Every now and then you meet someone who astounds you with their positive attitude, generosity and energy. Kylie Paterson is one of those people. I had the pleasure of working with Kylie for many years at RMIT University. However it wasn't until we both had moved on in our careers and lives and we kept in contact via social media that I discovered just how inspiring her health and fitness story is and how her discovery of good lifestyle habits and nutritional knowledge contributed to shifting her spiralling health into a story of healthy success.
Here's Kylie's story.
Subconsciously, all of my life I struggled with weight issues. I was born with severe club feet in 1969 which at the time required a lot of surgery, rehab, plastered legs and then callipers. Due to the restrictions of plaster etc. on my lower legs, I developed larger than usual thighs. It wasn’t until I went to primary school that I even knew there was a difference between me and any other child. At this time I also found out I was taller and stronger than other children too. Throughout school I used this to my advantage on the sporting field and competed in every sport, often beating both girls and boys.
When I hit puberty I really noticed the difference because boys were not interested in me at all. In hindsight, I can see that it was more about sporting prowess, alpha personality, and lack of vulnerability that repelled them. When I look back at old photos, I can see that I was just as pretty as all the other girls and not much different in size. My first experience of dieting was quite young. Mum put me on a “diet” (I think I was following the Jenny Craig program that one of mum’s friends was doing at the time) and stopped me from eating sweets. Although I had a sweet tooth, we didn’t eat much sweets/lollies etc. because we lived in the country and didn’t get into town very often. So, while my thin sister and my thin mother could eat chocolate, I was denied. I might have lost 5 pounds at the maximum.
In 1987, during year 12, I found out that I was dyslexic and could now attribute most of my lack of academic success and constant disruption in the classroom to this. Since puberty I had thought I was both ugly and dumb, and started eating more to make myself feel better. Although I was not aware of this at the time and I still had a very active sporting life, I was Vice House Captain, I looked after horses and rode at an elite level, playing netball on Saturdays and competing in ALL school sporting events.
When I left school after the miracle of passing year 12, I kept up the sport, but was more in charge of my eating and now drinking. I learnt to binge drink at 18 and enjoyed it every weekend. There was never any shortage of food and alcohol and I never gave a thought to what was going in my mouth and the kilos slowly piled on. But I was still big enough to easily carry them.
In 1996 I moved to Queensland on another adventure, for the first 3 months of living up there I noticed an increase in the size of my thighs as they were rubbing together and sweating a lot in the heat. I got a job at a sport centre which also meant I started playing netball and indoor cricket 4 nights a week. I met new friends and was introduced to outrigger canoeing. For the next 4 years, I got very fit, as the canoeing required the strength and endurance to paddle for up to 2 hours in choppy and sometimes dangerous seas. I loved it. But I was STILL bigger than all the beach babes in Queensland doing the same sport, and I still found it difficult to entice a male partner who thought of me as anything but a friend. I have more friends than you can poke a stick at, still do, everyone wants to be my friend but that’s it.
Finally, I found a lover and I feel like we both “settled” for each other. It wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t good for my mindset. We moved back to Melbourne, to his family so that he could work in the family business as a truck driver. I got a job at Telstra and went to University to learn about the transport business.
As with everything I do, I threw myself in and gave 110%, University was no different. When I left the University in 2010 I had 4 degrees as well as some certificates and a Diploma. During the first 3 years at University, I studied during the day and worked at Telstra at night. As soon as I completed my studies I was employed by the University and worked there until 2010. I managed to gain 10kg a year for 5 years. In 2005 I weighed 139 kilos and my knees were aching with arthritic pain and my body was struggling to carry the fat. I was tired and bloated and since my bloke was away all the time I 'comfort ate'. When he was home, we ate out or cooked up huge meals and entertained. I got married at my fattest. My wedding photos make me cringe. I tried many diets while my husband was working because he was away for 2 week stretches but as soon as he got home we ate, and I always felt that it put me back to square one. I yo-yoed constantly and always ended up a few kilos more than when I started.
