At 28, Stephanie weighed more than 243kg and was told her life was under threat. After an unsuccessful lap band surgery, the mum-of-four started working at her gym and her lifestyle completely changed.
When Stephanie was just 28 years old, a doctor told her she was going to die.
She had been admitted to hospital for migraines and she needed to be weighed before having an MRI. The number on the scales frightened her, she recalls, particularly because she had four young children to care for.
“I had no idea I’d gone up to 243kg,” the now 41-year-old recalls.
“I was mortified. I was in tears, hyperventilating and crying. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten to that point… I wasn’t living, I was merely existing. I wanted better than this for myself and my family.”
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Stephanie had “always been big”, but she says her weight really ballooned between 2008 and 2010 where she gained 70kg.
“I was diagnosed with severe post-natal depression after the birth of my twins and when I felt sad, I ate,” she says.
An unsuccessful experience with lap band surgery (though she did lose over 40kg, some of the weight came back after the band slipped and required more surgery. She didn’t get it redone), and seven years later, Stephanie decided enough was enough.
In 2017, she cut out refined sugar, joined Genesis Health + Fitness gym, and started making healthier choices for herself and her family.
Working out started gently, mixing up 10 minutes each on the bike, treadmill, and cross-trainer and just tried to beat the distance she recorded each time. She started to feel good.
So good, in fact, that she was offered a job at Genesis.
She’s gone from helping out with social media and working the front reception in 2020 to the membership consultant she is now.
“When my boss, Paulie, offered me a job last year, I thought he was joking,” Stephanie admits.
“I doubted myself and didn’t believe I, as a bigger person, could be taken seriously working in a gym – but I have been able to make such a positive impact on the people who walk through those doors.”
Stephanie is also studying to become a personal trainer and she likes to share her story with new members who come into her gym, particularly if they’re interested in losing weight.
Stephanie has lost 67kg and is currently training for a triathlon. She says the biggest lessons she’s learned are accepting that weight loss is a “marathon, not a sprint” and says her job helps keep her motivated.
“Working in this role for me is a daily reminder of what I’ve achieved and has been a big motivator for me to continue on my own journey,” she says.
Stephanie’s day on a plate
I will often grab a smoothie if I’m on the go. If I’ve got a bit more time I’ll have porridge, eggs on toast or baked beans that I make from scratch.
This is normally my biggest meal of the day. I love salads. I will also often have leftovers from the night before. I plan ahead with my meals to ensure I know what I’m having so I know I’ve got something to have for lunch the following day. I love wraps and sandwiches as well.
I use my slow cooker (where possible) and I also use my Thermocooker and although I have a lot of the same foods that I used to (chicken parma, spaghetti bolognese, pizza, fish, steak, etc.), I make healthier versions of it.
Yoghurt, chopped veggies, bliss balls, healthy muffins, dips, cheese and biscuits and rice cakes with avocado are some of my go-to’s.