For years Bianca from Alchemy of Wellness struggled with a lack of self-confidence, poor body image, confusion and low motivation. In trying to lose weight she found herself in the all too common cycle of “next week I’ll start,” fad diets, and frustration at a lack of lasting results.
Here she shares her story on how she finally found a healthy way to lose weight and truly value herself, and how she loves to help other women cut through the overwhelm to achieve not only a healthy weight, but lasting health and a renewed mindset. She also has a special offer for the Wholehearted Family Health community that you can see below. (Disclosure: the offer below contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase).
For most of my life I have been interested in health. Sport ran in the family, I played since a young age and we grew all our veggies at home on the farm. I played netball since I was 8 years old, I played cricket in my local country home town, I swam in swimming club every Friday night, played basketball, touch football and I did all of this with love. Sport was all around me but my food choices and my self-image let me down.
During high school, I was always on the chubby side. In fact, even in primary school I was too. I definitely wasn’t overweight at that point but I felt self-conscious every day and always compared myself to others. I had freckles which I hated and felt I wasn’t pretty enough, fit enough or ‘good’ enough and…food became my comfort (I’m sure you can relate!). I must say, I rarely binged, I didn’t hide away with food often, but I certainly did at times. I made poor food choices and knew that it was adding to my weight and my poor body image.
It was a vicious cycle and I found this cycle extremely hard to break. Always resulting in feeling worse and not in control.
After graduating high school I studied massage therapy, which I used for some years, but still not really knowing who I was, and what I wanted to do and be, I went travelling around Europe with friends – drinking, dancing and smoking my way around the world. Yes I had fun, a hell of a lot of fun, but while my weight continued to go up, my confidence continued to go down. I enjoyed drinking alcohol with friends and I enjoyed it even more as it helped me stop worrying about what others thought of me.
Thankfully, I had and still do have incredible friends. Never did they judge me or treat me any different – it wasn’t them that created this lack of self-esteem within myself, it was me.
My thoughts, my weight, my choices, my world.
Deciding to make a change
I remember going to the GP in Dublin after work one day and she asked me to stand on the scales. I was there to get a script for the contraceptive pill, which I’d been on for years. Never had I ever received a response like this; the GP said if I was any heavier she would not write the script for me! This was the hardest thing for me to hear and it took me a few days to wrap my head around.
I knew that I was bigger and I knew my clothes weren’t fitting, but had I really put on that much weight? After considering what life might be like if I didn’t make a change to my diet and lifestyle (I visualised the scales continuing to go up and up and my health deteriorating), I decided then that I MUST lose 10 kg’s. I had put on 10 kg’s since arriving in Ireland, and I knew that I would not leave Ireland unless I was the same weight as when I arrived.
I had determination, a time frame and I knew I also needed some level of support to do it.
Using the methods that everyone talks about
So, along came Weight Watchers – the one thing that I thought wouldn’t deprive me of the things I loved, yet would be strict enough for me to lose weight. I also joined the gym and made a commitment to go three times per week, along with going for a walk every single day. My focus was purely improving my food and movement – I wasn’t aware of any other factors of health to consider.
I improved my food and moved my body more and with this, soon enough the scales started to go down. I felt more energetic, my mind felt on track, I began to feel more comfortable in my skin and my clothes started to fit better.
What didn’t work in my favour regarding food was counting points!
The amount of attention this required became obsessive and as a perfectionist, this didn’t work well.
In every meeting, there was so much focus on the number of points that I was consuming, rather than the quality of the food and the mindset around eating. What led me to having a weight issue in the first place was my attitude, belief and mindset regarding food, how I felt about myself and my developed habits. This was not addressed at all and after losing the 10 kg’s (I did it!!!), the weight came back on! And it came back on with a vengeance.
The disappointment and trying ALL THE THINGS
After arriving back in Oz, the weight was creeping up and every week I kept saying to to myself, “I’ll start on Monday.” I tried short-term diets, weight loss shakes, soup diets, weight loss tablets (thanks commercials for telling me I would lose 6 kg’s in 2 weeks!), I tried a 2 week bootcamp blitz, 7 week challenges, online meal plans – you name it, I’ve tried it!
It felt like such an uphill battle, with little hope and I was directionless with which way to go and what to do. I would lose weight and it would come back on, but no wonder, I was looking for a quick fix and I wasn’t prepared to put the time and effort in. I was hoping someone would hand me the magic bottle and the kg’s would shred off just like the commercials promise. The easy option then was to do nothing and I had no chance of failing if I did nothing.
Until one day, and I remember this as clear as day, when I stood on the scales before work and I was the heaviest I have ever been! I stood there in shock horror, thinking WTF have I done and how did I not know that I was this heavy? This was the moment that changed my life! I thought about all of the benefits of losing weight and I decided, in that moment, that I would lose 15 kg’s to start with and I would do it the ‘right’ way.
I made the decision to start the next day and that I would lose half a kg per week. I knew from what I had read that this was a realistic amount, which would still allow me to enjoy some foods that weren’t healthy, yet to remain mostly on track. I sat down and wrote in my phone what I would weigh every week in advance, to the point of knowing what I would weigh 3 months and even 6 months ahead of time.
For me to successfully lose the weight and keep it off for good, I had the idea that I should be vulnerable and share my goals with other people. This scared the life out of me, yet it excited me in a way that was motivating (this was definitely the motivation and accountability I needed). I told everyone that I worked with, my boss even joined my bootcamp and couldn’t believe how determined I was.
Believe it or not, I lost half a kg each week just like I had planned (except for a plateau as I got closer to goal, as is a normal part of the journey).
