I had been obese my entire life.
From an overweight child, growing up on Sydney’s northern beaches, to a teenager who was twice the size of my friends. As an adult, I just kept getting bigger and bigger, and I started to believe that’s how I would always be. I was told it was “hereditary “and I was just big boned; so that’s how I lived my life: I was a confident big girl and embraced my larger than life body to the max.
I occasionally tried fad diets, meal replacement shakes, fat burners, or even a ‘magical pill’ in water before bed because some convincing marketing scheme promised me it would help me lose weight.
But did I actually try to lose weight? No, because I didn’t think I ever could, so fads were a way to appear like I was doing something, but they just kept failing over and over. I also had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I would eat way too much of it ever since I was a kid, forever snacking and eating bigger portions that were more suited to a grown-size man than a 20-something woman.
In my early 20s, I threw my life into a backpack to travel the world for seven months before settling in the UK. Soon I was in a demanding office job and sure enough, I just continued to grow in size, until I reached a Size 26, tipping the scales at 127kg and only 5’3 tall.
It seemed like this toxic cycle was destined to continue – me, eating more and more, growing larger and larger. Until one morning when I opened my eyes and couldn’t feel the left side of my body. I had no idea what was going on until I managed to roll over, and I realised it was caused by a trapped nerve from my sheer mass. Pins and needles ran down the entire side of my body.
And just like that, my life changed.
Turns out, this was the trigger I needed to mentally slap myself out of bed and vow to get healthy. I realised I needed to take better care of myself. I was only 28 years old at the time, but felt like I was 68. I need to get my circulation going, move my body, eat better and generally take better care of myself.
From that day on, I never looked back. I started exercising every single day, even if it was 20 minutes or 50, whatever I could fit in, building up my fitness levels and cardiovascular system over time. It also meant being conscious about my food intake, eating smaller portions, not over-snacking, cutting out cigarettes completely and reducing alcohol to almost none.
As the months started to pass, the kilos began dropping off and I was going down dress size after dress size for the first time in my life.
I couldn’t believe it, but I actually could lose weight.
I realised I wanted to prove to anyone who wanted to better their health and lose weight that they could, too, and I set a goal to lose half my body weight in two years without help from anybody else.I wanted to do this all on my own – with no trainer, no immediate family support, no partner, no diet plans or nutritionists. It was just me: an ordinary woman, working a full time job (50-55 hours a week), taking responsibility for bettering my life.
And that is exactly what I went on to do. Within two years, I had lost 63kg by simply changing my lifestyle, taking care of my body and making these changes last for the long haul.
I documented my journey and started to blog about it through my instagram and website. Finding out there were others who wanted to hear my story inspired me to write a book on my journey, about all the struggles and hurdles, but the solutions too – from how I got so big, to how I lost the weight and maintained it.
I wanted to be a voice in the health and fitness industry of someone who has actually been there, dealt with obesity on a personal level and all the issues that come with it, and come out the other side.
This entire journey has not just been about changing my physical appearance on the outside, it has been about changing my outlook, my overall health and quality of living. It’s been about changing my life as a whole.
I truly believe whatever your body and health goal is, it is truly achievable, and the way to get started is knowing all you need is you to do that.
Carli Jay’s biography “Half the Size but Twice the Life” is out now in all good books stores or available to order via Angus & Robertson in Australia & Booktopia.