At just 37 I had to see a knee surgeon, he told me that he wouldn’t touch me unless I was under 100 kilos. I went to another, who said the same thing. I investigated in lapband surgery, but the surgeon talked me out of it. At the end of 2007 at a BBQ I saw my sister-in-law and I noticed she had lost a lot of weight. As a joke, I said to her, “you’ve had a lapband!" She grabbed me and dragged me into the kitchen and asked how I knew. "Just a hunch really", I told her. I went to visit her surgeon and he was happy to help. With the lapband in I successfully starved myself and lost 49kilos, and got down to 90kg by my 40th birthday. I felt fantastic on the outside, and great in my head because I “looked” good and for the first time in my life, men were noticing me.
But, I really struggled with the lapband, I felt choked, I threw up a lot and I didn’t have any energy because I couldn’t get enough good food into me. I didn’t know enough about food and nutrition to help myself. I started eating comfort food again, mainly because it went through the band and I could keep eating. I used to joke about my “CH” diet of chocolate, chips and cheese. My husband didn’t like the attention that I was getting from other men and he was stuck in his own rut and had gained a lot of weight too. In 2010 I left him, I was sick of being lonely and confident enough to think I could find someone else. My rebound was a guy 11 years my junior with his own set of issues. I jumped from the frying pan into the fire, and started drinking heavily again, with my alcoholic boyfriend.
In 2012, I decided that the lapband had to go, I had managed to get back up to 110 kilos and felt terrible. The surgeon suggested I have a sleeve operation instead, which is where ¾ of the stomach is taken out. In the 6 weeks between the lapband coming out and the sleeve operation, I gained another 10kilos. I can’t even fathom how? But I know I was depressed and comfort ate as I could now eat steak, pizza and fish and chips.
The sleeve was great because I could eat anything, just not much of it, which still left me with no energy and I spent most of my spare time sitting on the couch watching TV or on the computer. After a few years my stomach stretched a little bit and I could progressively get more food in. I plateaued at 104kilos and couldn’t move it.
My knees were still painful, so I went to a surgeon. He was ready to admit me to hospital within the month for a knee replacement, but I found out that my Private Health insurance was not top cover, when I had believed it was. I now had a 12month waiting period and a crazy wake call. Fortunately I am not one to dwell on the negatives, I would rather create a good situation if I can. So I decided to get as fit as I could in the next 12 months so that my knees would heal quickly and last a long time.
I had been talking to an old friend over the Christmas period and she looked fabulous, she had been using a nutritional cleansing system through a company called Isagenix and she was excited. I was skeptical but thought, if it worked for Sally, it will work for me, so I tried it with the intention of doing it for a month. My goal was to get to 75kilos. It was a figure I plucked out of the sky.
Within the first month my weight had dramatically decrease and I was starting to feel better, more energetic and better able to sleep. I got off the couch and started walking my dog, just for 10 minutes 3 times a week. Within 3 months I was walking an hour, 6 days a week. So I started to run, and to do Fun Runs as a goal. I had also started seeing a physiotherapist to help me with knee exercises as surgery prep. My physio asked me to stop running and do other exercises, over time I found them to be too easy. At this point I had been using the Isagenix system for 6 months and had lost 19 kilos.
One day when I was out walking, I saw a gym, near my home and I went in. I showed the Personal Trainer my physiotherapy instructions. He explained he could tailor a program for me and it all started. I lost another 5 kilos and put on 5 kilos of lean muscle. I had been measuring my body and found that I lost 18cm from each thigh in 12 months, as well as around 20cm from my waist and hips. My bra sizes have gone down significantly and my muscle tone is very visible. I am strong, fit and healthy, and I feel normal for the first time in my life. I look in the mirror and I see a normal 47-year-old. But I am not normal. Just before Christmas I equaled the gym weightlifting record, set by a 25-year-old, which I am very proud of. I wanted to extend the record so no one could catch me but I sustained a shoulder injury and had to let that one go. I feel now that I am in a better head space and can deal with this type of disappointment better than I did in the past.
Working out at the gym has given me yet another lease on life and opened up a door full of opportunities. I am considering more study becoming a personal trainer, and I love setting and hitting weight lifting goals.
My current goal is to recover from my knee surgery in March to May. I am having 2 total knee replacements. Due to the work I have put into my body, the recovery prognosis has totally changed. Before losing the weight, I would have been discharged after 3 days and sent to the rehab centre with elderly people and car accident victims. Because I have worked hard, I stay at the hospital to complete rehab and leave after 10 days. For me this is huge! I will also be able to go back to gym with weeks and keep working on my upper body. My long term goal is to run a triathlon at the end of 2018, a fair amount of time away as it takes bones that long to heal from this sort of surgical trauma.
