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A Life Renewed with Vitality


A Life Renewed with Vitality

Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my Wellness Warriors Podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health related complications through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present and future who have helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it.

Welcome, Mary, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m really fascinated to learn about your weight loss journey.

And I think the first question that really interests me is what was the trigger for you? That first thing that made you think about, that you really wanted to explore a weight loss, surgical procedure?

Mary Barker: I have been overweight all my life. I’ve never been like a little skinny mini and I turned 50 and I thought, I need to do something about this because I don’t want to enter the second half of my life, you know, with bad knees or diabetes or increased health risks.

And I had been to the gym, I had dieted, I had I tried being vegan for six months. I felt like I’d tried everything that was presented to me as an option.

And I was at work one day and I was at the coffee, you know, getting a coffee and I bumped into this young girl and I said to her, look, I hope you don’t mind me asking, “You look so healthy. Are you vegan or something?”

And she goes, “No, I’ve actually just lost her 50 kilos, I’ve had weight loss surgery”. And I went, “Oh my goodness”.

And I was asking her questions and then someone else came to get a coffee. And she said, “Oh, I’ve just had weight loss suregery too!”

So I said, “Okay, great. You two girls, in a room. I need to talk to both of you.”.

And I had an opportunity to sit down with them and ask them, you know, what was good? What was bad? What was ugly?

And they had varying experiences, mostly good. A few little hiccups, but both of them said, regardless of those hiccups, they did not look back and they are both so grateful that they had done it. And that’s when I decided, and I made the call. I went, “Okay, I’m doing it.” It really wasn’t, I didn’t even hesitate.

Felicity Cohen: I think that is so interesting that, you know, when I think about, if I go back quite a few years or even just a couple of years and I’d be on the phone talking to people, no one knew anyone who’d been there and had surgery. And it was still quite a taboo kind of subject.

The conversation was not out there. And now I think we’ve reached a point in time where not just is surgical intervention, a lot more acceptable in terms of, for me, I see it as a missing piece to a puzzle. It’s the one thing that’s going to all of a sudden create that, you know, that positive change, it’s a cycle breaker that gives you the chance to make sure that with every kilo you lose, you’re gonna keep it off.

It is that one thing that will make all the difference. And everybody now seems to know someone in their immediate circle, whether it’s a friend, a colleague, a family member or someone who’s been there done that. And I think that’s changed perceptions.

How we see surgery as an acceptable solution.

Mary Barker: It was, for me, it was fantastic to speak to someone who had the experience and able to ask all of my questions and they didn’t hold back. It was just, “This was good. This was bad. This is, I struggled with. This was fantastic.”.

I personally, I’m very overt about it. I’m not afraid to tell people I’ve had the surgery, but I think that you’ve got to take the shame away from it.

If you connect it with shame or you know, I did it because I couldn’t do it on my own. It’s not about that. It’s about finding the tool that helps you and works with you to lose weight.

Felicity Cohen: What medical conditions were you most concerned about? Not just that you were starting to feel a few twinges here and there, but the things that were bothering you or worrying you for the future or that you might’ve had in your family history.

Mary Barker: I knew I had an increased risk of breast cancer as a woman. Of cancer in general. Of heart disease, I’ve got heart disease in my family. I was also concerned about dodgy knees and dodgy hips, but also longevity. My biggest goal is to lead a long and healthy life. And you can’t do that when you’re 50 kilos overweight.

Felicity Cohen: Mary, where are you up to now and your weight lost journey?

Mary Barker: I’m six months along and I’ve lost 37 kilos.

Felicity Cohen: That is amazing. What are some of the changes that you’ve noticed in yourself?

Mary Barker: I stopped snoring. Not that it ever bothered me, but my husband now has to reach out at night to make sure I’m there. Cause he’s like you’re so quiet. I didn’t know whether you’re in the bed.

So probably at about the six month mark, six week mark. I stopped snoring, which I thought was really interesting.

Just this morning in the shower, it’s kind of funny how you take up less space. I caught the plane here. I didn’t, it was easy for me to do up the buckle on the plane. I take up less space in the shower. I take up less space generally, you know, just moving around. I went for a run this morning. Little things like that, it’s complete lifestyle change.

Felicity Cohen: So this weekend, you have just competed in the Gold Coast Marathon. Tell me a little bit about what that journey was like, what was the atmosphere like on the course?

And what made you decide to actually compete at something like a marathon event?

Mary Barker: I wanted to know I could do it. It’s that sense of, “Gee, I wonder if I can do that.?”

