By Rebecca Drew
A BRITISH student has revealed how she’s beaten the childhood bullies who would tease her for her weight by losing almost two-and-a-half stone in just eighteen-months.
University student, Olivia Pearsall (18), who is originally from Birmingham, UK, but now lives in Brisbane, Australia, had always been overweight growing up and bullies would make fun of her appearance. At home, the cupboards were stocked up with a supply of sugary chocolate and sweets and Olivia hated looking at her reflection in the mirror. At her heaviest, she weighed 11st 6lbs and was a UK size 14-16.
It wasn’t until she discovered fitness bloggers on Instagram that she decided to aspire to get healthier and hone her physique to look like the women on social media. With the help of her parents, she joined a local gym and got into cardio before changing to weights. Now, Olivia weighs a slender 9st 1lb and is a UK size 6-8.
“For as long as I can remember I have always been overweight, my whole family was. I think in my own opinion it was down to the fact that not only my family, but most of the western culture lives a fairly sedentary lifestyle in which fast food and temptation is always around the corner,” she said.
“My house was always stocked up with chocolate and sweets and I was taking in way more calories than I needed.
“Being overweight wasn’t easy for me, as is it for anyone. I was constantly bullied at school and boys wouldn’t even look at me. I wasn’t happy with myself and I hated the way I looked.
“I used to look in the mirror and just felt disappointed in myself that I could eat myself into that way.
“While most individuals would scroll through Instagram and see fitness models and beautiful women and put themselves down thinking why can’t I look like that, I did the opposite. I saw pictures of women with amazing bodies and though wow, I am going to turn myself into that.
“My parents were very generous when I was fifteen and first wanted to start losing weight they bought me a gym membership to a small local gym so that I could achieve my goals. Before I went to the gym I would look at pictures of fitness models and youtubers with fitness channels to get some motivation to go to the gym.
“At first it was hard, of course, I was out of my comfort zone, everyone looked better than me, I was young and didn’t know anyone. My strategy was simple, just walk on a treadmill to stay out of the way of others and lose weight but that’s not how weight loss is best achieved.
“It wasn’t long before I had dropped about five kilograms from just doing cardio and I was starting to feel a lot more confident when a personal trainer at the gym approached me and asked if I’ve ever considered lifting weight.
“That was the scariest thing ever, to think of going into the weight area with all the big males as a tiny little 5’4” sixteen-year-old girl no thank you. He persevered and offered me free personal training to help me start lifting weight which was the best decision I ever made.
“Since lifting weights, I do minimal cardio but lift for roughly an hour every day and that is the secret to my weight loss.”
For Olivia, losing weight has made her a more confident person and she no longer dreads going to the beach or fears what other people might think of her.
She goes to the gym six-times a week to lift weights and only does cardio occasionally, but admitted that changing her mentality around food was the hardest part about her journey.
“One-hundred-percent losing weight has changed my life. I am confident in myself now which has lead me into a whole new person. I am just overall just a happier and healthier person who can now maintain a balanced lifestyle with amazing friends and family,” she added.
“I’m not scared to go out in public because of what people might think of me. Things I once dreaded like going to the beach because of my image has now completely changed and the beach is my favourite place to be.
“While there is nothing wrong with carrying a little bit of extra weight, I would say being fit has definitely helped me become a better person.
“While body image shouldn’t be used for or against a person, it definitely does help me as an individual being fit and confident. There is always room for improvement, but I am happy with myself now and so grateful for everyone who helped me through this journey.
“Diet is a major part of losing weight. I was never really strict with my diet while I was losing weight, but I was conscious of what I was eating. I would eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.
“I was mostly eating just healthy, whole nutritious foods, but every now and then a girl gets a chocolate craving am I right or am I right, and that’s completely okay to eat a small about of unhealthy food, everything in moderation.
“The hardest thing about losing weight for me was the mentality around food. Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifestyle change or you will bounce right back. While my family kept eating unhealthy it was hard with all the temptation in the house but I had the intrinsic motivation to not give in and I kept eating my healthy meals to achieve my goals.”
She shared her advice to others.
“Set small goals and start off really small. Try just going for a walk if you’re intimidated by the gym to start off with but always remember the gym is a place where results are made, it’s not the Victoria’s Secret runway where you already have to look ten out of ten,” she said.
“Someone who is working on their fitness and trying hard in the gym is better than someone who just doesn’t care about themselves at all.
“Don’t let the scales determine your progress. Judge your progress on the way you look and the way you feel. While scales can help some people, they can also destroy some.
“Weight loss takes time. It took me eighteen months to drop fifteen kilograms. It is important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and results aren’t made in a day.
“Persistence and hard work and needed to achieve your weight loss goals. It will take time, but I promise you it will all be worth it in the end.
“People are so supportive and nice always telling me how amazing I look and to keep up the good work.
“I constantly have people message me over Instagram, where I post a lot of my body updates, questions on dieting and training to achieve weight loss results like mine.
“It’s honestly the best feeling when people who used to put you down for your size look at you surprised and tell you how good you look.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/liv.pearsall