“I Used To Be An Emotional Eater But Broke Free Of My Yo-Yo Diet Habit”
Can you believe this woman was once an emotional eater? Just five months later – wow! Check out her incredible transformation and steal her weight-loss tips.
Who: Melanie Ann Gordon, 41, from Joburg
The diary of an emotional eater and yo-yo dieter
Melanie was once an emotional eater. When she was in an emotional state, she could blindly devour an entire tub of ice cream or packet of biscuits. And then there was her love of chocolate and peanut butter. “Food fed my broken soul,” she says. “I would lose weight slowly and, as soon as it was off, I’d pick it all up again. I’d go from 58 or 59kg to 66kg. Then I would get depressed and anxious, and would yo-yo diet.”
While she did exercise, Melanie wasn’t committed. “I was depressed and making excuses about been burnt out – that the life of a single mum was tough.”
Life’s struggles left Melanie in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and self-loathing. So… how did she break free?
Melanie, before the change…
The mental shift
Melanie realised that in order to change her life she needed to embrace her pain. “To be honest with myself. To learn to love myself.”
Her secret weapons? “Determination, dedication, commitment, a support team, honesty…” And documenting everything! “This helped me immensely because I could monitor my cheating – those bites of chocolate, biscuits and chips. You’ll be surprised how much you snack when you actually write it down,” she says.
From that mentally healthy foundation, and the habit of diarising everything she ate, she took the next step and focused on exercise. “My coach Santie also took pictures of me during the last six months so I could see the progress,” she says. And we all know that there’s nothing like a great picture to keep you on the right path.
The lifestyle shift
The first month was no picnic, but Melanie deserves a high-five for dedication. “I had to force myself take wake up at 4.30am to prepare my meals for the day,” she says.
“I had to consciously force myself to start my day with a healthy breakfast and not starve until lunchtime. I think that’s that biggest mistake people make. They think that skipping meals assists in weight loss, but it makes us gain weight. When we starve ourselves, we end up blind eating when we’re hungry.”
The new menu
It wasn’t easy. “I was so used to emotional eating that the urges took a while to dissipate. It was hard waking up earlier to prep meals for the day. Yes, there were days when I told myself I couldn’t do it, and I’d end up binge eating and ordering food from the canteen. But the following day I’d remind myself of the journey and that it was okay to slip up!”
She also banished the word “diet” from her vocabulary. “It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle. I needed to remind myself that I was changing into a new me; learning to love me – and that it was a lifestyle change, not a diet.”
Simple changes can have big rewards – and clearing out the grocery clutter can literally clear the mind. “I cut out dairy, bread, pasta, rice, cakes and confectionery. I give myself a cheat day once a week.” Added to that, she upped her hydration. “I probably drink four litres of water a day,” she says.
The supporting cast
“I have an incredible partner, who even ate broccoli and chicken on the nights I ate broccoli and chicken. When we went out to eat, he would ask the waiters if the chef could prepare food especially for me that had no oil, dressing or sauces. He’s been so patient. He’s my biggest cheerleader and fan. On the days I wanted to give up, he would remind me of the journey and tell me how much he loves me and how proud he is of me.”
He also bought her a Fitmark bag, a designer tote that can hold all your meals for the day – every meal prepper’s dream! “I take it everywhere. It stops me from snacking unhealthily, buying food from the canteen or running into a burger joint,” she says.
In order to lose weight, Melanie included both resistance training and cardio in her exercise regime.
But she had to overcome her insecurity – another mental hurdle – before she became comfortable with the weights. “I hated weight training. I had such a complex about my muscles. Instead of embracing my genetics, I hated them. I had this preconceived notion that weight training would make me huge, but quite the contrary!”
She started off weight training three days a week, with five days of cardio. As she got stronger, so she increased the weights, telling herself: “If it ain’t burning, it ain’t working!” Now Melanie weight trains four times a week, with six days of cardio.
“I went from being a mess to being confident, spirited and full of energy. I have respect for my body now. I’m kind to myself and don’t bastardise my body with binge eating and self-loathing,” says Melanie. It worked for her, and now she’s two dress sizes down!
And how does she reward herself? “A stack of pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup on a Sunday morning!”
The real reward…
“Who would have thought I’d be in a tiny pink bikini in front of hundreds of people at an International Federation of Bodybuilding competition! I wouldn’t even wear a bikini on the beach in front of people, but there I was, on stage, with my friends, family and children watching, and they were screaming my number. Entering a fitness bikini competition was my reward. I did it – I embraced me and did it!”
Melanie’s weight-loss tips
Become your own superhero. “Turn your can’t into I can! Take the road that intimidates you and embrace the journey! Stay focused on the end goal and remind yourself daily why you are finding the new you. This will be your best adventure yet. Stop making excuses!”
Honesty is the best policy. “Be honest with yourself – keep a journal, write everything down and remember that it’s okay not to be okay. You can slip up, but don’t allow the slip-ups to pull you down. Stay focused on your goal!”
Age is but a number! “Don’t allow your age or circumstances to hold you back. I’m a single mum to two boys, one is autistic – and I made time in our hectic schedule to ensure that I could embrace my journey. Choose to heal; choose the life you want to live.”