Helen Burgess’ 21kg transformation proves that dedication is the key to weight loss, and can be achieved no matter how busy you are. In her case, she stuck to the CSIRO diet until she saw results. 

Before embarking on her impressive weight loss journey, busy-mum Helen Burgess admits, she “was a comfortable size 12 for many years after having her second child.”

“Over the years I really did not notice the weight creeping on and was happy to just buy bigger sizes,” she added.

Similar to a lot of working mums, her weight gain was further prompted by her “working long hours and children’s activities in between, where there was not much time for exercise and cooking.”

Burgess was constantly lethargic from her unhealthy lifestyle habits, explaining “I put my increased weight and lack of energy and exercise down to my diagnosed under-active thyroid, not my less-than-healthy lifestyle.”

She let healthy eating and proper exercise take the backseat in her life.

“Exercise was lacking and my diet was more fast food and something you could just cook quickly in the oven. I enjoyed eating out especially at our local fish and chips cafe, and hot chips was our favourite food,” Burgess claimed.

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Despite warnings from her GP regarding her weight, she was adamant to change.

“During one of my thyroid check-ups my doctor told me I needed to lose weight. I thought she was mad and never thought it possible.”

It wasn’t until her heaviest weight of 90kg where she was “struggling to fit into a size 16”, that she knew it was time to take responsibility for her health.

“The final straw was looking at an unflattering photo of myself presenting a retirement gift to a work colleague.”

And this sudden moment of inspiration, would motivate Burgess to lose 21 kilograms in the upcoming months.

Her current diet

Before fully committing to a diet, Burgess considered her options. “I looked at different diets and costs. I didn’t want a diet where you had to buy food as I am not a fan of some foods,” she said.

Finally, she settled on the CSIRO diet, a 12-week high protein, low GI eating plan that is scientifically formulated to help you lose weight. (Check out this quick read, if you’re interested.)

“I had previously bought a CSIRO book many years ago and had made some of the recipes and enjoyed them and researched the online version of the diet before joining. I spoke to my husband, Ian, and he said he would also do it with me, and the rest was history.”

The simplicity of the CSIRO diet won busy-mum Burgess over.

“The program was easy to manage and fit in with my lifestyle. The menu and recipes were easy to follow with plenty of choices. If there was something I didn’t like in terms of certain ingredients, there were plenty of alternatives to choose from.”

Not only did this new way of healthy eating keep her engaged, but it also gave her clear direction.

“I liked the weight and diet tracking tools. Understanding more about the types of foods I should be eating, and portion sizes were a big help, as were the weekly weigh-ins and the goal setting graph,” she added.

Instead of being restrictive, the diet was satisfying to follow.

“The food was tasty, enjoyable and I didn’t feel hungry. I certainly didn’t feel like I was on a diet. When you start to lose weight, it becomes an addiction.”

Now, Burgess maintains this way of eating and has lost 21 kilos – currently weighing 69 kilos.

Here’s what a day on a plate looks like to her…

Breakfast: Overnight oats and berries.

Lunch: A salad or toasted cheese and tomato chutney sandwich.

Dinner: Meat or fish with salad or pork and pear salad recipe from the CSIRO program.

Snack: Chobani yoghurt.

Her exercise routine

When it comes to exercise, walking and swimming are her “go-to” exercises.

“When I’m at work, I try to move around and take a longer route to get to places. When I get home from work, I go for about a three to four kilometre walk before dinner.”

Burgess likes to keep extra fit on the weekends by going for “longer and harder” hikes and enjoys “being part of a swim fit group once a week.”

Her advice to others

While she faced challenges along the way, including “being time-poor”, Burgess got there in the end with the help of others.

“Having a support network and sharing the journey with others makes it a lot easier. Both my husband and daughter did the diet with me which meant we kept each other in check while at the same time supporting each other,” she explained.

“The biggest lesson for me was that a diet doesn’t have to mean starving yourself or overhauling your life.”

“As the weight has dropped off, my energy and self-confidence has soared. Getting into size 10 clothes is something I haven’t done for about 26 years.”

Burgess wants others to “join the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet online – it won’t feel like a diet.”

Also, “take your measurements as well as weighing yourself as it’s not always the number on the scale that makes a difference.”

She’s a perfect example of how hard work pays off in unexpected ways.

“I love to dress up now – to the point where my husband and I entered fashion on the field at our local race meets, and won best couple of the day!”