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"I love feeling like ‘me’ again."

Fertility issues tested Kirsty Villiers and her husband, but now they’re slimmer, healthier – and parents of two gorgeous children.

Kirsty's weight loss story

Name: Kirsty Villiers
Weight loss: 26kg
Was:86kg
Now: 60kg
Height: 163cm
Age: 31
How long it took: 9 months
How she did it: Group Coaching in Elderslie, NSW, with Sharon Zenkis.

Then & Now
Kirsty before and now

Since she was young, Kirsty, a hairdresser from Sydney, had a certain perception of herself. “I’d always been heavy, and I think being bigger was part of my identity. I could never see myself being thin – I’d tell myself things like, ‘You’re not meant to be small – your body’s not built like that.’”

In a way, having a loving partner from a fairly young age didn’t help.

“I met Scott when I was 18. Maybe if I’d been single around that time I’d have taken better care of myself,” she says. “I’m grateful that Scott loves me for who I am and would never say anything about my weight, but sometimes you need someone to pull you into line.”

Trying for a family

When Scott, now 35, proposed, Kirsty lost 10kg before the wedding. “I knew I was getting heavier and heavier, but I’d only set goals to lose up to 10kg - the idea of getting to where I am now just didn’t seem achievable,” she explains. They then started trying for a family and ran into a bit of difficulty.

“It took us more than two years to have our daughter Harper, now 4. We had diagnosed infertility issues and tried IVF twice but it wasn’t successful. It was probably one of the most stressful periods of my life. When you’re newly married – and young – you just don’t expect to have to go through that. Before going to work I’d have to go for blood tests and give myself injections. As a hairdresser I was on my feet constantly and dealing with clients so even if I was having a bad day I’d still have to put on a happy face. It was really hard at times,” she says.

“It was a time I should have been taking care of myself but the stress of it pushed me in the other direction. I was overweight but I didn’t think I was as big as I was. Looking back now, I’m surprised the doctors didn’t say anything. I wasn’t healthy and I believe there was a link between my being overweight and having trouble with IVF.”

A natural surprise

Despite failures with IVF, Kirsty ended up falling pregnant naturally. They welcomed their Harper into the world in March 2012. Yet after the birth, Kirsty’s weight continued to balloon.

“I realised how big I was when I was at a Mother’s Day picnic. There were photos taken of me on that day and it hit me - I was shocked, but it was a good shock as it motivated me to do something about it.”

Kirsty Villiers and her daughter

Joining WW

“When I joined WW after I had Harper, I was 92kg. I told my Coach Sharon that my goal was to weigh 75kg, which is still technically overweight. Sharon said, ‘When we get there maybe we can adjust your goal’, and I remember thinking, ‘This woman’s nuts if she thinks I’m going to lose more than 20kg!’”

At that time Kirsty and Scott were hoping to add to their family. “We’d been trying for over a year when I joined WW. After eight weeks I’d lost 8kg – and that’s when I found out I was pregnant. It’s impossible to say if it’s coincidence or not – but taking care of your body definitely helps,” she says.

“I was in a totally different headspace during my second pregnancy. I didn’t put on as much baby weight as I did with Harper and I was more conscious about what I ate. I knew as soon as my son was born I’d go back to WW.” Madden was born in June 2015, and three weeks later Kirsty did just that, weighing in at 86kg.

Making changes

For Kirsty, adapting to the Program wasn’t too hard. “For me, food is psychological, so I didn’t ask what I needed to cut out, but what I needed to slow down on. I didn’t want to start banning foods I enjoyed because I knew it wouldn’t last.”

“WW has taught me the importance of portion sizes – I eat pasta occasionally and I don’t have seconds. I still love mashed potato, but I plan ahead and if I know I’m having it for dinner, then I’ll have a lean chicken salad for lunch.”

Kirsty’s not the only one to have slimmed down. “Scott had some weight to lose, but he wasn’t mentally ready to do it when I did,” she says. “He joined online six weeks ago and has already lost 11kg. My weight loss inspired him – he saw the Program work. My mum joined, too – she lost 11kg and has become a Lifetime Member. I’ve even had a few clients say, ‘You’re looking so good, I’m going to join!’” 

Kirsty hopes to inspire Harper and Madden, too. “I want my children to learn to take care of their bodies, eat healthy foods and have treats in moderation. We’ve always been an active family, we love the beach in summer and we’re always walking. It’s just better now because we’ve got more energy to enjoy it.”

5 ways my life has changed

Kirsty’s life looks nothing like it used to. All of her relationships – with herself and those around her – have changed for the better. Go, Kirsty!

1.   Myself
I love feeling like ‘me’ again and looking in the mirror and being content and happy. It’s like a mental weight has been lifted and I know I’ve finally done something to change my lifestyle – I no longer think about food as the enemy.

2.   My body
I never thought I’d be slim or enjoy my body. I still want to tone up and get fitter, but my goal was never to wear a bikini. I just wanted to feel good in my clothes and not have to stress about how big I look. Plus, I’ve had two kids – the body is amazing!

My husband
My husband has been so supportive, which makes a huge difference. Watching me inspired him to take control of his lifestyle and he’s lost weight, too. We’re both happier within ourselves so that definitely makes our partnership and family life so much richer. We’re mentally in a better place and much more confident and that reflects in our marriage. We’re a stronger team now.

4.   My children
I love having more energy for the kids. We’re an active family and we’re always getting out of the house and finding new places to go and see. I can’t wait to spend time at the beach this summer. It will be a relief to not have to worry about how I look.

5. My outlook
I’ve always been social and happy to talk to people, but now when I’ve got an event, I look forward to shopping for it. I used to dread it. I look forward to going to the gym and getting fit – I used to wonder how people enjoyed exercise but seeing my body change and knowing that I’m capable gives me a new determination to never go back to what I was.

Fertility + weight loss 

How much you weigh may impact on your chances of having a baby.

"Women who are overweight – particularly with fat around the mid section – take longer to fall pregnant,” says Robert Norman, Professor of Reproductive and Periconceptual Medicine at the University of Adelaide. Plus, they have more complications during their pregnancy, including high blood pressure, miscarriage and stillbirth.”

In fact, a 2015 German study found that a woman’s chance of conception decreases by five per cent for every one-unit increase in her BMI. That means a woman with a BMI of 32 has half the chance of conceiving compared to a woman with a BMI of 22.

Weight can also reduce your chance of IVF success, says Prof Norman. Research shows that the number and maturity of eggs retrieved is signifficantly less in overweight and obese women compared to women with healthy BMI.

However, recent research found that even a five per cent weight loss improves fertility in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

“Losing weight, eating well and exercising is associated with an improvement in insulin sensitivity and reproductive function. You don’t need to lose a lot of weight but you do need to get metabolically fit [improved insulin functioning] to have a good pregnancy,” says Prof Norman.