In late January, Sarah cycled 92km in the Tour Down Under, a charity ride through the Adelaide Hills. The event is typically hot, occasionally hilly and a challenge for even the fittest of athletes. Sarah did it in just five hours, a remarkable achievement considering only 12 months earlier she struggled to ride the 4km from her home to her work!
The significance of the ride was not lost on the 25 year old. “When I got to the point where there was just 4km left, I rode my bike to the finish line crying,” she says. “It was the most incredible feeling – to think that in just under a year, everything is completely different. I’ve changed my body and my life.”
Back then Sarah weighed 160kg and didn’t exercise. At all. Since joining the 12 Week Body Transformation she has lost 65kg and now cycles to work everyday, shaving minutes off the trip every week as her fitness improves.
She is currently finishing her fourth consecutive 12WBT Round and is in a healthy weight range for the first time since she was 10.
The Wake Up Call
You often hear of a tipping point, the moment someone realises they have to take definitive action and change their lifestyle. Sarah’s wake up call came after her doctor banned her from taking part in a boot camp explaining she was at risk of a heart attack. Up to that point she says she was convinced her size had never prevented her doing anything, now a doctor was scheduling her in for scans and telling her the results weren’t good. Her cholesterol was high and her heart was under immense pressure.
Just weeks later she had another tricky moment struggling to explain why she couldn’t go on a group ski trip. “My friends desperately wanted me to come, they even offered to pay for me. I kept saying no but didn’t give them the real reason – which was that you can’t buy size 28 ski pants,” she recalls.
Two weeks later a friend posted to Facebook that he had signed up to the 12WBT. It was the final piece of the puzzle – she commented that she would join him and there was no going back. She had made a public declaration and felt she would have to follow through.
She says that was the first time she had given people permission to talk about her weight. Prior to that it was a no-go topic. And the response from friends and family to her decision to do the 12WBT gave her the boost she needed. “The minute I put it out there, I had all this support and encouragement. I became comfortable to be really loud online and say what was really going on in my life for the first time ever.”
Sarah dived head first into the Program. First off, she went and bought a bike figuring that the flat geography of her hometown of Adelaide would help her get fit. Her first ride was one of the hardest things she has ever done. “I cried a lot, stopping to sit on the side of the road to catch my breath. It took me five hours to get home.”
She also conquered her fresh vegetable prejudice (“I think until the 12WBT I had only ever eaten frozen vegies! I thought they were gross.”) and taught herself to cook. “I had eaten takeaway for every single meal since I was 20,” she confesses. A typical menu pre-12WBT included snacks of chips and chocolate, sugary drinks and fast food for lunch and dinner. Now she says she is a “foodie rather than a food addict” and takes joy in food shopping and preparation. She says she can count the number of times she has eaten takeaway food in the last 12 months on the one hand. “Michelle’s recipes taught me to cook, to learn about flavour and that losing weight isn’t all about eating salads, but rather about healthy versions of the foods you love.”
Putting it Out There
Sarah’s 12WBT experience has been a very public one. Over the last twelve months, she has posted a huge number of candid, brutally honest and often hilarious photos on Instagram, and blogged about her journey on Tumblr. Her posts are an inspiring record of changes in her body, life and mindset.
She has an energy and tenacity that is hugely infectious and established herself as a champion of other 12WBT members within the Forums. Friend and fellow 12WBTer Cathy Sheargold says of Sarah, “Look, don’t tell her I said this – but she’s pretty incredible. She has the wisdom of a 100 year old woman trapped inside the body of a 25 year old… Most of all, she’s reminded me that moving is fun”.
Sarah now spends weekends exploring Adelaide and its surrounds by bike. She had never done team sport before but now plays in a rugby team on Wednesday nights. Ski trips are definitely on the agenda, along with kayaking and rock climbing.
She hasn’t committed to a goal weight, but would see it as a huge achievement if she could lose 70kg overall. “This is unchartered territory because I’ve never been this weight. The most important thing is I want to be fitter and faster.”
The sky really is the limit now. “The most profound life change is there’s choice now, I have so many choices now.” It’s an exhilarating reality that she has worked hard to make her own.
Sarah’s thoughts on making a change
- Live a life that’s good for you – the 12WBT isn’t a health kick, it’s the process of shaping your life through small choices every day.
- Find things that make you smile. Find a kind of movement that feels more like play than exercise and you’ll be more likely to be consistent with it. I discovered I loved cycling, circuit training, Cross Fit and rugby shortly after I decided I hated gym classes, aqua aerobics and running. We’re all different – find your groove.
- Celebrate every little victory – don’t wait for a number on the scales to give yourself a pat on the back. Every gram or centimetre lost or fitness test accomplished is an improvement in your health and fitness. Every day you wake up and make positive choices in your life is a day you’re choosing what your life looks like and who you choose to share it with.
You too could transform your life, sign up to the 12 Week Body Transformation today!