Mum of three Rachel Sacerdoti, 44, from London, had a wake up call after seeing her holiday photos and went on to lose almost 5 stone in weight and completely transform her body - and life.
On a family holiday in Bali in 2017, I sat in the jacuzzi and had a conversation that I'll always remember. My brother had noticed that I’d just eaten three ice lollies in an hour, and said, ‘Rach, there's something wrong, I can see it, what's going on? You’re not yourself.’
It really jolted me. It's not a conversation my husband would ever have had with me, so it was a shock to hear.
Seeing the photos from that trip gave me a real wake-up call. I was 14 stone (90 kilos) at my heaviest and I looked at myself and could see that feeling of being out of control and sad.
My back was in agony and my feet were cracked, bleeding and grotesque because they couldn't sustain my body weight
My back was in agony and my feet were cracked, bleeding and grotesque because they couldn't sustain my body weight. I had three kids under the age of five so they’d say, “Let's go to the park” and all I could think was, ‘Can we just sit on the floor and build puzzles together?’
I honestly didn't feel strong enough to take my children to the park a 10-minute walk from my house. After that summer, I decided ‘Enough is enough, you've got to find a way through this.’
Making the change
Since around age 16, I’d been taking diet pills and trying every unhealthy fad going. I yo-yoed all throughout my 20s and, in my 30s, gained weight through the pregnancies with my three children David, 11, Rebecca, nine, and Gabriella, six, going on extreme, unsustainable diets in between.
I didn’t understand the importance of fitness or eating a balanced diet.
Monday to Thursday, I’d eat about 900 calories and then have weekend binges. Then, every Monday, think, ‘Okay, I need to start again’. It was a constant pattern.
I worried about my health, felt frustrated, ashamed and had lost my identity
I’d been brought up around models and fashion shows because my parents were in the industry, so that added to the stress and pressure and I’d get upset that I couldn’t attain the body I wanted.
I worried about my health, felt frustrated, ashamed and had lost my identity. I’d been confident, sporty, adventurous and very social as a child but, now, I felt swallowed up and wanted to hide.
I’d always dreamt of being the type of mum that would take my kids surfing and skiing. But as I sat on the floor building puzzles, unable to walk to the park, I thought, ‘You're already 39, If you don't do it now, it's never going to happen, you’ll never be able to reach for those dreams.’
During that chat in the jacuzzi, my brother had commented that my problem is always that I’m all or nothing and I needed to find a middle ground.
He said ‘Just start walking’. So I decided to start small and would walk around the block and then built up to walking to the park. Then I started home workouts in my bedroom where I wouldn't let anyone see me because I was so shy.
After a couple of months, I began working out in the gym. My own accountability system was what pushed me the most though. I had a cousin visiting from Australia and I said to her, ‘the next time you see this body, it's going to be half this size’. I didn’t give myself anywhere to hide.
I started home workouts in my bedroom where I wouldn't let anyone see me
I’d speak to trainers and other women working out at the gym and search for healthy eating information online. At first, I cut out carbs but I had no energy, so I added in whole grains and low GI carbs like quinoa and oats.
Utilising fitness and nutrition
I also began to understand how important protein was, as well as the importance of strength training, particularly because us women lose muscle mass from our mid-30s onwards.
I was at ground zero, I couldn't do two lunges, but I took it slowly and built my workouts up every week.
I couldn't do two lunges, but I took it slowly and built my workouts up every week
Before, breakfast would be toast with peanut butter, Nutella or jam and butter. I’d snack throughout the day on unhealthy, sugary things and dinner would be pasta with a creamy sauce or Asian food, like deep fried Korean chicken, cooked in lots of oil.
Now it's much more balanced – a good amount of carbs, a hell of a lot of protein and loads of veg. I have treats like ice cream but it's all in moderation.
For the first two months, I was losing around a kilo a week. After that, it became so much less about the result and much more about the enjoyment of feeling strong.
I loved my routine and it forced me to take an hour for myself everyday to exercise and meal plan – which I wasn't doing before because I had kids and a million things to do.
Before, I was so anti-exercise, I hated it, but, now, working out was – and still is – the highlight of my day. I felt like myself again, I felt in control again and I fell in love with my new lifestyle.
A newfound self-confidence
I lost 4 stone 10lb (30 kilos) in around six months and I was far more self-confident. My intimate relationship with my husband improved, too. I really did have a ‘the world is my oyster’ moment. I’d accomplished this and now I could do whatever I wanted.
My weight loss even helped me launch a new career. Other mums from my kid’s school started asking for my help and we set up a WhatsApp group where people would ask for advice or send pictures of their meals.
I lost 4 stone 10lb (30 kilos) in around six months and I was far more self-confident
Over time it turned into a business called It’s So Simple and I create plans and support other women. I now have almost 3,000 clients all over the world. In life, you have to set yourself down the right path and good things will happen.
Now, on holiday, I feel liberated. I’m really confident in a bikini, I’ve taken my kids surfing and, this year, we had our first ski holiday. When I got on the slopes, I started crying and I enjoyed every single moment because it was so special.
I treat myself on holiday, too. My one mantra is that every meal has to contain a lot of protein, and I still try to work out whenever I can.
I'm no longer camera-shy and when I see my holiday photos now, I feel absolutely fabulous, I love them. Looking back at old pictures brings back a lot of emotion.
I don't have many snaps of me as I never wanted to be photographed – and those I have are often me trying to hide in the water. I wish so much that I had just made those changes earlier in my life, because then I would have never had to suffer through all of that, it feels like it was just such a waste of time. Now, life is better in every way.
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