Transformation: Danielle Atkins
DANIELLE ATKINS, 28, LIVES IN SYDNEY. IN 2008 SHE PILED ON THE WEIGHT DURING HER UNIVERSITY STUDIES. AFTER SEEING A PHOTO OF HERSELF AND FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGING WHAT THE SCALES REVEALED, SHE WAS SHOCKED INTO ACTION AND HAS GONE ON TO LOSE 16 KILOS (FROM 75KG TO 59KG).
I WEIGHED MY HEAVIEST DURING MY FINAL YEARS OF UNIVERSITY; I WAS EATING A LOT OF FOOD IN SECRET, USUALLY IN MY CAR. I was extremely stressed at the time because of my Dad’s near-fatal organ failure. I didn't feel confident in how I looked, and I ignored the importance of my own health and wellbeing. Looking back, I believe I was ‘eating my feelings’ and insecurities. I also ate out regularly and indulged in whatever I wanted.
One day I saw myself in a photo and it was like seeing myself properly for the first time. My family, and even my GP had hinted at my slow weight gain, but it hadn’t really sunk in how much weight I’d put on. It was at this moment, I had finally decided I wanted to feel good and not feel the jiggle of my own weight when I walked.
I didn't know where to start. I'm lucky that I had a mum who went to the gym several times each week, and so I began doing the same. And since those days, I've been hooked. Over the years a couple of sessions per week changed to training daily (and of course having a rest day!). My mindset, my body, my confidence and my life has transformed. I knew I was different when I noticed that when planning holidays, I booked hotels based on their gyms or proximity to one. My priorities had definitely shifted!
I met my current boyfriend Alex (of five years) at the gym and we train together almost every day. For the past seven years, I've worked full-time as a psychologist at a local Sydney hospital, but training is an essential part of my daily schedule. My area of expertise is perinatal mental
health however I also have an interest in the psychology of emotional eating. I work with women who use food to comfort themselves ( just as I did!) and have similarly observed mothers who soot he their newborn babies with milk when it's another need that may need attending to. I've often wondered if this is the beginning of our association with food being used to regulate our emotions. Therapy and sometimes medication are used for treatment, however I also value exercise and diet as I feel they have a large effect on mood and mental wellbeing.
I've made friends for life through my training. It's opened my eyes to the world of fitness, and for the past couple of years I've often gone to watch competitions and visited Expos (I recently attended the Arnold Classic Australia, in Melbourne). I appreciate the dedication and passion
within the industry, and I love the energy when I'm immersed in it. Oxygen finds its way onto my coffee table each month and I'm often tagging recipes and training tips I want to try!
My current training includes my own weights sessions, some outdoor group fitness as well as one PT session per week. My curiosity has grown over the past year and I'm currently preparing for my first amateur bikini competition in May. For a long time I thought cardio and aerobics classes were the keys to the physique I wanted, however I transitioned to weight training and HIIT cardio about 18 months ago and know that this is the answer for me. I am committed to being consistent and want to continue to build shape and definition. I eat out regularly, but now make healthy choices and I plan on attending a wedding the night before my first competition – some say I'm being silly but I believe life is about balance and not losing sight of what matters most – family, friends and experiences.
With my new found confidence and drive for life, I've also just launched my own line of bikini swimwear - Kulani Kinis – which is a dream come true for me. I've created a line that's been sold across the world to active girls who want to look and feel good. I want to inspire other women to chase their dreams. For me, life is meant to be lived and I finally feel like I am living it. I set goals and smash them!