A Minute with...Dietgirl Blogger & Author Shauna Reid

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Recently I chatted with a talented young writer named Shauna Reid, better known as Dietgirl. Seven years ago, Shauna was living in her native Australia and chowing down on family-size bricks of chocolate most afternoons. She weighed 351 pounds, battled depression and didn't exercise. Inspired to change her fate, the website creator and journalism school graduate started a blog called "The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl." Now Shauna is 175 pounds lighter and that blog has become a book of the same name. She's happy, healthy, and motivated. (See the before and after photos here.)

Her book is amazingly honest and heartfelt. I read an advance copy in just five days--and it's a hefty 405 pages. If you've never struggled with your weight, you will feel true compassion for anyone who has, and you'll come to respect the hardships that obese people endure. If you know what it's like to battle your weight, you'll recognize parts of yourself in Shauna's tale. This story is both witty and profound and has a definite lack of self-pity.

Shauna started losing weight through Weight Watchers and even tried a pricey low-calorie diet program. They didn't work. She hit several plateaus and gained some weight back several times.

Eventually she settled on a self-made program of sensible eating, exercise and moderation. (Sound familiar?) Today, she maintains a healthy 175-pound frame and is training for her green belt in kickboxing.

Read on to find out how Shauna--who says she's a big fan of SparkPeople--stays motivated.

Q: How do you stay motivated?
A: "Especially this time of year, the key is that I don't do anything I don't enjoy. For me, exercise is the biggest thing that keeps me on track. You only stick to it if you enjoy it.

"I tried swimming, spinning, yoga… I really love kickboxing and go twice a week.

"We do a lot of grading to get the different colored belts. When you're losing weight, you have the goals to tick off. (Now that I've lost the weight), it helps to have something to aim for. I've got orange and yellow; next is green. It's incentive not to miss classes and is the best stress relief in the world. It's really addictive--I get such a rush from it."

On cold, dark Scotland days (the sun is setting around 3:30 p.m. these days), Shauna turns to her collection of DVDs and heads to a "little patch of carpet in her husband's office." She does Pilates DVDs twice a week, along with weight-training DVDs.

"I make it hard for myself to make excuses" not to exercise.

Q: What is your diet and exercise regimen now?

A: When it comes to eating, Shauna says planning is crucial for her. She has groceries delivered and orders them online, so she can't be "dazzled" by aisle upon aisle of unhealthy foods at the grocery.

"Cupboards are all stocked, I'm all set. I can't get that panic" of being hungry and tempted by junk food. "I outwit myself."

"Aside from planning, I pretty much eat what I want." Shauna follows the 80-20 rule, meaning she eats healthfully 80% of the time and splurges the other 20% of the time. She eats plenty of vegetables (her husband is a vegetarian), far surpassing the 5-a-day serving minimum.

Q: What was the biggest misconception you had about losing weight?

A: "My biggest misconception was that it would be easy. I thought it would be straightforward. I thought, 'I have 175 pounds to lose. I'm just going to go to Weight Watchers every single week, play by the rules, I'll be done, and that's it.'"

She mapped out her weight loss in a very linear way. She thought it would take her 18 months to lose 175 pounds. It took 5 1/2 years.
"Life got in the way. I thought my life would be on hold while I got on with Operation Weight Loss."

During those 5 1/2 years, Shauna moved from Australia to Scotland with her sister, met her husband, and traveled much of Europe. At the time, she thought, "I keep doing all this traveling, I'm not doing as well as I could be."

"This (life) is going to keep happening. You have to realize that it's not going to be easy. You're not meant to put your life on hold for a diet," she realized in hindsight.

"I still struggle every day. That's why I keep up with the blog. Life still goes on."

Q: What advice would you offer to someone in your place?

A: "I wish I could tell myself back then, 'Don't panic. It's not insurmountable.' I thought my weight was everything, it defined me. I hated being in my own skin.

"I think the first step to being more successful in trying to lose weight is to forgive yourself. Don't have to bulldoze your life and start again.

"Make the little changes. It's the easiest thing to do…because you can get that little 'Spark' from the little change you've made."

Q: What's your biggest temptation?

A: "Every day about 3:00, my motivation is nose diving." She wards off trips to the vending machine by keeping healthy snacks on hand and remembering that she likes to savor her sweets--especially the reasonable portions dark chocolate she indulges in regularly. "If I go to the vending machine, I'm really not going to be able to savor it." She eats something healthy, makes a cup of tea or occupies herself and finds that the feeling passes.

Shauna's first book, "The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl," is available in North America today (Dec. 30). Read her blog and get a copy of her book here.

Were you inspired by Shauna's story?

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YMWONG22 8/24/2020
Great! Thank you. Report
I have been strength training now for almost a year. It amazes me at 70, what I can do today, compared to a year ago! Report
Inspiring! Report
The book sounds like a great read - it's going on my library list right now. If nothing else, I'm dying to know what inspired the move from Australia to Scotland and how she handled the culture-and-climate shock:) Report
Great5 article. I love your sense of humor. I'll look for the book. Report
This is great! I have seen this book and never knew what it was! Report
love love love this book. What an inspiration! Keep on keepin on! Report
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book!! sooo great and motivating! and funny!! haha She's a great writer! Report
Im definately going out and snagging this! Report
I will definitely read this one as well! Now I have two great books to look forward to! Report
I can't wait to buy this book. It sounds very motivating and inspirational.

