Jo Lloyd decided to revolutionise her own health and wellbeing in order to be there for her sons. But along the way of her fitness journey, she learned plenty of valuable lessons about self-care and loving herself without guilt.
Jo Lloyd was always guilty of putting herself last.
The 42-year old registered nurse and mother of two boys, currently aged six and five, has always had a lot on her to-do list – but in the past, her own health and wellbeing were never a priority.
“I was a convenience cooker. I rarely cooked from scratch or fresh, and ate a lot of refined sugary treats. I was also in a grieving stage after my last pregnancy with losing one of our twins, so I put myself last and put all the energy I did have into looking after our two boys,” she tells Body+Soul.
“I was always a “go on a diet” person to try and lose excess weight, which in the end would only work short term before gaining again.”
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Jo had never really mastered the art of healthy eating, and the natural grief of repeated pregnancy losses left her feeling undeserving of self-care or self-love.
“I was always overweight since being a teenager. My parents owned a milk bar, so growing up I had access to lots of unhealthy food. Also having four pregnancies in three years, with three babies lost at 18 weeks, 8 weeks and 29 weeks took its toll. I did not look after myself at all. I’d either eat way too much or barely anything while trying to breastfeed. I would always have a packet of lollies in the car to nibble on too, as I thought sugar was the answer to get me through until a meal. I was putting myself last whilst caring for our two boys 17 months apart,” she admits.
At her heaviest Jo weighed over 100kg, and when she finally decided to turn her life around for good, her weight sat at 97.8kg. The turning point occurred when she realised she owed her health to her sons.
“I saw a photo of me from my cousin’s wedding and thought, ‘I need to change or I won’t be here for my rainbow baby boys at all’. I did not realise that I had gotten that unhealthy as I felt like I was living under a dark cloud in the beginning,” she says.
In time, and after losing 41kg in just under a year, Jo would learn that she was allowed to be healthy for her own sake, too. She’s been maintaining her health successes for three years now, and in addition to changing her lifestyle, she’s changed her entire view of herself. Here’s how she did it.
Before embarking on her health journey, Jo says her diet was high in sugar and low in nutrition.
“I would normally eat a high-in-sugar store bought breakfast cereal with light milk or go without breakfast. I would eat store bought muffins for lunch, and then not eat anything else until dinnertime as I felt guilty,” she reveals.
“If I had snacks they were usually lollies, or a box of Arnott’s Shapes. And dessert was usually a couple of white chocolate and macadamia cookies from the supermarket.”
The first step to revamping her diet habits was to cut out the highly processed foods and lollies, up her water intake, and “drink plenty of green and herbal teas”. She discovered The Healthy Mummy 28 Day Challenge after seeing an ad on Facebook, and after losing more than 3kg in the initial three day cleanse, she decided to commit to the challenge – and she hasn’t looked back since.
Here’s what a typical day on a plate looks like to her now:
Breakfast: Healthy Mummy Smoothie (and on the weekends, “usually pancakes or French toast recipes from the App”).
Morning snack: Baked Oatmeal and Berry Cup.
Lunch: Soup, wrap, or a toastie from the App.
Afternoon Snack: Healthy Mummy Lamington snack bar.
Dinner: Spanish Rice with Chorizo.
Dessert: Easy Chocolate Mousse with Berries.
Jo’s exercise routine
Prior to her health overhaul, Jo says exercise was virtually nonexistent.
“I had a treadmill that was being used as a clothes hanger. I may have casually walked around the block to get the boys to sleep but it wasn’t for exercise,” she admits.
When it came to changing her lifestyle, her diet was the priority. But once she’d gotten on top of that part of her wellbeing, fitness came soon after.
“I started walking with my two boys in the double pram for exercise and not just to get them to sleep! Sometimes I would go twice a day to challenge myself and I would do exercises from the Healthy Mummy DVD,” she says.
“I now exercise a lot more than I did in the beginning. I have dusted off my treadmill and now walk on it 5-6 days a week! I also do a workout from the Challenge App on the days I don’t walk. I essentially exercise everyday.”
Jo’s weight now falls between 56.5 and 57.5kg, as her Lipedema can cause some fluctuations. An abdominoplasty in 2018 also helped her to remove the excess skin she had after her weight loss transformation.
Jo on her biggest challenges and lessons
As a busy mum, taking the time to change her lifestyle wasn’t easy. She says things were originally “overwhelming”, especially since she “essentially had to learn to cook from scratch”, which certainly took time to adjust to. She found her rhythm when she began meal prepping while her sons were napping during the day, which allowed her to easily throw a healthy, fresh meal together in the evening. But that wasn’t the only curveball – she also had to unlearn all the myths of weight loss she’d learned in the past.
“To be eating so much was a big adjustment, as I was always told that you should only have around 1200 calories a day when trying to lose weight,” she says.
Above all though, the biggest challenge that provided the biggest lesson for Jo was overcoming her self-doubt and learning to love herself.
“It was challenging to learn to love myself, to learn that it’s ok to do that, as I could give more of myself to my boys and husband by being so much healthier and happier,” she reflects.
“It’s ok to look after yourself, take everyday as a new day to try your absolute best you can on that day. You CAN do it, don’t listen to the negative comments, only YOU can achieve your dreams and YOU do have the power to do it! And I don’t feel guilty anymore!”
Jo’s advice for others
Jo’s challenges and lessons have left her with plenty of practical advice for other people looking to turn their life and health around. For starters, she advises against being overzealous with your aims.
“Don’t set big end goals. I never set a big end goal when I started, I originally only wanted to get back to my wedding day weight of 80 kilos. Once there, I didn’t give up, as I learnt that this is a lifestyle. I decided to keep being a challenge member to see how far I could go, because I just love that it’s a lifestyle and not a diet,” she says.
“If you need a goal, aim for small 5 kg losses so it’s not so overwhelming.”
As a former unhealthy snacker, she has advice on that too: “Take your snacks out with you always, so you don’t have to try and choose a healthy option as you already have it with you. If you’re wanting to snack whilst preparing a meal, make a cup of green or herbal tea”.
And when it comes to measuring your success, Jo says you should never try to frame your wins against someone else’s.
“Don’t compare yourself to others. I had been overweight for most of my life and never put a time frame on my weight loss, I just kept following the meal plan and exercising. I believe my body does what it needs to with where I now sit on the scales.”