Here, Louise Alroy, 27, tells the story in her own words.
￼In my bold leopard-print maxi dress, I must’ve looked full of confidence.
But the truth was, I was miserable. At 24, I was a size 22. I’d felt so self-conscious going out with my mates, I’d ended up pushing them away. And now I felt exhausted all the time too. Something has to change, I thought.
So in September 2015, I stepped on the scales to face facts. I’d put off this moment for so long and when I saw the display, my heart sank. 132 kilos!
Feeling daunted, I had no idea where to start. For years, I’d used food to perk me up. Scoffing pizza, takeaways and chocolate, I’d feel better the moment the food touched my tongue. But later, I’d hate myself.
No more, I decided, feeling determined. Drinks and brunches were out, gym sessions and healthy food were in. When I told my mum, Suzanne, 53, she was so supportive. ‘You can do it,’ she said.
Pulling on a baggy t-shirt and leggings, I went to the gym for the first time in years. As I walked in, I was sure all eyes would be on me. Everyone seemed so fit, whereas I was easily worn out – and huge. What do they think of me? I fretted. But I needn’t have worried.
Walking on the treadmill, no-one gave me so much as a second glance. As well as hitting the gym three times a week, I got to work in the kitchen. Throwing out junk and convenience foods, I filled my fridge with fresh vegies and non-processed meat. From now on, I’m going to make everything from scratch, I vowed. If I cooked it myself, I’d know exactly what was in it.
Going online, I searched for nutritious recipes. Then, I made time in the evening to rustle up chicken and sweet potato with healthy greens. Being organised meant I stuck to my new routine and I stopped ordering takeaways.
At first, I missed the strong artificial flavours I was used to and craved sugar. And, for a few weeks, I often felt sick and tired. I was like an addict going through withdrawal! But seeing the numbers on the scale fall in front of my eyes spurred me on.
In three months, I’d lost 15 kilos. Thrilled my efforts were paying off, I realised I didn’t just want to lose weight. I want to get strong, I thought, with a new goal in mind.So I decided to get myself a personal trainer.
‘I need help,’ I said to the gym receptionist, Amanda. ‘I’d love someone to guide me and help keep me on track.’
To my relief, she didn’t laugh at me or even seem surprised. Paired up with a trainer called Shaun, he showed me how to hold the weights and bar.
‘We’ll start with squats,’ he explained, making sure I got to grips with the basics.‘How does it feel?’ he asked, as I lifted the weights. ‘Good!’ I said.
To my surprise, I was actually enjoying myself. After that, I got hooked on my gym sessions. Still daunted by how far I had to go, Shaun had a really good idea. ‘Let’s just focus on 10 kilos at a time,’ he said.
When I got under 100 kilos, it was a huge milestone. Seeing my tummy and legs shrink and my muscles become more defined was a real boost. I can do this! I thought.
It wasn’t all perfect, I did have stretch marks and a bit of loose skin. For a moment, I wondered if I should get surgery. No, I quickly thought. I’m going to love myself as I am. Nothing could dent my new-found confidence.
After 18 months of hard work, I was over the moon when I reached my goal weight – 66 kilos. ‘I’m half the person I was before!’ I said to Shaun. ‘And it’s all thanks to hard work and home cooking.’ I felt amazing.
Looking back, before I lost weight I was on the road to an early grave. Now, instead of feeling fed up, I am so full of beans. Inspired by how much Shaun helped me, I qualified as a personal trainer.
Now a size 8-10, and no longer afraid to smile for the camera, I share my journey on my instagram page, @misslulu_lifts. I’m loving life and I want to help others to do the same!
Gripping podcast How I Survived this week features Rhonda Stapley who accepted a lift from the world’s worst serial killer, Ted Bundy, and lived to tell the tale. Subscribe via Omny: https://bit.ly/2Kshzch or iTunes: https://apple.co/2KKusdT
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!, on sale now.