A young nutrition coach has dropped three dress sizes while eating six times a day without depriving herself of foods she loves.
Zara Spooner, from Sydney, shed 18 kilos within eight months after counting her macros rather than follow strict diets or unrealistic workout plans.
The 23-year-old credits ‘flexible dieting’ for her size six physique where she eats 80 per cent wholefoods and 20 per cent of anything she wants, within reason.
‘Not only have I improved my relationship with food, I am now educated around how to give my body what it needs on a day-to-day basis,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I enjoy six meals a day rather than one extremely large, calorie dense meal or binge and restrict days. I am loving the 80 per cent whole foods and 20 per cent soul food approach as it brings balance and is something that I can keep enjoying long term.’
Before her incredible body transformation, Zara said she was ‘lacking confidence’ and ‘happiness’.
‘I felt as though I was stuck in between wanting a change for myself but not knowing how or where to begin,’ she said.
‘I would think to myself – the less I eat the easier it would be to lose weight. So I would sometimes not eat for a whole day, then binge at night or if I ate something which in my eyes was naughty, I would write that whole day off and overindulge.
‘I have always been quite an active girl, loved my sports growing up and always felt motivated to get outdoors but once my confidence disappeared so did the desire to stay active.’
She noticed her weight started to pile on when her lifestyle changed shortly after graduating from high school.
‘I think with school having structured recess and lunch – less temptations like office lunch rooms – made it easier to stay leaner,’ she said.
‘Coming out of school, my lifestyle changed a lot moving into a desk job, dining out more, drinking alcohol etc and the weight just progressively piled on.
‘I was uneducated when it came to calories and I was sometimes in denial of how much weight I had put on and how unhealthy my habits were becoming.’
Zara said she found herself eating ‘minimally’ throughout the day but by the time she sat down for dinner, she would consume a large, calorie dense meal.
‘An example of this would be a sushi roll – but not any ordinary sushi hand roll but the large roll with deep fried component with high calorie sauces and inclusions in the roll,’ she said.
‘I would think that this was acceptable because I was only eating one meal and it was viewed as “healthy” but it wasn’t.’
At her heaviest, she weighed 69.8 kilos and wore size 12 clothing.
‘I remember so clearly weighing myself a few times when that number came up because I was in utter shock,’ Zara said.
‘Being so lean through all of my school years and majority of my teenage years – at times even struggling to put on weight, it was just a position I never thought I would be in having “weight issues”.
‘So to even think about hitting 70 kilos was shocking to me.’
Her weight gain saw face mental challenges ‘more than anything’.
‘The battle I struggled with internally outweighs any physical battle that I may have faced. I did not like the person I had become,’ Zara said.
‘I didn’t step on a beach for four years and lacked the confidence to turn up to a new gym because of what people may say about me.’
But her turning point to lose weight once and for all came after she wanted to take back control of her life.
‘After sitting back and realising I have been missing out on living because of my weight and health, I knew I had to make a change,’ she said.
And so she turned to Equalution – a science-based nutrition program set up by her sister Jade Spooner and her friend Amal Wakim.
The program involves meeting daily targets of macronutrients – protein, carbohydrate and fat – that have been calculated based on the dieter’s age, gender, activity level and any medical condition.
‘I was lucky enough that my sister had been through the dieting rollercoaster and had all the answers for me – flexible dieting,’ she said.
Within eight months, she shed 18 kilos just by tweaking her meal plan after educating herself on counting macros.
‘For the majority of my weight loss, I did not increase exercise at all but instead I solely focused on my diet and being as consistent and adherent as possible,’ she said.
‘My exercise was simply walking to and from the train station averaging around 8,000 steps a day.’
Zara said she was a vegetarian when she lost weight after following flexible dieting – but she has since followed a ‘reverse diet’.
‘Reverse dieting is usually started when you’ve reached your ideal weight goal so that we can change your body composition and get your body used to more calories while still losing weight and seeing the results you love,’ she said.
And she still treats herself to her favourite meals such as burgers, tacos and pizzas, and desserts like cakes, doughnuts and waffles.
‘When your diet doesn’t feel like a diet and you are eating your favourite foods everyday there is no need to “treat yourself”,’ she said.
‘I have learnt to understand that no particular food will directly cause fat gain and that my body doesn’t recognise food as “good” or “bad” instead it recognises it for its calorie and macro-nutrient value so that “guilty pleasure” is part of your diet.’
Zara – who currently weighs 52 kilos – said she now feels happier about herself more than ever.
‘I’m beyond proud after I achieved my body goals,’ she said.
‘I realised how diet plays such a huge role in both your physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing too and to not take your health for granted. I am back to my confident, happy and outgoing self.’
For anyone who wants to lose weight, Zara said: ‘You have to look at the bigger picture and make a change for yourself and your own health.
‘Imagine investing in yourself and in a few short months walking away with a new you. You need to be accountable, be ready to become educated and know by the end of it through a non restricted approach you will build a better relationship with food.
‘Surround yourself with a positive and supportive community who will motivate you and understand the journey you are on. In saying that, you will have to understand that no two journeys are the same so you should never compare your progress to someone else but rather compare them to your best self.’