Diet & Nutrition

‘I lost 22kg by walking 15km on weekends’

This passionate netball umpire from regional Victoria says a sensible, sustainable program was her key to success. And now she’s back on the court, better than ever.

When Fiona Tanner’s doctor diagnosed her with a fatty liver and borderline diabetes, it was the wake-up call she needed.

At 58 years old and 95kg, she’d allowed “poor eating habits, too much alcohol and a lack of exercise” to add to the scales. Due to her increased and ongoing health issues, she had to give up netball umpiring, one of her passions.

“Overall I felt very sad about how I’d let myself get to this point,” she says.

Rather than taking highly prescriptive (and often restrictive) diets, Fiona looked into the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, a holistic 12-week program that aims to teach sustainable healthy eating, exercise, and well-being.

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With daily meal plans, food tracking, and the “pivotal” support of the Facebook community, it was a “life-changing” lifestyle alteration she felt confident she could stick to and the weight began to melt away, averaging around 1kg a week.

Halfway through the program, though, Fiona made a troubling discovery. A lump on her neck that, upon medical examination, was Thyroid cancer. She credits her weight loss to catching it in time.

“I would never have found it if I hadn’t lost weight so I am very thankful,” she says.

“I had a brilliant surgeon who removed it all and I am now cancer-free.”

Not only that, but she’s back to her former active self, umpiring netball at a higher level, walking four to five kilometres every day during the week and up to 15km on the weekends (“when we’re not in lockdown,” she adds).

From a diet of high GI carbohydrates to soy-baked salmon, snow pea salad, and her favourite banana date smoothie, Fiona reports she’s feeling fantastic; her liver has improved, she’s sleeping better, and she’s no longer a candidate for diabetes.

The goal now is to stay healthy, challenge herself to walk even longer distances, and continue to umpire netball. What’s her advice for success?

“You’re never too old to learn how to eat properly and how to feel satisfied with what you’re eating,” she says.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself when you do have a slip-up – recognise it, acknowledge it and move on. The weight loss won’t happen overnight, but it will happen – stick with it!”

Fiona’s day on a plate:

Breakfast: Either cereal and fruit, overnight oats with berries or a smoothie (my favourite was the banana date smoothie).

Lunch: Either a salad or a sandwich.

Dinner: A protein (usually meat or fish) and salad or veggies. The soy baked salmon with snow pea salad is among her favourite.