Floating on air after weight-loss victories
Every week in Fast Forward, the Waikato Times revisits people who have made headlines. This week, Rachel Thomas catches up with weight-loss inspiration Cherie Waterhouse, who is helping two others shed kilos.
It's hard to believe the two women laughing and posing in the street were once so ashamed of their appearance that they avoided cameras.
"Get my skinny side," yells a voice from across the footpath.
"It's all skinny," replies photographer Peter Drury, snapping away between his subjects' giggles.
Meiana Gray and Carol Scrivener have a lot to smile about. Gray has lost 40 kilograms since March last year, dropping from 103kg to a mere 63kg.
Scrivener has shed 16kg from her frame since December 2012, taking her weight from 87kg to a healthy 71kg.
The pair were mentored by Cherie Waterhouse, from Weight Watchers, who went through her own 54kg weight loss in 2011 and knocked her once size-24 frame down to a size 12.
Under Waterhouse's guidance, both women are in the running for the annual Weight Watchers Healthy Life Awards Slimmer of the Year.
Before the loss, Gray had accepted she was headed for a gastric bypass. After all, three out of four of her siblings had had the procedure - which costs roughly $20,000 privately.
"In my head, a gastric bypass was my solution. I thought I would have to start saving."
After observing her siblings' post-surgery journeys, she realised lifestyle changes were the most important key to weight loss. "I changed what I ate and started exercising. There's no magic wand or potion I drank."
Gray, who gave birth to four children in four years, initially wanted to drop to her pre-pregnancy weight of 85kg.
"As I started to get close, I thought, this isn't so bad."
As the weight dropped off, Gray gained the confidence to join a gym then went on to do boot camp. She completed her first 10km run last year.
Scrivener's turning point came in late 2012 when she turned 29 and felt "miserable and depressed".
"I hated myself, and it's quite scary to let people know how dark it got."
She said food was her comfort, and she would spend hours preparing three-course meals for friends without a thought to nutrition or portion sizes.
"I labelled 2013 the year of change, so my first day back at work in 2013 I joined Weight Watchers."
Scrivener's changes haven't ended with weight loss. The leggy brunette quit her job as a media consultant, where stress and judgement was rife, to work for a rubbish company - and she couldn't be happier.
She reached goal weight in December - just in time for her 30th birthday.
She also just bought her first home in Hamilton with her longtime boyfriend.
"Life got really good," she said.
She said getting in the Weight Watchers magazine was a goal from the beginning.
"It's really dorky but it's what I want to do."
If the women are named semifinalists, they'll be flown to Sydney with Waterhouse where they'll be up against Australian contestants for the final title.
Waterhouse was beaming about the weighty success of the women.
The Hamilton mum was ineligible for the Healthy Life Awards, having been offered a job with Weight Watchers straight after completing the programme.
"I couldn't just turn down a job, so I'm living vicariously through these two . . . One of them is going to get me to Sydney."
To vote for the women, visit healthylifeawards.co.nz