Real Life

Carol’s weight loss success

Carol Scrivener made a New Year’s resolution to stop yoyo dieting and lose weight for good. She tells Daisy Sillis how she lost 17kg – and got her life back.
Carol Scrivener lost 17kg and got her life back.

Looking stunning in a strapless blue top, 31-year-old Carol is remarkably relaxed. We’re in the midst of a bustling cover shoot, hair-dryer blasting towards Carol’s dark, tousled waves to create the perfect photo opportunity. It’s hard to imagine that just two years ago, this confident woman was depressed, overweight and crippled by her body insecurities.

Since January 2013, Carol’s life has flipped a full 180 degrees. She ditched her ‘dream job’ at a media company, bought her first home and accepted a wedding proposal from Justin, her partner of seven years. But the trigger for Carol’s new life is her most impressive change.

After a lifetime battling her weight, she took the plunge and joined Weight Watchers. Two years on and 17kg lighter, Carol says it’s the best New Year’s resolution she’s ever made.

Before her transformation, Carol felt judged about being overweight. Her high-pressure role in sales caused her distress, which led her to emotional eating. No longer recognising herself both physically and mentally, it was the prospect of a new year and turning 29 that pushed Carol to take control.

“It wasn’t like I had a life-changing moment; I just decided things needed to change. I was working in an environment where people were constantly comparing food and I felt judged on my size,” says Carol, who is now a manager for a waste company. “I was really quiet, only wore black and tried my best to blend into the background. I was a shell of my former bubbly self.”

Standing on the scales, her weight edging towards 90kg, Carol sought advice from a nutritionist to stop her yoyo-dieting cycle. After discussing the options, Carol decided joining Weight Watchers was the best path for her to form good health habits. From day one on the Weight Watchers programme, Carol took an ‘all or nothing’ approach.

“It was daunting, but I went into the challenge all guns blazing. I got the Weight Watchers starter kit, points calculator, apps for my phone and cookbooks. I was hungry for information,” says Carol. “The first thing I learnt was appropriate portion size and to weigh my meat. I tallied up an average meal and it was more than double my daily allowance of points. That was a real ‘wow’ moment for me.”

Along with the gadgets, Weight Watchers provided Carol with a support group of friends and a community where she could discuss her food and weight-related fears.

“The Weight Watchers meetings were like an AA for food. I could freely talk about my love of food and the struggle to find balance,” says Carol. “It was refreshing having people who understood what I went through every day and could provide advice and tips.”

The community was a judgement-free space for Carol to lose weight in a slow and manageable way. Almost a year to the day she started, she was at her healthy goal weight of 70kg.

Throughout her journey, Carol has motivated friends to join her in her mission. “One of my best friends joined Weight Watchers after me and lost 30kg. We went shopping the other day and she purchased a new dress. I almost burst into tears,” says Carol with pride. “She looked so amazing and happy. I was so humbled to know I played a small part in that happiness.”

It was the introduction of new healthy habits that helped Carol shed the kilos for good. One of her most difficult challenges was her mental attitude towards both herself and food.

“I was in a dark place and was really depressed,” says Carol. “Walking down the street with my partner I was paranoid people were looking at him and wondering why he was with a fat girl. I discovered if I’m not on my own team, I can’t expect anyone else to be. As the weight came off, my confidence slowly came back. I dedicated time to working on my internal monologue and changing my attitude.”

The next step was to learn about nutrition. Carol took on the Weight Watchers mantra that losing weight doesn’t mean you can’t eat the food you love. Instead she worked on restricting portion sizes and made small changes to ensure her meals were healthier.

“I love pasta, but before I joined Weight Watchers I’d make massive bowls of pasta with cheese for dinner. Now I use more varied ingredients and eat smaller portions less frequently. I still eat treats like cake but when I indulge I make sure I eat well for the next few days and climb the stairs at work the next day.”

Maintaining a social life and keeping to her new lifestyle wasn’t as hard as Carol expected. A few small changes meant she was able to wine and dine without it affecting her weight-loss goal.

“I was always going to people’s houses for dinner, which involved crackers and cheese, large meals, drinks and dessert,” recalls Carol. “But I learnt I don’t need to have all of it. One or two glasses of wine for a treat is alright, but not an entire bottle. And if I nibble on cheese and crackers, then I pass on dessert.”

Our food habits contribute hugely to weight loss, but exercise also plays a vital role. After trying and failing to enjoy the gym, Carol found intense exercise wasn’t for her. Introducing ‘incidental’ exercise, such as walking to the shops or catching up with friends for a powerwalk, was a more enjoyable way to keep fit.

“I use all the opportunities I can find to get out and about. For me, it’s better to go on a bush walk with friends than hit the treadmill.”

Nutrition and exercise helped her drop 17kg, but Carol says surrounding herself with supportive family and friends helped her shrug off painful insecurities about her appearance.

“In the beginning I was embarrassed to tell people I’d joined Weight Watchers because I was scared of being judged. I soon decided if people cared about me, they would support me. It was humbling to find most of my close friends and family were there when I needed them.”

While Carol has hit her goal weight and maintained it for more than a year, the journey is far from over.

“I still use the Weight Watchers app and attend meetings once a month. Maintenance is the hardest part, and I take it one day at a time. The best thing I’ve learnt is not to apply too much pressure on myself.

“Life’s too short to live off lettuce; it’s all about balance.”

Carol’s weight-loss maintenance tips:

  1. “Chuck out the energy drinks. I would drink Red Bull, especially when I was out with friends, and it wasn’t until I stopped drinking it that I realised how anxious it would make me.”

  2. “Swap out the greasy takeaways for other options like Mexican or Japanese.”

  3. “Don’t deny yourself. If you want it, have it – just limit the quantity.”

  4. “If you’re a sucker for sweets and can’t just have a little, then don’t buy sweets at the supermarket. You can’t eat it if it’s not in the house!”

  5. “Once you start losing weight, donate the clothes you no longer fit to charity. Removing larger clothes from your wardrobe means there is no option to go back.”

  6. “Keep moving. Take the stairs or walk to the shops instead of taking the car. Try different exercises to prevent getting bored.”

  7. “There is a difference between a craving and hunger. Learn to recognise when you’re full and listen to your body.”

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