I went to bootcamp 6 days a week, sometimes twice in a day, I started becoming super fit and went on to join a Crossfit gym, to tone up and push my limits. I still ate some less than healthy meals on weekends, I drank alcohol every weekend, some nights until 2am with friends and I usually stopped for a kebab on the way home.
I also worked full time while studying full time and I had no idea what it was like to implement rest. My life was running on adrenaline the whole time without even knowing it, as it felt good yet to always be busy but it then just became my norm. Little did I know what this was actually doing to my body.
Yes, I was losing weight and feeling more comfortable in my skin, but my poor adrenals, immune system and reproductive system were tired and overworked. The weight loss was there, the health was not.
I reached goal weight but something still wasn’t quite right
Why was I over-exercising? Why did I feel the need to work so hard in all areas of my life? And what was I trying to prove? These were the questions I started to ask myself. At this stage, I had FINALLY reached my goal weight, yet I wanted more. Why was I not happy with my body? I wanted to lose another 5 kg’s and I continued with this goal at the forefront of my mind, continuing with the same food and lifestyle. Why did I want to lose more?
I was studying a Bachelor of Counselling while this was all going on in my life and it forced me to look at my own inner dialogue and what the reasons were behind my crazy busy life. I realised that when I created my meals, I was still SO focused on how many ‘points’ and calories they may be – all deriving from my diet experiences years before. This calorie counting was obsessive and it was a major focus each and every day. I was thinking about food and calories all the time.
How I have kept it off
Studying counselling, learning about the mind and having to increase my own self awareness, was the next turning point in my weight loss journey. I realised that if I really wanted to love myself, love what I see in the mirror, feel comfortable out in public, find a partner, be genuinely happy and show up and be 100% me, then I needed to work on who I am inside and my relationship with myself, rather than focus on the exterior and the scales.
This was hard! Man it was hard! I continued to weigh myself but I did it once a week instead of daily. I started to allow myself a day without bootcamp and instead I went for a walk – this was more enjoyable than I anticipated. I started creating meals that were really yummy and not just focused on the calories but instead, focusing on the flavour and good quality food. I looked at food as something that provided me with energy, nourishment and vitality, rather than something that would just help me lose weight. I found more of a balance and it felt good.
I started to shift my thinking about myself – yes it is possible! It takes time, it took a lot of time but I did it. I started to purposefully find gratitude in my day, for things that I did. I praised myself on the small things, instead of always judging. When I received a compliment, I said “Thank you”, instead of shying away with embarrassment. I chose to really enjoy who I was, who I had become and what I had to offer the world.
I’ve found my passion
As I was exploring options for my career path, I discovered holistic health coaching and decided to see one for myself .
As a client, I became aware of all the things that hindered my weight loss ability in the past, along with why I was never feeling my best. When my health coach took a thorough health and lifestyle assessment and sat down with me for an hour asking questions about all areas of my health and life, I actually felt like I was being seen for the whole me.
We identified that my body was exhausted from years of living on adrenaline, my menstrual cycle went amiss for over a year partly due to the exhaustion, I had mercury toxicity from supermarket and canned fish (I thought this was healthy) and I was still a perfectionist with my food. I realised I would have to step up my game to make amends. I learnt the importance of taking a whole mind-body approach to health and suddenly everything made sense. This is what I had been needing for many years.
One thing I will say about this whole weight loss journey of mine, is that it took me a lot longer than it could have and I definitely didn’t look after my health in many ways as mentioned before. No one was there to show me the way as I set out to do it myself. I didn’t even know about weight loss coaches at the time, instead I navigated my way through a confusing weight loss world and used trial and error, plus hours and hours of research to see what worked for my body.
My weight loss could have been a hell of a lot healthier, quicker and more enjoyable! I am however very grateful for the experience as I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so I wouldn’t be the women’s weight loss coach I am today without that deep personal experience.
I’ve found my purpose
I fell in love with this approach so much that I decided (more so it was a light bulb moment or an awakening) that this was what I was going to help women do for the rest of my life – to show them how to improve their health through holistic natural principles, while guiding and supporting them every step of the way. I completed my Holistic Lifestyle Coaching training and set forth to help women transform their body and their mind.
I now devote myself to helping women achieve permanent weight loss and body confidence through a powerful holistic approach, with online group coaching and one-to-one coaching. The results these ladies experience are truly life-changing.
I know how confusing and overwhelming weight loss can be, with so many diets and ways of eating to choose from, but it is not all about the food. In fact, our eating is just a by-product of our mindset, beliefs, habits and lifestyle. This is where the gap is in the weight loss world – looking at the underlying causes and the sustainable long-term approach is key!
So today, 9 years later, I can proudly say that I have kept every one of those 22 kg’s off and I even went on to lose a few extra without it being a goal. Weight loss was a by-product of my healthy, happy approach to life. Most importantly, I am completely comfortable in my own skin, I feel proud of everything I have achieved with my health and most of all with my life. I look at food as a way of providing me with life-giving energy required to be the best version of me.
Yes, there were, and still are, times where I judge myself, criticise what I see and do, and think that I’m bigger than I should be, but I allow those thoughts to come and I just let them go. I let them go, knowing that those are the thoughts of my overweight younger self, they are not what I honestly think of myself today.
I am more than my physical appearance and so are you.
Can you relate to my story?
My business and my passion is all about helping women to end their suffering to weight issues, overcome barriers, develop body confidence and realise their full potential. I would LOVE to hear your story, what you’re finding the hardest about losing weight, your relationship with food and/or yourself, or your own weight loss and body transformation journey.
If you are ready to lose weight, feel confident in your body, take control of your food choices and lifestyle, while loving your body for what it truly is, then please get in touch.
Call me (Bianca) on 0402 377 529 or email email@example.com
You can find more information on Bianca’s business website, Alchemy of Wellness, here