Like many victims of domestic violence, Ali Richards lost all sense of self-worth when the abuse started.
Becoming depressed and withdrawn, the mum-of-one started to pile on the pounds, going from a svelte 60kg to 105 over a ten year period.
A diet of fast food and lollies, combined with zero exercise, meant Ali was heading for trouble.
Despite knowing that she needed to do something, Ali, now 33, says she didn’t actually start to change her lifestyle until a massive wake-up call in 2013.
“I was told I had really high cholesterol and was at risk of developing heart disease,” says Ali, who lives in West Auckland with her 12-year-old daughter.
“I didn’t want to die young and not be around for my daughter. I realised I had to change.”
But when you’ve got 50kg to lose, where do you start?
“I began by joining the gym,” Ali tells us. “I was doing cardio, but in those early days this mainly consisted of walking on the treadmill and cycling on the exercise bike. I had to start small.
“I then started doing some weight training, for my back, shoulders, legs and arms. I’d also add in some squats and lunges, and make sure I stretched out after each session to avoid injury.”
On top of this, Ali completely overhauled her diet, going from fatty takeaways to a clean eating regime consisting of chicken, eggs, fresh salads, cheese, protein shakes and as little processed food as possible.
“The food was actually the easy bit,” she says. “I made such fresh, delicious meals and realised that if you cook that stuff right and incorporate herbs and spices, eating healthy can be easy and rewarding.”
But what Ali found difficult at first were the six days of training a week.
“There’s no denying it, it was really hard, especially if you’re not used to training at all. But the funny thing is that now I’m addicted to working out and I crave my gym sessions.”
Once the weight started to drop off, things got easier still, and Ali began to allow herself a treat meal a week – something she still does.
“I’d have a McDonald’s wrap or salad, a pitta pit or subway, but I really watched my portion sizes.”
Three years on, and Ali has lost an amazing 50kg, maintaining her weight loss with gym sessions 2-3 times a week and keeping up her healthy eating.
“I feel incredibly proud of myself for losing the weight, and I’m so happy that I am healthier for my family and friends to see.
“I still allow myself treats – I love chocolate – but I’m just more sensible with it.”
To make matters harder for Ali, she also suffers with Endometriosis - which causes her chronic pain. This is why she relies heavily on healthy eating, for the days she can't make it to the gym.
The mum also started a Facebook page – Better Me – to share her progress and weight loss tips with followers.
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