“I've learned to believe in myself and follow my dreams."
Lesleigh's journey to a healthier weight
Name: Lesleigh Bruce
Weight loss: 36kg
How long it took: 12 months
How she did it: Group Coaching in Albany Creek, Qld
Then & Now
“You can’t give up what you really love; it’s all about enjoying everything in moderation, and I could do that with Weight Watchers.”
Overweight from day dot
Eight years ago, Lesleigh Bruce started taking steps to change her life for the better. “I was chubby from day dot,” she says. “I was a chubby child, and then pregnancy added to that. I was always overweight.”
Weighing 107kg, Lesleigh was sick of feeling tired all the time, lacking energy and being in the all-too-common habit among mums of putting her own needs behind those of her two small children, Clayton, now 14, and Amelia, 11. It was time, she decided, to try something new.
A flexible approach to weight loss
Lesleigh joined Weight Watchers and started attending local meetings. It surprised her how easy it all seemed. “It was flexible,” says the 35-year-old. “It wasn't eliminating any particular food group, which I knew wasn't a healthy way to lose weight. You can’t give up what you really love; it’s all about enjoying everything in moderation, and I could do that with Weight Watchers. I still had a Freddo frog every single day. I love chocolate. I’m not going to give it up.”
From size 22 to an 8-10
After losing weight Lesleigh says it took her a long time to acknowledge her efforts. “I never realised just how much I’d changed.” She recalls one major eye-opening moment when she went to visit her GP. “I’ve known her for many years and she’d been with me through two pregnancies. I lost 36kg and went to see her, and she didn’t recognise me. I’ll never forget it, because she said to me, ‘You’re a success story.’” Lesleigh’s knee-jerk reaction was to shoot down that remark. “But my GP insisted, ‘No, you are. You’re absolutely incredible.’ Then I looked at myself and thought, ‘Gosh, I’ve gone from a size 22 to an 8-10’ and it all hit me. ”
Lesleigh admits it’s something she’s still coming to terms with after losing almost a third of her weight. “It’s taken me years to get my head around,” she says. “I’ve been chubby my whole life. Now I realise I was never going to instantly see what everyone else sees. I went about it all so quietly because I didn't want anyone to know. I was so embarrassed about being so big. But of course people did realise because I looked so different.”
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence before. I think my weight held me back my whole life.”
From back pain to taking on the Inca Trail
One of the biggest life changes of all started with her first step towards fitness and regular physical activity. At her heaviest, Lesleigh experienced a lot of back pain and sciatica. “The only way I could exercise was in the swimming pool doing aqua aerobics with the ladies from the retirement village across the road,” she says. As she lost weight, the pain subsided, so she started walking every day, incorporating a lot of hills to give herself a challenge as she pushed the stroller along.
Training sessions, spin classes, bike riding and hiking followed. Then one day, her colleague and her best friend suggested the three of them take on the Inca trail together – a 42km four-day trek in the Andes Mountains in Peru. “It was huge, and I struggled,” she says. “I had altitude sickness beforehand and at night my body ached, but it was incredible. It was the beginning of many happy new things for me.”
Active family holidays with her two kids
Nowadays, Lesleigh gets outdoors as much as she can. “Having outdoorsy children, it’s always a priority to go bike riding with them and take them on walks whenever I can,” she says. She’s been to the top of Mount Pilatus, a 2128m-high massif in Switzerland, and travelled the UK and Europe with her kids.
“A holiday for me used to be going to the beach, hitting the shops, seeing a movie… now it’s going to the Gold Coast hinterland for a 25km hike through the rainforest. To me, that’s the ultimate in relaxation and fun. I really want to do a lot more walking holidays.”
Realising that she was actually enjoying exercise and not feeling like it was a chore was a big moment for Lesleigh. “I really don’t get excited about going to the gym, but I get really excited about the outdoors. I love getting out into the fresh air.”
Healthy comes from the inside out
“I’d love to go skiing in Canada. And I want to do the Mount Kilimanjaro trek in Africa. My older brother works in Africa and I’m sure I could convince him to do it with me. I used to be a really quiet person, and in many ways I still am, but I didn’t have a lot of confidence before. I think my weight held me back my whole life.”
People often tell Lesleigh she’s grounded. She says part of that is that she doesn’t judge anybody. And she talks openly with her children about their health and wellbeing. “It’s not about being skinny; it’s about being healthy from the inside out,” she says. “You have to look after your body. You’re given one precious opportunity in life – I’m reminded of that every day at work.”
“People get stuck in a rut and that’s life – everybody’s busy and things can get chaotic – but in small ways, every day, you deserve to put yourself first.”
The confidence to become a nurse
Losing weight gave Lesleigh the confidence to pursue the career she’d been dreaming about for years. “I wanted to be a nurse from the time I was a little girl,” she says. “My nana was a nurse and I just always knew I was going to be one, then I fell into another career when I grew up and moved to the city. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to follow my true passion if I hadn’t lost all the weight – I learnt to believe in myself.” She’s now a nurse who works with lung transplant patients.
My 3 big wow moments
1. Finishing my first 10km fun run
“That was huge. Getting a trophy has always been on my bucket list. When I finished the Jetty 2 Jetty Fun Run on the Redcliffe Peninsula, I got a medal, so I’m a step closer!”
2. Getting my bike
“I had bikes as a child, but getting a new bike as an adult was really cool.”
3. Summiting Mount Tibrogargan
“It’s a 364m-high rock in the Glass House Mountains National Park. People often get airlifted off the summit because they get stuck up there. It takes a lot of climbing to get to the top and back; it’s quite technical. I can’t believe I’ve managed it twice!”