Sheryl Brown never saw herself as someone likely to feature in Vogue magazine.
In fact, five years ago she barely saw herself getting through another day. She was isolated, incredibly overweight and in her own words “beyond shattered”.
But the journey from that broken women a few years ago to a featured story in the August, 2017 issue of Vogue is an inspiring tale of not giving up, chasing your dreams and, literally, working your butt off.
“Five years ago I was living in Mansfield. I was working in family day care and I weighed 143 kilograms,” said Sheryl, 46.
“My marriage was breaking down, I’d tried to stick it out for two years, but it was done and I was devastated.
“People say sometimes they were ‘shattered’, I was beyond shattered, I was pulp.”
With two small children, a world destroyed by the collapse of her marriage and with serious health concerns related to her weight, Sheryl hit rock bottom.
“The final break down of my marriage was definitely the catalyst for change,” she said.
“I had to do something – there was no other option.”
And change she did – Sheryl lost an incredible 80 kilograms.
But wait – this isn’t just another weight loss story. Sheryl isn’t pushing a product, or a particular regime. She admits she tried them all – and failed – more than a few times.
Her steps in the right direction began with gradual change.
Binge-eating and sugary treats were replaced with healthy foods over time. Each day she made a conscious choice to be healthy and to do better.
She shared her choice for a healthier life with her boys Daniel and Joel and together their lives transformed.
“From the start I didn’t exercise – that was too big of a challenge for me,” she said.
“It started with changing the way I ate and then, once I’d started to lose weight and the physical pressure was reduced on my body, I added exercise.
“But, through all of this, I’ve never had a session at a gym. I bought hand weights and I started walking.”
Sheryl’s journey to a healthier-self became a source of chatter in her home-town of Mansfield where people would stop her in the street and talk to her.
“Before that I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I’d go to work, go to the supermarket and I’d go home,” Sheryl said.
“I was withdrawn and a recluse. But as people wanted to talk to me about what I was doing I found the confidence to talk to them and it changed my life.”
While talking to people in your home town is one thing, Sheryl’s story became a whole lot bigger when she was contacted by a journalist from the United States.
A simple interview led to an article in the UK Daily Mirror, then other publications in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Eventually, Australia caught on and Sheryl found herself featured on Channel 9s Today Extra.
“It was a bit daunting at first, to sit there and talk about myself,” Sheryl said.
“But I found that I enjoyed sharing my story and I decided that if doing so would have a positive impact on just one person then that was worth it.”
Sheryl has featured twice in Woman’s Day, with taglines such as ‘Twice the woman, half the weight’ and ‘Single mum transformation’.
At the same time, her life transformation continued. She found happiness in a new relationship and made the big move to Yarrawonga in February to be closer to her partner.
Now, in a new town, Sheryl is keen to share her journey again, in the hope she can inspire change in others.
She has also shared the most recent chapter in her transformation, featured in the August issue of Vogue.
“After losing so much weight I needed to have surgery to remove some of the excess skin from my stomach,” Sheryl said.
“I went to see a general surgeon but it didn’t go to plan. Basically the surgery was botched and the result was awful.”
Determined not to slide into the trap of regaining weight after the disappointment, Sheryl pushed on and finally, after years of saving, was able to seek help from an expert plastic surgeon.
“I had surgery again – a really big surgery which required three months off work,” Sheryl said.
“But the result is amazing. I couldn’t be happier.”
Sheryl’s incredible story, from despair to triumph, is one she shares willingly, not to lecture or tell others what to do, but to give people hope and encouragement.
“I’m nothing special. I’m just a single mum who had stuff to deal with like everyone else,” she said.
“This isn’t a story even about losing weight. It’s about having a goal or a dream, whatever it might be, and knowing that if you work hard enough you can get there.”