Life-changing: my Body Confidence journey

Once upon a time, there was an unhappy-in-her-self young girl who believed she was fat. This is the story of how that young girl spent a whole adult-lifetime in hiding, until one day she woke up and realised that she had it in her to change ...

[20 minute read]

Yes, that's me. It was early in 2016 that I realised I really COULD change if I wanted to (read more about my epiphany during the Chakra Dancing Teachers Retreat). Spurred on by a pencilled-in date for my wedding, I was intrigued by something I'd seen on Twitter. There was a new program which guaranteed you'd release 16" in just 8 weeks. At first my cynical self snorted "ha! it must be a gimmicky diet", but the more I read into the program, the more it seemed like the kind of thing I could do. I mean, really could DO. And get my teeth into, as it sounded like a meat-eaters paradise. Paleo: caveman diet. Yep, I could do that.

The title of this program was The Body Confidence Program, and heavens above - I needed some Body Confidence. I was still prone to wobbles and doubts about taking Chakra Dancing out to my local community. I mean seriously, who'd want to dance with a chubby chubster leading them? (Actually, it turns out that quite a few do ... if I can do it, then they know THEY can do it ... ha! genius!)

TBCP Journal page Callie Carling

Anyhow, the heavens conspired to get me on The Body Confidence Program starting the second week of August. Perfect timing, as I'd just been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and was busy doing the Metformin-dance (and if anyone has been on Metformin, you'll know the side-effects "dance" I'm talking about ... !). I needed to get myself back on track, and get these blood sugar levels down. Then, and only then, could I start to work towards my two goals - one lovely, one not-so-lovely:

  • Goal 1: look beautiful in a wedding dress in late 2017
  • Goal 2: lose 45kg in order to have a bilateral mastectomy (and - ever hopeful! - an immediate reconstruction)

Anything else would be a bonus.


On 4th October 2016, I had the first of my regular 3-month fasting blood tests. As most Type 2 diabetics will know, the key indicator that your blood sugar levels are stable is the HbA1c level. My GP was very impressed: within the first 3 months of my diagnosis, my HbA1c level had dropped by 22 mmol/mol - I was well within the 'normal' ranges of 20-41. My total cholesterol levels had dropped by a whole 1 point (good, good! keep it going!) and my serum glucose levels had dropped by 3.9 mmol/L, to fall well within the 3.0 - 6.0 'normal' range. Wahooo!

In addition, I'd also incorrectly weighed myself: it was actually 10.1kg I had released during The Body Confidence Program.

By the time the Body Confidence Program had begun, I had already fallen in love with Ru-tee, the wonderful personal trainer and kinesiologist behind The Body Confidence Program. She really did walk her talk and was truly committed to supporting her Body Confidence tribe, in all kinds of ways. So this was exciting! I wanted to get results like the ones she was retweeting and sharing on Instagram. Maybe one day I, too, could have beautifully defined abs (abdominal muscle structure)!

Now, if you scroll right down this looooong page, you'll find my Dear Diary excerpts for each week of the 8-week program. Warts 'n all. I'm too shy to share my before and after pictures (quite upsetting, to be totally honest) but believe me, there's been a massive transformation. 

For a start, you can now see that I have a chin! This noticeably reduced day by day, from the first week of the program ... I kid you not.

I am finally - after 26 years of post-baby oedema - able to wear sandals and espadrilles with ankle straps YAYYYYY!  This I attribute to totally cutting out sugar (of all kinds) from my diet for 8 weeks; the effect was pretty much immediate.

I no longer have severe mood swings, suffer with ovarian pain (despite being post-menopausal) or have near-fainting episodes. My 3-month diabetes fasting blood sugar levels will be interesting, when I get those results - fair to say, I am expecting a pretty significant turnaround in my triglycerides.

Everyone I have seen recently has commented how much I 'glow'; how healthy I look. I'm going to take that as a compliment!

