‘I gave up yo-yo dieting and lost 16kg’

‘I gave up yo-yo dieting and lost 16kg’

Eva Simmons’ body transformation isn’t like the ordinary. She entered her twenties as a yo-yo dieter, which then spiralled into an eating disorder that “destroyed” her body.

“At one point in my life I was eating under 500 calories per day and exercising over an hour-and-a-half daily,” she tells body+soul.

“This destroyed my body in ways I’m still recovering from. My knees are permanently damaged from over exercising and poor nutrition.”

She starved herself until she was a size zero, and every workout and meal had a sole purpose – to lose weight. Eva doesn’t recall a moment when she felt happy during this time in her life.

Once she started recovering from her eating disorder, she then fell into an unhealthy cycle of binge eating.

“I was eating everything I could get my hands on and gained 30 pounds (14kg) over the course of three years. My stomach was sick constantly from the food I was eating, and I had no energy.”

After giving birth to her youngest child, Eva hit her heaviest weight of 79kg in 2018. It was at this point when she realised her weight was heavily impacting her life and relationship with her children.

“I hadn’t lost the baby weight and my diet was making me sick on a daily basis,” she explains. “I didn’t want my children to watch me living an unhealthy, unhappy life, and I knew something needed to change.”

Eva made the executive decision to take charge of her health and be a “good role model” for her children.

Fast forward to today and she has lost 16kg, but has gained a lifetime of happiness. Here’s how she managed to transform her health…

Eva’s exercise routine

Eva went from doing excessive amounts of cardio every day to doing little to no exercise once she was recovering from her eating disorder. What she needed was a program that didn’t focus on weight or size, but one that was about gaining strength. Because of this, she decided to try SWEAT’s Build program designed by trainer Stephanie Sanzo.

“All those years of excessive cardio and minimal calories left me exhausted,” Eva says. “But Build made me energized and strong. I wanted to fuel my body. I wanted to discover how strong I was.”

Although her body felt “sore and tired” during the first few weeks, Eva persisted and exercising soon became a normal part of her routine.

Now, Eva focuses on resistance training and understands the importance of a rest day.

“I resistance train with Build five days per week, Monday to Friday, with weekends off. I used to work out six days a week, but since starting Build my muscles need that extra recovery time.”

She also goes for 2-3 short walks during the week.

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Eva’s diet

Eva said goodbye to dieting for good. In fact, she refuses to step on the scales.

“The best thing I did for myself diet wise was to stop judging myself for every bite. I made healthier choices and meal prepped during the week because if something was made then I was more likely to eat better.”

She also learnt the importance of balance: “I also didn’t judge myself if I ate that one cookie or a slice of cake for someone’s birthday. A sustainable diet for me is one where I incorporate healthier options into my daily food routine, but also give a little leeway for a treat after dinner if I want one.”

Here’s what a typical day on a plate looks like to her:

  • Post-workout in the morning: Protein shake with banana and almond milk.
  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fruit.
  • Lunch: Chicken, rice, and vegetables.
  • Afternoon snack: String cheese and turkey.
  • Dinner: Anything from spaghetti, to chicken, or fish. I’m flexible with dinners and enjoy the time with my family.
  • Dessert: A couple cookies.

While she sticks to a healthy and balanced meal plan during the week, she definitely lets herself indulge on the weekends.

“On weekends I still eat pizza because it’s my favourite. Also, I avoid alcohol during the week because it slows my workout down, but I will have a glass or two of wine on the weekends.”

Eva’s change of mindset

Eva can confidently say her body is finally at a comfortable weight.

“I have lost 35 pounds (16kg) since my heaviest weight, which is where I started my fitness journey in 2018. But I’m also up 40 pounds (18kg) from my lowest weight ever when I had an eating disorder.

“I consider both to be a success because I’m finally at a weight that my body feels comfortable at.”

But even though the scales tell her she’s lost weight, she knows her health is so much more than just a number.

“So much of the fitness industry is about getting skinny. Losing weight and losing inches is how success is measured. This can lead to really unhealthy habits that can cause physical and mental damage for years.”

Eva explains she had to overcome this idea of “perfection”, and start from scratch.

“Finding Stephanie Sanzo’s Build program changed everything. This is the first time in my life I’ve cared more about being strong more than being thin. I gained confidence I didn’t know existed, and this led to life changing decisions in my life to become a happier version of myself.”

Eva on the biggest lesson she’s learnt

“The biggest lesson my fitness journey has taught me is that it’s never too late to reach your goals,” Eva adds. “I was 33 the first time I started lifting heavy. And after a lifetime struggling with starving and binging, it took me a total change in mindset to realize that I could be both strong and feminine, and that I could gain weight and still love myself.”

Eva’s advice for others

Eva has four words for everyone wanting to transform their health: “Throw away the scales.”

“It took me a long time to realize that the number I saw caused more bad than good. When I started gaining muscle, I would look in the mirror and see a stronger, fitter version of myself. But the second I stepped on that scale and it didn’t reflect what I expected, I was completely defeated. This did so much damage in my journey.”

She notes that instead of a number dictating your physical and mental wellbeing, you should focus on creating a healthy routine you know you can stick to long-term.

“I think that getting the routine down is more important to focus on at first. The scale will probably go up in the beginning from water retention or muscle gain, and that’s okay.

“Ditch the scale for a few months. Find your routine. Find your strength and confidence. Then, when you’re ready, step on it and don’t let the number dictate your success.”