“I woke up on New Years Day 2018 feeling like crap and that was the last straw,” Carly tells me, recalling the exact moment her jaw-dropping 34kg weight loss journey began.
The weight had crept on slowly and before she knew it, Carly was tipping the scales at nearly 100kg. Likely this was, at least in part, collateral damage from a rollercoaster decade: eight failed rounds of IVF and four miscarriages, the eventual birth of two “miracle” children, only to then be dealt the shocking blow of a cancer diagnosis.
As a result, Carly’s weight ‘issue’ had been pushed to the side. Or in her words, she “became very good at pretending it wasn’t an issue”: never complaining, and avoiding cameras or “anything that drew attention to my body”.
But it was being diagnosed with skin cancer in 2017, a growth she had successfully removed, that finally shook the mother-of-two into action, suddenly jarred by the crushing thought she might not be around to see the lives of the children she had fought so long and so hard for.
“It eventually clicked,” she recalls. “I had to be proactive in looking after myself to ensure my kids would have their mum for the longest time possible.”
“Nearing the end of 2017, I just couldn’t shake the thought that if I didn’t do something about my weight and my health, I would very soon encounter real health problems and my kids could potentially lose their mum.” And so her weight loss journey began.
Joining Sam Wood’s 28 by Sam Woodprogram that same day in 2018, her diet changed overnight: “I started eating better portion sizes, more veggies and got a better understanding of how to put together a balanced meal,” she explains. Before this, she would often pick at the kids’ leftovers, and harboured a weakness for two-minute noodles, or anything savoury.
White-knuckling her way through the first few weeks was tough, she recalls, but she was also determined. Thanks to her “black and white” personality, she resisted the lure of cravings for extra snacks or second meal helpings, focusing on the alternative, being what her life would look like if she gave in. “I was so fixated on seeing what I could achieve by sticking to my goal.” Results swiftly followed.
Seeing the inches drop from her waist, and kilos fall from the scales only fuelled Carly’s iron will, and by November that same year, she had lost a jaw-dropping 34kg, weighing in at about 54kg at her lightest.
These days, she says she tries to look at the bigger picture. Over the last few months she has taken her foot off the pedal, and doesn’t sweat the odd cheat day. “I don’t freak out about enjoying one extravagant meal because weight loss that takes months to achieve isn’t going to all be undone by one day,” she says.
Now following a mostly plant-based diet, Carly’s current day on a plate looks like this: “Breakfast is usually a smoothie, home-made granola or warm oats. Lunch is almost always leftovers. Dinner is anything and everything!” Using the program’s menu for guidance, Carly says she sticks to the ‘just eat real food’ principle, meaning “nothing is off limits”, and her meals can vary from pasta to salad, stir fry to soup.
Exercise is just 28 minutes a day (also from the 28 program) which she usually tries to squeeze in while the kids are eating dinner. This is a far cry from her old habits, though. “The ‘old’ me didn’t do any exercise at all really. The occasional walk with the kids and the dog was the extent of my physical activity and that was more than enough.”
While Carly’s progress is nothing short of impressive, even more so given the hand she’s been dealt over the last few years, she says she also doesn’t want to sugar-coat the process either: “Doing this has been really hard.” Her best advice for anyone starting out? Focus on the small wins. Doing push ups on your toes. Holding a plank for a record time. Fitting into your ‘skinny’ jeans that have been collecting dust.
“Those wins are what gets you through the next workout, and are all the tiny building blocks of huge overall success – but you can’t get to the end without them. I think people fail when they think ‘I have to lose 35kg’ and then get so intimidated by that and how hard that is going to be that they quit before they even give it a try.
“Once I realised that, I was able to just take one day at a time and celebrate every single workout and positive decision.”