The most pleasant surprise for me, 'tho, was just how EASY the program was to follow, although it threw up some interesting curveballs for me that were totally unexpected. I'm quite a fussy eater, so it turns out. Textures are a big thing for me, far more than taste (after all, chemotherapy pretty much totalled my tastebuds). I can't "do" pea-protein shakes. Even with a straw. Yuk yuk yuk. Even more bizarre, I can no longer tolerate eggs. Which is truly awful as I love eggs and have eaten eggs pretty much every day of my life since I was a young 'un. 2 days of hives and a definite heart-pounding 'allergy' reaction, calmed only by anti-histamines, was enough: for now, I shall leave eggs alone. (Gosh, no cake? no quiche? oh yeah, that's ok - I don't eat that stuff anymore)

You have to love meat 'tho. The program really is heavy on the meat and fish. Oh, and you get to eat bacon for breakfast. I KNOW!! However, soon you will discover a new appreciation for lettuce and the amount of carbohydrates it sneakily hides within it's thin, insubstantial leaves. You will also soon discover what it's like to not have 'brain fog', as you no longer are victim of daily carbs and sugar overload. Even the first week wasn't too much of an issue, detox-wise, although you are stripping out wheat, grains,  legumes, dairy, sugar, caffeine and gluten out of your diet.

Hush hush hush ... don't panic. You will be amazed at the recipes you get given; the food is tasty, so much so that even my Italian Beloved was quite happy with the recipes and portion-sizes *chuckle*

When you join the 8 week The Body Confidence Program, you will supported by the fabulous Ru-tee (who is there for you, every step of the way), and a great website which gives you meal planners - that you can switch about, to suit yourself - and exercises videos, as well as informative articles. For a membership site, I was very surprised at it's flow: top marks to Ru-tee's web designer!

I wasn't expecting the program to be such an educational process, but it has been transformation in every aspect of my life. It has even transformed my Beloved's life too, who has supported me all the way through the 8-week program by following as many of the meals as possible - and yes, he's also lost inches!  The support and care from our 8-week Body Confidence tribe also helps to spur you on when you're feeling less than top-notch. 

Although I am saddened that for the last 4 weeks I have not been able to exercise (laid low by various infections and medication side-effects), I came close to achieving my goal of 30" reduction (or 'release', as I call it) and feel enormously proud of myself, and of my fellow Body Confidence tribe who have hit some amazing targets and achieved so much. For all of us, it's been a real journey ... not just a fascinating one, to see our body shapes change over the weeks, but how it's impacted us emotionally, too. A real life-changer.

So now that I have reached the end of my 8 weeks, what exactly have I got from of The Body Confidence Program? Gosh, there's so many things I could share BUT here's a few that spring to mind:

  • a new appreciation for my body, and just how marvellous she is
  • a new mindset
  • a new interest in Sports Psychology (see above, the 'mindset') and as such, I'm taking that course as part of my BSc (Hons) Psychology degree!
  • a new wardrobe: all of the clothes I've not been able to wear for 3+ years, including quite a few new outfits that have been stashed away for that mythical 'when I lose weight' era - which is NOW!
  • a love of Bart's Jerk seasoning
  • a passion for turkey burgers ... with Bart's Jerk seasoning
  • no bloating
  • my blood sugar levels under control
  • I am back to regular art-journalling and self-care practices *wahoooo*
  • I can walk so much faster
  • I can run up two flights of stairs and still be able to breath!
  • getting into my beloved Rabe jeans, and the zip going up with no hesitation
  • a belief in myself: that I can TOTALLY do this

AND I am a quarter of my way towards the goal-weight set by my onco-plastic surgeon, in order for them to carry out a safe bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, thereby completing my 5-year cancer journey with a nice, neat bow.

So please, do take a moment longer to watch this little video I have created for you which shares some images of my daily meals and journalling entries, alongside my measurements each week (some fabulous, some not-so) ... and then go visit The Body Confidence program for yourself and see whether it's a good fit for you!

Thanks so much for reading ... (my Dear Diary weekly entries below)


Week 1 Dear Diary


13th August 2016

So today I began my journey with the Body Confidence Programme - an 8-week Paleo meat-eaters programme that guarantees you'll let go of 16" over the next two months - judging by the results from previous participants, I'll hopefully manage a few more than that ;) 

At the moment, I've not had to change anything in my usual 'diet' other than dropping my cups of tea & a chunk of cheese in my breakfast tortilla. Very grateful to (my Beloved) for supporting me so enthusiastically, bless him.

