When Sam's marriage broke down, she was suddenly alone with 5 children - one adopted daughter and 4 long-term foster children. She was already having problems with her weight but the breakup made the weight spin out of control.
Getting through the day ensuring her children were loved and cared for took all her time and energy - with nothing left to take care of herself. At her heaviest, Sam was 128 kg.
"I was exhausted, desperately overweight, unhappy and I felt unloved and unlovable," Sam says.
Sam has been active for most of her life and up until her mid 30s she'd be up for anything - new sports, volunteering, scuba diving, community events, parachute jumping, sailing, canoeing and abseiling. But that slowly stopped as she started gaining weight.
After getting married the weight started creeping on as her activity levels fell but her diet stayed the same. A vicious sweet tooth meant she would think nothing of eating a family block of chocolate or a packet of biscuits in one sitting.
"As I live in the tropics I could not wear 'cover up' clothes but shorts became a thing of the past. Going to the beach or pool with the kids was embarrassing. I also suffered with heat rashes for the first time, in places where skin 'folded'. I was hot, uncomfortable and unhappy. But I continued to eat."
Moment of truth
Sam's moment of truth came when she asked herself, 'where do I want to be in 10 years?'. The only thing she knew for sure was that she didn't want to be overweight any more.
"The first thing that came into my mind and stayed there, like a stone in my shoe – annoying and uncomfortable – was that I did not want to be worrying about my weight, my health and trying to suck in my un-suckable stomach for the next 10 years."
Joining the Total Wellbeing Diet
Sam lives on Thursday Island without many of the services people in cities take for granted. The cost of living is high, access to fresh food can be limited and there aren't all that many drop-in yoga classes.
The flexibility of the Total Wellbeing Diet meant it was the perfect choice for her and the Dietitian Plus service put her in contact with Dietitians which helped her along. She also loved being connected to other people in the same situation.
"I really enjoyed the support from the forum. I found other members were positive and encouraging and it was equally beneficial to read about people who had achieved great results and people who were just starting off or posts from those who were struggling."
The key to losing weight
For Sam, one of the keys to her weight loss was recognising why she was eating. Usually she wasn't eating because she was hungry but to meet other needs.
"It is an important part of my journey to recognise these needs and have strategies for how I might meet them, which does not involve eating for the 'wrong' reasons, in order to mask uncomfortable feelings," she says.
All in all, Sam lost 38 kg* but still has some way to go to reach her goal. Her sense of adventure has come back and she's loving the change. She's joined an outrigging team and to reward herself for the weight loss, she's gotten her motorbike licence.
*Individual results may vary
"Well - I like myself again - that’s quite a change," Sam says, "I now have my motorbike license and a bike that I love to ride and don’t feel ashamed to be on it. Probably one of the simplest pleasures is wearing shorts again, and being comfortable in them."