Losing weight and finding joy

This story is about how losing weight helped me find myself.

Losing weight and finding joy. Enjoy life adventures. Before and after weight loss photos.

If you haven’t known me for very long (or you don’t know me at all), you may not know that I used to be much larger and heavier than I am today.

While I was aware of it at the time, it did kind of creep up on me a bit. The reality started to dawn on me one night, lying in bed in a hotel room in Paris when I couldn’t breathe properly.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for me to do something about it…or at least, not something that made a positive difference.

That was in 2012.

The next year was a bit of a blur of other life events, but by the latter half of 2013, I decided it was time to do something about my health and fitness level. I bought myself some gear to ‘workout’ in and started walking.

It was an effort to walk up the street. I quickly realised this was not going to be enough to keep me motivated.

Joy looking happy and heavy

Joy in late 2013, smiling but dying on the inside. Captured by David Masefield

Taking the next step

Birthdays are your own personal new year. An ideal time for reflection and change.

As I was about to turn 39 in the January of 2014. That was when I signed up to join a gym (as a birthday present to myself).

I cried while doing it

Fighting Fit Toowoomba program list for January 2014

Fighting Fit Toowoomba – January 2014 programs

Thankfully, Tess, the gym owner, was very compassionate and reassured me that what I was feeling was normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

She reminded me I was doing something new, and that was scary…indeed it was…

I joined the Kick Start Bootcamp and went to the gym five days a week at 5:30 am and did what I believed was my best given my size and lack of flexibility. I lost a little bit of weight, but only a few kilos.

Then, I discovered that I had a condition called plantar fasciitis which causes incredible pain in the bottom of your foot. I could barely walk. I stopped going to the gym.

That was in April 2014.

A picture says a thousand words

In July 2014, I attended my first GovHack event. It was on the Gold Coast, and we had gone along as volunteers so that we could get an idea of what happened and how they were run so that we could start to host them in Toowoomba the following year.

Now, how does this relate to the topic…well during the event, I became a participant as well as a volunteer, and the app I built won a prize. The organisers took photos of the winners and shared them online and in email newsletters.

My fat face was everywhere I looked; there was no escaping it…

I looked unhealthy, I was unhealthy.

Joy receiving an award at GovHack 2014

Joy receiving an award at GovHack 2014. Captured by David Masefield

Getting help to move again

I was also getting closer to turning 40…and I think that does something to your mindset, whether you acknowledge it or not.

It was now August 2014.

If you have ever been to Toowoomba in August, you will know that it is cold, particularly in the mornings.

There was no way that I was going to be able to drag myself out of bed to walk around the block, with sore feet, in the cold.

A suburban streetscape in Toowoomba looking north in the very early morning with a light glow low on the horizon. There are few leaves on the trees and the sky is clear.

A winter morning in Toowoomba with clear skies is beautiful and cold. Captured by Joy Taylor

I decided to go back to the gym. So I bought some supportive shoes that helped my feet, and  talked to the gym owner about my situation. She recommended that I join a program they were about to start called ‘Lean and Clean’.

This wasn’t just about going to the gym and doing a workout. This was about my whole life. It included what I ate, how much I slept and writing about it.

Being prepared to eat more often

The food part was probably the hardest to start with, as it meant excluding things that had always been part of my standard meals.

No rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, dairy or fruit.

The menu was specific about portions and timing. It was strict. I needed to eat a small meal every few hours.

It was hard to follow as I was working full time, and my kids had busy schedules. Also, it was different to what my family was eating.

But I did it. I followed the rules.

Preparation was the key. Making sure that I was organised so I did not have any reason not to eat the right food for that time of day. This meant Sunday afternoons were spent at home in the kitchen.

Containers with pre-prepared meals.

Being prepared to eat included lengthy meal prep on weekends. Captured by Joy Taylor

Finding rhythm in a routine

The program lasted for twelve weeks, with group personal training sessions available six days a week at 5:30 am.

As a creature of habit, I know am more likely to do something every day than a few days a week, so I committed myself to going to every session. I only missed four days out of those twelve weeks.

By the end of the program, I had lost over 20kg.

Fortunately, just because the program ended, I didn’t have to stop. I kept to the same routine for another month, after which my total weight loss was closer to 30kg.

I was still classified as obese, but I felt better. I looked better. I was happier. I was healthier.

Feeling joy in my life

The whole journey to this point was quite remarkable for me. I had never managed to achieve anything like this before.

Of course, when you drop 30 kilograms in a few months, people notice. Because it is so obvious, they also become brave enough to say something to you in person.

Joy and Mitchell preparing a salad for Christmas lunch 2014

Joy and David dressed up for a Christmas Party in December 2014. Captured by Amanda Taylor

Joy and Mitchell preparing a salad for Christmas lunch 2014

Joy and Mitchell preparing a salad for lunch – Christmas 2014. Captured by David Masefield

I was reminded that I thrive on recognition for being ‘good’.

Sharing my new learnings about food and movement with my family and friends might have been landing on deaf ears, however, when Christmas arrived, my whole family got behind me and agreed to my request for a very unique Christmas lunch menu.

They each picked a dish to help prepare and serve. Each item on the menu was delicious and healthy, and everyone enjoyed the whole day thoroughly.

For the first time in a long time, I was smiling on the inside too!

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Joy Taylor

Joy Taylor

Joy has been working her way around the world with her kids, solo and with her partner for over 20 years. Her motto is ‘travel cheap, travel deep’. She built a green house and tries to live a green life. 35/196

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