New Lambton's Janice Musumeci was having trouble tying up her shoes and sitting in some chairs.
"I'd be really embarrassed about it," she said.
Her weight-bearing joints were suffering.
"I had a lot of aches and pains. My blood pressure was verging on high," she said.
She wasn't on any medication but felt like she was "about to topple over the cliff".
"My weight has yo-yoed for the past 10 years," Janice, 51, said.
"I've just finished going through menopause and I gained a lot of weight around the middle. It gets harder to shift, but you've got to start looking after yourself. It was time to do something."
The past decade had been a challenging time in her personal life.
"We've moved cities, we've built a house. My father passed away. There's all these moments in my life that I turned to food. It kept going and it was out of control," she said.
Then she came across the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. She and her husband Leonard decided to do it together.
They started a 12-week program on January 26.
She lost a "nice little bit of weight" before the pandemic hit. Then she had to close her fashion and gift shop, July Jones Style Studio, in Beaumont Street in Hamilton.
"I had no idea when it was going to reopen. It was quite a stressful time. I'm an emotional eater. It would have been so easy for me to go off the rails at that point," she said.
"But I thought no, I've committed to this."
She maintained her focus and stuck to set meal times.
"I would sit down with my husband to have lunch together - he was working from home at the time," she said.
"I'd go for an afternoon walk, which is not something I'd normally get time to do."
She said the diet itself was "so easy".
"Every week you get a new menu plan with recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner," she said.
She bought new ingredients she'd never used and "I'd never thought of using before".
"Your relationship with the food starts from the minute you hit the shops."
Her average spending on groceries hasn't changed, but "we're buying better food".
"It's all about low GI, high-protein wholefoods," she said.
"It's so much better for you in the long-term. It teaches you portion control."
The initial 12-week program cost $199. Interestingly, to motivate people, CSIRO offers a refund "when you complete and adhere to the program".
"The program is amazing. We're now into program two," Janice said.
"The follow-through with CSIRO is great. You can still keep going on a monthly basis and have access to all their menus and recipes.
"During the program, you have free access to a dietitian as well. So if you need to talk to somebody you can. They've got a great Facebook page for the community that keeps you motivated as well."
She said the program had been life-changing. She's lost 17 kilograms.
"I started at 101.4 kilograms," she said.
She didn't think she'd be able to lose 20 kilograms. Now she's only four kilograms away from her goal weight.
"I'm nearly at the top of the mountain. It seemed so far away back then. I'm so pleased. It's been really easy," she said.
"It's been an average weight loss of about 900 grams a week. Some weeks it might only be 400 grams. But then it might be 1.3 kilos the next week. It's nice steady weight loss.
"I've never felt hungry. It's been wonderful. I've already inspired some friends to join up."
Her goal was to come out of isolation and have people say, "Wow, look at you".
"It's happening and it's a lovely feeling," she said, adding she had reopened her store.
Plus, she can now bend over and tie her shoes and sit in chairs without embarrassment.
Asked if it changed how she feels, she said: "Oh my god, yes. I'm not sleepy all the time. I'm waking up ready to bounce out of bed".
Following a survey that showed some people's weight and wellbeing had suffered during the lockdown, the CSIRO has launched a new online program.
Its Total Wellbeing Diet now includes positive psychology tools with a focus on boosting wellbeing and mood.
Janice said this was "super important".
"It does take willpower and you've got to work at it," she said.
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