I was trying on a floral dress I’d bought to wear to a friend’s wedding. Straining to move around in the dress,
I had to face the truth. 'I’m fat!' I thought.
Tipping the scales at 156 kilos, I was a size 24.
Although I’d been big for decades, the reality of my size hit me like a tonne of bricks.
‘I’m fat, why didn’t you tell me?’ I asked my partner David, 51, later that night.
‘If I told you, you’d have got mad with me!’ he replied. ‘Besides, I love you just the way you are.’
Truth be told, David and my five children and four- grandchildren just accepted that I was fat. They loved me unconditionally.
My partner and I had been through hell and back in the last three years. In 2014, David had a workplace accident that left him disabled. With him unable to work, we’d almost lost our home.
Secretly, I knew I was eating the wrong things to cope with life’s stresses.
At work, I would hide cheese in my pockets to snack on. After a long day, I’d go straight to the fridge and eat an entire packet of Tim Tams. Lollies were my favourite. I could gobble a whole packet of chocolates at a time. On top of that, I would happily guzzle down six litres of Coke every day.
But after seeing myself properly for the first time, I knew I needed to change.
Finding out there was an open day at my local gym, I decided to go along. Pulling up outside, I froze.
'What will people think when they see this huge fat woman walk into the gym?'
Holding back tears, I got out of the car and walked in. The room was spinning, when suddenly, Louise, a personal trainer, welcomed me.
‘Hi, do you need my help?’ she asked.
From there, I completely changed my life. Instead of sleeping in and waking up to a Coke for breakfast, I punched 5am into my alarm clock. While everyone was asleep, I sweated it out on the treadmill to AC/DC in my headphones or did weights.
Learning about healthy, wholesome foods, I prepared what to eat in advance. Instead of binging in the evening, I ate a big breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast and then dinner was my smallest meal. Carefully weighing out 140 grams of protein and 150 grams of greens, I didn’t eat past 5pm.
And, of course, I swapped Coke for water. It was really hard to start with because it was an addiction. My stomach rumbled and my mouth watered for it.
But the struggle was more in my head. I overcame it every time I looked in the mirror and thought about the person I wanted to become.
‘Come on, Trace,’ my trainer James, 28, would say as I pounded the treadmill.
He’s been my rock and what I call my ‘accidental counsellor’, because like all my trainers he’s had to help me address inner demons.
I needed to stop using food as a comfort every time I was stressed. Whenever I felt like eating something unhealthy, I’d remember my goal of looking good and feeling healthy.
Slowly, my fat began to melt off. It took three years of hard work but I eventually lost 90 kilos.
‘Look into the mirror, Trace,’ James would say, ‘You’re not that big woman anymore.’
I splashed out on three new pairs of brightly coloured sports shoes, and proper gym gear.
For motivation, in May this year I started a 20-week program in the hopes of entering into a physique modelling competition. When the competition was cancelled, my new nutrition coach, Kev, suggested a photo shoot as a goal instead.
The day I posed I couldn’t believe how I looked in the mirror, with my golden tan, curled hair and fake eyelashes. Was this really me? There was definition in my muscles and I looked good!
I weighed a svelte 66 kilos. Three years ago I would never have posed in front of the camera but now I felt great. The photos were published online and went viral, leaving me totally gobsmacked.
One lady sent me a Facebook message saying that I inspired her to begin her journey, which blew me away. After seeing the response, my grandson, Blake, 11, got teary.
‘Are those tears because Nan is famous?’ I asked.
‘Everyone is talking about you,’ he said.
Looking into his gorgeous brown eyes, I realised they were tears of pride and excitement. When I see people walk into the gym they must look at me and think I’m judging them, but I’m not.
I’m thinking, 'You go! Good on you!'
Now when I look in the mirror I’m happy with my reflection. If I can do it, anyone can.
Breakfast – Skipped
Lunch – Two homemade cheese sandwiches, with the cheese cut to one centimetre thick
Snack – Chips, doughnuts, cheese, 6 litres of Coke
Dinner – Two portions of meat and vegetables with extra gravy and mash
Dessert – Big bowl of ice cream with chocolate topping and sweetened nuts
Breakfast – Two scrambled eggs on one piece of toast
Snack – Two rice thins with cottage cheese, avocado, and onion
Lunch – Tin of tuna or salmon, or small piece of red meat with a salad
Snack – Yoghurt with berries and protein shake and banana after training
Dinner (no later than 5pm) – Meat and vegetables
Snack (no later than 6.30pm) – Protein balls with a hot drink
Read more in this week's issue of that's life