A family of three have pulled off a combined weight-loss transformation that has to be seen to be believed, losing a whopping 125 kilograms between them.
The Van Dyken’s from Perth, Western Australia, grew up surrounded by family feasts.
Anna, 45, her husband Rod, 44, and son Ethan, 14, come from large families and were both used to using food as a way to ‘show their love’. But the family suffered a rude awakening in 2012 when Ethan – who weighed 80 kilograms at the age of just 10 – finished 15 minutes behind all his classmates during his primary school cross country race. As Mrs Van Dyken stood and waited along with everyone else in the school for her embarrassed son to finish, she knew something had to change.
‘He was the last one to finish and came round 15 minutes after everyone else and a couple of kids ran out to help him and everyone stood there watching and it was really embarrassing,’ said Anna. ‘I remember that day he said “Mum, don’t ever let me do that again, I don’t want to do it again”. ‘I thought s***, I’ve done that to him and so I turned and said to him, “I’ll fix this”.’
With Mrs Van Dyken growing up in a large Italian family and Mr Van Dyken from an even bigger Dutch family, meals with all the trimmings were a regular affair. A history of obesity dating back generations through their families proved overeating was an problem. But where her mother and grandmother continued in the indulgent Italian ways as their kids stacked on the weight, being forced to watch her son ‘huff and puff’ across the line at the cross country struck a chord for Mrs Van Dyken.
With her husband then diagnosed with diabetes, she turned to weight-loss company Weight Watchers to help save her family. ‘I went straight to Weight Watchers and that was mainly to educate myself on how to cook properly, how to portion control,’ she said. ‘I didn’t know what it was and if I didn’t know, how could I teach Ethan? ‘He was young when we started and I didn’t make a big big deal about it because I didn’t want him to think he was fat, but he knew himself – he had a mirror. ‘Coming from an Italian family they feed you because they love you, and they feed you more and more and more. ‘And that’s basically what I was found with my boys because I loved them so much I just fed them, and fed them, and fed them, and Ethan got up to 80kg at 10 years old and that’s not a good thing.’
After selflessly ensuring her son and husband saw success, Mrs Van Dyken joined in the weight-loss efforts and also immediately saw major improvements. ‘I could never go back to eating the way I was before, I think it would really make me sick,’ she said. ‘We enjoy the way we eat now, I think this is what life’s supposed to be like. ‘Instead of having ice cream after dinner we had a fruit salad. Ethan was happy with it, Rod was happy with it and we saw the results.’
Three years after starting, most importantly the family have kept the weight off. Having turned her family’s lives around, Mrs Van Dyken was awarded the Australian Weight Watchers Inspiration in 2013.
‘That’s my passion, I’ve got quite a few followers because I take recipes and make them healthier,’ she said. ‘I just really truly hope that if someone out there can read my story and read what we’ve done, they’ll realise they can do it too.’