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‘It’s time to work on me now’

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Sierra O’Meally had completed her master’s degree by age 23 but when it came to getting a handle on her weight it always felt like a losing battle.

She recently signed up for BF&M’s Bermuda 100-Day Challenge, along with 23 other weight-loss hopefuls looking to improve their health.

She said: “When I was younger I put all my efforts towards schooling and finding a career and I think I stopped worrying about myself and sort of let myself go. I was so wrapped up in that.

“Now I have accomplished my master’s and I am employed so it’s time to work on me now.”

The televised fitness contest airs tonight on ZBM Channel 9, starting at 8pm.

Contestants must battle through boot camps, diet programmes and exercise regimes in hopes of losing the most weight in a 14-week period.

They are divided into groups and matched with one of three gyms: Sandys 360, Magnum Power Force Gym and Evolutions Health & Fitness.

The Royal Gazette will follow Ms O’Meally throughout her weight-loss journey and periodically speak with other contestants as well.

Before entering the challenge, the senior addiction counsellor said she had reached a point where she feared going out because of what other people might think about her weight.

Ms O’Meally said: “I felt discouraged. I remember in my interview [after signing up for the Challenge] I told them I wouldn’t even want to go to the grocery store because I didn’t want people to look at me and think ‘Look at that fat person’. I didn’t want to go out.”

She said she was teased in primary school about her weight and developed a complex in her adult years that people might be laughing at her — even when in reality they weren’t.

Ms O’Meally — the youngest contestant in this year’s competition — said she feared she might develop other serious health problems if she didn’t take control of her weight.

“My mother had a heart attack at age 45 and diabetes runs in my family,” she said.

“I went to the doctor and my sugar levels and general health were fine, so I figured I was okay internally and nothing was wrong, but when I finished [university] I had gained a lot more weight.”

On the outside Ms O’Meally said she may have appeared to be very confident, strong and outgoing, but inside, she felt the complete opposite.

What made it worse was that most of her friends were thin.

Since joining the BF&M Bermuda 100-Day Challenge she said she has enjoyed having a built-in support network.

“I feel better because I am with people who have been through the same hardship I have been through,” she said. “The fact that we are doing it together makes me feel like I am not alone.”

At first she said the exercise regimes were “overwhelming” and her body went into a state of shock — she lost her appetite, experienced knee pain and got bruises all over her body.

But mentally she stayed strong and has so far remained committed to exercising two or three times a day.

Ms O’Meally said it felt good to see small changes in her body; she is already starting to feel more fit and healthy. She has also been able to curb bad habits like eating late at night, going out to eat at restaurants every day and using food to improve her mood.

What she’s learned in the process about herself is that she’s both physically and mentally stronger than she thought.

She said: “I have been through my bachelor’s and master’s [degrees] and I was at the point where I did accomplish a lot for a 23-year-old, but I still didn’t feel accomplished inside of me.

“I felt something was missing and that I wasn’t at my full potential of what I could be yet. I think that is what is motivating me to get it done for myself.”

Ms O’Meally is optimistic she will get through the programme, but isn’t focused on winning.

Instead she is looking more towards the benefits she will see in the distant future and has to constantly remind herself that it’s “beyond a competition” so that she doesn’t stop once she’s reached her immediate goals.

“If I feel it’s just a competition after the 100 days I am going to go back to eating, that’s why I have to keep telling myself this is for life.”

Sierra O’Meally is one of 23 contestants in this year’s 100-Day Challenge. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published February 19, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated February 19, 2013 at 9:09 am)

‘It’s time to work on me now’

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