I can hardly even breathe! I gasped.
Fast forward two years, my marriage was over, and tipping the scales at 95 kilos, I was at my biggest.
We’d even been trying to have a baby…
Heartbroken, all I could think to do was to stuff my face.
‘I just want a McChicken burger,’ I sobbed to a friend
Growing up, I’d been fit and healthy.
Now, at 26, I hid my frame in big flowy dresses, huge cardigans and comfy black stretchy leggings.
I’d gorge on KFC for lunch, and, too tired after working as a real estate agent to cook, I’d heat up frozen chips, chicken kievs and lasagne.
I’d gotten used to feeling sluggish and tired.
And, suddenly single, I was crippled with anxiety.
A black cloud of depression overwhelmed me.
One day, I was pushing a trolley down the supermarket aisle, when all of a sudden my chest tightened.
I need to get out of here, I panicked, petrified I’d see someone I knew
In social settings, my hands would shake uncontrollably.
Each night, my parents, Belinda and Tony, would come over to eat.
I’d signed up for a happy family and the pitter-patter of tiny feet.
Now, even though my social anxiety was at an all-time high, the thought of being alone was unbearable.
The GP diagnosed me with severe anxiety and depression and I was prescribed antidepressants.
Taking them at work, I felt like a zombie.
‘I need to go home,’ I said to my boss.
Getting behind the wheel of my car and pulling up at home, I had no idea how I’d even got there.
I don’t want to feel like this every day, I decided, through the fog.
I couldn’t take the pills again. But something had to change…
‘You have gained a lot of weight, Kirsten,’ Mum said gently one day.
She’s right, I thought.
It was time to start looking after me.
My friend ran an all-girl bootcamp, so I started going to three to four sessions each week. I also swapped the convenient yet calorific meals for hearty rice, beef mince and fresh vegies.
The weight began to slide off, and I felt happier and healthier than I had in years. As my confidence returned, I began to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in ages.
The old Kirsten’s back, I thought, ecstatic.
I still let go at the weekends, treating myself to nice dinners out
But finally, I was feeling comfy in my own skin again.
‘You look so much happier!’ friends and family would comment.
Working with a personal trainer, within three years, I’d whittled my size 14-16 frame down to 10-12.
Having lost an incredible 27 kilos, I now weighed 68 kilos!
Moving gyms, I spotted pictures on the wall of people who had competed in some body-building competitions.
I could never do that, I thought.
But then I backed myself.
I reckon I could do a comp, I told my trainer, still a little unsure.
‘Let’s do it!’ he exclaimed, behind me all the way.
I had 20 weeks to hone my physique. Cutting out alcohol completely,
I carefully prepped all my meals on the weekend, so I’d never reach for junk food.
Up at 4.30am each day, I’d smash out 45 minutes of cardio before work, then do another hour-and-a-half workout afterwards.
Before bed, I’d have to do a whopping 20,000 steps!
By show day last September, I’d lost another 13 kilos, making it 40 in total.
At 55 kilos, I could slip comfortably into a size 8!
Before, I’d been too ashamed to even wear a swimsuit that showed my stretchmark-streaked belly.
Now, I was on stage, with my proud mum and dad in the crowd, wearing a bikini.
Striking the poses I’d been taught, my nerves fluttered.
But as the crowd cheered, the fear melted away.
I worked so hard to be here! I grinned.
Waiting for the winners to be announced, I was just proud to have competed.
I’m not going to place, I thought, as third, and second place was read out.
As the winner was announced, I clapped wildly.
Oh my God, it's me! I realised.
Accepting my medal, I couldn’t believe it.
‘We didn’t expect you to place!’ Dad said, shocked.
‘Me neither!’ I laughed.
It’s been four years since my heart was broken.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I’ve transformed myself.
I hope others might be inspired by my story.
Catching sight of myself in the mirror, I’m proud of how I look. But I’m even prouder of how I feel.
‘I’d hate to be your ex right now!’ friends joke.
But, happily single, I’m not looking for a relationship. And I didn’t overhaul myself for anyone else.
There was one person I needed to fall back in love with, and I have – me!