Mum‘s incredible six-pack transformation
When Cassie McKay looks in the mirror - she is incredibly proud of the woman she sees.
Before her impressive weight loss journey, the mother-of-two would indulge in tubs of ice cream, finish packets of biscuits daily, eat cake and rely on her kids' unfinished peanut butter sandwiches to get her through the day.
At just 160cm, she weighed an unhealthy 70kg.
She revealed the ice creams she was consuming would have around 20g of sugar in them - that's 60g a day on just snacks.
"I snacked on chocolate too, but if there were lollies in the house I would eat them too," she said.
"I would buy packs of Tim Tams and eat one, then two, and would think if I just ate the whole packet, no one would notice."
After dinner, which usually consisted of pasta and curries, she would ask her partner to go out and get her a chocolate sundae.
"I didn't like how I was feeling but didn't really know how to pick myself up."
It only got worse when the 34-year-old gave birth to her second child.
Ms McKay's son has multiple health problems and although she believed she had everything under control, it was far from reality.
"I felt as though I lost myself," she told news.com.au
"My son has a number of medical conditions and also seems to have a weak immune system. "He has a shunt that drains fluid from his brain to his abdomen."
During this incredibly tough time, Ms McKay had also gained 26kgs from her pregnancy and found herself at a loss of hope.
"I thought I had my head around being a mum but, having two kids and being a mum to a sick child, I was going through a lot of emotions."
But after the medical appointments slowed down, Ms McKay was able to focus on her eating habits a little more. She dug deep to find the strength to kick a habit that was only getting worse.
"When my son turned one I lost control of my life and who I was and I wanted to find that again."
"I didn't feel good when I was going to work, I would put on clothes and none of them would fit.
"This body had carried and nourished two babies and had endured a C-section and hip surgery. I was a busy mum giving everything to my family. I wanted to be body confident but it just wasn't happening."
In 2017 when Ms McKay joined A Healthy Mummy - a parenting health site exclusively for mums - she realised that not only was she capable of controlling her mental state and getting the healthy body she once dreamt of, but she could still satisfy her sweet cravings.
"The food recipes they give you are amazing - which is the only reason why I am still with them," Ms McKay said, "as well as the encouraging support-network of mum's who are also going through similar experiences."
"The challenges have taught me that simple is often best, so now my go-to snacks are veg sticks with hummus, boiled or curried eggs, Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit, apple slices with almond butter, dark chocolate with green tea," she said.
"For dessert I'll usually have a snickers mousse made with ricotta cheese peanut butter and cacao - which is also one of their recipes - so long as it fits within my calorie target.
"I cut sugar out slowly by replacing it with Healthy Mummy snacks. I probably overdid the snacks in the beginning but they got me through the first month without too much hassle."
Ms McKay said she had tried many diets in the past but because of the strict guidelines she could never maintain it.
The part-time environmentalist officer said A Healthy Mummy is helpful for working or busy mum's on the go as a lot of the recipes are as quick as 15 minutes.
JOURNEY TO HER SIX-PACK
Ms McKay started with A Healthy Mummy on 2300 calories before trimming down to 56kg where she now aims for 1800 calories - it is based on her BMR (basal metabolic rate).
"I learnt how to eat to my BMR to nourish and fuel my body," Ms McKay said.
"I initially signed up hoping to lose 3kg but ended up losing 10kg in seven months. The last few kilos is always hard to lose for me - I've spent years trying various diets to lose the last few kilos and suddenly it happened and it really didn't seem all that difficult.
"I've maintained that loss for over 18 months now and am now focusing on strengthening and toning."
Apart from walking the kids to and from school everyday (20 minutes a day), Ms McKay doesn't go a day without her basic core-strengthening exercises - which she says has helped get a defined and toned tummy.
Her main two are pelvic tilts (laying on your back in a neutral position, legs bent and pulling your belly button in toward your spine, pushing your pelvis up toward the ceiling); and dead bugs (laying on your back and bring your left leg toward the floor and bring your right arm overhead, slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position and repeat).
The latter exercise is an exercise common to pilates.
"I am absolutely shocked and surprised with how far I have come," Ms McKay said.
"I have never been fit or enjoyed exercising and I actually pinch myself from time to time as I don't believe they're my results. I never believed I could achieve it, but I did."
Ms McKay used to throw everything out at the end of the week, but now she uses all of her groceries and is spending next to nothing on takeaway.
She also preps meals and snacks with similar ingredients, for example, she may do a day of bliss balls or a day of chicken based meals to save time and effort.
"I have an extra freezer with ready-made meals and snacks. I freeze meals in zip lock bags in individual portion sizes so they can be easily defrosted for any number of people and I wash and reuse the bags."
WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH
"I have been doing this for more than two years and it hasn't been fast but it has been worth it," Ms McKay said.
"Every step you take is towards making a healthier you. Just keep pushing forward.
"For me, my slow results mean I've taken time out for my family - missed workouts to cuddle my sick baby, going over my daily calories because the kids want ice cream, skipping meal prep for a day out with the family … and I don't regret a single thing.
"It's so easy to want to blink and be at the end of your weight loss journey.
"But I need time to slow down, not speed up. There is so much to be learnt along the way-hang in there and embrace every second of it."
- The Healthy Mummy 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge & The Healthy Mummy Health & Fitness App gives you a personal trainer, dietitian, meal planner and motivational coach. The programs take 30 minutes a day. Available on both iOS and Android.