Busting the fat gene myth.

This is a post that would normally appear on my personal blog, but I decided to share it here instead because it has a lot to do with food. It was inspired by Sarah at Move Fuel Love, who recently shared a before and after photo to remind herself of the progress she has made in losing weight and transforming herself into a fit, healthy mum who loves to run. I commented something along the lines of, wow, I would really have to dig for my before shot, but after losing almost 25 kg’s I will never let myself get that big and unhealthy ever again. Ultimately I decided to go on the hunt for those photos, and to share a little about the journey I have been on with my weight and my relationship with food.

I grew up in a family where my maternal relatives were, and are still, extremely overweight. The word obese would be accurate. I was a skinny kid and had no weight problems as a teenager, but somewhere in the back of my mind was the belief that I would probably end up fat because it was just in my genes. I would battle with my weight just like I had watched my mum and her family do, and I thought that failure was inevitable.

Fast forward a few years, and after stacking on over twenty kilos with my first pregnancy I now had at least ten kilos to lose. I lost a few then found out I was pregnant again. {I know, that happens to other women, right?} I gained a very small amount with my second child {not deliberately}, was pregnant again three years later, and it wasn’t until my third child, my daughter, was about a year old that I got serious. I was at my heaviest weight ever, and only two kilos away from my maximum pregnancy weight. Things were dire. So between 2000 and 2002 I lost twenty kilos by walking {EVERYWHERE} and following the Weight Watchers eating plan. I ended up six kilos shy of my goal and was satisfied.

A few years later in 2005 we went on a big overseas holiday. Much to my dismay in the last few years the weight I had lost had crept back on. First a couple of kilos, then a couple more, until eventually about sixteen of the kilos were back. I felt uncomfortable and self conscious the whole time, and felt unattractive whenever I posed for a photo with my young and beautiful family. I always tried to position myself behind my kids so no-one could tell how big I was. It was only when we got home and I developed the photos that I knew enough was enough. I was taking the reins and making permanent changes to my mental and physical health. I wasn’t going to be a yo-yo dieter anymore, and I was kicking the fat genes to the kerb.

This was the photo that made me feel positively sick:

I remember crossing my arms over my stomach, breathing in, trying to smile, and feeling awful. I wanted to be a positive role model for my daughter, and I guess in some way I wanted to prove my relatives wrong who persisted in believing that it was their genes that were to blame.

So in January 2006 I began my journey. I joined Weight Watchers again. I began to exercise, joining a gym and swimming. The weight began to come off. By the end of that year I had lost about sixteen kilos, maybe not a huge amount for twelve months but I was more concerned with losing it slowly and keeping it off. I stopped Weight Watchers by mid year and kept at it alone. I learned that food was the most important thing. The exercise was great and I loved feeling fit, strong, and healthy. But the key was food. When 2007 hit I was still at it, and had by now cut down on carbohydrates and was loving a high protein and lots of vegetable style of eating. By about mid year I had lost another six kilos and I was now down to my high school weight, a neat and tidy size ten. I was stoked. Here then, are my before and after shots. The one on the left was taken on our  2005 holiday and the other was taken exactly two years later in 2007. {Note the change in attitude to posing for a photo!}

I had gone from being a fat, frumpy, old-before-my-time wife and mother to being someone who finally had confidence. In total, from my heaviest weight after having my daughter, I had lost a whopping twenty-six kilos.

And after another pregnancy in 2008 I stayed on track and one year after having my fourth child was back to where I started. There are times I fluctuate, I gained a few kilos this holiday season and lost a few last October during a crazily busy month. I actually looked younger at my fortieth than I did at my thirtieth. I’m extremely proud that after eight years I am the exact same weight today in 2015 as I was when the after photo above was taken.

What I have learned is that I want to enjoy my food. I love cooking and I love sharing a meal with loved ones. I guess I loosely follow the 80/20 approach by being sensible most of the time. I am aware that recently I have indulged in a little too much alcohol, so last week I cut it out completely as well as once again being more mindful of my sugar intake and skipping all the snacks. In just a week I can see results, that’s how powerful our food choices are.

I’m not saying that a person can’t be happy if they’re overweight, and in fact I admire women who have that amazing body confidence no matter what size they are. I don’t care how heavy any of my family and friends are because I love them no matter what and if they’re happy then so am I. But for me, personally, I needed to make the changes. I needed to cast off a lifetime of believing in such a thing as fat genes, that heredity was a reason for being overweight.

Of course it’s not always easy and we often need support and the right information. I’m not worried about gaining the weight back, it’s been too long and I’ve worked too hard and I’m honest enough to admit to being vain about my appearance these days. But I have worked my butt off, literally, to feel happier about myself, to feel comfortable, to be able to enjoy shopping and to feel like I belong in a photograph with my beautiful family.

The two biggest things that have stuck with me are that it’s all about the food, and fat genes are bullshit. Your genes aren’t shovelling KFC into your mouth, I’m pretty sure that’s a decision you made for yourself. There’s no magic answer, no secret, no pill or shake or person that can make it happen for you. It takes hard work and dedication. But bad habits can be broken and new habits can be formed.

If you want it bad enough.





10 Thoughts

  1. Wow its really nice to get to know this side of you Ana and your incredibly motivating story. Good on you for taking charge of your life and weight! Go you! PS – You look AMAZING!!

  2. This is me now. Have just started exercising again. Trying to watch what I eat. Not snacking on junk. Drinking more water. Don’t know if I can do it but I’m going to try.

    1. It’s always worth a try to feel better. I remember reading something about making new habits stick, it’s like flexing a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it is, and I think that’s really accurate with healthy eating habits.

  3. Oh well done. This is such a good article. There is most certainly a genetic aspect to body shape but these days there is absolutely no reason why anybody can’t be a healthy weight (thyroid conditions and all the old excuses can be so effectively treated). As you say, it is all about the food. I have some friends who struggle with their weight and defend themselves (not that they need to) by saying that it is genetic but then I see the food choices they make.
    Well done you for choosing to be healthy and do the best by yourself and your family. You are such a good role model for your kids.

    1. Thanks Nicole. I’ve seen the same things, why can’t I like weight while making dodgy food choices. I do actually also have an underactive thyroid, so there really are no excuses. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.