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weight loss with Deborah

Deborah has been a holistic weight loss coach for nearly 2 decades and specializes in the ketogenic diet. She has helped people lose over 4,000 kgs and is passionate about inner transformation for lasting results.  She understands that it's not only about food, this journey is also about our emotional and mental reliance of food so giving you a diet on it's own just won't work.
"In order to transform our body we must first transform our mind.  Weight loss is easy but our relationship with food is harder to change.  If we begin a life long love affair with nourishing food we can master the long term relationship in a healthy way.  Like any relationship it takes time and nurturing and what you put in is what you get out of it.  My job is to inspire and motivate you and believe in you even if you have doubts!  I'll hold your hand each step of the way with unconditional support."  Deborah says.
Deborah offers both online programs and private coaching packages to ensure long term success.  
"Some journey's a quick and easy and others take time.  I refuse to give up on anyone!  Some times it's like learning to dance we take a step forward and a step sideways, but each time we are mastering the steps."  Says Deborah.  "I am so privileged to work with women like Erika, I know my job is to inspire my clients but everyday they too inspire me.  Erika is so brave to share the intimate details of her weight loss journey thus far, in the hope that it will inspire and encourage others to do the same.  Thank you Erika for your selflessness in allowing your vulnerability and truth to be shared so that your journey ignites others to follow."  Deborah

"The best part about having a coach is not having to do this on my own. 
Being accountable to someone else is important but that person making it safe to stuff up is also important because I’m are only human after all and I’m bound to slip up!   

During the whole process I have felt supported and that I had someone on my team. 

Deb provided an environment for me to learn it wasn’t all about the food - Holistic coaching and life coaching is an essential element of the journey and what will make any changes last a lifetime.  Deb has given me the tools to succeed – long term!"  Erika

Hi.  My name is Erika Barrie.  I’m 41 years old and I have lost 40kgs.  This is my weight loss journey so far…

Hmm!  Where to start?  At the beginning …  It all started with This photo, I found it on a website, it was taken when I was on a course.  Needless to say I was shocked to see how big I had gotten.  This photo from taken in February 2010, I’m not even sure how much I weighed, I found it in November 2010. 

I decided I was going to be “good” no more junk food or takeaways.  I was going to drink more water and exercise regularly.  I managed to lose some weight before the old excuses and “bad” habits took over and I fell back into old patterns. 

I was an emotional eater who binge ate and was a long term yoyo dieter.  If I was upset or stressed it was nothing for me to stop at the supermarket on the way home from work and buy Potato Chips, Biscuits, Lollies and Ice-cream.  Please don’t be fooled that is AND, I would buy all of them and not small packets.  And the scary thing was I would be lucky if the lot lasted two nights!! 


I was sad and angry all the time - mainly at myself but as I was to learn, this always spills over to being angry at everyone and everything.  I really didn’t like myself very much.  I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror, I could focus on my hair long enough to style it but that was it.  I NEVER looked myself in the eye!  If I did happen to look in the mirror to check an outfit, it would take all my mental strength to leave the house.  I don’t know how many times I left the house in tears because I was upset with my image in the mirror. 

At one point I seriously wondered if I was covertly trying to kill myself.  I consider myself an intelligent person and I knew what the end result of my lifestyle would be.  Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cancer - death in some form or other.   Every time I got a pain in my chest or a headache I would be terrified it was too late – this is it!  But I couldn’t stop – did this mean I wanted to die?!

In early 2012, I was emailed an invitation to a talk by Sally Fallon (Author of Nourishing Traditions).  One of the organisers was Deborah Murtagh of Whole Food Secrets.  Being a naturally nosy person I clicked on the link to Deb’s website and found she ran Cooking School classes and was a weight loss coach.  I decided to enroll for Cooking School but really I wanted to find out about Deb’s weight loss programme. 


We (my mother and I) started Cooking School classes in April 2012 and it took until September for me to get brave enough to talk to Deb about her weight loss programme and commit (emotionally and financially) to her programme.

I think it took me so long because I was intimidated by Deb.  She is beautiful, slim and confident – as you would expect a weight loss coach to be and everything I wasn’t.  From my past experience some women treat fat women like me, like what we have is contagious.  It took me time to trust her enough to take the first step and to get past my embarrassment and shame over having to ask for help.  I have always been very independent and like to think I can do everything myself and very rarely ask anyone for help.  Looking back I wish I had asked for help sooner!  Way sooner!!

By this time I was determined and to be honest, sick to death of being sick to death of myself and my behavior around food.  Sick of being fat, sick of feeling unfit and lazy, sick of my excuses and reasons!

Photo 2 is from the first day. 

So weighing in at 125kgs and with the determination to do anything I was asked to and to stick to the program I started.  The food side of it was easy.  Controlling the little voice in my head was another story.  It was always telling me I needed chocolate or potato chips or something else that wasn’t on the CAN eat list.

My first bit of homework was to write a list of the reasons WHY I wanted to lose weight.  Sounds simple right?  50 reasons!  Not an easy task but I did it.

My second bit of homework was to read Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth – a chapter a week and to watch the Oprah Winfrey’s interviews with Eckhart.  They produced 1 ½ hour shows about each chapter - All ten chapters!  I did it. 