So it was really great. I did it, I accomplished it and that was fantastic. But one of the lovely things about the run is, you know, I’m going along at my own pace. And then someone from one else from the team, the WLSA team would come along, look and go, “Keep going. You’re doing great!” and then I, “Oh, that was a bit nice”.

And the same thing that people would come pass, like I, “Keep going, you’re doing great. And then as I progressed and I pass someone else would go, “Hey, Hey buddy. Keep going!”.

It was a really lovely team atmosphere of all the WLSA people there. And I was so touched when I heard that there was a hundred people in the team and they’d lost 2000 tonnes?

Felicity Cohen: Two tonnes.

Mary Barker: Two tonnes. The entire team had lost two tonnes. That is amazing. That’s so fantastic.

Felicity Cohen: Absolutely. So that’s actually the equivalent of a small SUV. That’s how much our WeightLoss Warriors combined had lost to get themselves to the start line and to feel fitter, healthier, more capable, more able, and to take part in something like the Gold Coast Marathon.

For me personally, it’s just such a big achievement. It’s probably my favorite event on our events schedule for the year. And I just think the personal sense of satisfaction and achievement for each person, no matter which event they’re competing in is huge. I’m still kind of, I’m still living in the high for the whole weekend, cause I just loved it.

So will you do it again?

Mary Barker: Yes, definitely.

Felicity Cohen: Fantastic. Look, I’m a great believer in life, begins at 50 and you know, if a couple of years ago you weren’t doing things like this. It just goes to show you that we’re reversing the aging effects aren’t we?

Mary Barker: A hundred percent. I really believe that. Yeah.

Felicity Cohen: What are some of the things that you’re looking forward to now, in the future?

And if you have a bit of a projection around, okay, this is me at 50 what’s life gonna look for me, look like for me, when I get to 60, 70, and beyond?

Mary Barker: For me, I want to lead a long and healthy life. And of course that starts with family, children, grandchildren, having them around. I love to travel. I’m also a business person, so I need to have a lot of energy to build and grow business.

And that’s important to me as well. All of the things that add up to lifestyle. It’s all about having a great lifestyle going into the future and you need your health to do that.

Felicity Cohen: Look, I know that you’re such an ideas person. You’ve got so many creative ideas. They come at you like, you know, constantly, I guess it’s really important to know that you’ve got the physical capacity to keep up because you’re such a, a go-go person in your mind.

You’ve got to have the body to keep up with that, to be able to achieve all of those things that you want to do. So do you feel like that’s kind of matching up now?

Mary Barker: I do. I’ve always been a high energy person. But I definitely have more energy. The other day, I was, it was morning and I was getting ready for work and I had this thing came over me.

I feel like I’ve got to run. I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go exercise. I just had like this energy burst that went, “I’ve got to go and run”, and that has never happened before. So that was amazing. I really, I loved that feeling.

Felicity Cohen: I love it too. Just one last question. Do you feel that you’ve noticed any changes in your relationship? You’re married, you’ve got, you know, grown up children now. What changes in your personal relationship have you noticed?

Mary Barker: Okay. So everyone supported my decision for the operation except for my husband and my children, because I guess they just love me the way I am and they didn’t want to feel like that things were going to change.

They were going to lose their, their spouse or their mom, or that any particular risk that might be associated with them. But they are now my biggest fans and they’re loving the changes. And they’re talking about how great it is to see me looking healthier.

Felicity Cohen: I think that’s a really important point that Mary’s touched on that often I’m talking to people and they talk about their spouses or their families concerned about the fact that they’ll love you no matter what.

And I feel it’s very important that we disassociate health, being overweight, and the impact that that has on your life with the love that your family have for you.

Of course, they’re going to love you no matter what. But I think those things are so, so separate. Your health and wellbeing and how much they love you.

Loving you is not something that they would evaluate based on how you look, it’s about who you are as a person. And I think some people get really confused about that. They’re worried about that, there’s so much discrimination out there.

That even your closest family are concerned, that they don’t want to say the wrong thing to offend you, but it’s so beautiful to see that they’re reaping all of the rewards.

That’s really special. Thank you so much for coming in today.

Mary Barker: You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.

Felicity Cohen: Thank you for joining the Wellness Warriors Podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you online with us. If you enjoyed the series, please leave your review, subscribe and follow it. And we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

Nutritionist & Dietitian

Meet our team


Chealse Hawk

Nutrion Leader Coach

Isabelle Cole

Nutrion Coach

Joshua Chambers

Nutrion Coach

Laura Barrett

Nutrion Leader Coach