After struggling with weight gain all her life, Nicola Ribbon took the total transformation plunge and emerged with amazing results.
I have battled with weight gain since puberty. At my heaviest I weighed 99 kilos. After several failed weight loss attempts, I finally got down to 86 kilograms and felt fantastic. But when I travelled to New Zealand last year to surprise my sister, I was horrified at how heavy I looked in photographs and reminded myself the harsh reality that I was 26 kilos overweight.
Over the years, I made excuses for my weight gain. I was under constant stress running a business, household, and the extra demands of caring for a special needs child. Over the years, I have battled with sleep deprivation and health problems. I’ve been on high doses of blood pressure medication normally given to heart failure patients; I was struggling to breathe and had arthritis in my joints and getting out of bed was done with assistance from my bed railing. I was constantly having scans, seeing doctors and having blood tests. I was in pain, I was tired and I was depressed.
It was amazing how much better I started to feel about myself within days of starting my diet and exercise regime. Just knowing that I was making good, healthy choices and looking after myself was far more meaningful than how much I weighed or how much weight I’d lost. Instead of focusing on illnesses that were slowly killing me, I focused on living and living well. I no longer take any blood pressure medication, my joints are pain free, I don’t need assistance to roll over and get out of bed and the staff at my gym keep reminding me that I don’t complain that I feel unwell anymore. To top it all off, my partner proposed to me on Christmas day. So I’m looking forward to planning our wedding and enjoying our engagement as a slimmer, more youthful and healthier me.
On overcoming challenges:
When I started, I tried hard to convince my trainer that it wasn’t that my body wasn’t coping, it was saying, ‘Nope, I can’t do it.’ But I learnt to remind myself that my body can do it. My personal trainer would say affirmations like, “If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you” and it reinforced what I was discovering about myself and about working out. Knowing how competitive I am, I reminded myself of any regrets I had in previous weight loss attempts and what I could do to improve. I was determined that there were to be no more regrets. I didn’t want the BodyBlitz challenge to define my transformation, so instead I viewed it as a motivational step towards a better me, and a chance to inspire others.
On workout motivation:
I hit rock bottom when someone said they didn’t think my partner would go out with someone like me. What hit me then was the reality of my appearance, the negative view I had about myself. It was obvious I wasn’t looking after myself: I was overweight, unfit, unchallenged and looked terrible. Staying motivated was easy, I just had to remind myself how I feel when I’m not looking after myself.
On food swaps:
Back in the day, I was sucked into an illusion of convenience and comfort eating, often skipping breakfast and buying McDonald’s on the way home from grocery shopping. I wasn’t eating that much food but what I was eating was toxic to my health. Since then, I’ve divided food, into categories: real food and non-real food. I divided the real food into proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I have always suffered from food intolerances so I took the advice of an allergist I saw and avoided all the foods my immune system was reacting to. I read a lot of information online and avoided foods promoting inflammation and ate more fish and nuts. If dinner didn’t suit my dietary needs, my wonderful partner Simon helped prepare a second meal. Knowing that my kids are learning to respect their bodies and learning the difference between talking about healthy and unhealthy food and choosing to eat them is priceless
As a treat I used to eat sugar-free lollies, sugar- free chocolate bars or sugar-free hot chocolate drinks, but during the challenge, I made the decision to prioritise whole foods. I found a recipe for a totally ‘transformation friendly’ chcoolate coconut ice cream made from coconut milk, coconut nectar and raw cocoa powder. Yum. I didn’t reward myself for my weight loss but I did reward myself every week for eating healthy and for training hard. Thinks like a pedicure or manicure, or having a massage or getting my hair done.
My personal trainer changed my focus away from numbers on scales and encouraged me to focus on where I wanted to be in terms of how I felt and looked. He challenged my attitude towards exercise and what I believed my physical barriers were. At first I didn’t like the fact that my body sweated so much; even my eyelids felt like they were dripping sweat. He convinced me that if my workout didn’t challenge me, it wasn’t going to change me. My biggest fear was regaining weight, but one of the staff at the gym helped me realise that all these concerns were just negative thoughts empowered by emotional attachments, and they were holding me back. I had to honestly believe that in 10 years’ time I would still be going to the gym, eating healthy and still be in a healthy weight range.
Since getting through the holidays and having my PT away, it’s been hard to adjust to being out of my routine. My goal now is to lower my body fat percentage, increase my fitness and continue strengthening my core. It’s just a matter of staying focused now.
WHAT I ATE:
Breakfast: Eggs or protein shake; or salmon with vegetables; or salad and nuts; or coffee with coconut oil
Snack: Boiled egg or nuts and cucumbers or snow peas
Lunch: Lean beef or prawns or salmon with vegetables or salad
Snack: Boiled egg or nuts and cucumbers or snow peas
Dinner: Lean beef or prawns or salmon with vegetables or salad
Snack: Low-sugar chocolate or nuts
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