Real life weight loss: How I lost 50kg

“I’m finally truly living”

Photography Ian Spanier

A health scare forced Jen Tallman to change

Tallman, now 25, used to start the day with two breakfast sandwiches, hash browns and a cinnamon scroll. At night, she turned to takeaway, easily clocking up 30,000kJ before bed. “I wasn’t active at all,” she says. Two attempts at group dieting failed, and Tallman, 170cm, hit a high of 120kg before her 21st birthday.

The change

Tallman suffered from exhaustion, swollen hands and feet, and headaches. When she read online that these could be symptoms of pre-diabetes and high blood pressure, she was terrified. “I needed a permanent change,” she says, “not a quick fix.”

The lifestyle

A gym-averse Tallman started with daily 20-minute walks. She practised simple habits like previewing menus for light options before she went out to eat, and ditching the bun on her burger. In four months, she lost 18kg.

When her progress stalled six months in, around March 2010, Tallman added 30-second running intervals into her walks and kept closer tabs on her diet with a smartphone app.

As her walks turned into 8km runs and her kilojoule count dipped under 5020kJ per day, Tallman shrank fast. By 2011, she reached 59kg – but that was another extreme.

“I was unhappy and anxious,” says Tallman, who found herself constantly obsessing over her weight.

So she inched towards the middle, enjoying previously off-limits favourites, like pizza, one day a week and pencilling rest days into her workout schedule (which now includes spin classes, yoga and DVDs mixed in with running).

Happily settled at 70kg, Tallman says, “It’s all about balance.”

The reward

In March 2011, Tallman moved to chase a career in the fashion industry, something she never had the courage to do before. Now she works at Chanel in New York. She’s also an athlete: “This year, I ran my first half-marathon,” says Tallman.

“It was a big achievement, since fitness had previously been a weak point for me.”

As for the ailments that scared her into losing weight in the first place? Gone.

“I feel healthy and relieved, finally.”