2022 Healthy Life Award Ripple Effect winner Robyn Wolstenholme

Robyn lost 66 kg over 3 years and 9 months. Read her inspiring story about starting a local WeightWatchers® walking group who meet up once a month to walk and support each other.
Published 21 September 2022

Follow her socials:

Connect | WOOLLY1

Instagram | @woolly1_ww

Growing up, I always had a weight problem. At the age of 12 was referred to a dietitian. I don't recall seeing much success even then, and ever since, I've struggled with fluctuating weight. I sat on the sidelines as an adult, because I was either physically unable to participate or was so embarrassed by my size that I didn’t even try. This also meant that my son missed out on lots of experiences. I didn’t do things like take him to the beach because a folding chair wouldn’t hold me and I knew if I sat down in the sand, I wouldn’t be able to get up again.

Before joining WW in January 2017 I had obesity, weighing 140kg. I managed to lose a couple of kilograms before I realised I really needed help. My health was impacted and I was on blood pressure medication and anti-inflammatory medication for arthritis. I was always exhausted, especially after work and everything felt like it was such an effort. Walking the dog was something I had to do every day, so I would take him to the dog park where he could run with the other dogs and I could sit. There was no way I would have been able to walk him around the block.

I joined WW to lose weight and become healthier. I was planning on retiring in 2019 and knew I couldn’t have the lifestyle I hoped to live unless I did something about my weight. My son moved to live overseas in 2017 and visiting him would have been very uncomfortable and potentially expensive as I may have had to purchase tickets for two seats. I dreaded asking for a seat belt extender and hated the fact that I would feel like I was taking up half the next passenger’s space. I wanted to be able to travel elsewhere too, enjoying exploring new cities and countrysides, which meant being able to walk pain free and without becoming out of breath after just a few metres.

In 2018 I started a walking group called #melbournewwwalkers. We usually walk on the last Saturday of each month and choose park trails and walks around Melbourne of around 5 kms where there’s a cafe for us to catch up for lunch afterwards. The walks usually attract up to 15 WW members, with one or two new members coming along each time, but there are more than 60 who have expressed interest. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our successes, chat about our issues and support each other as we negotiate the different stages of becoming healthier.

I love the WW Program. I do best when I’m accountable and track Points. I love the fact that the program entices me to eat more vegetables and promotes whole foods. I really like the emphasis on lifestyle because there’s no way I can maintain my weight loss and health unless I choose to really embrace this lifestyle for good.

My life is so different now. I am fit and healthy and much more confident in myself and my ability to do things I would never have tried before. Now I have energy! I walk every day and last week recently hiked 3.4 kms up Mt Bishop on Wilson’s Promontory and then walked 3.4 kms down and still had the energy to walk along Tidal River to the beach and explore Squeaky Beach too. I can go into any clothing store and find clothes that fit me and look good. I love shopping for smart, fashionable, comfortable clothes now, whereas before I had to buy clothes that simply fit, regardless of whether I really liked them or not.

My social life has expanded and I regularly go out with friends for meals, or to events. In the past I often made excuses not to go. I’ve made so many WW friends as well. I have workshop friends, Connect friends that I’ve met on my travels and walking group friends, all people I know have my back and who know I have theirs.

I am most proud of reaching my goal weight and maintaining it for over 20 months 2 years now. I’m proud that I now live a really healthy lifestyle and when friends ask me to go on a hike I’m excited to do it and am confident that I can physically manage. I’m confident to be seen at the beach in bathers too.

One thing I am especially proud of happened last year. I went swimming with a whale shark and snorkelled for several days on Ningaloo Reef, WA. I wore a wetsuit for the first time ever and it wasn’t even the biggest size! I never, ever dreamed I could do something so exciting.

My advice to someone starting out on WW is to take it slowly, making small changes as they learn the program, then to set small weight loss and exercise goals that are easy to reach. It’s so important to seek out people who have similar goals, so read about other members and comment and post on Connect.