Let’s jump in to her story:
✋ At what moment did you realize you HAD to lose weight?
I knew I had to lose weight for a long time and I had tried so many different diets that never stuck so I just kept giving up. The exact moment I realized I had to lose weight (and had to do it for real this time) was when I was buying new bras for myself and looked at myself in the changing room mirrors. In clear, bright lighting, with no sizes fitting me because I was too large, I realized that I couldn’t keep living this way. I was so unhappy and embarrassed at what I had let myself get to.
At only 21 years old, I was extremely overweight and unhappy, and I knew that my age I should be at my peak health and fitness levels… I wanted to do anything to make that happen.
1️⃣ What was the first step you took towards transforming your body?
A few years prior I had managed to lose 10 kilos for an event, and I did that by going to the gym and eating a low carb diet which I fell in love with. So, my first step was adjusting my diet to low carb and forcing myself to make low carb lunches and dinners for work.
I think that finding a diet that you love (that is not super restrictive) is so important. There were so many alternatives to carbs that were low calorie that just worked for me. I also focused on calories—because I believe calorie in and out is an effective way to lose weight—but the way I achieved this was with a low carb diet.
I also aimed to do 10,000 steps a day and this is when I fell in love with walking. I ended up getting so addicted that I would walk (still do walk) anywhere I can. I downloaded an app to count my steps firs, and then eventually bought an Apple Watch. By tracking my walking and aiming to try and walk as many places as possible, instead of getting public transport or an Uber, this formed a habit that I still practice today.
💻 What apps/websites/resources did you use?
Instagram was and still is my favourite resource for losing weight. I created my own account and kept on track by posting my foods and taking heaps of photos of my progress. 100% try this yourself—I am so glad I have these to look back on now. I started to follow heaps of different fitness influencers that I loved and ones that I related to. I would constantly read about different things and save different workouts and meal ideas… I think its so helpful to find people you relate to or people you find inspiring, it gives you such a different perspective on changing your lifestyle and its addicting too! I also used Reddit for inspiration and food ideas, it’s also a great way to find information.
🍳 What kind of adjustments did you make to your diet?
The most important change I made to my diet was my mindset: viewing food as fuel rather than just indulging in your cravings. Just because you can’t have what you are craving right now doesn’t mean you will never eat it again.
I also changed my calorie intake, trying to make sure that I ate within my calorie limit and selected the healthiest version of calories I could. I also loved doing a low carb diet which helped me eliminate calories and helped improve my skin.
It’s also important not to restrict all food groups. Even though I did low carb most of the time I also made sure to eat carbs here and there, so I was not fully restricting myself all the time (as that’s no fun). Its so important to listen to your cravings here and there… just not all the time.
🥕 What were your go-to staple foods that helped you achieve your goals?
For sure, I loved the brand Noshu which is low calorie and no sugar snacks I loved them a lot. I also love Konjac noodles so much; basically no calories and you can have it with any of your favourite pasta sauces or in a noddle dish (takes out all the carbs and is about 10 calories a serving).
One of my favorite go-to meals was bolognese sauce: I eat it so much, its a great low carb meal that you can have with either konjac noodles, quest low carb cornchips, avocado, jalapenos, cheese, sour cream etc.
Another would be salads. I am addicted to all kinds of salads. I think it is such an easy meal as well and I love mayo dressings with it to add a few more calories to my meals. Having any type of meat with a large salad is so satisfying. My favourite salads include a mexican salad, subway salads and home made chicken, bacon and avocado salad with nandos peri peri sauce (adds some spice) are all so filling.
💪 Can you talk a little bit about what you found to work the best in terms of physical exercise? What worked best for you and why?
As I said before, walking for sure is the best for exercise, its minimal effort and you can allow yourself to get fully taken away with music or a nice podcast and you hardly notice you are burning calories and getting fit. Or walking with a friend instead of sitting down for a coffee. I found walking as a time to reflect as well, I think I have grown so much mentally through walking.
I am also a big fan of the gym, I love all kinds of workouts. At the moment I currently do Rise Nation classes (the Versa climbers) and I am so obsessed, I burn 400 calories in a 30 minute class and I non-stop sweat… it’s amazing, you really get lost in the atmosphere I am such an advocate for it!
Pilates reformer as well is super great for stretching and building up muscle tone, I use this to relax and to shape my body. Strength work is so great and I love to feel the burn on my muscles in my pilates classes.
It has taken me a while to find out what works for me and It is different for everyone, but these are by far my favourite forms of exercise. I hardly feel like I am working out when I do any of the exercises I mentioned above.
🧾 What was the best advice you received (or read) along the way?
Food is fuel, that is all it is. You do not need to give in to your temptations of eating everything you crave all the time. Use food as a form of fuel. You’re gonna be full regardless, might as well make it something that is going to make you feel better too.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone’s journey is different. However, learn from other people’s stories and adapt. Find out what works for you, but know that the timeframe of your results does not determine your worth.
Time is going to pass anyway, might as well use this time to be the best version of yourself, you only get one life.
🥵 What was the hardest part about your journey? How did you overcome it?
The hardest part of my journey was definitely starting. It takes a lot of strength to begin and to build a routine. To overcome it, I just kept reminding myself how much I wanted to change my life and that if I don’t do it now I am never going to do it.
Weight plateaus were also so hard for me, having lost a lot of weight quickly there becomes a point where it doesn’t come off as easy as other times and it is so hard to stay focused during these times. How I overcame these was by setting myself new goals to reach and reaching them one at a time, reminding myself that I was focused and I had a clear vision of what I wanted.
💡 Was there an ‘aha’ moment where everything began to click?
When I started walking, to be honest. It clicked that this was going to be a huge change for myself and that this was a lifestyle change now. There are constant ‘aha’ moments throughout my weight loss journey where I realised this was my life now, and when I found out what worked for me and what I loved.
😎 How has your life changed since the day you took your before photo?
My life has changed drastically, everything is so much easier now… walking is easier, going out is easier… even just carrying my own groceries is easier now.
I feel like I am mentally in such a better place now and that I just love life so much more. I look forward to days now and I look forward to exercise. I have so much more energy constantly and I just want to do so much more with my life. Not only did it improve my happiness, but it helped me figure out who I wanted to be and all the things I could do.
❤ Based on your experience, what advice would you give to our readers who are starting off as the ‘old’ you?
You are perfect the way you are, but if you wish to change your life, then It is up to you to decide when you are ready—and you will know when you are ready. Just do it, and do it as hard as you can. This is the one life you get to live, you might as well use it to be the best possible person you can be.
Your life will get better, you will feel better, you will be more focused, you will find yourself through it. You will be able to wear clothes you’ve never felt confident enough to wear, you will overall have a better quality of life… trust me. Just imagine how good it will feel once you do finally begin.
It will be the best decision you have ever made.
Thanks for the interview, Isabelle!