Anna had spent her entire life being overweight and, as the life of a parent, alongside a successful career started to take its toll, she knew a change was needed. 14 months down the line, Anna has lost over 20kgs and found a whole new mindset and approach to food!
My name is Anna, I’m 36 years old and have been overweight my whole life. Throughout adulthood, my weight has continuously fluctuated. From time to time, I would go on a diet, reach the lower end of my usual weight range, then slowly watch the weight creep back up once the diet was over and I went back to my old ways.
In the years before Second Nature, the situation had steadily gotten worse and worse. I had a busy job and two young children, which meant little time for cooking. Instead, I relied on toddler-friendly (carb-heavy) meals and cupboards full of treats.
I joined Second Nature 14 months ago. I lost 12kg over the 12 weeks of the Core programme, which brought me to the lower end of my usual weight range. Feeling comfortable with the changes I had implemented, I kept going and lost another 11kg over the following 11 months, finally reaching a healthy BMI of 23 for the very first time in my life!
Before I joined Second Nature, I was close to my heaviest weight and felt unhealthy and uncomfortable in my skin. The timing of my sign-up coincided with my youngest child starting primary school; it felt like a big milestone for me as a parent, and it prompted me to think about what I wanted to achieve for myself as an individual. At the same time, it also felt like a good time to change the way we were eating as a family, and slowly expand the children’s horizons to discover more adventurous meals.
The weight loss started the minute I joined the programme, but by then I had been through the yo-yo cycle enough times to be sceptical whether I could manage to hold on to the loss in the long run, especially once the weight loss journey didn’t have my full attention anymore and life started getting in the way.
Then, about a month into the programme, I had to go on a week-long business trip. Prior to Second Nature, a week of restaurant meals would have meant accepting that I was going to gain weight. However, having read the Second Nature guides on travelling and restaurants, I came up with a detailed plan ahead of time regarding how to stay on track.
Not only did I lose weight while I was away, but I also enjoyed myself! I discovered delicious local dishes that I otherwise wouldn’t have opted for and did more sightseeing than usual to keep up my daily step count, all the while still managing to socialise with clients and colleagues. This was the time that I realised that perhaps the Second Nature programme really is for life!
During my time on the programme, there have been a lot of situations that would have led to weight gain in the past; travelling, Christmas holidays, and everything that 2020 has thrown at us. All of these have led to days where my eating was far away from perfect. However, since joining Second Nature, I’ve learnt that I don’t need to aim for perfection, and how destructive the all-or-nothing mentality can be (“I’ve had an ice cream today, I might as well write the rest of the week off and eat whatever I want”).
This meant that I only had small detours on my weight loss journey; it never ground to a halt. Also, learning not to beat myself up for “straying” has proven immensely beneficial to my overall stress levels.
Any other diet I followed in the past was only ever about weight loss. I never really addressed my reasons for being overweight (a sedentary lifestyle combined with a penchant for stress-eating), so once I reached my goal through weeks of intense but unsustainable focus, I was back where I started and the weight would creep back up.
This is the first time I have learned how to address the root causes by building better habits, not only around food but also around exercising and stress management. More generally Second Nature taught me how habits are built, which I find incredibly empowering; I feel like I will have the tools to address future challenges too.
The first thing that stood out was the quality and versatility of the Second Nature recipe collection – I saw straight away how I can use the recipes and adapt them to feeding a family of four. I also found the daily articles of the Core programme informative and enjoyed the community aspect.
Peer support is the main reason I’m still subscribed 14 months after starting the programme. Communities also teach by example: there were many habits that I initially thought were “not for me” (for example I really, really did not reduce my daily caffeine intake at the start!), but as I watched other people in the process of implementing them, I decided to give them a try.
I would recommend giving all aspects of the programme a genuine try. If you’re like me, your focus when joining is going to be weight loss, and you may be tempted not to engage with elements of the programme where the link to weight loss is less obvious (such as meditation or daily gratitudes).
However, it’s important to realise that these habits are going to be contributing to long-term success. They might not all stick (and you definitely don’t need to be doing every single last thing), but you might discover things that you really enjoy, which will help you at times when life would otherwise get in the way of weight loss efforts.
I would not be lying if I said that what I have learned since joining the programme has been life-changing, for which I would love to say a massive THANK YOU!
There have been many times since the start of Covid-19 where I felt incredibly grateful for having come across SN before. When I had to adjust to the uncertainty and stress of a pandemic raging, all the while homeschooling and working from home full-time, it helped me tweak my habits to fit my new environment. The peer support I found on the SN community spaces has proved really helpful too.
You can read more Second Nature stories here.