In the past 12 months, I had learnt about nutrition, my digestive system, my muscular system, my skeletal system, strength and conditioning, network marketing, coaching, self-awareness, and self-love. I have come out of my depressive cave and met new people, made new friends, connected with old friends again and enriched my life. I feel very grateful for this experience and wish for everyone to feel as good as I do. I even completed a coaching course so that I could help others.
If I had my time again, I would do everything exactly the same, because I am who I am and that is what shaped me. But if I was advising my younger self, I would have taught her about food and nutrition from an early age, so that she knew how to look after herself better and she could confidently get the best out of her body. She was always going to succeed, she may have done it quicker and she may have loved herself more and made better decisions because of that.
Intro and interview by Priscilla Green
Find out more about Kylie's weight loss strategies and how she became fit and healthy here:
Facebook Group :Living with Love Energy and Success
Read our interview with Kylie, where I ask her to ellorate on some of her experiences, feelings and reflections on her journey.
Do you feel your weight gain was triggered by anything or was it just a health issue related?
I think my predisposition for weight gain is genetic, my father was stocky. Some might read my story and say I was a victim of circumstance. But I don’t consider myself a victim either, as I don’t like to lay blame. Health issues certainly contributed, having club feet as a baby altered by physiology but your physiology does not shove chocolate in your mouth!
What are some of the ways weight gain has effected your life?
I feel like it has affected my ability to attract a partner, but that is really about self worth and self love. I never really felt good enough when I realised what was happening. Weight gain has also affected my body structure and put unnecessary stress on my joints.
What was your personal and family attitude to health and weight, did that play a role?
All of my family are small or normal sized people, so I felt different. I don’t think I had a good grounding in nutrition, but living on a farm, we ate well and didn’t pig out on junk food. I just don’t think I gained enough respect for food at an early age.
The world is made up of lots of different shapes and sizes, but what is your goal with your health and weight and why?
My most recent goal was to be fit for my knee operations. Then as I learnt about my body at the gym and studied up on it as well, I want to push its limits. I want to complete in a triathlon and I want to prepare a body building worthy physique. This may not be possible as I have so much loose skin, but I am willing to give it a try. I am very driven when I have set a goal, but I must say, weightloss goals were a weakness, because they were only for me. I am good at doing things for others and playing in a team, on an individual basis, I have often struggled with worthiness issues and not achieved what I could.
How have you turned your life and health around?
18 months ago, I felt I had no direction and no place in the world. As I have no kids, it all seemed a bit pointless and I was in so much pain that I would even contemplate leaving. But that little light at the end of the tunnel flickered and I got the chance to live pain free. This makes a huge difference. It made me want to help others and be a good human being again.
What are some of the setbacks and challenges you experienced?
Specifically, in the past 12 months I have had injury setbacks from pushing myself too hard. I have learnt to be kinder and to recover.. I have also had redundancies and employment issues which caused financial stress and made it hard to keep focused on my health. Especially when I don’t know if I can pay my rent. I have had to struggle to pay gym membership and forgo some trips to the physio or osteopath in favour of using painkillers instead.
Why do you think your method has worked for you?
I think the Isagenix system worked for me because it encompasses highly dense nutrition that I could absorb into my body easily. It was easy to start and gave me plenty of training about food to help incorporate a balanced and healthy diet and to change that up as I got fitter and my needs changed. It also has a great community of support and help and the best training you can get for free. I have learnt more in the past 12 months than I did in any one of my 4 degrees. There is plenty of science behind it so I feel confident that what I am doing is good for my body and I FEEL fabulous. I want to feel this good forever.
What would you have done differently if you had your time again?
Be kinder to my younger self and teach her about nutrition and finances. Teach her to respect herself.
What advice would you give others going through similar experiences?
If you want to see change, you have to make whole hearted changes. You have to find your WHY, set your intentions, and work hard towards change. Don’t try and do it on your own, link arms with people who care. Get rid of the toxic people in your life, so that you can move forward. Don’t be frightened of an opportunity because you have never seen it before, because you have had a bad experience with it in the past or because your friends have given you their opinion. Trust your gut instinct and do it!