I lost 45kg thanks to The Bachelor
WHEN Kate Acciarito saw ads on Facebook for the 28 nutrition and training program by reality TV alumni Sam Wood, she was initially sceptical.
"I remember thinking, 'Well, let's see what this Bachelor can do,'" she says from her home in Melbourne's Maribyrnong.
But it would prove to be life-changing for the 31-year-old psychiatric nurse.
Kate had struggled with her weight since high school.
"I was always on the bigger side," she says.
"From year 7, I was bullied to the point where I was in a really bad place.
"The thing that comforted me the most was eating.
"I grew to dislike myself so much I kind of gave up and didn't care.
"I knew I was overweight but I just didn't care.
"I would go and hide and eat in private," she says.
"I'd eat McDonald's in my car or room and then I'd have dinner on top of that. When I felt anxious I would eat."
Things got even worse when she left home and headed to university.
"When I was at uni, I just hated myself. I didn't do any exercise and then there was the partying and going out … I just stacked on the weight between the ages of 21 and 27."
At 27 she weighed around 118kg.
"I hated myself. I avoided mirrors, I cut off size tags from all my clothing so I didn't have to see that I was a young girl wearing size 22 tops," she says.
Her big wake-up call came when she went to a surgeon to request a breast reduction.
"I started getting recurring fat cysts and I had a strong history of breast cancer in my family.
"So mum and I went to plastic surgeon to see about getting a breast reduction.
"I walked in and he said 'you would benefit so much from a breast reduction, but it would be waste of your time and money doing it at your weight … you're awfully overweight for your age,'" she says.
"Doctors sometimes just have no bedside manner … The tears welled up in my eyes as he went on to tell me that I was 'morbidly obese', and an 'unfit candidate'. He told me to lose at least 20kg, then come back to him. He even whispered to his nurse, 'She won't be back.'"
Kate says the exchange was a big "whack in the face" that spurred her on to make a change.
She booked the operation for eight months' time, giving herself a deadline to lose 25kg.
Despite the fact that she achieved her weight-loss goal through an extremely restrictive diet, she felt the intense eight-month stint that helped her drop the 25kg wasn't sustainable post-surgery.
That is when she stumbled across the ad for 28 by Sam Wood.
"It wasn't a really enjoyable experience losing the weight by myself before the surgery and that's what appealed to me about 28," she says.
"There's a great online community cheering you on, so you don't feel like you're doing it by yourself.
"I've made some great friends that live all over Australia through the program - being able to share your highs is great, but I really appreciate it during the times when I am not going so good … having someone say 'I went through that and this is what I did,' helps keep me on track for my weight loss."
The 28 program encourages people to complete 28-minute online workouts, which can be done in their own home.
Meal plans and recipes for a dietary overhaul are also included, as is an online support crew to answer questions and offer motivation.
"It's like having a personal trainer in your house whenever you would like one," Kate says.
The program has taught her to make a permanent lifestyle change rather than embark on a restrictive quick-fix diet that gets results in the short term, but is ultimately unsustainable.
"What's different is the exercise and the healthy eating is something that comes naturally to me now," she says. "It's my way of life."
Since joining the program two years ago she has lost a further 20kg.
"All up I've lost about 45kg since I was in that doctor's surgery," she says.
While the physical benefits are obvious, Kate says her new healthier lifestyle has had an enormous impact on her emotional wellbeing.
"I have never loved myself, in fact I hated myself. I hated my weight, I hated my negative thought pattern, I hated my life - how did I expect anyone to love me if I didn't love myself?
"Sure I've lost 45kg but what I have gained far outweighs that number. I have gained love and respect for myself. I am fit, healthy and I'm happy with myself.
"I'm no longer scared of life - I'm excited for it.