At the beginning of 2013, I weighed around 130kg.
I couldn’t walk upstairs without losing my breath. I couldn’t sleep lying flat because of intense heartburn. My feet, ankles and hands swelled every day. I was constantly worried if I would fit in chairs that had arms at the sides. That said, I worked incredibly hard in my job as a teacher. I was actively involved in my son’s schooling and sporting pursuits – always offering to coach, manage, score at rugby, cricket and soccer games. I didn’t smoke or really drink that much at all. I just consumed more calories than I used. I put on weight consistently in my 20s and 30s and even though I had tried a myriad of diets, the weight always crept back on.
It was after seeing a particular photo of myself on Facebook – where I looked so different to what I thought I looked like – that I knew I had to take action.
The photo that surprised Leah, Christmas 2012.
I signed up for a 12-week body challenge that included fitness tests, recipes and calorie counting. It was hard going. The first three weeks in particular I was so hungry but I learnt to make sure that what I was eating was going to fill me up and fuel me for the day. The fitness test included a one km time trial run. My first go at this I clocked in at over 10 minutes! What was I doing? Running on my hands??!! Fast forward 12 weeks and I had lost 15kg. My heartburn had disappeared and my ankles weren’t swelling quite so severely.
By the end of the first year I had shed 30kg. My marriage had also ended and as a result I developed extreme anxiety. I was thankful that I was already fully entrenched in the habit of moving and eating well. I never had thoughts of turning back. I resolved to continue getting fit and healthy for me and my son.
Near the end of the second year a friend suggested I take up running with Intraining – a local non-profit running club. I thought he was crazy! I wasn’t a runner! But the thought stuck and I signed up. The coach was amazing and incredibly patient. It took a few months but I managed to run three km without stopping before signing up for a half marathon. With the support of the club, I completed the 21.1km distance in July 2015 and signed up for the full marathon the following year. All in all, I had lost between 50 and 60kg.