If there’s one word that sums up Carly Webster, it’s ‘determined’.
Through grit and self-resolve, she has sweated her way from 116 kilograms to 66 kilograms in just two years.
England-born, the 28-year-old arrived in Australia in March 2013 as a backpacker. Eventually, she made her way to Mullaley where she met local farmer Matt Zelinski in October and “found a reason to stay”.
She secured employment at Crazy Sam’s in Coonabarabran and began to regain the 20 kilograms she had shed before leaving the UK.
After returning home from work one night in July 2015, she decided enough was enough.
“I was just so upset that I was bigger than what I’d ever been,” she said.
“It was as simple as this – I got home from work one evening at Crazy Sam’s and it was 9 o’clock at night, and I asked Matt to take me for a run,” she said.
“He said, ‘What do you mean take you for a run?.’ I said, ‘Take me for a run’ and he said, ‘Where?”’ and I said, ‘Just take me to a straight road’, so he took me.
“He got his clothes and boots on because he was in his pyjamas. I was in my pyjamas; I was sitting on the bed looking at the fat hanging over. No joke. I was like, ‘That is foul’.”
Carly said Matt took her out to Wool Road and they ran for one kilometre.
“It was only one k and I couldn’t breathe and I’d just quit smoking as well,” she said.
“He thought I’d lost the plot. Even to this day, when we have a drink and we get talking, he goes, ‘Remember that night when you just asked me to take you for a run? Imagine if I'd never taken you, everything might have been different’.
Carly said that night was “the turning point” and she began running around the farm three days a week.
“From that run, something changed. I don’t know what. I can’t really put my finger on it,” she said.
“I just changed, and I wanted to change as well.
“I think that’s the most important part, I wanted to change.”
Over the following weeks, Carly began to change her diet, introducing plenty of fruit and vegetables and cutting out take-away, sugar and alcohol as much as possible. Sundays became a food planning and prepping day and she said she went into “hibernation” for about a year, avoiding social events where she would be tempted by unhealthy foods.
“For me to succeed, I had to do it,” she said.
Carly said her weight loss was gradual and in 2016 she started going to It’s Time 4 Fitness in Coonabarabran three days a week. It was here that she met personal trainer Nick Karagiannis.
“[Nick] was absolutely fantastic and he still now pushes me, talks to me, checks on me every day, near enough,” she said.
After five months at the boot camp, she said she gained the confidence to try out Battle PT 2380 in Gunnedah.
“If it wasn't for Nick, I never would have joined Battle PT because he taught me how to work in a group environment [and] not feel ashamed about myself,” she said.
By the time she joined Battle PT in September 2016, Carly had already lost around 20 kilograms.
“I decided I wanted to lose about 30 kilos originally. I didn’t quite realised I had 50 to lose,” she said.
At Battle PT, Carly came under the watchful eye of ex-paratrooper Greg Sams who is known for his military style training, which is modelled on training undertaken by combat units before deployment.
Greg said he tries to “get the body as close to a battle environment as possible”.
“My job is to develop them into a person they never thought they’d be,” Greg said.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the people that walk in here.”
Over the past 12 months, Greg has watched Carly transform both physically and mentally.
“She’s got more life to her, a spark to her,” he said.
Carly said that Greg had been “a fantastic friend and trainer”.
“I’m so thankful to Greg and the Battle PT for always pushing me to my limits.”
In May, Carly reached a major milestone with a total loss of 50 kilograms, but it was on March 28 this year that she truly celebrated.
“When I hit a size 10, I cried in Target changing room,” she said.
“I ran out to Matt. It was the best moment of my life.
“It felt like I finally got somewhere.
“I haven’t been a size 10 since I was a teenager.”
Instagram has been a major element of Carly’s journey, becoming an “online diary” to document her weight loss journey.
“It was more to keep myself accountable,” she said.
“And also, I noticed other women were asking me why I wasn’t training if i didn’t put something up and I realised other people must care about what I’m doing and I must be helping them in some way.
“I noticed that people on the Instagram community became sort of my fitness family as well as Battle PT.
“They became that helpful and encouraging that was what kept me going.”
Carly said she’s sometimes approached on the street and women regularly contacted her via the Instagram account to ask questions and share their own journey.
Another vital element in the young woman’s success is the ongoing support of her partner, Matt.
“He’s been so encouraging,” Carly said.
“He’s put my new life before his on many occasions.
“Without Matt, I don’t think I would have succeeded as much as I have. You’ve got to have that close support network.”
He loved me when I was big. He’s such a genuine person, he wouldn’t care what I looked like,” she said.
“That’s not what it’s about with Matt. That’s why I stayed in Australia, for someone like him.”
Twenty-six months after she kick-started her transformation, Carly said she’s feeling better than ever.
“From eating right and exercising right, I feel healthier,” she said.
“My life from two years ago is completely different. Even when I lived in England, I never once watched what I ate, I never once meal-prepped, I never once went to the gym.
“It’s honestly like I’m a different person.
“I’ve had to sacrifice a lot but it’s been 100 per cent worth it. I wouldn’t change a single thing over two years.”
After a “long two years”, Carly said she has a strong message to share.
“I want other people to go back through my story and be inspired that natural weight loss is possible because I would not have believed it myself,” she said.
“I haven’t taken any pills, no shakes, haven’t under-eaten, so I haven’t starved myself.
“It’s just from being consistent. You’ve got to keep at it. Never give up.
“It sounds cliche but it’s true. Just keep going. Don’t look back.”
Carly now has her sights set on becoming a personal trainer with the aim of helping women in the area to reach their own goals.
To follow Carly on Instagram, search carly_weightlossjourney