SLIM CHANCE: Our four challengers ready to get fit

IF YOU'RE fat, unfit and sick of it, you're not alone.

As our lives get busier, our food choices get more confusing, and we sit in front of screens for more hours of the day, we're part of an epidemic.

Almost two in three - or 63% - of Australians are now overweight or obese. They're at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and, every day, they don't have the energy or confidence they want to make the most of their life.

We're going to do something about it. Today The Northern Star starts its Slim Chance Challenge. Four lucky readers will learn how to fit healthy eating and exercise into their lives and we're encouraging all readers to use our expert advice to do the same.

We can all do it and we're going to show you how.



Our Slim Chance Challenge has started - meet the four lucky readers chosen to take part.

We received so many deserving entries and would like to invite all of our readers who want to lose weight or get healthier to play along at home.

Every week we'll publish tips on easy, healthier eating to lose weight as well as ways to get more exercise into your daily life.

Record your weight today and, at the end of the challenge, we'd like to hear your story about how much weight you were able to lose healthily.

Good luck.


Here are our four Slim Chance Challenge participants:


GOOD ON YOU! Taking part in The Northern Star’s 12-week Your Slim Chance Challenge are, from left, Donna Connolly, of Rock Valley, Greg Holland and Leeanne Sanders, both of Goonellabah, and Cristy Handcock, of Casino.
GOOD ON YOU! Taking part in The Northern Star’s 12-week Your Slim Chance Challenge are, from left, Donna Connolly, of Rock Valley, Greg Holland and Leeanne Sanders, both of Goonellabah, and Cristy Handcock, of Casino. Marc Stapelberg


A hospitality business owner, Donna, 42, says her health suffered after an emotional trauma. "I have been trying ever since to regain control," she says. "This year has been particularly eye-opening - I have had friends my own age suffer heart attacks while others have diabetes and lifestyle-related issues. Until now I have been under the illusion that time is on my side."

The Rock Valley resident currently weighs 85kg.




A Casino mother-of-three, Cristy says she has a loving partner who tries to help and encourage her in every way to lose weight and get healthier.

"But it just doesn't help," she says.

"I have been overweight all my life. My partner, Chris, tells me we will get married one day but I keep saying no because I want my wedding photos to be perfect and at moment they wouldn't be."

Cristy, 31, currently weighs 180kg.




A yo yo dieter, Leeanne says she feels very disappointed that, after being a size 12, she is back to a size 18 again.

"I will be 55 in January and, just like when I was about to turn 50, I need to change my eating habits," she says.

With her niece getting married in November, she has something to work towards. "Even though I will still be the biggest family member in the photos, I won't be as big as I am now."

Leeanne weighs 85kg.




After giving up rugby league at 40, Greg has struggled with his weight. But when, in 2012, he and wife Janelle lost their 14-year-old son Rhys in a tragic accident, he lost all interest in exercise, or caring about his weight or health.

He sees a specialist for a kidney disease and really needs to turn his health around.

Greg, 51, who works in sales in Ballina and lives in Goonellabah, currently weighs 140kg.


Get going!

Here are some tips for people who may not have much time or may not have gym equipment to use:

1. Get moving! Start using the stairs and walk short distances rather than drive.

2. While watching TV programs keep active by jogging on the spot or performing exercises like squats, push-ups or lunges (start by doing one minute of work followed by one minute of rest).

3. Get out and about with your kids and your pets, take your dog for a longer walk, kick a soccer ball around, take a brisk walk before or after dinner.

4. Set aside 20 -30 minutes a day to improve your health. You don't need equipment - you can walk around the block or perform body-weighted exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, star jumps, burpees, sit ups, planks etc.

5. Keep a diary, or a chart on the fridge and write down what you do. Make it fun. Give yourself a star if you want to or write positive words or praise on it. Keep at it.

SOURCE: Anytime Fitness Lismore, Shop 8-11 Goonellabah Shopping Centre, Simeoni Dr & Oliver Ave, Goonellabah, phone 6624 5678, email


Change your thinking

If you've decided to lose weight, start by changing how you think about exercise and eating, says weight loss consultant and author Gavin Tierney.

"People need to think 'I'm going to exercise now. I like how I feel afterwards, I like how healthy it makes me feel' not 'oh this is going to hurt and I hate that'."

Gavin also suggests imagining yourself slim and healthy, exercising and eating good, healthy food. "Professional sportsmen do this all the time," he said.

The three easiest ways to reduce how many kilojoules you eat are to:

Eat slower

Take it off the plate

Eat real food

"Let's say the ideal amount of energy needed per meal has a value of 10," says Gavin.

"To achieve this with a good quality meal, you would eat a piece of fish or chicken about the size of your hand, a small to medium baked potato and enough veggies to make up the other half of the meal.

"However, to achieve the same meal value while eating fast food like burgers, fries, cola or pizza, you would only be able to eat one third of that meal."

So, remember, eat veggies, fruit, grains, lean meat, and drink plenty of water.

SOURCE: Gavin Tierney, of The Right Weigh, gav@ or 0431 191 975