Also very grateful to the lovely Ru-tee, founder of the Body Confidence programme, for laying out such simple plans & info in such a beautiful way in her members area! It makes it a real joy to jump in & check what's on my food agenda each morning (plus it fulfills the #OA step of planning your food each day!)


16th August 2016

On Day 4 (yesterday) of The Body Confidence programme I realised that I'm a really simple soul . I'm much happier with plain boiled eggs than scrambled eggs 'n fish ... but Oh! My! Gosh! Why has nobody EVER introduced me to Jamaican Jerk seasoning before?!


17th August 2016

Day 5 of The Body Confidence programme (are y'all bored yet? only another 51 days to gooooo!) 

Today I have discovered somefink else about me & my food fetishes! I like to chomp. I don't feel fully sated unless I'm chewing ... but that's easily remedied, even when you have a pea-protein smoothie for breakfast. The straw trick was a brilliant tip from another of the gorgeous ones on the TBCP. I managed to get down 4/5ths of it .... progress! Still no sign of feeling hungry inbetwixt meals ... faaaaaaabulous!


19th August 2016

*wheeeeee* excited to reach the end of week 1 - a monumental achievement for someone who's life has been blighted for 30+ years with eating disorders and dangerous diets (Duromine/amphetamines anyone?!)

Confession: so I didn't manage to evade the double chocolate cake yesterday afternoon on display BUT ...

  • Lessons I learned no. 1: it didn't taste particularly good to my taste buds and I didn't eat all of it. A HUGE result - previously it would have been hoovered up, without hitting my tastebuds, irrespective of whether I liked it / wanted it / had room for it.
  • Lessons I learned no. 2: Ru-tee follows me everywhere. I swear I could see you with a cheeky smile on your face, mouthing "muffin" to me

My first week on The Body Confidence Program:

  • 8.9" released

Week 2 Dear Diary


20th August 2016

I'm excited for 2 reasons today:

  1. my dear friend has been so inspired by my meal-photos that I've shared most days on my FB wall, that she's just signed up this morning to do Ru-tee's next programme!! YAY! (oh the power of images + social media)
  2. my beloved is being supportive by following most of the meal plans with me (and has already noticeably lost a bit of his buddha belly): this morning, I volunteered to make him a sausage buttie with some fresh bread, as a treat before he sets off to football. I sat down with my smoothie and didn't feel hard done by at all ... for someone who's entire life has revolved round food (and not in a good way), that's phenomenal! ... and another reason:  
  3. I can't believe Turkey burgers were one of my fav meals from last week


24th August 2016

I'm not sure if I'm imagining things, but it's been really hot these past 2 days in London (well, hot for me is anything over 25C!) and I don't have puffy ankles and feet. I've been plagued with oedema since I had my lad (26 next month) ... is this just another benefit of the program? x


26th August 2016

*yay* end of week 2 and the measurements are in ... (to be honest, was really dreading this morn as I felt so bloated last night - post-meno issues making me feel like a puffafish with spikes!) :D

<3Proud of myself <3 and only one slip up this week (2 slices of toast on Tuesday morning. I'm really struggling with breakfast options, but the rest of the meals I'm loving)

  • 3.59"
  • Total released: 12.5" 

Week 3 Dear Diary


1st September 2016

Yay! My phone is back from being repaired! I'm in communication again *wahooo*

Question for the ladies: have you noticed a change in your cycles since starting TBCP?

I am post-menopausal but freakily, I've had horrendous bloating and 'other issues' that long since went - all since late last Weds, so over a week now.

I'm thinking it's just my body finding her balance again, now I'm no longer poisoning her with sugar, wheat and dairy ....?


2nd September 2016

So this morn is Week 3's Measuring Moment on ... despite having a week of medical bloating, I've still achieved a 3.25" reduction! Very proud of myself & dancing into Week 4 feeling positive and upbeat about achieving a 4" reduction next Friday. My ggoals: eat before 7pm + daily exercises

  • 3.25" 
  • Total released: 15.75"

Week 4 Dear Diary


5th September 2016

*whoopsadaisy* my body is telling me something + I'm not sure what it is ...

First of all, I can't swallow the pea-protein smoothies anymore. So sad - I've got a kilo pack too: I really want to like it and give it a go every other morning, but today was an absolute no-go after the first swallow. (I'm such a funny stick, I know!)

