by Michelle Crilly

Michelle Crilly

Around three years ago, when I was 20, I got a wakeup call. 

I already knew I was overweight, and not terribly fit, but I wasn’t motivated to do much about it.

But then, I was driving home one day when I had some sudden chest pain and heart palpitations. Being so young, I got really worried. I’m a paramedic, so I know the scary signs to look out for and how important it is to listen to your body. This wasn’t right.

It does sound silly, but I was addicted to Slurpees and slushies. When I say addicted, I really mean it: I had to have one every day! This wasn’t hard; they’re actually everywhere. 7-Eleven, KFC, McDonalds … they all sell these for just a dollar, whereas water is two or three dollars. I’d also drink about four or five cans of soft drink every day (creaming soda was my favourite).

I decided to cut out the sugar and made some other changes, including regular exercise. I’ve lost weight, I have more energy, and am generally happier.

These changes weren’t always easy, but I found little goals are the way to go.

To begin with, my one goal was to not touch the Slurpees. I cut back on junk food in general, but if I had some chips or cake occasionally I went easy on myself. But I made sure Slurpees were completely off the menu. So far so good: I haven’t touched one in two years!

Then last year my goal was to not touch an Easter egg. And I didn’t! But I’m not going to lie – it was so hard. It made me realise how so much of our lives completely revolve around sugary food.

Cutting out soft drinks made a huge difference for me. It wasn’t easy at first, but it was worth it. I am all about the water now. It makes me feel so much better. Now I exercise every day, and I don’t have as much anxiety and I don’t feel depressed anymore. Also, I don’t have to shop in the plus-size section anymore!

If a soft drink addict like me can do it, seriously anyone can! So my advice is to keep going with your healthy lifestyle changes. It’s hard at first, and doesn’t happen overnight, but eventually it will become a part of your daily routine.

It makes me really proud to be able to represent my community and I’m glad people want to hear my story. 

Michelle is part of the inspiring new television campaign, ‘Our Stories’, featuring Victorian Aboriginal community members yarning about how cutting back on sugary drinks has helped their health and wellbeing.

She’s joined by Yorta Yorta man Uncle Darryl Smithand the Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative: a healthy Koori organisation that has removed vending machines and become a water-only service. They all urge others in their mob to follow their lead.
The ‘Our Stories’ advertisements is running for two months on regional WIN television in Victoria. Please join us in sharing these videos, using the #DrinkWaterUMob hashtag.
The campaign was launched by Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc (VACCHO) and 17 other leading health bodies behind Rethink Sugary Drink, including LiveLighter