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?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


Very sensible approach......no muss....no fuss.....just getting down to what works.

I like it...... Report
I am going to border's book store with my christmas gift certificate and buying this book, just reading the first few pages i wanted to cry and laugh already i am getting this book this weekend Report
Congratulations, reading stories like this really m otivate me and hope to soon have a success story of my own

Mary~ Report
Congratulations ... stories like these keep me motivated. Thanks for sharing.

Have a happy, healthy and blessed New Year! Report
Congratulations on your weight loss! Can't wait to pick up a copy of your book. Report
I love it! I am going to buy this book at Borders!
How inspiring! Report
5 1/2 YEARS! Oh, my, you bet I find this story inspirational !! Report
Awesome story! I want the book, and I put her blog on my "Favorites" list. Report
inspirational and oh so rational! thank you for this new year's gift. Report
Amazing story, thanks for sharing! Report
I read this book some time ago - and I'd highly recommend it. Very heartwarming and honest, and very motivational. In fact, it was hard to put it down at all! Report
This sounds like an AWESOME inspirational and hearfelt account of Shauna's journey! I can't wait to read it! I think now I know what book I'll be purchasing with my discount coupon at the bookstore! Thanks so much for sharing this- can't wait to read this one! Report
I think this book may provide just the inspiration someone I know could use. We try to help her and she keeps thinking one plate of french fries won't hurt, so we get frustrated on her inability to self-discipline. I got a great inspiration from the novel "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb, but it related to my own story very closely and it took a while for me but now on am only about 25 # away from my goal and not willing to give up till I get there. My whole problem comes to staying there...which will be more likely to happen this time cuz I changed the way my life worked...not a diet but a new way to eat and exercise. Hopefully this book can provide just that kind of "poke" for my friend. She needs to lose about 150 lbs. Report
Great Story...and to NOT give up chocolate completely...a girl after my own heart....lol Report
Awesome! I look forward to the book!
Wonderful blog, I have a new book for my book list. Can't wait to read. Report
I love to read and look forward to reading your book. Yes, 3 PM is the hour when our blood sugar dives and we want to nap or eat. If I'm not mindful of what I'm doing I could do some damage. A snack is good if you are working. We're retired now, so its a wee nap we would be taking (LOL) Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a delightful, funny, honest, interesting lady. Report
I know what I want for my birthday?A copy of her book! I have never heard of Shauna and her blog,but I will be doing alot of reading,cathching up with her story!I would love to see the scale go down and stay down and now there is a fire lighting under my bum,cause Shauna proves it can happen.Can't wait to get her book! Report
Truly inspiring! Report
I almost got over 200 lbs myself, but can understand completely. Off to get the book. Report
I can't wait to read the book and the blogs. Thanks for the heads up! :) Report
I love Shauna's blog! I've been reading it for a long time. Report
That would be a book I read and am looking forward to it. Report
Congratulations and this is a book I wouldn't mind reading. Report
thanks for sharing her story with us. I am happy to hear that other people have had it as hard as most of us and because they never gave up, it finally paid off. Report
I just wanted to say that I'm a big dietgirl fan. I've read her book (bought the version that came out in the UK) and really found it inspirational and entertaining. Enjoyed this interview, too! Report
Loved it! I, so, love inspiring success stories! Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing, just by reading your blog inspire me. I will get the book and after reading it I will pass it on to my sisters and friends. Report
What an amazing inspiration! I am so pumped up after reading this, and I thank you for blogging it here. Fantastic article. I will be buying the book.
Jani-Lou Report
wow i can't wait to read the book. i got a gift certificate from a book store for xmas and i know what im using it for now!! Report
WOW!!!! What a fantastic, inspirational story. Thanks for sharing. I'll have to make sure my library gets a copy of this book. Report
Great Story!! Report
Shauna, I hear you on the 3:00 PM thing! What is it about that hour? But I can definitely relate - happens to me like clockwork! And CONGRATULATIONS on a job VERY well done! Report
Very inspiring story. Report
As a veteran "dieter", I am 54 and started my first diet when I was in 6th grade (11/12?), I am sometimes stunned that people think losing weight is easy. Losing weight is never easy. You have to change soemthing, you have to amend the easy going every day habits that you call your life. You have to educate yourself, you have discipline yourself, you have to....

You notice I say you & yourself a lot! that is because this is your journey, no one else's. You can get support here & there but only you know the real truth of how you are doing and if you are successful. It all comes down to how bad you want or need it!

And always remember, this is a life time change you need, not a 10 minute fix, not a 4 month get the weight off and go back to doing what you were doing before.

THe main thing I have learned is I have to determine to make the lifestyle change and that those take years to achieve as habit. 21 days may get me started but that vacation will take it away in a day!

Look forward to this book. I am sure I will find some inspiration there. Report
great blog and I will also be one of the people going out to buy the book to read and share. Report
Now I want to buy the book. I realize that what goes in, must come out. It will show itself in my life. I took a break from spark people when I got busy with school, as a result, my weight loss stopped. I have to make the changes for myself, even if I think I don't have time. I'm going to read this book and keep healthy living in the forefront of my mind. Great job! Report
I also like the 80/20 philosophy. For one thing, it gives me a "bye" if I've goofed. One bad day, well, that's just my 20 for the week. No big deal. Time to get back on track. Report
Thanks for sharing. I liked the 80%-20% that you noted. I learned that a long time ago. Keeps the shackles off. Report
Very inspirational. Report
Going to get this book loved her story anyone can do it.. just take one day at a time!!! Report
This blog is very timely for me, as I am feeling so off course with the holidays this year. This helps me to put into perspective the holidays as just another step in my LONG journey to good health and a healthy weight. I started three years ago, have lost 129 pounds and have something between 14 and 30 to go. Eating during the hols has been out of control and making me feel totally derailed. It is actually just life happening. Report
i am SO buying this book!!! What an inspirational blog - the next thing i'm doing is calling Borders to see if they have her book in! After trying and failing at Weight Watchers (too expensive!) Spark People has literally saved my life, everyone is so wonderful on this site and seeing everyone else succeed motivates me to join them... thank you for sharing another success story! Report
You are very encouraging. Report
I definitely want to read this book. Report
Thanks for the blog what an inspiration I to have struggled with weight my entire life. Spark People and the lifestyle changes I have made have been the only success I have had. I set a goal I made it and now I want to maintain it. I also find exercise to be addictive. Report
Great story! Thanks for sharing. Report
Thank you so much for the blog. During the holiday it is great to read about some that have success and still make it real by sharing their stuggle (I read her blog). Report
I can't wait to read Shauna's book. Thanks for sharing! Report
Thank you so much for interviewing Shauna. I had read an article about her book with a review and was looking forward to a release date! Can't wait to go to Barnes & Noble and purchase it! What an inspiring story. Report