June 6, 2023

A young nurse whose weight spiralled after giving birth to her second baby has shed 34kg naturally in the comfort of her home – without marathon workout sessions.
Aatikah Santos, from Sydney, tipped the scales at 100 kilos at her heaviest after she lived off an unhealthy cycle of fast food, sugary or salty snacks and soft drinks.
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When her daughter was born, the 24-year-old says her weight escalated after she started binging on her “guilty treats” because she thought, “Well I just had a baby so I’m allowed to”.
But the mum-of-two – who wore sizes 18-20 clothing – knew she needed to overcome her bad eating habits to get healthy after she struggled to do simple tasks like putting on a pair of shoes.
Determined to get on top of her weight once and for all, she slimmed down to sizes 12-14 in less than one year after she tweaked her diet and exercised in her loungeroom – even using her “kids as weights” in her workouts.
“I have always had a bad relationship with food and was never one to exercise, even walking was a task,” Aatikah tells 7Life.
Her turning point to lose weight came after she noticed she was nowhere to be seen in a majority of family pictures.
“I was sitting down eating my cookies and I was looking through photos and realised I have so many photos of my husband and kids but I’m not in any… because I refused to have photos taken of myself,” she recalls.
“And that’s when it hit me, I was so self conscious and in denial that I had a problem with my weight that I refused to see myself in photos. I was so upset realising that I’ll never get the chance to have photos taken with my babies again.
“It really kicked me into gear that I need to turn my life around not only to look better but because simple tasks like putting shoes on was hard, my health was horrible.”
Before embarking on her body transformation, Aatikah says her diet consisted of fast food, chips, blocks of chocolate, soft drinks and large portions of rice.
During her second pregnancy, she put on 10kg.
Aatikah says she gained an extra 13kg within two months after her daughter was born.
“But I didn’t think much of it because… well I just had a baby and it’s expected to gain weight during a pregnancy,” she said.
“I felt so hungry all the time… my daughter was born in November so all of the supermarkets had already stocked all of their Christmas sweets and I was going through three packets of shortbread cookies every week.
“I tried to stop having my guilty treats but then at the end of the week I would just binge on it all.”
Her weight loss journey started in October 2021.
“I started off slow and worked on my diet first rather than changing everything all at once,” she says.
“I started eating more vegetables and fruits. I cut out a lot of carbs and gluten. Once my diet was stable I started introducing daily workouts.”
With two young kids – son, aged three, and one-year-old daughter – under her wing, the stay-at-home mum found an ingenious way to get fit.
“As my husband works full time as a nurse on a rotating roster it was hard for me to get into a gym as my kids are young,” she says.
“Some days I would go to my sister-in-law’s house and use their home gym. But majority of the time I was at home working out, even using my kids as weights by squatting with them on my back or pressing them up.
Monday: 50 sit-ups
Tuesday: 50 squats
Wednesday: Cardio.
Thursday: Workout arms and back
Friday: 50 squats
Saturday: Mix of everything
Sunday: Rest
Her weekly workouts changed every month and she would follow along to fitness videos from YouTube in her loungeroom.
“I started going long walks around the block to keep moving. Pretty much doing anything I could. And the weight just started dropping off,” she says.
“Every week I was dropping one to two kilos. It took me just over a year to lose 34kgs.”
She now enjoys doing high intensity cardio, which she finds “so surprising” and she still follows YouTube workouts she finds them “so fun and you really feel the burn”.
Breakfast: Slice of gluten free bread with scrambled eggs or smoothie
Lunch: Can of salmon or tuna with crackers
Dinner: Grilled chicken or fish with vegetables
Snacks: Small chocolate bar, protein cookies or dried seaweed
Despite leading a healthier lifestyle now, she still treats herself to her favourite foods, within reason.
“I love my chocolate but I have it all in moderation now,” she says.
“I have never been strict whilst on this weight loss journey I have always had whatever I’ve felt like but in moderation.
“Self discipline is a must when trying to lose weight. Being able to say I will have some chocolate but I’ll only have a small amount is what helped me.”
Looking back at old pictures, Aatikah says “it’s shocking” when she sees herself at her heaviest.
“I never realised just how much weight I had lost until seeing those photos,” she explains.
“Of course I saw my weight drop when stepping on the scales but comparing myself to old photos was insane.”
She urges mums to distance themselves from “influencers” as she believes social media has created unrealistic beauty standards.
“It’s toxic,” she says.
“I used to watch influencers posts on what they eat in a day after having a baby and while it’s their diet it made me feel like I wasn’t doing the most.
“Everything on social media is never as it seems. My biggest tip is to remove all of those kinds of posts from your feed while trying to lose weight. Do it at your own pace. Find what works for you and stick with it.”
For those looking to lose weight, Aatikah says: “Just start.”
“You will never lose weight if you don’t start somewhere, no one is going to lose it for you. You have to be the one to just start somewhere. Whether it’s introducing one workout a week or cutting back on eating take out.
“A lot of people are given the idea that to lose weight you must stop eating their guilty pleasures like sweets or chocolates but it’s just not the case, well not for me at least. Eating them in moderation helps.
“My advice to anyone wanting to lose weight would be to not just jump in expecting everything to be easy.
“Of course it’s going to take time but the reward of losing weight is amazing. I wouldn’t change anything I did during my weight loss journey, I did it at my own pace and in a way that would make it successful for me.“
By Scott Collie / Motoring
Georgie Kearney / Sunrise
Jacqueline Mey / Pregnancy & Births
Cindy Tran / Weight Loss
By Ria Newman / Lifestyle
Ailish Delaney / Personal Finance
Cindy Tran / Lifestyle
Jacqueline Mey / Parenting
By Scott Collie / Motoring
Georgie Kearney / Sunrise
Jacqueline Mey / Pregnancy & Births
Cindy Tran / Weight Loss
By Ria Newman / Lifestyle
Ailish Delaney / Personal Finance
Cindy Tran / Lifestyle
Jacqueline Mey / Parenting


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