23W Members Spotlight: Chantelle Varvitsiotis

By Asha

Losing weight without the right motivators can be a tricky process. Yo-yo dieting and fad diets pray on our insecurities and 9.9/10 aren’t successful long term. In this spotlight Chantelle chats her weight loss journey, how weight lifting has shown her accomplishments outside of scale weight and opens up about the the external pressure she felt but how ultimately she found a healthy way to become more strong and confident and exciting goals to support this!

Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am 25 years old, I am a proud dog mum to my dear Frankie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is the most adorable little guy and I am getting married in October this year (covid restrictions permitting). I spend most of my time working as a Theatre Nurse in a Metropolitan hospital and in my free time I love going out for brunch and hanging out with my fiancé, Frankie, family and friends. 

When did you start your weight loss journey? What prompted you to begin?

For as long as I can remember I have been on and off health and fitness kicks. There has always been a reason for me to lose weight, whether it be family members telling me I had put on weight, netball coaches telling me I needed to be lighter to be faster or comparing my body to my friends who were always much skinnier than I was. I found for most of my late teens I was fad dieting, losing weight quickly but always putting it back on and sometimes plus some.

I have always been pretty active, whether it be local sport (netball, tennis or swimming) or in recent years taking classes at a local boxing gym in Preston, Bobby Dunnes. However, during lockdown I had lost most of my motivation to exercise and eat well. I found myself eating for comfort and using it as a way to destress from what I had been dealing with at work. I had been in denial about how much I had neglected my health in 2020 and it wasn’t until I caught my reflection in a shop window and I noticed how much weight I had put on. I then started to notice that I had been doing a lot of online shopping to buy clothes that fit me better rather than look at the reasons why they weren’t fitting. I also started to think about going wedding dress shopping and how uncomfortable I would be with all the attention on me, trying on these beautiful gowns and feeling terrible about the way I looked. It made me dread doing something that I had always wanted to do and this is what gave me the push to do something about how I felt about myself. 

When did you join the 23W family? Did you have any specific goals in mind?
I started at 23w in October 2020 when we were allowed to train in pairs outside. I had been following Ange and the 23W page on Instagram for a few years and noticed that they were going to offer this type of training as we were starting to come out of restrictions. I had been admiring all the strong women training at 23W and thought it was time that I give it a try. I recruited one of my friends and we contacted Ange for the PT sessions and the rest is history. 
My only goal when starting at 23W was weight loss. I just wanted to feel better about how I looked and felt in my own skin. However since starting here I have learnt that it is much more than weight loss. I had no real idea about power lifting or what I was capable of. My goals have shifted slightly, they are now centered about making changes to my daily habits and rather than looking for a quick fix I have realized that it is much more than that. 
Did you face any particular challenges during your journey?
I work shift work and long hours on my feet so I can always make a case for being ‘too tired’ to exercise but 23W’s timetable make it hard for me to make that excuse anymore. Especially since I have to drive past the gym to get home now. I have also found it hard not to revert to comfort eating, but I have also realized that it is ok to eat not so great sometimes and one bad thing doesn’t ruin all the good work. 
What have you learnt about yourself since joining 23W? 
I have learnt that I am stronger than I had ever thought possible and that even though there may not be movement in your scale weight, there will be non-scale victories in measurement changes. I definitely underestimated the power of a progress picture!! 
What is next for you?
Smashing the current challenge and looking and feeling great on my wedding day!
Thanks Chantelle for that awesome insight into crushing your goals while balancing a high stress and tiring job! You can see Chantelle crush her 1RM deadlift on our 23W Instagram page!

For more info on how to track progress, check out Dee’s piece on knowing where you are without relying on the scale!

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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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