"I couldn’t have done it without her."

When it comes to these cousins, it’s support, not sabotage, that makes all the difference.

Nicole & Saskia's weight loss story

Name: Nicole Kelsall
Weight loss: 12kg
Was: 83kg
Now: 71kg
Height: 171cm
Age: 36
How she did it: 1-on-1 Coaching at the Castle Hill Lifestyle Centre, NSW, with Alison Bronger.
Name: Saskia Baker
Weight loss: 11.1kg
Was: 82kg
Now: 70.9kg
Height: 168cm
Age: 35
How she did it: Group Coaching in Chatswood, NSW, with Narelle, Chris, Janette and Maggie.

Before & Now

For cousins and best friends Saskia Baker (left) and Nicole Kelsall, the journey to weight loss has spanned 16 years. Both joined WW as 20-year-olds back in 2000 when they ‘forgot’ to count their alcohol points! Since then they’ve had a rollercoaster journey, with Saskia moving countries and Nicole having three children. With Saskia’s wedding just around the corner, they’re both at Goal, have become Lifetime Members and their friendship is stronger than ever.

So you’re cousins?

Saskia Yes – Nicole is six weeks older. We grew up like sisters, really. Our mums are sisters and best friends, too. I was Nicole’s bridesmaid back in 2006.
Nicole And I’m going to be Saskia’s maid-of- honour next year. Not many people are lucky enough to have the bond we have.

Tell us about the first time you tried Weight Watchers.

Saskia It was in 2000. I’d applied for a job as a flight attendant and had an interview coming up. There were weight restrictions and I knew I needed to lose a few kilos.
Nicole I joined because I felt left out that I couldn’t wear the clothes I wanted to. I was a size 16 and I wanted to get down to a 10 or 12.

Has weight always been an issue for you?

Saskia We were both pretty sporty during high school, but when we went on to further study we started drinking alcohol, eating hot chips... and never burning it off.
Nicole We’ve always needed to watch our weight but it was easy in our teens.
Saskia Weight issues run in the family, so we’ve always been conscious of trying to pre-empt our future by being aware of our bodies and what we’re fuelling them with. Our mothers have become more proactive, too - they have FitBits and we often hold family challenges. They’ve both adopted better eating habits through our knowledge of SmartPoints and using WW recipes.

What was that first WW experience like?

Saskia Well, it worked. We both lost weight. But while we counted our food points religiously, we didn’t bother counting alcohol. I think our metabolisms were faster back then, too. We can’t afford not to count wine now! The good thing is that counting those points has made me more vigilant about what I drink. I try not to have wine too often.

And the second time?

Saskia I joined again in 2007. I’d stopped flying and moved back home from Bahrain, where I lived from age 20 to 25. Gradually the weight piled back on. Eventually I weighed 88kg, the heaviest I’ve ever been. I joined WW with another friend. I was a bit all over the place. I lost about five kilos and felt quite confident, so I slacked off and the weight came back on. That’s when I tried another weight-loss program. It worked, but it was so restrictive I couldn’t sustain it. You had to measure the amount of carbs, fat and protein in each meal. The workouts were intense. I dropped weight but I couldn’t keep it up forever. I got down to 72kg, then two years later it all packed back on. It took me a long time to figure out that in order to maintain a healthy weight I can’t eat whatever I want whenever I want to.

And you, Nicole?

Nicole I’ve done WW a few times because I’ve had three kids. In 2008, I joined after my first child. I was 90kg and I got down to 76kg. After having my second child, I was back up to 90kg and managed to get down to 74kg. Then I became a Coach and the final 4kg came off. I’m currently on maternity leave with my third child. I didn’t gain as much this time so I didn’t have as much to lose.

Saskia, you joined again last year. What was the trigger this time?

Saskia I met my fiancé in December 2014. He didn’t care what I weighed, but I knew that if I was happy, our before relationship would be better. I tried on some shorts in February that I’d worn in December, and they didn’t fit. I knew it was time to rejoin.
Nicole By this stage, I was a Coach and I’d maintained for a while.
Saskia I needed Nicole’s support. I look after her kids sometimes, and when I’m at her place there’s always a WW meal and healthy snack for me. I have friends who say things like, ‘Oh, what harm will one piece of cake do?’ But Nicole knows how important this is to me, and she’d never say that. She’s so supportive.

Now that you’ve lost the weight, what’s it like to maintain it?

Saskia Maintenance can be harder than the initial loss, to be honest. Sometimes I need a kick up the butt!
Nicole We both have a tendency to go up and down. We need to stay on track, but we help each other along the way.

What was your relationship with food like before WW?

Saskia Food is a comfort for me and I had some really bad habits. I knew weight loss was about what you ate and how you burned it off; it’s not rocket science. But it wasn’t always easy to remember that when I felt low or tired and wanted something to eat.
Nicole I never understood why I was overweight. I’d look around and see people eating pizzas, burgers, chips, and I’d think, ‘Oh, this is how other people eat.’ So I thought, ‘I should be able to eat this and not gain weight.’ I drank thickshakes all the time! I didn’t even realise how high they are in SmartPoints! I’ve had to change my entire way of eating.

And now?

Saskia It’s so much better. Even though I watch what I eat, I never deprive myself. At Easter, I had my Lindt bunny. It was 27 SmartPoints value but it was worth it. Of course I don’t do that every day – or even every week!
Nicole We cook together all the time using Weight Watchers cookbooks. If you have someone who is trying to lose weight at the same time as you it makes a huge difference. You don’t feel like you’re missing out, and you don’t feel the need to apologise about saying no to things. There’s no pressure to eat the chips and the burger. Saskia would never question what I ate!

Do you think you could have done this without each other?

Nicole I can’t imagine doing it without Saskia. It wouldn’t have been the same. We lean on each other so much.
Saskia No matter whom I marry, Nicole is my person. She just gets me. She knows everything about me. I couldn’t have done it without her.

The importance of support

Supporting each other means truly understanding each other’s goals and motivations.

  • We try new things. “Saskia is really into food – she encourages me to cook things I normally wouldn’t. It’s a great way to explore healthy recipes,” says Nicole.
  • We understand the journey. “I lost the weight probably more slowly than I could have,” says Saskia. “But I needed to make sure I could still live my life. Nicole always understood. For some people, it’s motivating to have a huge weight loss quite quickly, but I needed to do this more sustainably.”
  • We tell it like it is. “Other friends might say, ‘Oh, it’s just a few glasses of Champagne,’ or, ‘It’s only a slice of cake,’ but Nicole knows I need to stay on track,” says Saskia. “Instead, she’ll say, ‘You had Champagne last night, this morning it’d be better if you had poached eggs on toast, not a ham and cheese croissant.’ I really appreciate that.”
  • We don’t question healthy choices. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to justify not eating chips when I’m already having a burger,” says Nicole. “Saskia knows exactly where my head is at, and would never make me explain myself.”

Last updated 26th April 2017