From non-exerciser to exercise advocate, food binger to healthy eater, Karen shows that with self-belief, goal-setting and determination you can change your life for the better.
Karen is a vibrant, energetic woman. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago the mother of two was 26 kilos heavier and suffering from depression.
Years of self-hate meant Karen ate for comfort and avoided mirrors. “After suffering depression for years and years, I really didn’t know a way out,” she says. Food was, in Karen’s word, her medication. “I would eat all day. I’d eat if I was happy, or sad, or excited, or bored. I would walk to the cupboard and just pull something out mindlessly and eat it.”
Her eating habits meant she struggled with her weight. “It’s always been up and down like a yo-yo,” she explains. “Every year I would make the same New Year’s Resolution – to lose weight. And I never did. So I said to myself on New Year’s Eve 2011, I’ve got to do it this year.”
Karen with her children in 2009, before she started 12WBT
With no confidence or self-esteem, Karen didn’t know how to make it happen. She had friends doing the 12 Week Body Transformation and they encouraged her to give it a go. “I thought if they believed in me, then that might be enough before I started believing in myself,” she says. In January 2012, Karen signed up for to 12WBT for the first time.
Slow and Steady
It was a slow journey. “My first Round I didn’t lose much weight, but I kept going,” she says. “I’d do a little bit, then fail, then do a little bit, then fall off the wagon again. But I’d always get back on.” Watching the weekly Mindset videos triggered a huge shift in Karen’s attitude, particularly when it came to her excuses for not looking after herself. Before 12WBT Karen was an expert when it came to inventing reasons not to exercise. “I’d make up all types of excuses,” she admits. “From ‘It’s raining’ to ‘I have to wash my hair’! Seriously, I would use ANYTHING as an excuse.” But with the help of Michelle’s videos, she worked through them and learnt the value of consistency in both her training and eating.
A year apart: Karen and her friend Trace in 2012 and 2013.
Being organised also meant fewer slip-ups in the kitchen. “If I hadn’t planned, I would struggle,” says Karen. “I planned my meals and did a cook-up so that I always had healthy meals in my freezer.” When her husband and kids got takeaway, she’d enjoy her own version of fast food.
And at the end of her first 12 weeks, she decided she’d enlist the help of a trainer for the next 12WBT to help her stay on track.
The Power of Goal Setting
Before 12WBT, Karen says she was never goal-oriented. “I made goals all the time, but I’d put them somewhere and never go back and revisit them.” In her second 12WBT she shook things up. She put her health and fitness goals on her fridge, on her mirror and even gave them to her trainer.
The real turning point was when she started believing in herself – things started to shift in the right direction and so did the numbers on the scales. “It wasn’t until I lost about 15 kilos that I actually felt like, ‘Hey, I’m really doing this,’” she says. And when she reached her goal weight, she had to keep shifting the goal posts. “I’ve actually surpassed all my goals now.”
A New Attitude
A year later and 26 kilos lighter, Karen is a new woman. “I’ve transformed myself from someone I barely recognised to an amazing, confident, happy person. People who see me now don’t recognise me compared to who I was before.”
Powering through all the obstacles at the group workout in Townsville in April 2012.
With her training buddy, Anne.
No longer reliant on food to comfort her, Karen looks at it as fuel instead. “I don’t even think about food now. I know that food is nourishing my body so I eat healthily. I actually don’t enjoy chocolate that much anymore. And I loved chocolate!” Instead of chocolate, she now knows the power of exercise to boost her mood. “I just love it,” she says. “I live for exercise now.”
Leading the Way
Karen’s new-found confidence is allowing her to do things she never thought possible. Dissatisfied with her career in administration, she’s about to make a major career change. “I’ve just applied for the police force,” she says. “It’s the first time I’ve really put myself first instead of my family.”
Karen, centre, with her training crew.
Karen at the Round 4 12WBT finale party. She was a nominee in the Top Transformation awards.
She’s also keen to pass her knowledge on to others. Studying Certificates III and IV in Fitness, Karen’s goal is to share all she’s learnt through 12WBT.
But the biggest change hasn’t been on the scales. “I feel like as the weight came off, it just took layers off me as a person. It hasn’t just transformed how I look, it’s totally transformed how I think and act – it’s everything.”
Karen’s Words of Advice
1. Be consistent. Sometimes you’re going to have a good result or a bad result, but it’s what you do day in, day out that will bring you success.
2. Believe in yourself. I’m actually getting “believe” tattooed on my wrist in a couple of weeks. The biggest thing for me was to believe in the program and that I could do it. I didn’t really get that until sometime in Round Two.
3. Make small goals so that they’re achievable. I broke my weight down into five-kilo blocks and I would cross them off on my calendar. By the last time, I was like, “Oh my God, I did it!”