Sue O'Sullivan used to stand out in a crowd, but now some
people have difficulty recognising her. She is not
After losing nearly 90kg in three years, Ms O'Sullivan (54),
an administrator with Maori health provider Tokomairiro
Waiora in Milton, recently ran into a woman she had not seen
for several years.
''She was a bit sort of `off' with me and then she said, `I'm
sorry, I don't know who you are'. I'm sort of used to it and
I'll just say `Oh, I've had my hair cut'.''
Before her dramatic weight loss, Ms O'Sullivan would go
grocery shopping and buy two king-size blocks of chocolate.
She would eat one on the way home.
''I ate to get that big, end of story. I'm not fooling
anyone,'' she said.
She ate ''copious quantities'' of bread and butter and she
wouldn't just get one burger, she'd get two. She was on a ''
''rubbish'' food diet.
When Ms O'Sullivan turned 50 - her first child had left home
and another was about to leave - she decided she wasn't
''just a mother'', she was a woman and she was going to make
On December 18, 2010, weighing 152.2kg, she went to a Weight
Watchers meeting in Milton.
She committed to exercise and started going to a gym three
nights a week - whether she wanted to or not.
Her weight has been 65kg for the past year.
''I knew who I was and I was trapped. People were as mean as
snakes to me when I was that size. Just awful: people can be
''I always got attention ... because I was so large; it was
attention I didn't want.
''All I wanted was to be average - normal - so that I would
blend into a crowd and not be noticed.''
She's getting a different kind of attention now. Ms
O'Sullivan is one of six New Zealand semi-finalists in the
annual Weight Watchers Healthy Life Awards.
On September 29, she could be named one of two New Zealanders
who will fly off to Sydney for a bit of celebrity treatment
and a chance to be named 2014 Slimmer of the Year.
''This second half of my life is all about experiences ...
Because I was so big - morbidly obese - I haven't done a lot
There was a time when ordinary chores were near impossible
for her, but now Ms O'Sullivan enjoys boxing, rock-climbing,
kayaking and even abseiling.
She has a simple recipe for weight loss, saying it is all
about setting realistic goals.
''You need to keep breaking it down, breaking it down,
breaking it down, until you get to the smallest goal that you
know you can achieve,'' she said.
''Every time you achieve that little goal, you feel good
about yourself and it will motivate you to achieve bigger
''You can apply that principle to everything.''