‘I lost 17kg without stepping foot in a gym’

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Brenda Day struggled with her body image.

“I hated the way I looked in the change room mirrors and rarely found clothes that I actually liked and looked good on me,” she tells body+soul.

Once healthy, active and “petite”, Brenda’s high-pressure career trapped her into a cycle of bad eating and exercising habits.

“I fell into bad habits of eating at my desk, skipping meals and making poor choices when I did eat,” the 59-year-old explains.

She found herself reaching for sugary snacks throughout the day, drinking one too many glasses of wine with dinner every night and not taking into account her portion sizes.

Moreover, staying active became a chore: “Exercise also fell by the wayside and it was easy to make excuses of being time poor.”

But standing in at 160cm with a weight of 77.4kg, Brenda knew she had to take action and lose weight.

“I visited my Dad in Perth for his 80th birthday in August 2017 and had a photo taken. When I looked at that photo, my first thought was that it was pretty unflattering. Then I realised I actually looked that way all the time,” she recalls.

“I had also seen my GP and had some blood tests that showed my cholesterol was rising and he was considering putting me on medication to reduce it. I took a good look in the mirror and saw my size 16 jeans were getting tight and I was heading for a size 18.”

But in a short six months, Brenda was able to drop 17kg, adopt healthy eating and exercising rituals, and most importantly, gain her self-confidence back. Here’s how she did it…

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Her diet plan

Brenda refused to opt for a ‘quick-fix’ diet; she wanted something long-term, reputable and nothing that saw her chugging down weight loss shakes.

“I started to research weight loss programs and looked at lots of options. I looked at other diets that involved shakes, but most of these didn’t seem to be sustainable in the long term and many had no scientific basis.”

Then she came across the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet (TWD) – a weight loss program that focuses on high protein, low GI meals which have been scientifically formulated by Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, for fast and sustainable weight loss and good gut health.

Here’s what a day on a plate looked like pre-weight loss:

  • Breakfast: A giant latte and sugary muffin from a café
  • Lunch: Pasta
  • Afternoon snack: Chocolate
  • Dinner: Home cooked meal but her “portion sizes would be large” + two or three glasses or wine

Here’s what a sample day on a plate looks like post-weight loss:

  • Breakfast: Porridge with yoghurt and strawberries + skinny latte
  • Lunch: Multigrain sandwich with tuna and salad
  • Afternoon snack: Yoghurt
  • Dinner: Mediterranean baked salmon

She notes the accessibility of the TWD online helped make the entire process easier.

“I needed something that would fit into our daily routines.

“I followed their menu plans which made it simple for me to shop and plan… I also used their food and exercise tracker which kept me accountable.”

Although she points out reducing her alcohol intake was the biggest challenge of the process, it didn’t mean it was entirely off limits; she was still able to enjoy wine as per the diet’s guidelines.

“The CSIRO Total Wellbeing program allows you to have one indulgence per day and this can be a glass of wine if you wish.

“I elected to save my indulgences for the weekends and have found this allows me to enjoy a couple of glasses on a Friday and Saturday night so I’m not missing my previous daily overindulgence.”

Her exercise regime

As a woman in her late-50s, Brenda needed to stay active through a manageable means of exercise. So instead of hitting the gym seven days a week, she simply made it a “priority” to go for long walks on most days.

“In the beginning I used to walk 3km at lunchtime, two to three days per week and two longer 5km walks on the weekend,” Brenda says.

Now she walks 8-9km five days a week.

Her lessons learnt

Prior to her weight loss journey, Brenda was a working mother who found herself putting her family and others first. Now, she’s learnt that it’s simply okay to prioritise her health and wellbeing.

Here are her five golden rules for successful weight loss:

1. Set a start date and stick to it

2. Revisit your goals often and share your journey with others

3. Make yourself a priority – make time in your diary for that walk, even if it’s only 20 minutes

4. Be organised and plan your meals

5. Meal prep as much as possible when you have time