REAL LIFE

I halved my weight working at maccas

What an incredible transformation!

After a devastating diagnosis, Vivien was determined to transform her life for good.

Here, Vivien, 30 tells the story in her own words.

Slipping 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.

before shot
Before
after
After

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.

before and after
I can now wear things I only dreamed of before

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.

married
Aylah, Ben, me and Elijah on our wedding day.

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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