Before Carly embarked on her weight loss journey, she’d spend all her energy putting her kids first and her own health fell by the wayside. But this busy mum has realised that in order to look after others, it’s important to look after herself.

After Carly had her second child, she’d sort of resigned to the fact that this “was how my body is now”. As most mothers would, she put the health of her children above her own in making sure school lunches were made, but when it came to hers, she “just grabbed whatever was convenient” and that usually meant filling up on snacks like chocolate, salt and vinegar chips, and ice cream.

“I know now all the unhealthy food I was eating was keeping the weight on and I wasn’t nourishing my body properly,” she tells Body+Soul. Her exercise regime was basically non-existent, too.

“I indulged in junk foods mostly out of habit, mindless eating and boredom. I enjoyed the moreish flavour, and now realise I was simply addicted to eating them.”

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She tried fad diets and they were successful initially. Cutting her diet down to low fat, low dairy, and low meat lead her to lose 5kg in a month, but she promptly put the weight back on when she realised that sort of restrictive diet just wasn’t sustainable. Neither was intermittent fasting, she says, and at her heaviest, she weighed 84.1kg.

“My weight became a noticeable issue when I could no longer do up my size 14 pants, and my moment of truth was when I had a student ask me if I was having a baby – I wasn’t,” the 42-year-old recalls.

So, the hunt for a sustainable lifestyle overhaul was on and Carly struck gold when she found the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet: “The program made me make conscious food choices instead of putting things into the basket because I was stressed or busy,” she says.

“At the beginning, I stuck strictly to the shopping list, which meant I wasn’t even buying junk food to have in the house and tempt me. I was also more organised with my shopping, as the TWD program includes a shopping list, and I actually looked forward to making dinner as I didn’t have to plan it.”

Her exercise regime is manageable, too, clocking at roughly 30 mins every second day and a 6km jog every week which she says she hasn’t “been able to do this since high school”.

In a little over nine months, Carly has lost 22.3kg and not only is she feeling great, but her friends and family also notice a change as well.

“I’m receiving lots of comments from friends, family, and work colleagues about how healthy and happy I am looking,” Carly says.

“Getting over the perception of what a ‘diet’ involves was what I found most challenging. My previous experience with diets is that they were too restrictive and unsuitable for the way I liked to eat (and with too much lettuce).”

She still eats chocolate on the odd occasion, but instead of it being out of habit, Carly really savours and enjoys it. Nothing is completely off limits, it’s just how to incorporate it into a healthy, balances and varied diet.

“Severely restrictive diets that prohibit types of food completely are unsustainable in the long term,” observes Carly.

“What I’ve loved about the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is that it lets you eat the indulgent foods you love in a small portion for enjoyment.”

Carly’s day on a plate

Breakfast

Choc banana smoothie.

Lunch

Large salad, like prawn and cherry tomatoes.

Snacks

Yoghurt, fruit and veggie sticks for afternoon tea.

Dinner

Protein with vegetables for dinner, for example, lamb kofte with roasted pumpkin, lemon, and rocket salad.

To help Australians improve their diets, the CSIRO has launched a free online tool called the new Junk Food Analyser.