"You don't have to give up the foods you love."
Sarah's journey to a healthy weight
Name: Sarah Van Dyke
Weight loss: 15kg
How long it took: 10months
How she did it: Group Coaching in Sunshine Coast, Qld
Then & Now
“Don’t cut out any food that you can’t cut out for the rest of your life.”
Putting a WW twist on popular dishes
For anyone trying to lose weight, muffins are usually out of bounds, but Sarah, a former home economics teacher, couldn’t face a future without her favourite treat, so she set to work and devised a delicious muffin recipe for just 2 SmartPoints per serve.
She’s also put a Weight Watchers twist on other delicious treats such as sticky date pudding, cream horns, apple pies, Eton mess, trifles, easy pasta bake and Tuscan chicken (just to name a few!). The recipe getting all the accolades is her famous Nutella muffins. Each one has a spoonful of the chocolate hazelnut spread in the centre and has only 3 SmartPoints.
“People want to eat normally. They want to be able to reach for a healthy treat and they want recipes that are simple and use everyday ingredients.”
Gathering a cult foodie following
Sarah's recipes tick every box so it’s not surprising that after she launched her Facebook page, Sarah’s Recipes AUNZ, in December 2016, she had more than 7,000 fans within just three months.
Not only do people love her food, they love the results. “They tell me, ‘Because of you, I can have my treats and still lose weight’, but I just provide the recipes. They do the work.” Anyone still doubting that a person who eats muffins can lose weight and keep it off only has to look at Sarah’s own success.
Learning to manage emotional eating
Sarah initially joined Weight Watchers in January 2011 after seeing a family photo of herself at Christmas. “I thought, ‘Gosh, you really need to do something about this,’” she recalls.
She and her former husband and their daughter, Alyssa, had just returned from 16 months living in Chile, South America. “I had really struggled there. Alyssa was only two, I missed my family, my husband was away working a lot and I did a lot of emotional eating. I used to lunch all the time with the other expat ladies. Everything seemed to revolve around food and alcohol, and eating healthily was expensive.”
At Weight Watchers back in Australia, Sarah “pulled up my big-girl panties” and tracked everything she ate. “I still weigh and measure absolutely everything. It’s the only way for me.”
"I wanted to help my members access my recipes and to make sure even those who aren’t confident cooks can follow them."
Becoming a Coach and helping others
In 2012, Sarah was invited to be a Coach and leapt at the chance to help others feel as fantastic as she did since her weight loss. She has now increased her involvement and works in other Weight Watchers roles as a 1-on-1 over the phone and online Coach . Her Facebook page is a labour of love – and probably the biggest job of all as she responds to queries, devises recipes and taste-tests them on her lucky neighbours.
The ups and downs of weight maintenance
Her recent success was winning the 'Regional Coach Back to Goal' in the Healthy Life Awards. The top of Sarah’s Goal range is 71kg. Last year, she crept up to 73kg. “It wasn’t healthy – and it was a bad look for a Coach. I felt like a fraud in front of my members,” she says.
“I wasn’t being kind to myself. I’d been through a divorce, I’d been helping Alyssa, now 10, with her emotions, and I didn’t give myself positive talk. There are times when life just becomes too difficult. I let myself go and went under.”
“I’m now back down to 66kg and try to keep focused on changing my habits. People can achieve their Goal, but if they don’t face their triggers they roll back into bad habits.”
Helping others lose weight and enjoy food
There were tears when Sarah recounted her story at the award presentation. “I have 100 per cent care of Alyssa and I needed to do something for both of us,” she says. “To be rewarded for that in front of my peers was massive.”
Recently, Sarah was on the phone when a member asked for her name. “Are you the Sarah from Sarah’s Recipes? I’m about to make your banana muffin!” she exclaimed. "That’s always happening and it’s totally unexpected. I just wanted to help my group access my recipes and to use my home economics background to make sure even those who aren’t confident cooks can follow them.”
Sarah's recipe for weight loss success
“I love walking and live near the beach on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Walking on the sand enables me to work on my fitness and mindset. I switch off, immerse myself in the surroundings and give myself time to be me.”
“I eat fresh, in-season ingredients that are less expensive. Flavour is hugely important. If a dish is boring, no-one wants to eat it. I always have good SmartPoints snacks on hand to stop me reaching for chips or chocolate. When planning meals, I start with protein and build around that. There are always staples such as turkey mince, steak, chicken breast and seafood in the freezer.”
“It’s important to focus on me, to be kind to myself and to know it’s okay to have a bad week. I understand why and what to do about it. One bad week doesn’t make a bad year. It’s like the saying: ‘If you have one flat tyre, you don’t slash the other three’. At Weight Watchers, we know how emotions influence weight loss.”