The first week

My new diet (I still hate that word) started on Thursday 2nd September 2010. It was a crisp early spring day. Sun was shining and I considered this a good omen. The start of something new, a chance to start fresh.

I had been provided with a variety of meal replacements, essentially bars and shakes. One bar or shake to replace 1 meal. Replace 2 meals per day. You last meal could be anything, except you were only allowed 1000 calories per day. A bar or shake was about 200 calories, so immediately you were reduced to 600 calories for the rest of the day – including my third meal and any snacks during the day.

I can tell you right now, 1000 calories is not a lot. A banana is about 100 calories. A small piece of chicken, salad and small potato (with absolutely no dressing, sauces or added flavour) is about 450 calories.

The first few days I thought I was going to starve to death or perhaps my stomach was going to eat itself. I quickly learnt to drink heaps of water as it gave me a temporary fullness. Side effect was a lot of visits to the toilet as my body wasn’t used to drinking a couple of litres of water a day. But I was determined to stick to the 1000 calories and the guidelines provided. At this stage, I was still doing no exercise and I’m grateful that I didn’t start this for another few weeks, or I may have fainted due to lack of energy.

On Saturday 4th September, less than 48 hours after I started this new diet, my region experienced an earthquake – no lives were lost – and I joked that at least I had my food ready for the next 5 days. I considered this my first test and I’m pleased to say I passed with flying colours.

Week one – I lost 800 grams. My first recorded weight loss.

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Day 1. Weigh in

Still in the dreaming phase of this challenge, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sure, it would mean eating meal replacements specifically designed to assist weight loss. Sure, I would have to give up some of my favourite things, but it was only for 8 weeks. I mean how much could I really change in 8 weeks.

Day 1. Weigh in. This was the bit I dreaded the most – how much did I actually weigh? I hadn’t weighed myself in a very long time and the thought of doing this with someone else recording it, was absolutely terrifying. It was scheduled just before lunch which soon became a weekly game with myself.

Don’t eat much for breakfast, wear the lightest clothes I own, go for a pee before getting on the scales. As it turns out, I learnt a lot about some other tricks, but you’ll read about them further on.

Shoes and any excess layers were taken off. The moment of truth… standing on those scales my heart was racing, what was the number going to be?

78.5 kilograms.

OH MY GOODNESS!! Something must be wrong, are the scales working properly? I actually asked them to weigh me three times just to be sure. The scales were correct and I was dealt a massive slap in the face. I thought maybe 70 kilograms at the most. I’m only 5’4″, or 164cm tall.  This ratio was not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh shit. This was going to be tougher than I thought. I held my composure while the rest of my team got weighed, I can’t remember what their weight was, I was still in shock. It wasn’t until I got to my car that I let myself have a cry. A deep, sobbing, out of control cry. Tears, runny nose, inability to breathe and this incredible sense of sadness. If anyone had seen me like this, they would have thought I’d just heard about a loved one dying. To me, it felt worse.

How I got started

In July 2010, I was part of a goal setting group. Similar women to me would meet fortnightly to share ideas about business, we made each other accountable for the small tasks that we knew we wouldn’t do by ourselves. We became friends and soon we would be meeting for lunch, coffee and gossip sessions.

We talked about love, family, relationships, colleagues and sometimes about our body shapes. We varied in age from late 20’s up to mid 50’s. The wealth of knowledge in the group was powerful. We supported each other through some incredibly difficult business decisions and to this day, I’m still in contact with most of them.

One member of our group had a business that specialised in weight loss. She created an 8 week weight-loss challenge for businesses and asked if we wanted to put together a team. It was a fundraising event and there were prizes up for grabs for the biggest losers. Who doesn’t love to win stuff?!? So our team was created and I got roped into being a member as it needed to be a team of 4.

The main instigator in our team was someone I admired for her business skill and kindness towards her friends. She was a kind-hearted soul that would put others ahead of her own dreams.. She had intentions of starting a family one day with her adorable partner, but knew she needed to be part of this team as any supportive person would be.

I still remember the day I said “yeah sure, it’s only for 8 weeks and it’s for charity right?”. Little did I know that such a simple sentence had the capacity to impact my life in such a dramatic way.

My old lifestyle

Back in 2010 I was 32, had a successful career, in a loving relationship and had a good social life.

Sure I knew I was a bit heavier than I ideally wanted to be – is it a female thing? Always striving to be better than we are? I’ll touch on that in a future post as I could write forever about that subject.

I had tried to lose those few kilograms previously. I was a gym member but I never went, it was too crowded, full of fitness freaks and I never enjoyed going. Sure I could go for a walk around the block, but not if it was raining, or too hot, or damn it, not while I had Home and Away to watch.

I knew nothing about calories, energy intake, working out and I don’t actually think I had any fitness clothes in my wardrobe. I’m trying to recall if I even owned a pair of decent trainers. I must have, right?

I loved food and I used to joke that I could never be anorexic as I loved to eat. I couldn’t be bulimic either as I hate vomiting. A typical Friday or Saturday night would see me happily eat a whole family pizza, a huge bag of M&M’s, washed down with a bottle or two of wine. My partner would eat the same quantity of food. I’ll admit it, I think about what I used to consume in a day and it now makes me feel physically sick.

No-one ever said to me that I should get fit and healthy, why should they? My friends all enjoyed going out for dinner, having a few drinks and a laugh. I thought I was happy. I thought I was funny and enthusiastic for life. I thought I was adventurous. I thought I had everything I ever needed.