'I was eating 3000 calories a day'
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Shelley Bishop had no idea that when she posted a before and after photo of herself, it would garner 10,000 likes in just 24 hours.
The 29-year-old PHD student from Brisbane, shared the snap anonymously to social media platform Reddit in August, not realising it would attract hundreds of comments from people wanting to know her "secret".
"I posted it to three different Reddit forums and my inbox was going nuts. I had about 200 notifications in just a few hours from people wanting advice on training and nutrition," Ms Bishop told news.com.au.
Ms Bishop, who now lives in Sydney, said she was hesitant to post the comparison image out of fear her "before" photo - where she weighed 110kg - would attract negative comments.
"I suppose the before shot is pretty full on and not something I am proud of," Ms Bishop told news.com.au
"I was nervous people were going to criticise how I once looked with comments like, 'how could she let herself get to that'."
However, they instead flooded the post with positive feedback, even prompting the student to help others with their health goals.
"They pushed me to start an Instagram page where I am now helping people make positive life choices by sharing my journey," she said.
"I hope to inspire people and make them realise that they are in control of their health and it's never too late to turn their lives around."
For the 29-year-old, the changes that led to her losing 45kg started two years ago, when she was a manager for a recording studio in Sydney.
"By this stage, years of late nights, poor diet and a lack of exercise had seen me gain 45kg," she said.
"I was eating a lot of dense and heavy foods - pizza, pasta, burgers, but really I ate anything that was convenient, cheap and accessible."
At the time, a gym had opened outside her apartment building offering one week free memberships - a moment Ms Bishop described as a "sign".
"I had no excuse anymore," she said.
"I went in not knowing what to do, but little by little I started to pick up some routines by watching online videos, or watching others in the gym."
She admitted that without any help, it was both the best and hardest time in her life.
"I have never been on a training plan, nor have I had surgery, a dietitian or a coach," Ms Bishop said.
"I did everything by myself, from researching workouts, to cooking and meal planning."
But when she hit a plateau after losing her first 30 kgs, she turned to a trainer who helped with her nutrition.
"I managed to get really far by myself, but I knew that I needed to call in the expertise of a professional when I hit a certain point."
The bulk of her training is weights-based and consists of strength and conditioning five to six days a week.
"I was very focused on the strength element because firstly I hated cardio and found it very difficult considering my size, but also I knew I had to build some serious muscle to fill out my figure," she said.
Ms Bishop said she was always under the impression she had to do ample amounts of cardio and ditch carbs, to lose weight.
"When I started to eat carbs and fuel my body with the right foods, that's when I noticed a massive change," she told news.com.au
"I always thought I wanted to be really skinny because I was conditioned to think that way, but forget that now. I love being strong and feeling confident with a muscular physique."
After completing a four month bulking phase, she got down to her lowest weight of 65kg, adding it was the best thing she has ever done.
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"I was eating 3,000 calories a day, and doing very high impact and heavy weights sessions to gain muscle and mass. I gained 6kg and lots of strength and muscle."
"I had to adjust my mentality and embrace the fact that I wanted my body to put on weight."
Ms Bishop said she often gets asked what her "secret" is and the best advice she can give is, "find what works best for you".
"If I was on a pure cardio training plan without eating carbs, I would have lost interest. If you don't like running, don't do it, if you don't enjoy lifting, don't do it, there are so many other ways to positively change your life."
If you've got a transformation story you'd like to share, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published as Secret to weight loss pic that went 'nuts'