Cath had struggled with her weight all her life. She was always 'on a diet', trying a new program, pill, shake or type of exercise. She was an active teenager, and walked a lot at university, but as soon as she got her drivers licence she started piling on the kilos.
"I lost some weight, with the help of a personal trainer, a few years ago. But then I became pregnant and it wasn't until my daughter was two that I realised how much weight I'd gained, I had so much trouble bending down to pick her up."
Following the birth of her daughter, Cath began comfort eating and stopped exercising and her weight crept up. "I was so focused on being a mum that I'd stopped looking after myself, and exercising and my diet weren't a priority. I felt guilty leaving my daughter and relying on other people to take care of her when I did things for myself."
It wasn't until Cath was diagnosed with insulin resistance, was borderline Type 2 diabetic, and had her third high blood pressure reading – all at the age of 35 – that she knew things had to change.
"The doctor told me that if I couldn't control my blood pressure and lose the weight I'd have to start taking medication." That was the day Cath joined Contours gym in Caroline Springs. Cath weighed in at 115kg and was a size 24.
"I stood at the bottom of the stairs with my best friend and supporter – my Mum. We looked at each other and began the upwards climb to the gym. By the time we reached the top, we were so out of breath we could hardly speak. We pushed open the glass doors together and entered the gym, and our lives changed forever."
With her mum by her side and support from her husband, Cath muddled and laughed her way through the weight machines and cardio sessions. "This gym was really different: people cared about my progress and everyone was so friendly, encouraging and supportive. It didn't take long before I started to lose centimetres and had more energy."
Cath wanted to lose weight and improve her fitness. "Mum wanted the same but she was really there for me in the beginning. It's been over two years now and we still go to the gym four or five times a week. It's become social and I hate missing a session, as it gives me the chance to catch up with friends."
Throughout her journey Cath has set certain goals and there have been landmark achievements. "My first goal was to run around the lake. It was only 1km but was a long distance for me in the beginning. I felt great after achieving that and decided to double it to doing 2kms around the lake. Then I started running the tan track."
"The first really big landmark was taking part in a 5km charity Run for the Kids. I felt amazing when I finished that! I couldn't believe how far I'd come." Cath went on to complete the 14km Run for the Kids. "I've done two half marathons this year and now I'm training for the Gold Coast Marathon in July 2012."
Cath has lost over 20kgs and 100cms. She no longer has insulin resistance, has perfect blood pressure and she runs up those stairs every time she goes the gym.
"It's been with the support of my husband, my mum, and the most inspirational group of women at the gym, and now I can't imagine a week without exercise in my life."
Cath focuses on eating healthily, rather than dieting, and plans to continue working on improving her eating habits. "I'm not a size 8, I'm a 14–16. But I'm fit and healthy and can run further than many of those ‘skinny' girls!"
Cath's tips for anyone planning to kick-start a healthy lifestyle are:
Cath's story doesn't end here. "I'm still a work in progress."