"These days I don’t have any joint pain."
Anna's journey to a healthy weight
Name: Anna Firth
Weight loss: 13kg
Goal weight: 72kg
How long it took: 10 months
How she did it: Group Coaching with Jess and Lynn in Berwick, Vic
Then & Now
Anna’s top tip: “Don’t hold onto your fat clothes ‘just in case’ because you never want to need them again!”
Anna's turning point
Anna Firth was used to early-morning wakeup calls and late-night training sessions. She had played State League volleyball from the age of 12, then National League in her 20s. But it was a 7km hike in the Grampians National Park in Victoria last year that had her feeling the strain.
“I was really struggling and huffing and puffing a lot,” Anna recalls. “I’d never been so unfit in my whole life. My husband, James, was ahead of me and kept turning around to ask what I was waiting for. I said I was stopping to look at the beautiful views, but really I just had to catch my breath!”
Making a change
As soon as she returned home, Anna, a 35-year-old school teacher, joined Weight Watchers with a healthy Goal weight in mind. Today, at 73kg, and just 1.5kg away from Goal, she is already enjoying the benefits.
“When I was heavier I had a lot of pain in my joints. My knees and hips would ache. I had bad sinus infections a lot and constant pains in my stomach. These days I don’t have any pain at all and my digestion is great. I haven’t had any sinus attacks for months. I know 13kg doesn't sound like a lot to lose, but my body is loving this new weight.”
"I’m such a dog person. I don’t go to the gym but I’ll put a leash on our dogs and walk them for hours."
A volleyball dynamo
Rewind about a decade ago and Anna was a dynamo on the volleyball court up against some of Australia’s top players. “I wasn’t the best player in my team but I did represent Victoria in the under-21s and volleyball was a big part of my life. I loved it and it kept me fit,” she says.
Then, at 23, Anna developed a stress fracture in her spine and pain became her constant companion. “It got to the point where I couldn't sit down properly because the pain was terrible. My physiotherapist said I needed to take a year off, which I did. Then I played a pre-season game and felt the pain in my back again. I thought, ‘I’ve had so much pleasure playing volleyball for so long and achieved so much, but perhaps it’s time to move on.’ Apart from coaching, I haven’t played volleyball for eight years now.”
Not surprisingly, Anna’s fitness level began to drop off and, slowly at first, her weight crept up. “I’m one of those people who hit puberty and found I could no longer just eat whatever I wanted. My weight often fluctuated. But all my volleyball training kept my weight in check, so when I stopped it became a problem.”
Learning how to eat healthy
Once she started moving less, Anna had no idea what she should be eating and she needed to learn about food and nutrition. For her, the WW Program has become a learning tool.
“I used to fill up on carbs, dairy and sugar and when I stopped playing sport it all caught up with me,” she says. “I used to eat a lot of pasta – I love it. Thursday night is still pasta night but I don’t have anywhere near as much as I used to and I make my own sauce so there are no hidden sugars.”
Falling in love with healthy cooking
Using the WW cookbooks as inspiration, Anna and James started experimenting with healthier recipes. “James was the main cook in our family, but when I joined WW I would make a different evening meal to his. He’d taste it and ask me to make it for him the following night!”
Anna now also makes most of her lunches and snacks to take to school. “I used to have a biscuit with my morning tea, but now I have a Cruskit with sliced tomato.”
She has also changed her habits when eating out. “I used to meet my girlfriends at a cafe and order an iced coffee and an apple and banana muffin – I actually thought the muffin was healthy because it had fruit in it! Now I order a skinny flat white and eat an apple on my way home.”
Mindful meal prep
Buying fresh produce, cooking food from scratch, watching her portion sizes and tracking all helped turn the scales around, but it was Anna’s two furry friends, Maxwell and Russell, who inspired her to find a new fitness routine.
“I’m such a dog person. I don’t go to the gym but I’ll put a leash on our dogs and walk them for hours. Maxwell is seven and Russell is just a two year old puppy. They’re great mates and they really keep me on my toes.”
Getting to goal weight
Anna’s biggest challenge now is to lose the last 1.5kg to reach Goal. “It’s been hard to lose this last little bit, but when I look at how far I’ve come over the past 10 months, I know I’ll get there.”