestyle for six months by exercising a lot more and completing a triathlon training course, but I continued eating the wrong foods. I was doing all cardio and zero weight training, which achieved almost no results and caused me to lose interest very quickly. The BodyBlitz challenge provided me with the correct mindset for real, sustainable change, and gave me a fantastic head start on my goals.

My decision to change my lifestyle was motivated by a couple of factors. My partner is very fit and healthy and I wanted to be able to enjoy cycling, bushwalking and waterskiing with him. As a student nurse, I was being exposed to many people who, despite being only middle aged, were horribly disabled or incapacitated by the effects of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes. I have been overweight since I was 18 years old and could see myself ending up in their shoes if I didn’t do something major to stop the cycle – fast. I am hitting the big 3-0 this year and want to enter that next phase of my life feeling fit, healthy and confident about myself and what I am capable of.

I have found the BodyBlitz challenge to be a great tool for keeping me focused on the journey towards a healthier life. I have really enjoyed documenting the changes to my body, especially the measurements. In times when I may have been disheartened by seeing no changes on the scale, I was pleased to instead see the difference on my tape measure. My methods have evolved over the 12 weeks and I imagine they will continue to change to cater for life’s inevitable challenges.

My primary tools for remaining motivated and accountable have been the FitBit Flex and MyFitnessPal apps that I used religiously throughout the 12 weeks. These two apps work together and allow me to monitor my daily energy input and output. I especially enjoy the Tumblr blog Before and After Fat Loss Pics, reddit and following various fitness accounts on Instagram. I would chat with other people in the same situation as me and I would spend a lot of time looking at success stories and photos. I have also used Pinterest extensively to keep a collection of inspiration images on hand to overcome any loss in motivation. I am a very visual person, so these social media outlets have really given me something tangible to aim for. To see these people, some of who were in worse shape than myself, now looking so fit and healthy is really motivational.

After a few weeks, all the positive feedback from friends about how I was looking made me want to keep going. My mum was also losing weight, so chatting to her on the phone every day about what we were up to was great for keeping me on track. I would say my partner, Ian, my parents and work colleagues have been my biggest supporters. They have all been so positive about the transformation I’ve made and are always giving me compliments and encouragement. It’s been wonderful.

I used a combination of strict calorie control and an exercise regime to lose weight. I restricted my calorie intake to 1200 kcal per day. In addition to this, I started going to the gym four to five times a week. It took a lot of trial and error to find out what I like and respond to at the gym. I tried running but I just didn’t enjoy it. I think it’s better to do something you enjoy and stick with it rather than struggling with something just because it seems like everyone else is doing it. I don’t like to stick to a set routine but there are some things I have settled into a bit of a habit with. I have become addicted to group workouts, especially BodyPump and RPM. I love that once you are in the room, the pressure to succeed means there is no giving up halfway through. As someone who gets bored easily, I find that classes are really great for keeping me active, and I like to mix things up with HIIT and yoga.

Weekly exercise routine

MON: Rest

TUE: BodyPump

WED: Hike/HIIT/swim/rest


FRI: BodyPump

SAT: Park run/RPM

SUN: Hot yoga

Diet and nutrition

With regards to diet, I tried to create a realistic plan to help achieve long-term change. I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch most days and then mix things up for dinner. I really enjoy variety at dinner and will eat depending on how much energy I have expended that day. On a light day (when I have exercised less) I enjoy vegetable soups or steamed fish with salad or vegetables. For heavier days I enjoy eating Asian dishes with lots of fresh vegetables and herbs. Throughout the challenge I still had meals out at restaurants with friends and family. I also have the occasional treat but never without giving it thought first. My rule was, if I was having dinner out, I would make sure I did a hard gym session earlier that day. In the past I was oblivious to how many calories I was consuming, but the challenge pushed me to consider what fuel I was providing my body with.

I definitely faced some difficulties completing the 12 weeks as as a full-time student. I have classes each weekday, which meant doing shift work on evenings and weekends. I have odd sleep and work hours, which sometimes means moving meal times around to suit my schedule. I really have to be super prepared for each day by taking enough food with me to avoid hitting the cafeteria or vending machine. I have trained myself to avoid mindless snacking that I would often do during late-night study sessions. I still go out and see friends, but choose to be the designated driver or pick the healthy option from the menu.

I used to feel like exercise was a chore and eating healthily meant only bland, tasteless meals. I now understand I can still eat things that taste delicious, I just need to reduce the serve or make substitutions.

I have tried lots of diets and lost and regained weight many times before. I would often lose five kilos then slip back into bad habits. I think the main mistake I made was trying to do things the textbook way by cutting out all bad foods and exercising around the clock. I could only maintain this for six weeks then would quickly burn out. This time around I really opened my mind to different options and found the right solution for me.

As a woman who has been overweight my whole life, I feel my story is a relatable one. I didn’t feel it was really possible to change, but reading lots of success stories from others helped me believe I am truly capable of achieving anything I put my mind to. I always had that confidence in other parts of my life such as work and study, but I never believed I could achieve that for my weight and fitness. I am now energised, confident and motivated, and every day feels so much happier than before.

Sample meal plan
BREAKFAST: Multigrain English muffin with avocado or poached egg

SNACK: Piece of fruit

LUNCH: Mountain Bread wrap with lean meat and salad

SNACK: Homemade Greek yoghurt

DINNER: Alternating between soup, sushi, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, fish and salad, vegetarian curries and steamed dumplings.

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