After 20 years of stress and comfort eating, Sue Mason hated what she saw in the mirror. Now she is happy and looking for ways to help others!
As a young adult, I never had to worry about my weight. That was until I got married and had a family of my own. I had three children within five years, and that really took a toll on my body. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was collapse in a heap – diet and exercise was the last thing on my mind. Due to lack of time, I also developed some bad eating habits, never having time for breakfast or lunch, so often I would just skip meals or snack on whatever was available.
In the last 20 years I’ve had reconstruction surgery on my right shoulder, a divorce and an international move. I experienced the death of my second husband just weeks after moving in to our new home, and eventually a remarriage to a wonderful man. However, with all of the stresses, I found myself comfort eating and indulging in the wrong foods. The weight had piled on and I hated what I saw in the mirror. I felt tired and lethargic and knew that I had to do something. I was acutely aware of the health risks that came with being overweight and was scared that, unless I did something, I would become another statistic. I gave myself five months to lose 16 kilograms – it was not going to be easy.
I started by doing some cardio each day. The first couple of weeks I found it hard, every muscle in my body hurt, but I persevered. I had dabbled with strength training but, to be honest, I did not really know where to start. I subscribed to various fitness websites and an online fitness program caught my eye. I wanted to really start challenging myself and the 40 Day Max Fat Burn program focused on strength training as well as cardio. I knew this was exactly what I needed. Then I discovered the BodyBlitz challenge, and as I had already made a commitment to give this my best shot, I decided that entering a competition would help keep me motivated. So I decided to enter.
The biggest obstacles I found were around strength training. One of my workout programs had push-ups on knees and as a result of reconstruction surgery on my shoulder years earlier, I could not do one! So I found some information on doing push-ups against a wall, then a benchtop, then a chair until I was strong enough to do them on my knees. Within 10 days I had gone from not being able to do a single push-up to doing 15 on my knees. There was a moment of revelation when I realised how much stronger my injured shoulder had become and how much I could achieve with a positive attitude.
I now enjoy exercise and look forward to it as a way of challenging my body. I have also learnt just how far I can push myself when I put my mind to it. This has also given me a more positive attitude in other areas of my life. I now know you can achieve anything you want; you just have to want it badly enough and be prepared to put the hard work and commitment in!
On workout motivation:
My program kept me motivated. Workouts were a combination of cardio and strength training on alternate days, six days a week, with new workouts every few days! I did each of my workouts in the morning to ensure that I did not miss one. I also added extras to keep myself challenged, including a seven-kilometre jog! Each week I could feel myself getting stronger, and the weight was falling off. I looked like I was wearing someone else’s clothes and people were starting to comment on how good I looked, and this just kept me focused.
On food swaps:
My eating habits have changed drastically. I have learned that eating smaller portions is the key to success; I no longer have the desire to eat large bowls of ice cream and chocolate late at night. I have also learned that you can have the things you enjoy without feeling deprived, as long as you are selective and don’t overindulge. The pantry and refrigerator had been cleaned out and the jars and packets of convenience foods had gone and been replaced with fresh herbs and spices. I was enjoying fresh fruit and vegetables, proteins and complex carbs instead of processed carbs, and healthy oils. Chocolate had been replaced with organic cocoa powder and whey protein powder.
On treat meals:
I was allowed to have a treat every two weeks, but I found I did not want it. I had come such a long way from the days of eating chocolate and ice cream and now I didn’t even miss it. I was focused on fuelling my body and eating clean. Around Christmas I knew there would be lots of temptations, but nothing was going to sabotage my weight loss goals! While the family tucked in to sausages and pastries, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire puddings, I was happy with healthy food and indulged in a glass of wine and some pudding! Mostly my treat was looking in the mirror and weighing myself each week and seeing the results.
I had set myself the challenge to reduce my waistline to 75 cm and thought that was going to be a stretch, but I did it. I lost 13.5 per cent body fat, but more importantly, the doctor has given me a clean bill of health and all of my blood tests are in the normal range.
The biggest motivator for taking on the BodyBlitz challenge was to keep myself accountable for losing weight. But I am now a work in progress as I continue to improve my body and get stronger and lead a long and healthy, happy life. My next goal is to continue toning, especially my arms and abs, and to continue to get stronger. I have also decided to enter some fun runs and a half marathon this year. I’m looking at opportunities to help others feel good about themselves. So many of us are held back with body issues; everyone deserves to feel unique and special, and I never would have dreamed that diet and exercise would change my whole perspective on myself and life.
So what was Sue’s diet and exercise plan like? Click next to view her sample meal plan.