Woman sheds 63kg with simple swap
Putting an end to a soft drink habit has helped one Australian woman shed half her body weight.
Carissa Santiano, 37, from Sydney weighed 127kg before deciding to overhaul her lifestyle.
Rather than embark on a journey of calorie counting and exercise, the self-confessed soft drink addict parted ways with the fizzy stuff, replacing it with water.
Ms Santiano had previously consumed 30 litres of soft drink every week, and since cutting out all soft drink has lost a staggering 63kg.
"My doctor advised me to cut out fizzy drinks because although I was eating bad, it was the amount of sugar in the drinks I was having that was doing the most damage," she said.
"Once I stopped drinking fizzy drinks everything changed. I could still eat sandwiches and junk food - as long as I didn't drink fizzy drinks I still lost weight."
Her diet had consisted of takeaways, chocolate and chips between meals. She rarely ate vegetables and assumed cutting out "bad" food would fix her weight.
As it transpired, once Ms Santiano had her soft drink habit under control, she naturally started to gravitate towards a healthier diet.
"I just cut out some snacking. If I had known the damage the drinks were causing me, I would of stopped drinking them years ago.
"I think it's something we overlook as people trying to lose weight, you just think it's always food that's the problem but I'm living proof that you can enjoy the food you love and still remain healthy.
"I never thought I would ever look the way I wanted and can't begin to describe how much better I am now that I stick to water."
The 37-year-old had suffered with depression for most of her adult life due to her size and was desperate to get on the right track and start enjoying socialising without constantly worrying about how she looked.
"People never gave me the time of day when I was big, I was called ugly and fat every day," she said.
"It makes you feel absolutely worthless, and you start to believe what everyone is saying. I had almost given up on myself.
"I would drink fizzy drinks as soon as I woke up and all throughout the day, but I also ate far too much."
Now, through altering her habits Ms Santiano said her life is the best it has ever been with her depression gone, her confidence back - and even finding love with a new partner.
Part of what makes Ms Santiano's story so inspirational is she freely admits to "still eating all the food I love".
"I eat three takeaway meals a week, crisps and chocolate, I just eat less, it's not about what you drink and eat, it's about the size of what you drink and eat," she said.
"The worst thing to do is cut yourself off from everything you like, because it feels like you're never going to enjoy food again.
"Knowing that I can still eat bad food and stay in shape just by stopping drinking sugary drinks is amazing."
While Ms Santiano is all too aware of how difficult it can be to take control of an unhealthy addiction, she said she hopes her experience may serve as a warning to others.
"I was unknowingly drinking double the amount of sugar I should've had per day," she said.
Health recommendations advise consuming no more than 25g of added sugar per day. Ms Santiano was consuming this amount alone in soft drink.
To those struggling, she urges starting regardless of what emotional or mental roadblocks you may have.
"Anyone can do what I have done. It's a huge battle. But once you know what's causing it, everything gets easier."