‘How a glass of lemonade turned my lifestyle on its head.’

Editor’s note: This article documents personal experience only. For dietary advice, always consult your healthcare professional.

In 2016, I lost 20 kilograms in three months. On the outside, I looked like a different woman. I remember arriving to pick my son up from a party and momentarily not being recognised by the party boy’s parents.

It would be fair to say the physical change was not only quick, it was dramatic. You see it turns out I’m one of those people that carries a lot of weight in their face, so when I lost weight, my face changed too.

Even though the number on the scales went down, it took me a while to accept my body had changed. Despite what others told me, I didn’t think I looked all that different.

I remember selecting a pair of jeans at the shops and asking the sales assistant for a size 12. “Honey, I think you will fit the 8.” Come again?

The driver to significantly change something in your life varies from person to person. When it comes to weight loss, for example, it might be the shock of seeing a candid photo or a thoughtless comment from a concerned friend (you know the type).

Two pictures of Suzie, just two years apart. Image: Supplied.

So what drove me to lose weight? Funny, but even though I had not been overly happy with my appearance, in fact sometimes downright depressed, my desire for change was not driven by my looks.

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For me, it happened one Sunday night. I had been relaxing on the couch while my husband and three boys slept. I’d decided to take this moment of late night solitude to the next level and open all the downstairs doors, inviting in a warm summer breeze. The Real Housewives of New York kept me company as I sipped ice-cold lemonade from a tall glass. Things couldn't have been going better. Then, as I was gleefully sipping and watching away, it occurred to me to find out how much sugar was in my lemonade. Perhaps it was the countless Facebook posts about the dangers of sugar, or maybe it was a passing comment by one of New York's famous housewives, whatever it was (and for the life of me I can't remember) I suddenly became very curious.

I located the bottle in the fridge and read the nutrition table on the back - 11 grams of sugar per 100 ml. Didn’t sound like much. Got the sugar. Got the scales. Got a big shock. The sugar looked as though a white ant farm had formed over the scales, one that could house several million ants!

It had been my third lemonade that day.

It appeared I had a drinking problem – of the non-alcoholic kind.

Watch: How much sugar is in your favourite drinks?

I'd felt nauseous. Seeing all that sugar coupled with the knowledge of how much I had already consumed was extremely confronting. I kept thinking about my body having to continually process all that sweetness and the consequences for my health.

I returned to the couch and frantically googled sugar-free diets. I downloaded free e-samples for inspiration and ideas. I decided, then and there, to significantly cut back on sugar.

That was 18 months ago and I haven't had lemonade since.

That night marked the start of my 'FIT @40' journey; the start of being mindful and conscious about what I was putting into my body.

This post originally appeared on Suzie Pappas' blog Pretty Strong 40 and has been republished with permission. You can view the original post here or follow Suzie on Facebook and Instagram.

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