By Nathalie Bonney @NathalieBonney
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Videographer / director: Dean Swindell
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Shannon Lane, James Thorne
Editor: Florence Kennard
When doctors told Sally Lee she was clinically obese, it was the support of her long-term partner that helped her lose 68lbs in 16 months.
The 25-year-old, from the Gold Coast, Australia, had been unhappy with her body for some time and was encouraged by her fiancé Jeremy to get into fitness – not because he was unhappy with the way she looked but because it was making her so depressed.
Sally told Barcroft TV: “It definitely had an effect on my mental health.
“I was very, very self-critical and I started to really detest and hate what I saw in the mirror especially when I'd go buy clothes. I'd be in the fitting rooms and there'd be times where I was almost to the point where I was ready to cry because I didn't want to buy bigger sizes.
“It had started affecting my confidence and my relationship as well. And it became very selfish for me to be so uncomfortable in my relationship with my fiancé and I knew that I had to make a change.”
The couple first met at high school 12 years ago. Over time Sally’s lack of body confidence started to effect multiple areas of her life.
She said: “Going out on social events with friends and family, I didn't feel comfortable getting dressed up. I avoided going to anything that involved swimwear, like going to the beach with my friends or barbecues around the pool, which is something we love to do here.”
Fiancé Jeremy had to watch on as his partner drew more and more into herself.
“It got to the point where she was just fed up with feeling the way she felt. And it took a little bit of a kick to get it started,” he said.
Adopting a tough love approach; Jeremy had to reason with Sally that only she had the power to change her mindset.
Sally said: “He said to me, ‘I don't understand, you work so hard for everything you want in life and you make it happen - like you wanted your dream job, and you wanted to build a house and you made that happen. The one thing you can't seem to do is lose the weight, you give up after two weeks.’
“That was the turning point for me because it was the hard but true words I needed to hear to kick my butt into gear and start this journey.”
Sally started working out up to six times a week, doing a mix of weights and cardiovascular training. She also changed her diet; swapping the takeouts of her early twenties for steamed vegetables and lean proteins.
Once she had lost the weight, Sally needed another target to keep her focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle so she entered herself into a bikini competition.
Sally said: “I needed something further to motivate me and push me to keep going and keep changing my body and transforming in a different way.
“I used the bikini competition as another goal for me to continue to change my body and transform, and in a way that I was really fit and had that muscle rather than just weight loss.”
After competing at a transformation bikini competition, for women who have undergone significant weight loss, Sally entered the Australian Women’s Natural Body Sculpting show where she placed in a number of categories including first for Fitness Intermediate, second in Bikini Novice and Bikini Intermediate and third in Fitness under-30.
She said: “I didn't really imagine that I would be on stage wearing such small, tiny, itsy bitsy bikinis. If you'd asked me this a year and a half ago before I'd started on my weight loss journey, if I'd be doing something like this, I would have told you no, I'm never getting up on stage in front of massive crowds of people and wearing things that are very tiny because I could not see myself doing that whatsoever.”
For Sally the bikini competitions and her new fitness routine are about far more than how she looks in a bikini.
She said: “It’s not just losing weight; it's changing your entire lifestyle because it takes that commitment to radically change everything you've been doing. It’s not just: ‘new year, new me’, it's new year, new lifestyle.”