Here, Victoria Bowen, 27, tells the story in her own words.
S￼itting on the picnic rug, I probably looked like I was enjoying a day out.
My husband, Shannon, 32, was tearing after our boys Brodie, then three, and Rylan, one. Smiling at them, I tried to hide how low I felt.
They’re having so much fun, I thought, watching them. Desperately wanting to join in, I didn’t have the puff.
A size 24, I couldn’t take them down the slippery dip. So I looked on as they went down in Shannon’s lap.
The truth was, since I’d fallen pregnant with Brodie, I’d piled on the kilos.
Taking ‘eating for two’ to heart, I ate big portions and mindlessly snacked on blocks of chocolate when I sat down to watch TV. Well, the baby needs to grow, I told myself.
When our bub arrived nine months before our wedding, we were over the moon. ‘I’d like to lose the baby weight before our big day,’ I said to Shannon.
‘I don’t care what size you are,’ he said. ‘You’re perfect.’
Swapping vows in my white dress, I felt a million dollars. But when I saw some photos the next day, my heart sank.
The image in my head didn’t match what the camera had captured. I was so much bigger than I imagined.
Determined to get fit, my plan was thwarted when I found out I was expecting again just a few weeks later.
I didn’t eat for two this time, but once Rylan came along, I had my hands full with two boys.
Thinking I was being healthy, I’d skip breakfast and have coffees instead. Then I’d make a wrap for lunch, not realising how much fat was in my cheese and extra mayo.
Dinner was meat and veg, but I’d treat myself with dessert at the end of the day.
‘Let’s go for a walk,’ Shannon said on weekends. I didn’t have the energy though, so I hid away. But that day, when I’d finally made it to the park, I made a promise to myself. You are not missing out on time with your kids, I vowed. These moments were too precious.
The very next morning, I strapped the boys in their double pram and went out for a walk.
With a sturdy rain cover, we went out in all weathers – even if I’d been up all night with Rylan. And each day I went a little bit further.
Swapping my wraps and coffees for fresh and wholesome food, I noticed my clothes were looser and my mood improved.
After six weeks, I stepped on the scales for the first time in years. Then, I burst into tears. 116 kilos! I’d had no idea!
I must’ve been over 120 before, I realised, horrified.
When I’d met Shannon, aged 19, I’d been 75 kilos. There was a long way to go to get the old me back. I need to step this up, I thought.
So I started going to boot camp on Saturday mornings. Rowena, the trainer, put me through my paces and soon I was breathless, but thrilled with what I’d done.
Weight kept falling off, but I was gaining muscle too.
Then, after a year, I plateaued at 90 kilos. ‘What are you eating?’ Rowena asked. ‘I’ve been good,’ I said, showing her my food diary. ‘Only 900 calories a day.’
To my surprise, Rowena looked like she was about to have a heart attack. ‘That’s not enough!’ she exclaimed. ‘You should be eating about 1200. You need fuel for muscle.’ She’s nuts, I thought. Surely I shouldn’t be eating more food. But I trusted her, so I started having bigger portions. I could even have treats like Snickers bars because there was protein in the nuts!
Then, last year, I hit my dream weight of 75 kilos – down 45 kilos. Best of all, I had heaps of energy to run after the kids. I had a bit of loose skin, but my health was way more important.
Not wanting to stop there though, I decided to get serious about weightlifting.
Training hard, I tracked exactly how much fat, carbohydrate and protein I was eating and prepared all my meals in advance, too.
Even eating Snickers four days a week, I lost another 10 kilos!
In July this year, I stepped on stage in a body building competition. With Shannon and my family cheering me on, I felt incredible.
I’ve come so far, I realised. I wouldn’t recognise myself. And the boys wouldn’t either. Seeing an old photo of me, they looked confused.
‘Who’s that, Mummy?’ they both asked together. ‘Me!’ I told them.
Now, I share my story on Instagram, @tor.gets.fit, to help other people trying to get in shape. Life’s too short not to take that first step.
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!, on sale now.