Bek Shinn, 32, Elanora, Qld
I'll never forget that moment at Movie World.
'Let's go on the Scooby Doo ride,' someone suggested.
I was at the Gold Coast theme park with friends, but when I went to join them, climbing aboard, the operator had bad news.
'The safety bar won't do up,' he said.
I was stubborn and tried, but he was right.
'Whatever,' I shrugged, resigning myself to watching the fun instead.
Tipping the scales at 159 kilos, I knew I was a big girl.
But I'd always been that way and thought there was nothing I could do about it.
I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.
I'd always skipped breakfast and at school I avoided lunch as well, rather than draw attention to myself and what I ate.
I rarely had more than a toastie and dinner was usually an instant pasta meal.
I'd hear people say, 'I only have to smell a chip to put on weight,' and think, me too.
Despite everything, I didn't let my weight get me down.
I had loving parents, a good job as a music teacher and lots of friends.
I was happy and got the most out of life.
But one winter in 2011, I caught a terrible bout of flu.
I couldn't shake it off, even after quitting my 20-a-day smoking habit.
Afterwards, I felt drained of energy.
'I need some iron,' I decided.
So I bought some steak from the butcher and ate a little bit each night with veggies.
In three months, I noticed my size 26 clothes were loose.
When I weighed myself, I was shocked to see I'd lost 15 kilos!
How did that happen? I wondered.
When I also added protein shakes for breakfast, I had a real burst of energy.
I began going for walks and then decided to join a gym.
The first day, I managed four very slow minutes on the exercise bike and four on the treadmill.
'That was exhausting!' I puffed at the end.
But I kept going, making it a competition with myself, trying to do a minute more each time.
As I got fitter, I added aqua work-outs, pump and indoor cycle classes and used a personal trainer to make sure I was lifting weights correctly.
I only did an hour a day but the weight fell off.
It was astonishing, especially as I was eating more than I ever had!
It was as if my metabolism had suddenly woken up and was demanding to be fed.
I had a pre-work-out breakfast of eggs and toast and a post-work-out meal of eggs, veggies and more toast.
I'd have a lunch with meat and veggies and a stir fry with noodles for dinner. And in between, I'd snack on tins of tuna.
Posting my progress on Facebook, my friends were supportive.
You rock, Bek, they wrote.
The social media site had become a diary and a cheer squad.
Within about 18 months I was down to a size 10 to 12.
Even my year three Girls' Brigade uniform was now too big for me.
Life got even better when a year later, I met Aaron, 33.
I told him about my journey and soon we were an item.
'You're an inspiration,' he told me. 'But you know even if you were bigger, I'd love you no matter what.'
That confirmed it. He was 'The One'.
We were married on 20 September 2014 and I was able to buy the perfect ready-made wedding dress in size 12 from Gumtree for just $100.
That's another bonus of losing weight, I can indulge my love of op shopping!
Now, I'm 74 kilos lighter, am still eating five times a day and, as well as going to the gym, I even teach cycle classes there. I really enjoy it.
If my journey's taught me anything it's not to judge.
I never feel like I'm cycling in front of my class.
I'm always cycling alongside them, cheering them on.
Bek's top tips to trim down:
1. Ban the bullies
One doctor I saw was so nasty that I came home sobbing.
You don't get people to lose weight by shaming and punishing them.
Instead of convincing someone they're not happy, show them new ways to be happier!
2. Make a splash
Water-based work-outs are great for bigger people as you can jump and run without putting pressure on joints or overheating.
3. Shun sugar
I used to suffer migraines every few days, but now I don't get them at all unless I eat sugar.
I avoid foods labelled 'low fat' as they're often high in sugar instead.
Breakfast cereals can also have a lot of sugar - a high protein brekkie is the best start to the day.
4. Have fun
Work-out with a buddy or try group fitness classes. Mixing things like cycling classes with weight training is perfect for revving up a sluggish metabolism.
5. Take it slowly
Everyone wants to get fit and slim overnight but if you want to lose weight and sustain it, you need to listen to your body, get enough sleep and remember that
every person and every day is different.
Dietitian and exercise physiologist Gabrielle Maston explains the benefits of eating more:
'When we don't eat regular meals, our metabolism can shut down from what's called the starvation effect and the body stores all the calories it can get.
Eating smaller and regular portions of nutritious vegetables, wholegrains and protein boosts the metabolism,' she says.
Originally published in that's life! Issue 29, 23 July 2015.