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Hiit The Switch

Former yo-yo dieter Charlotte Arnold lost half her body weight by changing up her fitness regime and heading off to boot camp
WHEN I LEFT SCHOOL IN 2002, I put on a lot of weight due to the lifestyle change and not being as active as I was before.
I’d constantly eat, but I never felt full. I had no understanding of calories and I didn’t exercise, which only made things worse.
Hiit The Switch

I was uncomfortable in my skin and couldn’t go shopping for clothes because nothing would fit any more. But it was only when I got to about 120 kg, in around 2006 or 2007, that I knew something had to change.
I was determined to lose weight, and just by counting calories and cutting down on how much I ate, I lost almost 50 kg. But this diet was not
sustainable and, as soon as I got to my goal weight, I went straight back to eating the way I had before. Before long, I’d gained all the weight back. In 2011, I’d reached my heaviest – I weighed 140 kg!

Fluctuating weight
it was around this time that my partner and I decided we wanted to have a baby, but at 140 kg, it was risky to get pregnant: I was so unhealthy and probably wouldn’t be able to move!
I still wasn’t exercising, so once again, I decided to only focus on cutting down calories. I only ate about 5 000–5 500 kJ a day and lost more than 40 kg over the next year and a half. I’d have treats every now and then, but I’d stick within my allowance, aiming to lose about three kilos every month. However, once I reached 95 kg, because it was such a dramatic change from being 140 kg, my weight loss started to plateau.
Luckily, I had a really good pregnancy and managed to eat healthily throughout, so after my son was born in 2014, I didn’t have a lot of baby weight to lose.
But life with a newborn is no easy task, and soon my focus shifted further away from my own health to my baby’s, and the weight slowly crept back on.
When I hadn’t slept and was really tired, I’d end up eating chocolate bars and fast food for lunch as I didn’t have the energy to cook. By December 2015, I was back up to about 115 kg.

Finding a solution
I battled until May 2016 to drop as much of the weight as I could, but I realized dieting alone was not going to cut it. That’s when I made the decision to sign up for an outdoor boot camp.
The first day was awful – and not because it was raining that day. I couldn’t even hold up my body weight to do a plank for longer than a few seconds!
The next day, I could barely walk, but there was something that kept me coming back. We used equipment such as slam balls and sandbags – things I’d never come across before, and incorporated different cardio drills too – including boxing.
I didn’t have time to stop to comprehend how tired I was, as my mind was constantly stimulated.

I never liked going to the gym, because I’d never got any fitter as I didn’t push myself.
But at boot camp, I learnt that by lifting weights and building muscle, I’d burn fatter and tone up. I had never understood that before.
Plus, training with an instructor and a group of supportive people on the same mission as me (even if our goals were different) was so encouraging.
Now, I can eat more than 8 000 kJ a day and still maintain my weight by training four times a week. I’ve also learnt so much about eating properly, such as the role of protein and carbs in my diet.
By August 2016, I finally reached my goal weight – it was a long road, but I’ve kept the weight off ever since! Every day of my life, I used to be either gaining weight or dieting, but now I’ve stayed the same size, and it’s not that difficult any more.
In the past, I was depressed, but now training is my therapy – it helps my mind as well as my body, and I haven’t felt this good about myself in years. I’m happy and more confident, and able to run around with my little boy.
My new goal is to set a good example for him.