BeckyI Report
Thanks for sharing. I will be sure to check the book out and stop by the blog, we are all in this together but is up to each of us to make the changes for us. Report
I loved the book, which i bought immediately after reading this blog... she is amusing but thought provoking. It certainly made me look at my own perceptions of 'dieting' Report
Heck yes! I think Shauna is brilliant! I love love loved her book. I am hoping for a sequel! Report
Awesome tips. Report
I think anyone who has weighted that much and managed to lose that much has a lot to be admired for. She certainly inspires me and I know even though I don't and haven't weighted as much as her I would love to have her will power and her tenacity to lose the weight. Also to find love along the way is something I think is to be admired. She had confidence which helps one find what one wants. Report
LOVE Shauna and 'DietGirl'!! I keep up with her blog now too...she is GREAT!!! Report
Very inspirational! I had heard of her before but had never gone to her blog and read her story....all I gotta say now is WOW! Report
I can't wait to go to get the book now. Just the little I read on the SparkPeople website is inspirational! Report
WOW! Amazing story! Report
Very motivational story. It takes alot of committment for someone to stick to a weight program that well, and for that long to get your goals met. Report
I'm definitely going to buy this book. I can use it as a motivation tool on days when I'm struggling. Report
helpful blog Report
love the article..will go and look for the book....you are so upfront/straightforward you are funny too...fresh....i feel like you are real and I look forward to hearing more from you on here and elsewhere..Go Girl!! Report
I found Dietgirl long before i found spark, and being a Kiwi i coul relate to Shauna completely, right down to the hair colour and underwear (you'll need to read Dietgirl to understand!). She motivates me so much! Report
Brilliant book, I've read it and carry on reading her blogs via her website. Truely inspirational. Report
More wonderful things will happen to you. Thanks again for sharing with the world your journey. Where do you find grocery stores that deliver your orders online? I think this is what I need to do. God bless you Shauna. Report
Great reading!!! Report
Dietgirl epitomizes all that Spark it about and a boost of motivation for me! Report
I wish you all the best, as keeping it off is the toughest part. But you have a great start. Thank you for sharing. Report
I saw a review of this book in People magazine and have been wanting to pick it up. Now I'm really motivated to! Report
I'm looking forward to reading her book. I think it's wonderful that she sat down and took the time to write down her story. It truly is inspiring.

Terrific Enspiring story... Report
Wow, what a great story! Thanks for sharing it with us. Report
Thanks for sharing we appreciate your story!!! Report
Congratulations to her, it's always good to hear/see what simple 'common sense' can do. Report
I love what she said about life not being put on hold when you try to lose weight. Oh I wish life were put on hold sometimes, it would make weight loss much easier.
She is such an inspiration, not giving up and sticking with it for over 5 years! wow =) Report
To bad she didn't have SPARKPEOPLE, as we have Sparkers who have released 175# and sure didn't struggle with taking five and half years to do it. Yes, her method DOES sound like Sparkpeople, and her difficulty with Weight Watchers is a story I've heard before. Well, as long as she got to goal, that is what is important, but I know being a SPARKER, it doesn't have to be that difficult. Report
I started reading Shauna's Diet Girl blog a long time ago and this woman is full of heart, inspiration and tons of humour. She is very relatable, down to earth and so easy to like. Everyone will be able to see themselves in parts of her journey. I can't stress enough how everyone should read her book, it really is life changing. Report
This is the BEST feature I have read on Spark. I am hopeful my local library will be able to get the book soon!!! Her wisdom inspires me and touches my core. Her advice is just what I needed today. Do what you love!! Then you are motivated. Enjoy life as it happens, live, love, laugh. I am hooked another day.
Thanks Spark. We are on our way. Paula Report
I'm glad to have found this website and book. I am hoping it will help me and motivate me to new levels. Report
Dietgirl's loss of 175 pounds is so inspirational! Reading such success stories nutures the dreams of everyone who desires to lose weight. Dietgirl's story reminds her readers that weight loss requires time, patience, courage, stamina, dedication, and wisdom to make healthy choices and small changes. Report
I am going to buy the book right now! I was just looking at her website and she is such an inspiration. There are a lot of people on Spark People that i find inspiring and i WISH they had journals or blogs posted so i could see how they felt/what they did while they were on their weight loss journey. I can't wait to read this book!!!! Report
Wow! I cannot wait to read this book. The interview was very inspiring and it helped alot to hear that WW did not work. I have tried it 2xs and all I do is gain and get very overwelmed. Now I am looking to myself and other "non-traditional" diets to get this weight off. Have a wonderful New Year! Report
Thanks for you honesty and openess. You are keeping hope alive for all of us trying to lose weight.

Happy New Year! Report
What an amazing story. It really blessed me. Thanks for the honesty. Report
This story says it all. We each have to find what works best for us and stick to it no matter what. Thanks for the inspiration. Report
This is so encouraging and inspiring. I was able to lose 37 pounds on WW in eight months, but then I regained it all, plus some. Now, at age 47, with 50 pounds to lose, I've lost the first 25 in 2008, but have been really stuck for the past six months with low motivation, and lots of cravings for carby and fatty foods. So, I've ordered her book on Amazon.com! I'm NOT going to give up. I felt like, she spent 5 years losing all that weight, I can spend 2 years losing my weight. Report
I'm glad I get to read the blog. I'll add RSS for the blog on my BB curve so I can keep reading her blog. Thanks so much for an inspired story! Report
Very inspirational. Report