Healthy Eating

"How I lost 56kg in 18 months"

"How I lost 56kg in 18 months"

"How I lost 56kg in 18 months"

Vanessa Brown and Simone Mitchell

After Nata discovered she couldn’t fasten her seatbelt on a plane, she realised it was time to make a change. This is how she lost 56kg in 18 months.

Photo: Supplied

Nata Re knew that her weight was creeping up to an unhealthy level.

But it wasn’t until she couldn’t fasten her seatbelt on a plane and had to ask staff for a belt extender that she realised things had reached a crisis point.

“I pulled the seatbelt thinking it was stuck until I realised it just didn’t fit,” she recalls.

“I was 118kg and I needed to ask for a seat belt extender. That broke me, I had to fight back tears — I just wanted to disappear.”

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The 56-year-old working mother-of-two has struggled with her weight since a car accident at age 22 left her immobile for months and in enormous pain.

After she was diagnosed with arthritis, things got worse — food became not only a reward, but a comfort.

“[The accident] gave me an excuse,” Nata said.

“I probably could’ve pushed myself, but I was in a lot of pain, so I didn’t do anything.”

She put on more weight after her children arrived — something she says a lot of women can relate to.“I was working, I had a family. I just didn’t focus on me,” she said.

Nata found herself in a constant cycle of making healthy food lists and exercise schedules, but would break them within a week. At her heaviest she was consuming 14 meals a day and said she was in constant mental and physical pain.

But after the incident on the plane, she decided she had to try something new. She signed up at her local gym — Curves in Caringbah, NSW — and went straight into a 12-week challenge.

She lost 16kg despite being on crutches for half of it.

“I started with 30 minutes of exercise three to four times a day,” Nata said.

This involved a circuit on the gym’s machines that target different parts of the body.

“These resistance machines were machines that I could actually do. I could start gently,” she explains.

She initially found the prospect of going to the gym daunting because of her weight, but found it to be a supportive environment.

“You’re not embarrassed at all, as it’s all ladies,” she said.

Nata also overhauled her food intake and adhered to home-cooked meal plans.

“Food was the big change,” she said.

“Exercise is important, but it is the food. What you put in your mouth governs your energy levels. All the carbs were depleting my energy. I’ve learnt to portion control, and to eat the right foods for my body.”

Over the course of 18 months she lost a total of 56kg and can now fit into her 22-year-old daughter’s clothes.

As well as feeling more confident about her appearance, she has enjoyed numerous health benefits.“I am no longer in pain, I haven’t had inflammation from my arthritis in years and I don’t take medication for it any more either,” she said.

Nata’s impressive weight loss won her the 2017 title of “Healthy Curvette of the Year” — an award that Curves gives to an active member “who has transformed her life and overcome health ailments through healthy eating and exercise”.

“What I needed was support, education and exercise,” she reflects.

“I have accountability from the coaches, who don’t make me feel guilty and are my own personal cheerleaders. I have meal plans and only need to dedicate 30 minutes a day to exercise … although I do go twice a day now because I just have so much fun.

“Now all the ladies at the gym inspire me and always tell me I look fabulous. I sometimes walk past the mirror and have to do a double take, it really is a new me.”


“I was constantly eating. It wasn’t always bad foods. I’m not really into junk food, but I love bread and pasta. I’d have a lot of high carb meals. I would cook well (both my kids are really healthy), I’d just eat a lot of it.

“When I was not caring about my weight, I’d get up in the morning and have two slices of toast with jam while having coffee.

“Then after the kids went to school I’d have eggs on toast again. Then I would have lunch which would be sandwiches … that’s what got to me was all the bread.

“There would be muffins for morning tea. Arvo tea might be banana bread and I’d eat fruit and nuts throughout the day (which isn’t bad, but I’d have too much of it).

“Waiting for the kids at school or at a sports activity, I might have a packet of chips or something. After dinner in the evening I would have biscuits and cups of tea while watching TV.”


“I am up early and will have a cup of herbal tea along with two eggs and maybe some spinach. Usually I don’t have bread, but if I am really hungry (you learn to monitor), I might have a slice. But if I do, I have it in the morning so I can use [the energy] in the day.

“I don’t skimp on my meals now … if you skimp, you tend to get hungrier so you binge. I have to force myself to have morning tea (celery and carrots with hummus) because I’m not having the carbs that activate my hunger and I am full from the eggs.

“Lunch is now tuna and salad. If I am hungry in the afternoon I will have some almonds and a piece of fruit.

“Dinner is whatever protein and veggies I have for the family. I will have a spoon of rice, or maybe pasta or Zucchini spaghetti. I just eat less.

“I won’t really eat in front the TV, but if I do I might have a little bit of popcorn. Or a little bit of a protein bar.

“For exercise I do an hour a day at the gym — 30 minutes in the morning and maybe 30 in the afternoon.”



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