There were tears, laughter and a resounding cheer as a group of Christchurch women parted with their "old selves" in Hagley Park.
Thirty-two Christchurch Weight Watchers members took part in the first Celebration Walk yesterday, a 5km walk where each woman carried bottles of water representing the weight they had lost.
Halfway through the walk, the women tipped the water they were carrying into the Avon River as a symbolic gesture to bid farewell to baggage they no longer had to carry.
In total, the women had lost 527.5 kilograms between them, an average of 16.5 kilograms per person.
The day was especially momentous for Evelyn Crosbie, who was celebrating a 40 kilogram weight-loss triumph.
She credited her support team, and struggling through a long walk home after the February earthquake for shedding the extra kilos.
"I would've been happy to lose 10, but it was just great with the motivation and support around," she said.
"It's good to show other people that it is possible."
Chrissie Rae, 42, has her daughter to thank for starting her on her weight-loss journey.
After dropping 34 kilograms, Rae couldn't believe she carried the extra weight on her body a year ago.
"We were just out walking and my daughter said to me 'Are you going to be alive for my 21st?', and I thought if I don't do something now, I won't be," she said.
Weight Watchers South Island area manager Andrea Blower said the walk could become an annual event after the success of yesterday.
She said it was a great way to round off the year and "appreciate how far they've all come".
"You hear how much they've done and you're still amazed by it and awed that these people have this great determination, and just do it," she said.
GOAL IS TO SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS
A life-changing disease, earthquake stress and a weakness for chocolate were bumps in the road during Raewyn Lowe's 37kg weight-loss journey.
The 45-year-old was amongst more than 30 women who took part in the Hagley Park celebration walk.
Lowe said goodbye to weight she had struggled with all her life.
''Well, the first time I started [trying to lose weight] was when I was 16,'' she said.
''If you look at my primary school photos - I wasn't big but I was bigger than the others - and the weight kept creeping on.
''I had lots of hiccups along the way.''
It wasn't until 2009 that Lowe decided to step up her bid to lose weight and join Weight Watchers.
''I just wasn't happy with myself, I didn't love myself and I was really tired. I decided after a holiday in Australia that I just had to do something for me.
''I decided I was joining the day after I got back.'' After losing 30kg in 10 months, Lowe was well on track to obtain her goal weight.
However, when the earthquakes struck she was diagnosed with Graves' Disease, an auto-immune disease. This coupled with the stress at the time caused a lot of the weight to go back on.
But never one to be put off, Lowe jumped straight back on the wagon as soon as she felt ready.
''In the last year I've lost all of what I put on plus more.
''My confidence is back. I was always a confident person, but then my weight and my ex husband drained it.'' Now weighing just 72kg, Lowe said she still has 15kg to lose before she reaches her goal weight.
''My goal is to swim with dolphins and the become a Weight Watchers leader, and I'm not getting in a wetsuit until I'm at my goal weight,'' she said.
And her advice to other women is simple - if you want to eat it, eat it.
''Don't avoid any foods, if you want it have it. Chocolate is still my go-to food. Just believe that you can do it, and stick to it, and set goals and reward yourself.
''If I can inspire somebody else to do this then I'll be happy.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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