After years of self-punishment and body-loathing, Alex Lyons is living the good life. We caught up with the straight-shooting blogger and wellness advocate to find out how she transformed into the confident, content woman she always knew she could be.
Healthy, happy. Authentic, and open-hearted. Ask Alex Lyons how she defines beauty, and these are the words you’re likely to hear.
It’s hard-won wisdom for the 33-year-old mum of two, who struggled with body image from a young age. “I remember being about 10 when I went on my first diet,” Alex recalls.
During high school Alex became even more aware of the social pressures placed on young women to be thin. She remembers punishing her body by binge eating and then throwing up, or severely restricting her calorie intake by only eating fruit all day.
By the time she started uni, Alex realised there was more to health than just being skinny, but admits she hated to exercise and still hadn’t learned how to use nutrition to fuel her body. “I put on about 30 kilos,” she says, “I was absolutely massive.”
It wouldn’t be until years later, after the birth of her second daughter Hattie in 2014, that Alex finally reached breaking point. “Hattie didn’t feed well,” she explains. “I have insufficient glandular tissue, so I am the one percent of women who can’t breastfeed effectively without additional support or supplements because I simply don’t have the breast tissue to produce the milk.”
“I had a bunch of lactation consultants and well-meaning midwives [incorrectly] tell me I just needed to get my calories up, and because I wasn’t exercising and I had two children under two, everything just compacted and my weight blew out. When I hit 115 kilos, I was horrified.”
Remarkably, Alex was able to feed Hattie breast milk until she was 11 months old with the help of milk donors in her local community. “The women were incredibly supportive. They all had little babies at the time, so they all chipped in. I’d go around with a little esky every day to pick-up milk — it’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to for our children!”
Choosing health & creating lasting change
It was around this time that a friend who had struggled with her own weight suggested Alex try Changing Habits, a ‘Fat Loss Protocol’ developed by Sunshine Coast-based nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara. Alex decided to give it a go — and lost 40 kilos.
“[The Protocol] is essentially an elimination diet where you’re relying on lean protein, healthy veggies and really controlled meals per day. It helps people shed large portions of weight, but it also resets your metabolism and educates you about healthful nutrition and proper food. That was my pivot moment — I developed a new understanding of what a healthful life could be.”
Cultivating a nourishing relationship with food was the beginning. Next, Alex vowed to get strong. “When I first slimmed down I lacked strength and shape. Despite being thinner, I knew that there was more I could do to be happier in myself. When I feel happy within myself I feel powerful. And when I know I’m healthy and treating myself right, that’s definitely when I have more to give to myself and other people.”
Alex went on to become an aerial yoga instructor, but says her biggest mental shift regarding fitness came six months ago when she began F45, a group fitness program combining HIIT and circuit-style workouts. “I joined on a whim, and I’d never done anything of such high physical intensity,” she laughs. “Everyone is super supportive, and it’s taught me how, if I keep moving my body and I’m active, then I don’t have to feel guilty about having a piece of toast or a square of chocolate.”
Equally important in Alex’s journey to a positive self-image was learning to let go of perfection and reveal her authentic self. “I think we’re so consumed with the idea that we have to be the perfect person, whether that be the perfect woman or the perfect parent, and everyone is struggling,” she says.
“The denial that I lived in for a really, really long time hurt me more than anything else, I think, because I never dealt with any of my feelings. I just covered them up and moved on to the next thing, but you can’t do that — you can’t cover years and years of mental or physical self-abuse, without resolving it.”
Alex is mindful to share herself honestly on social media — cellulite, stretch marks, real-talk, nothing is off-limits — and her 21-thousand-strong Insta community love her for it. “I seem to get much higher engagement with the posts that are true and real, and I think people appreciate it more and more because they know they’re not alone.”
“There’s a lightness that comes with feeling good about yourself,” she adds. “I’ve managed to realise that my weight has absolutely nothing to do with my worth. If you’re healthy and happy, then who gives a shit about the number on the scale.”
It makes sense, then, that the affirmation Alex would choose for her Powerpants is I am worthy. “You’re worthy of people’s love. You’re worthy to be here. You’re worthy of all the good things that come your way.”
My weight has absolutely nothing to do with my worth.