"I no longer needed anxiety medication - exercise is my daily pill!"

Chantell Gaspari use to suffer from PTSD after losing everything in the Black Saturday fires.

Chantell's weight loss story

Name: Chantell Gaspari
Weight loss: 54kg
Was: 123kg
Now: 69kg
Height: 165cm
Goal Weight: 67kg
Age: 32
How long it took: 3 year
How she did it: Group Coaching in Mernda, Vic with Jesse McVeigh; then Online Coaching

Then & Now

Chantell Gaspari

“I'm not about depriving myself and I love that WW supports that.”


Chantell GaspariFinding happy

When I was six weeks pregnant with my first daughter, Ciarah, now 6, we lost our house in Flowerdale, Victoria, to the Black Saturday bushfires. It was incredibly traumatic - we lost absolutely everything: all of our belongings; as well as our two dogs and our cat. I can see now that I shut down emotionally. Being pregnant, I didn’t want to stress myself out, or anyone else. My husband Paul talked more openly about it at the time, but I really didn’t deal with it. I guess it was going to come out eventually.

Panic sets in

My panic attacks started about two months after I’d given birth to Ciarah and about three weeks before we moved into the new house we’d built in Flowerdale. They were constant. My heart would race really fast and I felt like I’d lost control of my body. I had no idea what was going on. When I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I don’t think I believed it. It took me a while to understand how intensely powerful the mind can be over the body.

The PTSD definitely affected what I ate. There was a lot of paperwork involved with the rebuild of the house, which was full-on and stressful. Plus, I was first-time mum with a young baby. I was eating emotionally and having huge portions. I wasn’t exercising and I didn’t pay attention to my food intake at all; I was just in a different world. After my diagnosis, I took anxiety medication for a year. I was already overweight and found it really hard to lose weight while taking the medication. It made me numb-like I couldn’t really feel my own emotions. My first year of being a new mum is a complete blur.

Motherhood was a massive driving force behind changing my life

Towards the end of 2011 I felt it was time to face what was causing the anxiety and learn to deal with it. I didn’t want Ciarah to grow up with me like this - motherhood was a massive driving force behind changing my life, so I made some decisions and took control of my situation. I came off the medication and I went to the doctor to go on the list for gastric band surgery, but the wait was up to two years. Instead, I promised myself I’d try and lose weight myself, so I joined WW. A year later I received the surgeon’s letter for my appointment, but I’d already lost 20kg and I knew I could do it - so the letter went straight to the bin.

Getting fitter

The first thing I did was start exercising. I’d pop Ciarah in her pram and walk for about 40 minutes, or do a Zumba DVD when she was sleeping. I’d always enjoyed sport when I was younger, but this was the first time I’d exercised in a while and it really helped. That endorphin rush was a crucial factor in helping me overcome my anxiety. It made me feel so good that I no longer needed my anxiety medication - exercise became my daily pill! Plus, as a mum it’s so important to do something just for you. My workout is time spent just on myself. I aim to exercise five times a week - I do Body Attack, Body Pump or Body Combat DVDs at home. Some days I just go for a 90-minute walk. I listen to my body - if I’m tired I scale it back.

Finding balance

I love playing with Ciarah and my second daughter, Indie, 14 months, and going for walks together. I also enjoy cooking and as a family we eat lots of salads and healthy stuff. I learned to reduce my portions by being sure to eat enough protein to fill me up at meals. For breakfast I’ll eat porridge with protein powder; for a snack I’ll have some fruit and almonds. Lunch is normally a chicken or tuna salad. I like a coffee in the afternoon for a boost, and dinner is usually fish or chicken with vegies and maybe some potato. I’m not about depriving myself and I love that WW supports that. I have chocolate and treats when I want to, but not on a regular basis. Instead, I love mango or banana whizzed up in a blender and then frozen - it’s just like ice-cream.

Chantell Gaspari

My happy place

Having gone through what I have, it makes me appreciate what I’ve got and puts things into perspective. If you’re in good health and happy, that’s honestly all that matters. Being with my family makes me happy. Possessions and things - they’re all replaceable. I’m thankful for the strength I’ve developed and I’m excited to be so near Goal now. I think I’ll probably buy a new dress and go out somewhere to show off my new body!

Chantell GaspariChantell gets real

After Chantell has lost more than 50kg she posted a photo on a private WW Facebook group with this message:

“Loose skin is something I get asked about a lot. I’ve got some, but it’s not too bad considering I’ve lost 53.2kg and had two kids. My arms aren’t too bad and when I do more weights they tone up nicely. My thighs probably annoy me the most. But I’d never let the thought of loose skin stop me from reaching my goal. I want to be the healthiest version of myself for my girls. If you have a large amount of weight to lose, please don’t let the thought of loose skin stop you.”
So many women complimented Chantell for her courage. All of us have been through life’s ups and downs – we have scars and skin that’s been along for the ride. Let’s applaud our achievements and not look for reasons to fail! Chantell looks beautiful and she has done amazing things for her health. Go Chantell!