Secondly, I had a very bizarre 'hives' reaction to something on Friday afternoon. At first I thought it might be my new batch of cashew cookies (yummie!) ... but when it happened again, around the same time on Saturday, I was pretty certain it wasn't cashews as I'd not been anywhere near nuts. Thank heavens for Piritize antihistamines - heart was pounding, wheezing started ... yeuk!

The only commonality I'd had was EGGS. I love eggs ... didn't have eggs yesterday, and I was fine. Got to pick up a blood test form later today, and tomorrow will have a blood test for egg allergy (highly unlikely, GP says)

So thinking of Ru-tee's advice yesterday to be nice to ourselves all day yesterday, I'm continuing to follow that excellent advice today ... will continue to work on exploring which types of food my body will accept at breakfast from all the lovely recipes we've had so far on the program.

Onwards and upwards!!!!


5th September 2016

If you ever get a day where you think "I just can't" ( ... do another press-up, do another Rock Your Bottom mini-session haha!), then this guy may just inspire you: [Facebook video]


8th September 2016

OMG OMG OMG I am so excited about Week 5's menus ... muuuuuuuushrooms!!!


9th September 2016

Celebrating another steady 3.25" reduction this morning as I roll into Week 5: a couple of places had increased slightly but I'm pretty sure I know why - & I know how I can tackle it! 

Looking to turn up the exercise dial this week. Good luck to everyone beginning the Program today & huge congratulations to those completing their 8-weeks, triumphant. TBCP really DOES work!

  • 3.25"
  • Total released: 19"

Week 5 Dear Diary


14th September 2016

So in Week 5, we're encouraged to make a dream board/vision board. My effort - fairly symbolic but lots of travel, vitality and wedding stuff on there! I realised afterwards that I can't imagine myself at my 'dream size' because so much of it depends on when my bilateral mastectomy op gets done & what boobs they give me (if any!) ... which is why it's so difficult to look at clothes etc. In my minds eye I am a happy, healthy, bouncing-with-energy, sexy size 16/18


15th September 2016

 I'm SO excited! I've not been able to wear my fav pair of jeans for 3+ years ... today I managed to do the button up & still be able to breathe! A long way still to go (even to get zip up & sit down without breaking the zip!) but I'm SOOOOO happy!


16th September 2016

It's pouring with rain here this morn & the grey skies are a perfect foil for today's measuring results ...

Yet I knew this week was going to be tough: poor sleep, necessary late nights & stress, hating the heat & feeling bloated from not being able to release all that needs to be released ... (Off to buy some Andrews as soon as the monsoons stop!)

But I am proud of myself: I'm in a constant dialogue now with my body, so I know when she's unhappy and I know what actions I need to take to step back up for the last 3 weeks of this amazing program.

I committed to this program as a lifetime change; it takes time to unravel years of damage caused by emotional eating disorders & undiagnosed diabetes (Type 2) ... so I'm giving myself a big hug, lots of love and permission to accept me for who I am today (inches & all)

(PS I was sooooo good yesterday on our day of celebrations! The only naughty things I had was a cup of tea, 2 tiny slices of pannetonne & some baby new potatoes roasted in rosemary!)

  • 4.39" back on
  • Total released: 14.6"

Week 6 Dear Diary


19th September 2016

A pair of strappy espadrilles. So what?

Well, it's the first time in 25+ years I've been able to wear strappy-round-ankles summer footwear ... TBCP has eradicated 99% of my puffy ankle (oedema) syndrome.  I'm thrilled!!! They're now next to my suitcase, ready to dance in Croatia next month.


22nd September 2016

... Last week I made the huge decision to study full-time this year for my BSc (Hons) Psychology degree, while juggling my own biz & the family biz. I opted to take Sports & Exercise Psychology as a module ... why am I sharing this here?

Because Ruth Ru-tee has inspired me so much, along with the fabulous people who've journeyed through the program ... & she's also helped me to massively change my mindset, which is what most of this course is about #lifechanging


23rd September 2016

Ok, somehow - no idea how - I'm almost back on track, now the antibiotics are kicking in & my chest pains & coughs are easing, I'm looking to get back to my exercising routine!  

