By Shannon Lane, Nathalie Bonney @NathalieBonney
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Videographer / director: Jesse Vogelaar
Producer: Shannon Lane, Nathalie Bonney, Ruby Coote
Editor: Thom Johnson
After falling pregnant with her first child, Victoria Bowen, from Red Cliffs, Australia, started eating for two quite literally.
But rather than go back to her usual eating patterns before the pregnancy, the 28-year-old says she continued to eat more and more.
Trapped in a cycle where she felt unhappy with her weight and appearance but then in turn comfort ate, Victoria even stopped leaving the house.
The mother of two, also refused to weigh herself, too afraid to see what the final figure was. When she did, she was so shocked, she knew she needed to change, kickstarting a new healthy eating and exercise regime.
Victoria told Barcroft TV: “The first time I got on the scales, I was 120 kilos [264lbs] overweight. That was obviously quite shocking to see. I definitely didn't ever want to see that number ever again, but I also didn't think that I was that big.
“I just remember getting off the scales and crying. I went and laid in my bed and I just cried. It was a really awful moment, but I think it was a real turning point to actually see that number on the scales.
Victoria’s weight had gradually crept up as a result of her pregnancies.
She said: “When I fell pregnant with my first child, I had this mentality of eating for two and I literally took that and ran with it. There were days that I ate a block of chocolate after dinner, every day or every second day or however often I wanted it.
“If I wanted it, I had it. And then I think those eating habits, which were never my habits before they kind of crossed over into after having the baby after having my first and then they just continue then I just continue to balloon and balloon.”
Physically Victoria was in pain, because of the extra weight she carried, which in turn meant she missed out on family activities. There was also the heavy emotional cost.
“I never left the house at my biggest. It was kind of stay home, don't let anyone see you; I was ashamed, embarrassed. I didn't want to go on dates with my husband.
“There was this day, where my husband and my kids were at the park having a picnic. And my husband was running around at the park playing with the kids, going down the slide and just enjoying being a parent.
“I was sitting on the picnic rug, and I went to get up to go and play with them and I couldn't physically get up off the ground - it hurt. My knees were hurting, everything it was just physically impossible for me to go and do what my husband was doing with the kids.
“And I was missing out and it just wasn't fair. Not just on me but also my husband and my kids.”
After weighing herself, the moment of truth spurred Victoria on to begin her body transformation, swapping to whole foods, vegetables and lean meats and ditching soft drinks in favour of water.
She said: “I completely overhauled my lifestyle 100 percent Throughout my journey, I have lost a total of 55 kilos [121lbs].
“I never thought that I could lose the amount of weight that I had. I obviously wanted to lose weight but I never in my wildest dreams that I think that I would lose like a whole person.”
In spite of her incredible weight loss, Victoria was left with excess skin on her stomach, it wasn’t as she said, “the body that I thought I would have at the end.”
The final missing piece in her weight loss jigsaw puzzle was skin removal surgery.
Remembering the moment she woke up after the surgery, Victoria said: “I remember I was so out of it. But I remember just running my hands down my stomach and it was just flat and that was the most amazing feeling.”
With her newfound confidence Victoria has even started competing in bikini fitness shows but for her the biggest win is knowing what she could achieve through will power and determination alone.
“My confidence level has gone up so much.
“I’m really proud that I have achieved what I have because I had that mental barrier of something in me saying that that was too much to achieve. That makes me feel really proud like I have achieved more than what I thought I would achieve at the start.”