by Ben Somerford,

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Five years ago, Subiaco’s Michael Hedderwick’s weight ballooned out to triple figures, leaving him unhappy. He’d moved into the white collar workforce from a manual labour job when he started putting on weight, reaching 105 kilograms at his heaviest. But then he made changes.

He recalls watching a LiveLighter advertisement on TV which encouraged people to make the healthy choice, choosing water instead of a cola in a convenience store. He made the change.

“As soon as I stopped consuming sugary drinks, that’s when the kilos started falling off,” Michael says. “The ad showed me something I could do and it was easy.”

Eighteen months later, his weight was less than 80 kilograms. He felt good about himself again.

Albany-raised Michael had a standard Aussie upbringing, playing alternating sports during the winter and summer months during his schooling years, before dabbling in volleyball, tennis and running in his late teens and early 20s.

However, in his mid-20s he developed unhealthy habits during stints of manual work in viticulture, scaffolding and sea container unloading. “I used to drink energy drinks most mornings, with a Mother or Red Bull, to get me going,” he says.

“At lunch when I’d get a meal I’d always get a Coke or a standard soft drink to go with it. I never ever had a water with lunch. The concept of buying water at the time wasn’t on my radar.”

Michael estimated he consumed one and half sugary drinks daily during this period, indulging in a 600mL bottle or 375mL can of soft drink with lunch and after work most days.

Michael’s work involved enough physical activity to avoid weight gain until a career shift with sedentary behaviour changed everything. “I used to do a lot of blue collar work which was physical,” he says. “It was when I started in a white collar job that the kilos started to pile on without even realising.”

He recalls feeling “crap” about himself when his weight reached triple figures.

“I was way bigger than I’d ever been in my life and I felt crap,” he says.  “Doing exercise was hard and it hadn’t been when I was younger.

“I was out of shape. If I tried to go for a run, I’d get 2 kilometres down the road and just be knackered. 

“I used to be fit when I was younger. It was upsetting to not be able to do things I used to do.”

There was no ‘penny drop moment’ for Michael. Instead, encouraged by sticking to the simple message of cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with water, he began to see results.

Once weight started coming off, he grew in confidence and could re-commence physical activity like running and took on cycling.

“The biggest thing for me was how quickly it snowballed,” he reflects. “I started feeling better and wanted to do more positive things.

“Also I found pretty quickly, once I started I didn’t miss the drinks. I felt like ‘this is fine, I don’t have to do that’.

“It was so simple and so routine in my life. That’s why it worked as opposed to going on a diet. I easily slipped it into my lifestyle.”

Five years after successfully losing more than 25 kilograms, Michael remains a stable healthy weight. He and his partner more recently sold their second vehicle. Michael walks or cycles to work every day, a 6km round trip, having purchased a new bicycle after selling the car.

And occasionally he reflects on his journey. “I’ve still got old business shirts from when I was larger,” he says. “I put them on now and can’t believe how big they were. It’s a good reminder.”

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