My name is Elora and I am a 22 year old girl originally from Christchurch, New Zealand but currently living in Perth, Australia. I was overweight almost my entire life – from at least the age of like 8 anyway. I have always wanted to lose weight, and had been trying from around the age of 12. But as much I thought I wanted it, I was never determined. You know, people used to talk about that switch that was flicked in your brain and you were off and away on your weightloss path? Yeah I never had that. I thought I did. Before finishing High School I had already tried the Atkins diet, SureSlim, and like two gyms, plus I don’t know how many other attempts.
I don’t quite know how I got so big – I know my Mother often blamed herself but she couldn’t help that we moved around countries and the toll that the different cuisines and nutrition patterns of the other countries took on my body. From the carb-heavy food of Hong Kong to the Western food in NZ and Australia and the processed TV dinners of England combined with a child who was lazy and inactive bar some weekend sports plus throw a terminally ill Father into the mix, you get a ticking time bomb. There are only so many times you can ask your Mum for help before it eventually rests upon you. You are your own problem, and your own solution.
In 2012 I spent the year studying singing at Excel School of Performing Arts in Auckland, definitely one of the best years of my life. I was so self conscious all the time but thankfully it never translated on stage, and I still loved performing so much. That’s the only thing my weight never stopped me from doing. It was my first year out of High School, my first year away from home and this independence sought out comfort in food. I have always loved food. My Father died when I was 10 from terminal cancer, and a passion for both cooking and eating was something we shared together. However the food I took comfort in was definitely not the food Dad and I had shared together; I managed to eat either Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut etc at least once every single day – in fact it was strange if I hadn’t. I don’t know whether I found food comforting as such (I have never overly felt an emotional attachment bar pure want for food), however I do know I was addicted. People used to laugh when you mention being addicted to fast food, like it was ludicrous and that you could only ever be addicted to drugs or alcohol. But the endorphins you receive from eating something so laced with processed sugar that your body thinks tastes amazing becomes incredibly addictive. In fact I used to joke that my attendance at my all time favourite Burger King was better then my attendance at class (I don’t generally ever skip class so that’s saying something…)!
Needless to say eating carb laiden takeaway processed crap did not help my 18 year old body at all. After a whole year of it (along with a year of mostly crap + heavy alcohol consumption at parties in 2011), in October 2012, I arrived back to Christchurch in an awful picture of health. By this stage I was suffering terrible headaches, dizziness and who knows what else. I was working night shifts which weren’t helping with both physical and mental health. I have always been an anxious person, and during 2012 I had developed a deep fear of death. I never felt like I could confide in anyone about my fear because for so long my friends had made fun of my fear and teased me about it. Anxiety, paired with my fear of death, plus night shifts are an awful combination and I spent 3 months avoiding anything that mentioned death including certain songs on the radio, and certain ways to work that triggered my thoughts. Things that weren’t missed by my ever-busy mind. I take after my Mum in my need to always be researching things, so after spending a morning researching the reasons I constantly had headaches and found it hard driving at night without getting them (I have always had great eyesight so it wasn’t that!), I came to the conclusion that I thought I was pre-diabetic for type 2 diabetes if I didn’t already have it. Instead of going to a doctor (I didn’t want the confirmation) I confided in my Mum over lunch at the mall. It was then that my panic of having diabetes relating in poor health and an early death (remember; ew death) pushed me in the direction I had needed to go for so long – my only solution; weightloss.
That night I was facebooking my sister Lydia and telling her I wanted to lose weight. Immediately she started helping, supporting and giving me all the resources I needed. The tools to start my journey. I researched and read everything I could get my hands on – I can’t stress enough how important it was that I formed my own decisions on things. I started following the Ashy Bine’s guidelines which built a solid foundation of clean eating, cutting the processed crap from my diet. From there I found the 12 wbt by Michelle Bridges and having seen amazing results (Sarah McGee and a few others) from women on that plan I thought it would be worth a shot. I paid my small fortune and got started. At first I thought it was wonderful but I was definitely skeptical of having so many processed carbohydrates – having been used to one piece of gluten free bread or a mountain bread wrap per day. My processed carb intake went from once a day to two and three times a day which I didn’t like. My boss had supported my weightloss journey from the start and paid for both crossfit for 3 months and also 3 visits to a nutritionist – and on one of my visits I showed Sara, the nutritionist (and now my good friend!) what I was eating with 12 wbt. She was skeptical from word go, and when I showed her the plan and she agreed that she thought there were too many processed carbs. My weight was going no where on it, and I soon tried her meal plan and loved it! Sara specialises in Paleo/Primal eating and I absolutely loved following her plan. Soon enough I had started seeking out paleo recipes online. That’s when my transition into a real food lifestyle began. I stupidly continued paying for my 12wbt plan despite only using the exercise videos and weight tracker. Don’t get me wrong – this plan works for so many people, just not me. The food was expensive and I’m not great with set meals as I’m too spontaneous so it just didn’t suit. I also think the 1200 calorie mentality is stupid. The more real food recipes I tried, the more I knew this was the lifestyle for me. I spent hours researching and came to the conclusion that a paleo based lifestyle was it. I have tried to go primal, however I have found that my body really does not respond well to dairy; and found out I have a whey sensitivity. Although I do love and miss the odd bit of cheese. Although I can’t eat grains, I still find that I have so much freedom within what I can eat.
I have been paleo since March 2013 and have never felt more physically or mentally better. I no longer suffer chronic headaches, I now have a new job, and my anxiety about death is mostly kept at bay – I certainly have no trouble driving certain ways and can sing along to the songs I once used to turn off. I am over 55kg (120lbs) down currently, and and have had a further 2.5kg of excess skin removed through an abdominoplasty. I plan to keep up with my real food lifestyle (Lifestyle not diet) after my weight loss, and maintain a healthy weight. I have gone from incredibly unhappy, to incredibly happy and I truly do owe paleo my life. I have gone from wanting to be ‘skinny’ to wanting to be healthy and strong. I encourage those of you on your own paths to research everything – seriously if I could give one piece of advice that would be it. Knowledge is your best tool. Form your own opinions and stick to your guns. It’s your body, you know how it works and what it responds to. Some people will be able to tolerate things that others can’t. I know a low carb, high fat diet suits me best as I’m incredibly sensitive to carbs. And that’s because I listened to my body and researched the options that were out there. If I can do it – working over 40 hours a week on 12 hour shifts for the majority of my weightloss – then so can you.
Not only has this weightloss journey helped me, but I am so grateful that it has helped inspire the lives of others all around me. I am now able to offer weightloss seminars, 10 week challenges, eBooks, a support group and a range of other things for those wanting to embark on their own journey. It is absolutely amazing, and if I can help one person then this entire journey is worth every hard task.
I can’t wait to see how I look in another few months! It’s been one crazy ride and it’s far from over, but I’m loving every moment of it. I love my body, and its ability to change so significantly. It’s truly an amazing experience, and the pleasure is all mine!
Before my excess skin removal!