"‘I feel strong – and gorgeous!’"

Gena Patterson has shed 25kg – and kept it off for 10 years! She's become a Coach and embraced her inner fashionista.

Gena's weight loss story

Name: Gena Patterson
Weight loss: 25.2kg
Was:  95.1kg
Now: 69.9kg
Height: 169cm
Age: 44
How long it took: 12 months
How she did it:  Group Coaching with various Coaches in Mackay, Qld

Then & Now

Gena Patterson

Gena ’s top tip:“I drink 1.5L of water before I leave the house – it fills me up and stops me getting dehydrated.” 

“Growing up, I was always the chubby one in my family,” says Gena Patterson, 44. “It got worse after I got married. My husband, Craig, and I socialised and ate out a lot. We were basically living the high life when it came to food.”

Having two babies in two years, holding down a stressful job as a social worker and starting a new business with Craig all took their toll on the scales and on Gena’s health. This was amplified by her grandma’s death and her mother’s triple diagnosis of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and diabetes. “I was so stressed and always felt tired,” Gena says of that time 10 years ago. “I was constantly getting sick. My body was just broken.

Doctor’s orders

Although Gena was aware of her size, it was still an unpleasant shock when her doctor told her she needed to lose weight or her health would continue to suffer. Shortly afterwards, Gena found she couldn’t fit into a size-18 shirt she wanted to wear to an upcoming wedding. “I was bursting out of it,” she recalls. “I was the biggest I’d ever been.” That was the final push she needed. “I told Craig I had signed up to do Weight Watchers. That was that!”

Walk it off

Having avoided it for years, Gena found exercise a challenge when she first joined Weight Watchers. “I bought a treadmill, but I couldn’t do anything on it in the beginning,” she says. “I’d collapse on the floor after a short walk, convinced I was going to have a heart attack.”

But with the support of Craig and her daughters, Grace, now 15, and Sarah, now 14, Gena stuck with it, going a little further and feeling a bit better each time. She also enlisted the help of an exercise buddy – her golden retriever, Lucy. “We go for a walk together every day. She loves it and so do I!”

From struggling to walk a few steps, 10 years later Gena describes herself as “exercise mad”. She says, “I exercise every day, whether it’s walking Lucy, going to the gym or taking a Pilates class. Craig and my daughters often come along with me. We’re all so active these days! I’m doing things I never thought I would do.”

Gena Patterson

Foodie family

Gena’s eating habits also underwent a makeover when she started Weight Watchers. “I learned something new about nutrition at every meeting,” she says. Her key discovery was when it comes to eating well, a little planning goes a long way.

“Writing everything down in a manual tracker at the beginning of each day really helped me with meal planning,” she says. “That’s something I still do every morning. It’s a great way to stay organised with shopping and cooking.”

Having fallen into a pattern of making the same sorts of meals over and over again, Gena also found she enjoyed trying out new kinds of dishes. “I got a lot of inspiration from my Weight Watchers cookbooks when I was slimming down,” she says. “We looked forward to eating something different each night and were never bored.”

These days, Gena’s daughters enjoy helping plan the family’s weekly menu. “They’re always looking through my cookbooks, saying, ‘Let’s try this one!’ They’ve become really adventurous eaters, but really healthy eaters, too. That’s the biggest reward I could ask for.”

Sharing the love

Gena has maintained her weight for 10 years and her journey came full circle when she became a Coach nine years ago. “One of the Coaches from Mackay was talking about a new position that had opened up. Without pausing to think, I put my hand up for the job. It was kismet, I think! Losing weight was life changing for me, so I love that I can help others do the same. It’s very rewarding.”

Feeling strong, healthy and fit

“I’ve always liked fashion – according to my friends, I’m a bit of a clothes horse!” says Gena with a laugh. “Since slimming down, I love being able to go into a shop, pick a size 10 off the rack and know I’m going to feel great in it. That confidence comes not just from being smaller, but also feeling strong, healthy and fit.

“While I love wearing pretty dresses and heels, my jeans are actually my favourite thing I’ve bought since losing weight. When I was bigger, I can always remember watching people in the movies wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, and thinking ‘Oh, gee, I wish!’ Being able to fit into jeans and not worry about a muffin top is amazing! It’s a goal achieved.”

“My kids have become really adventurous, healthy eaters. That’s the biggest reward I could ask for.”