'I meal prepped my way to an 11kg weight loss'

Penni Bowd always thought she was too busy to shop and cook, but when she decided something had to change she realised being prepared was the key to long-term weight loss. 

Working around the clock thanks to shift work meant I was too tired to be bothered shopping for ingredients and cooking healthy meals. I did little to no exercise and my lack of energy meant I snacked on sweet, sugary foods to get a boost and I hid chocolate throughout the house for a quick pick-me-up.

Generally, I would skip breakfast on a work day, eat a donut and coffee for morning tea and try to be healthy for lunch but if I didn't take my own to work, I ended up buying rubbish from the canteen. While I would try to have healthier options at dinnertime for the kids, I always ended up raiding my stash of chocolates afterwards.

My starting point

At my heaviest, I was 86.2kg. I know my poor food choices and lack of exercise contributed to my weight gain, but there were also other factors. I studied for four years, which was stressful, and towards the end of that period my dad got very sick and passed away within 11 months. Obviously I've been an emotional eater!

One day, my sister-in-law organised for us to go to an aerial yoga class. About half an hour before leaving, I couldn't find anything to wear that would make me look half decent. I was disgusted that I let myself get to this point so I texted her saying I was tired from night duty and wasn't feeling well. I stayed home in bed and cried the afternoon away.

Penni credits Sam Wood's 28 program for her body transformation. Images: Supplied

Penni credits Sam Wood's 28 program for her body transformation. Images: SuppliedSource:BodyAndSoul

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The first step

I joined the 28 by Sam Wood program and made a heap of changes. I decided I was going to do exactly what Sam said. I cleaned out the fridge, pantry and freezer and threw out anything I'd be tempted to eat. I told my husband I needed this to work and he supported me throughout it.

I committed to the first eight weeks, so during this period I didn't go out to eat. On Sundays, I shopped for the week ahead so there were no excuses. I batch-cooked meals I could freeze so I wouldn't snack on rubbish or cave in and get takeaway.

Those first few weeks, I felt so overwhelmed with all the prep involved but it's true what they say - if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

My daily routine looks so different now

Now my diet is a lot better. For breakfast I have coffee and gluten-free toasted muesli with Greek yoghurt and raspberries. Lunch is usually rice paper rolls with peanut sauce and dinner is san choy bau. I now snack on lemon protein balls, which I pre-make and keep in the freezer, or capsicum and carrot sticks with hummus.

Exercise is now a big part of my life. To begin with, I committed to five days doing Sam's 28 workouts in my lounge room and on weekends I made sure I went for a walk or to a Pilates class

Sam spoke about running one week and how it sheds weight, so I approached it slowly. I would walk, run, walk and just made sure I kept moving until I built up my fitness. The more I did, the more it made me feel good. Now I'll do a 28 workout as well as run. I even go running with my 14 year old son - although he laps me!

The weight kept coming off

I lost 11.4kg in 8 weeks. I'm now 74.8kg and still have a few more to go.

Throughout this, I learnt that I can do anything I put my mind to. Excuses don't change your weight so if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

Initially, my biggest challenge was the food prep. Now it's become a habit. For others starting out, I highly recommend prepping for the week ahead.

Also, get workouts done early, take each day as it comes and let people know what you want to achieve, so they can support you and cheer you on.