Jacqui Gomes “Rediscovering myself for a life of fulfillment and happiness.”
After her four pregnancies added 25kg to her weight, Jacqui Gomes tried every quick-fix diet in the book in the hopes of regaining her body. “I would lose some of the weight, but would then pile it straight back on again, and then some. I was also dealing with a great deal of stress following the murder of a close family member, a house move, and a burglary, among other things, which added to my weight problems,” she recalls.
As a result Jacqui hated the person she had become and suffered with low self esteem. “I was battling to cope with the stress and demands of managing a big family. I was anxious and I was depressed. I was desperately unhappy and miserable to be around which affected my relationships with my husband and children,” explains Jacqui. Eventually she was placed on anti-depressants and anxiety meds to try help her cope.
The combination of her spiralling stress levels and unhappiness also resulted in uncontrollable emotional eating. “I would often eat even when I wasn’t hungry. It all made me feel like a ticking time bomb that was ready to explode.”
The constant crash dieting and yo-yo weight gain also took its toll on her health. “I was suffering from psoriatic arthritis which, together with the extra weight, seriously affected my knees. I also lacked energy and was tired all the time. To combat this, I would seek out sugary foods and lots of bad carbohydrates for the energy I needed to keep me going.”
Faced with all these issues Jacqui took some time out for a bit of introspection and came to a life-changing realisation. “Deep down I knew that there was something missing in my life, at that was a focus on ‘me’. I had spent years taking care of everyone else, trying to be the best wife and mother I could. That left little time to take care of myself. My cup was empty, and there was nothing left to give. I needed to find a way to relieve my anxiety and stress, lose weight and feel fulfilled again. I also realised that to be a good mother I needed to be a happy mother.”
With that realisation Jacqui returned to a place she had become extremely familiar with in her youth, but hadn’t visited in years. “I always enjoyed aerobics when I was younger, and spending time in the gym was a genuinely enjoyable experience for me. Even the smell of the gym would give me an endorphin rush.”
Her weight loss solution
Jacqui signed up at the local gym and searched the Internet for a personal trainer. “I knew I needed someone to guide me in terms of my diet and approach to exercise, and after some research I started training under the guidance of Jack Lotter from Sherriff Training Systems. I would work out in the morning for an hour, three times a week, doing a combination of weights and cardio. I also used this time as an escape from the stress. I just zoned out and got away from it all.”
At the same time she had to reteach her body how to eat. “I was only eating a few times a day, but it was junk food with loads of ‘bad’ carbs. I started by cutting out carbs and followed a high-protein, high fat ketogenic diet. I also started eating smaller meals every 2-3 hours. Eventually I reintroduced good carb sources back into my diet, which gave me the energy I needed for my more intense workouts. Jack also worked to build up the muscles around my knees, and as my strength improved I did more cardio, including intense workouts like running flights of stairs, boxing and treadmill runs.”
Jacqui’s journey wasn’t without its challenges though.
“You can’t make drastic changes on this scale without making sacrifices. Social occasions and weekends away also proved challenging as I had to take my own pre-prepared food along to stick to the plan. Getting up at 04h30 to do HIIT cardio before the family gets up has also been a major change that took some getting used to.”
However, Jacqui persevered and stuck to the grind, motivated by the idea that in doing so she would teach her children that anything is possible if you want it bad enough and work hard enough at it. “It took a long time, which required a great deal of patience on my part, but I knew that the 30kg I had accumulated over the years wasn’t going to fall off overnight. With this understanding and approach I learnt to celebrate the small milestones along the way to the bigger goal – a belt that could fit around my waist again, buying a smaller dress size, underwear that felt a bit looser and more comfortable. Even my feet seemed to shrink!”
Since achieving her weight loss goals, Jacqui says she feels more in control of her life. “I’m no longer a slave to emotional eating, and working out has become part of my daily routine. In fact, I’m miserable if I miss a session. Exhausting myself has become the best form of therapy for me.”
Read more to find out how her family life improved…
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.