Need some motivation to stay on healthy bandwagon? Three inspiring Australian women share how they lost a combined 36 kilograms while at home. But the most incredible part about their transformations? The positive effect it had on their mindset and mood. 

Thanks to social isolation, many of us have said farewell to our health and fitness goals. And to our waistlines.

While gyms have been closed for months and working from home is making it hard to avoid comfort snacking, we have to ask: how is it even possible to lose weight during isolation? But it is possible, according to these three inspiring Australian women.

Simone Molenaar, Micaela Rafferty and Irena Geller have successfully continued with their weight loss journeys while at home – despite isolation restrictions, and adjusting to new daily routines and shifting their mindsets.

Their success goes beyond diet and exercise – as these women found that the mental strength, ability to make major behavioural changes and prioritising self-care became the greatest prize for their hard work, much more than the combined 36 kilograms they shed.

Thinking of giving up on your own health and fitness goals in the face of iso-life? Perhaps these real-life stories will motivate you to stay mentally positive and focused on the task at hand, even in these uncertain times.

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Take the focus off the scales

For Brisbane based disability support lead practitioner Simone Molenaar, a random weigh-in on a friend’s bathroom scales gave her the kickstart to regain her health and fitness. With the stress that came with changing roles at work, she discovered she had gained 15 kilos within a year.

In late February, Simone began working with a personal trainer but isolation restrictions started not long after. Simone decided not to put pressure on herself, or to focus on the scales. Simone changed her mindset. Instead of being on a diet, she told herself she was simply making healthier choices. Even when her weight would fluctuate Simone’s trainer would remind her that a woman’s body and weight can change due to water retention, stress, hormones and menstrual cycles.

Simone credits her weight loss success to a newfound sense of determination. “Your mind can hinder your success if you let it convince you something is too hard,” says Simone. Having now lost the entire 15 kilos she had gained, Simone is at her ideal weight.

Make behavioural changes

Weight loss had been an ongoing challenge for Sydney business owner and mum-of-two, Micaela Rafferty. Constantly putting her children and work first, Micaela’s own wellbeing was neglected. Starting to feel uncomfortable as her clothes began to feel tight, Micaela decided to make some changes to her priorities.

Micaela credits behavioural changes as one of the main attributes to her weight loss. When old habits meant having an afternoon sugar hit or a 5PM wind-down wine, Micaela now uses an app to track her food intake and sticks to a calorie allowance. She also adopted an early morning exercise regime. “I find it sets me up for the day with a positive mindset and motivation to stay on track,” explains Micaela.

Just as Micaela started her new health program, the gym closed down due to COVID-19 restrictions. Luckily, the gym quickly adapted to online HIIT group classes and personal training sessions. Just as tough as regular studio sessions, working out online allowed Micaela to maintain focus and she has lost close to 10 kilograms so far.

Self-care is ‘more than just bubble baths’

Being in the health and fitness industry, Sydney-based emotional eating coach and grandmother Irena Geller made losing weight a personal, and s professional decision. Having successfully lost 50 kilograms 10 years ago, Irena faced menopause three years ago. She felt the weight creeping up again. Yet the strategies that had helped her the first time around were no longer working with the changes to her body.

Isolation was an opportunity for Irena to focus on weight loss by applying self-care. Along with her health and exercise regime, Irena incorporated journaling and exercise as a part of her early morning routine. The evenings then became a time for self-reflection through yoga and meditation.

“Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths but to truly care about yourself deeply, asking yourself if you’re okay,” says Irena. By investing time and care in herself – mentally and emotionally – Irena has lost 11 kilograms.

How to stay healthy

Have a support network

Personal trainer at Vision Personal Training Magdalena Wolska believes that now, more than ever, her clients heavily rely on support and encouragement from their circle of influence. “Family and friends need to support and not discourage our clients if they choose not to have a drink or eat certain foods, especially when alcohol intake has increased during these times,” explains Magda.

Count your calories

With so many mobile phone food apps readily available, Magda believes daily food tracking is easier than ever.

Magda explains calorie counting is just like monitoring your finances. “If you don’t track your spending, there will be a surprise when the card is declined. It’s the same with weight loss,” she said. “When you don’t track your food and then step on the scales, you’ll be disappointed”

Keep regular eating times

Tabitha McIntosh, a Clinical Nutritionist at Awaken Your Health believes the COVID-19 global pandemic has caused a lack of structure in our daily lives, which then impacts structured eating times.

“It’s important for the physiology of the body to maintain a certain rhythm during eating times,” explains Tabitha. She suggests eating at four-hour intervals and trying to set up an early dinner. Set an alarm as a schedule reminder.

Stick to a morning routine

To control anxiety and stress, Tabitha suggests a morning routine will help set the day with the right intentions and help with weight management. “Exercising in a fasting state can be advantageous in keeping lean and burning body fat,” she adds.

Don’t just monitor your food intake

Tabitha believes that the constant news of fear and worry, anxiety has become a huge concern with her clients. Tabitha recommends being selective about when to watch the news. “Commit to half an hour in the evening rather than having it blaring all day.”

Grace Titioka is a freelance writer, who writes about in women’s health, lifestyle and parenting. A mum of raucous twin boys, she often escapes to the ocean for a surf. Still very much a novice, surfing has taught her more about life than she ever anticipated.