  • 3.89" 
  • Total released: 18.5" 

Week 7 Dear Diary


26th September 2016

I'm so, so sorry I missed the call today 😪😪 really struggling with this nasty virus & really DON'T know what time of day it is today #comeonantibiotics

Really struggling at the mo to keep on track, but choosing to not beat myself up with the big "You are a failure" stick that keeps jumping into my field of vision.

Instead, I'm choosing to recognise my body is undergoing a powerful transformation (as well
as battling a ferocious lurgy) and these things take time.

My goal of 30" total reduction at the end of week 8 seems like a mahoosive mountain right now, but I'm still working towards it ... off to do some of that tapping stuff now xx


30th September 2016

Another disappointing week for me (inch-wise) but I've been very poorly & therefore fairly inactive - even walking has been a no-no coz of chest infection + bronchitis! So no real
surprise 😁 Let's get this 2nd batch of antibiotics (making me feel like a poisonous pufferfish!) out the way ...

BUT I'm celebrating ordering a new pair of jeans in a size I couldn't get into 7 weeks ago - and having to send 'em back. Too big! 😁 AND I reckon my 3 achievements (see pic) so far are pretty mahoosive! 🌟

  • 2.09" in the wrong direction but it's ok. I'm still really unwell.
  • Total released: 16.4"
  • update: apparently, while on antibiotics and fighting an infection, it's quite common for your body to store up a minimum 5" due to inflammation and retaining water, with all those chemicals sloshing around

Week 8 Dear Diary


3rd October 2016

Insights from my journaling - I'm a big one for using food as my emotional crutch ... and barometer. I've realised through this program that to a certain degree, much of that is actually down to my body saying "hellooooo, you're not prioritising me - where's my protein, huh?!"

I'm off to get my fasting bloods done tomorrow (didn't get there last wk coz was poorly) & will be very interesting to see what my triglycerides & fasting blood sugar levels are like.

I don't need to use food as my support; but equally, if I have a dodgy food day, I owe it to myself to (a) acknowledge what has happened, and chalk it down to experience, and (b) on another day (i.e. no beating myself up with that big ego-stick), reflect on what may have triggered that reaction - and do it with love and compassion xx


5th October 2016

So I'm finishing 2 days early, as we're flying off for a long-overdue holiday ... antibiotics are now finished, yet I still feel as weak as a kitten, 3 weeks on. Feeling a strange mix of elation and disappointment. Elated that I've achieved so much (physically, emotionally and mentally), and yet disappointed that I haven't quite reached my 30" realising-of-inches during this fabulous 8 week program. I could not have predicted that I'd feel so poorly for the last 4 weeks of the program, and although I am happy to finally be in tune with my body, and ecstatically happy to put into use SO many clothes that I've not been able to wear for 3+ years, my long-term goal is to continue with this program as I need to get ready for my bilateral mastectomy (and hopefully, reconstruction) and fit into a beautiful wedding dress in 2017!

To be honest, I've fallen into the biscuit-bin twice this week & still feel so blobby / puffy as my body tries to shake off the infection ... so the 7.79" release in my final week on the TBCP was a HUGE surprise!

I then toddled off to weigh myself (a big issue for someone with a lifelong emotional eating disorder). I'm beaming with pride at releasing 8.5kg that's almost a quarter of my onco-plastic surgeon's target reduction requirement in order to have my bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction (& get into a stunning wedding gown next year!).

So feeling very proud of myself & really looking forward to continuing the good work on Ruth's maintenance program on my return!

Wishing you ALL a fantastic experience as you continue your TBCP, it's been such an honour to meet you all & be inspired by you all xxx

PS I have learned so many lessons: the most important being "listen to your body". The second most important lesson for me has been learning to "respect your body". The third important lesson has been "our bodies are designed to move: moving your body makes for a happy body".

  • 7.79"
  • Total inches released: 24.2" over 8 weeks on The Body Confidence Program
  • Total weight released: 8.5kg

And that is my story ... so far. I am off on my hollibobs now, and when I return, I will be joining The Body Confidence Maintenance Program. If you have been inspired by my experience and would like to find out more about The Body Confidence Program, please do pop along and say hi to Ruth (Ru-tee) at

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