Here, Vivien, 30 tells the story in her own words.
S￼lipping into my white lace gown, my eyes welled with tears. Though I knew every woman should feel special in their wedding dress, I felt like a completely different person. I can’t believe just how far I’ve come, I cried.
Growing up, I was always a big girl. While I often shied away from the latest fashion trends, I used bright colours to let my bubbly personality shine through. But during school, bullies still found a way to taunt me. ‘You’d be popular if you weren’t so fat,’ one teased.Though I tried to hide how I felt, their words cut through me like a knife.But with no education about the importance of a balanced diet, I had no idea how to change. Although our kitchen was always full of fresh fruit and vegies, I constantly reached for carb heavy snacks. Then when I fell pregnant at 18, I gained a whopping 60 kilos.
When my son, Elijah, now 11, was born, I felt like my life had new meaning. But as he grew and became more active, I struggled to find the energy to play with him. After the breakdown of my relationship, my self-confidence took a huge hit. But I was determined to still be the best mum I could.
So at 21, I got a job at McDonald’s to help support my son. But with such easy access to all the burgers, fries and soft drink I desired, the weight piled on. Tipping the scales at 105 kilos, finding love again was the last thing on my mind. But in 2009, fate intervened when I met my soulmate, Ben, 33, at a club where I was a DJ. Showering me with love and affection, I knew I’d found the one.
Just nine months later, I fell pregnant with our daughter, Aylah, now seven. But with two children to care for, finding time to eat healthily was harder than ever before.Starting the morning with a can of coke, I’d drink up to 21 litres a week. In addition to a loaf of white bread each day, I’d treat myself to a takeaway every other night.
Before long, my weight shot up to 140 kilos and I was squeezing into size 26 clothes. Though I tried every fad diet imaginable in an attempt to shed the weight, nothing ever seemed to stick. ‘It’s just too hard,’ I’d sob to Ben. Then when I was 25, I got the wake-up call I desperately needed. Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) due to my obesity, my world came crashing down.‘You’re just too big to have any more children,’ my doctor explained.
Devastated, I felt like I’d been stripped of my womanhood. How did I let it get to this? I wept. That’s when I realised it was time to transform my life for good. So with Ben by my side, we joined the gym together. Terrified of being seen, I’d hide upstairs in a dark, empty room before stepping on the treadmill. Putting one foot in front of the other, I was soon puffed and dripping with sweat. Just keep going, a voice inside my head told me.
Incredibly, after my first session, I immediately felt more alive. Next, I shifted my focus to overhauling my diet, swapping processed sugars and takeaway meals for wholefoods such as lean meat and vegetables. It was a strange feeling taking my healthy packed lunches to my shifts at Macca’s, but as my clothes got looser, I knew I was doing something right.
Better still, I had so much more energy to run around with the kids. Weighing myself every week, I was astonished to see the number going down. ‘I’m going to get a tattoo when I reach 100 kilos,’ I declared to Ben.
In a matter of eight months, I managed to reach my goal. But the best feeling was when I slid into my first new pair of jeans. At a size 20, I hadn’t felt comfortable in denim for so long. But as I peered at my reflection in the mirror, tears of joy ran down my cheeks. Still, I knew I had a long way to go, so I hit the gym harder than ever before.
Incredibly, I managed to lose more than half my body weight, losing a total of 80 kilos. Now, five years on, I’m sitting at a comfortable 68 kilos and wearing size 8 clothes.
Best yet, in March this year, I said ‘I do’ to the man of my dreams. Standing in front of our family and friends, I’d never felt more beautiful.
I’ve since turned my passion into a career by becoming a personal trainer.
Using my own experiences to help clients reach their goals, I feel so proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m proof that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything you set your mind to.
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