After the After Photo
By shauna reid - aka dietgirl
When I was obese, I used to read slimming magazines while eating chocolate bars. I’d burn with jealousy as I pored over the Before and After photos.
It seemed simple yet miraculous: fat and frumpy in one frame, then sparkling and skinny in the next.
Almost a decade later I’ve got my own After photo. I lost 12.5 stone - half of my starting weight.
It was a tumultuous five-year journey with many highs and lows - I’m a slow learner! When I finally reached my goal I looked forward to easing into maintenance.
You don’t hear much about weight loss maintenance. There’s no drama or excitement in simply staying inside your jeans, week after week.
Yet with all the scary statistics about how only 5% of people keep the weight off, I think we should talk about it more often!
Weight Loss Maintenance is tricky. Some days it feels as easy as breathing, and some days it sucks harder than a herd of Hoovers.
In my WLR columns I’ll be sharing the ups and downs of my own experience, and how I’m finally learning that it is possible to hold on to the After photo.
How I Lost the Weight
Before the maintenance was the weight loss bit. My journey began in January 2001, back in my native Australia. I was 23 years old and bursting out of my size 26 trousers.
I still struggle to articulate why I got so large. All I know is that I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t battling my weight.
As the daughter of a Weight Watchers leader, I grew up watching ladies cheering or crying on the scales. I realised that what you weighed was a really big deal.
At home, Mum always cooked healthy meals and taught me how to eat well, but I developed an obsessive attitude towards food.
I’d pounce on any opportunity to eat “bad” stuff then feel guilty afterwards.
I dieted on and off throughout high school. I wore baggy clothes and shunned social events to hide my body.
Food was my comfort and escape during some difficult family times. I’d buy chocolate bars and scoff them under the covers at night then cry myself to sleep.
Before long I was gaining a size every year.
I was close to 16 stone when I started university. I felt rebellious as I indulged in all the forbidden foods of my childhood.
Increasingly depressed and reclusive, I’d stay home with a tub of ice cream while my friends partied at the bar. I made frequent attempts to lose weight, but I never believed I’d succeed.
I gained almost five stone over the three years and my weight kept climbing after graduation.
By 2001 I could no longer pretend I was happy. I had a great job and many friends, but I never socialised or travelled like a normal twentysomething. I got breathless making the bed.
I spent my time wondering if I could go to the McDonalds Drive Thru again without the staff recognising me. I knew I had to change.
Fat Girl Thinking
I joined Weight Watchers and sobbed on the scales when I weighed in at 25 stone. I needed to lose half my body weight to be healthy.
It seemed so hopeless that I almost gave up and headed for the fridge. But I threw away the junk food, bought some healthy cookbooks and learned that a portion of rice should not be the size of one’s head.
I lost nine pounds at my first weigh in and felt a tiny flare of hope that maybe I’d do it this time. Six months later I’d lost another three stone.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Most days I’d throw myself into the healthy eating and exercise, but in dark moments my old Fat Girl Thinking reared its head.
It was a battle between growing optimism and a lifetime of self-loathing.
My weight loss methods evolved too - I left Weight Watchers when it clashed with my newly beloved Body Pump class. I was fine on my own for a few months then crashed spectacularly, regaining two stone.
I Found My Lust For Life
By 2003 I was back on track and now a size 20. My sister and I decided to leave Australia to go travelling.
We settled in Scotland and had a ball traipsing around Europe. I found a new lust for life and a fresh perspective on my weight.
For years I’d tried to fit my life around a diet, but now I knew the key was to fit the diet around my life.
My adventures took another twist that year when I met a charming guy named Gareth down the pub. I always thought I’d be a stranger to romance until I was a size sixteen at the earliest!
But if true love didn’t mind a few extra pounds, who was I to resist? He proposed in 2005, and that’s when I discovered Weight Loss Resources.
I loved the food diary and the geeky graphs. With WLR and a lot of determination I squeezed into a size 16 wedding dress for our Las Vegas elopement.
Healthy Weight For A Female
Finally in August 2006 I reached 12.5 stone and decided to maintain there.
After a lifetime of being at war with my body, I felt strong and happy in my own skin. I even wrote a book about my experiences called The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl.
My Before photo was printed inside the front cover and the After photo was inside the back. It felt like my long journey was complete.
But as I was to find out, an After photo is just a snapshot in time. Maintenance is the start of a whole new story.
To read more from Shuana, take a look at her other blogs:
Coping with a Healthy Christmas
Now you’ve lost the weight WLR’s tools can help you maintain your weight loss. Try them free for 24 hours.
* Note: The success stories published on Weight Loss Resources are written by WLR members, past and present, telling their own stories in their own words. As you will see if you read more than one or two of them, everyone's story is different and they have reached their success from a variety of starting points and lost weight at varying rates. Individual results may vary.