I learnt more about the little voice in my head (the EGO) and that it wasn’t ME well not the real ME.  I learnt how to listen to it and not be emotionally involved in what it was saying.  And man was it saying some horrible things.  Things I was embarrassed to admit to Deb.  It would tell me things like:

  • You are worthless.

  • You don’t deserve to be slim, healthy, beautiful or sexy.

  • You are fat and ugly – no wonder no one wants to be with you.

  • It would whisper to me about wanting chocolate or potato chips or whatever.  “Come on fatty you know you want to”.  And when I gave in and had chocolate it would say “you are such a fat pig, what did you eat that for”.

  • You are dirty and unattractive.

  • See this salad, you have to eat this because you are fat and you are on a diet because you are fat.

  • Here comes “Ten Tonne Tessie” (my brother’s nickname for me as a kid)

I had to work on changing the record in my head.  One day, about three months into the programme, I was eating a salad for lunch when I caught myself saying in my head “Yum! Yum!  I’m so lucky to be eating such nice food.  How lucky am I”.  I had finally done it!

Another tool Deb taught me was EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping.  At Deb’s suggestion I signed up for the Tapping World Summit 2013, this involved ten days of tapping with Nick and Jessica Ortner and many other experts in EFT.  The most confronting thing for me about EFT was that you say “I completely and deeply love and accept myself”.  I would stumble and stammer and mess the wording up.  But after a while I could say it and mean it!  And now I find myself doing stuff like when I’m apply body lotion I’m catch myself saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over in my head. 

I started to realise my past was running my life or at least my fear of repeating it was.  I was sexually abused as a child and then “date raped” as a teenager.  My inner child was running the show and man was she scared of everyone but especially men.  She didn’t trust many people at all.  I slowly started to see that my weight was my way of being invisible and unattractive.  Bad stuff couldn’t/wouldn’t happen to you if you were invisible and unattractive.  I hated being the centre of attention and would do everything to avoid being noticed.  Hence the short hair and I was always withdrawn and quiet in social situations. 

I started to realise I had to find a way to let my inner child feel safe and to let her know I was in control and she could stop running the show.  I worked on this using EFT.

Another piece of homework was to construct a vision board.  I did it.

It took about three weeks to get past my excuses and sit down with magazines and a pair of scissors. 

The big question was what did I WANT for my future.  Then the pictures sat in a folder for about two weeks.  Man was I confronted by some of the pictures I choose, especially the one just to the left of centre – the white bikini picture.  Thinking - surely this is a good thing – sometimes the things that scare you the most have the most impact on your life - I started to stick them on the card and created my vision board.  This now hangs in a place where it is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.   I sit and look at it every morning and decide an action for the day.  I think to myself – If I lived in this vision board what would I be doing today …

Just in case anyone is wondering about the twins at the bottom.  I decided as a kid I wanted two children and it seemed more efficient to have them at once!  Crazy but true.  And the least I could do to honor my inner child.

Please don’t be fooled into thinking I wasn’t confronted by some of the homework Deb gave me.  Sometimes I thought she was NUTS and couldn’t see what possible difference some of things I was asked to do would make.  But eventually I decided to just trust Deb and the process and do it anyway.  I let her be my COACH!  A big step for little Miss Independent!

Photo 3 was taken 14 Feb 2013.  Just over a week before my 41st Birthday.  My goal was to be under a 100kgs by my Birthday.  On the day I weighed 101.5kgs.  Man was I DISAPPOINTED! I had made two cheesecakes to take to work for smoko to celebrate my Birthday. 

Man did I want to drown my sorrows in a piece of cheesecake.  I had to listen to that little voice in my head all day telling me “you deserve it, it’s your Birthday, one piece of cheesecake isn’t going to hurt, it will make you feel better”.  But thanks to Deb and my vision board I made it through the day without eating even a bite.  I was so PROUD of myself!

It took another week but I was official no longer a member of the hundy club!  I felt great!  I felt way better than any piece of cheesecake (even Mars Bar Cheesecake) could taste!!



Photo 4 was taken on the 18 April 2013 (93kgs). 

A couple of days before this I met with Deb to discuss the next step in my journey.  We talked about my next goal.  Deb told me I should be in the 70’s at the end of next phase.  At least 78kgs!  The lightest I can remember being as an adult is 82kgs.  Boy did I freak out!!  The day before this photo was taken I realised I still wanted to be invisible and that was the reason for the freak out.  So I woke up the next day and decided to wear this dress – this is only the second time I have worn this dress and about the fourth time I had worn a dress to my current workplace (all since Feb 2013) in the 6 years I have worked there.  A bright teal dress … hard to be invisible in this baby!!




Photo 5, 26 May 2013 (89kgs) – Huntly Half Marathon.  I completed the 10km course – walking - in 1 hour 30 mins odd.  I had finally cracked 89kgs the day before after 15 days(!!) stuck on 90kgs.  It didn’t help that on day 8 I had a brain fart and ate myself stupid at lunch time.  I bought hot chips, sausage roll, raspberry lamington and chocolate milk.  I then drove down road and parked on the side of the road and ate the LOT!  I was too embarrassed to take “junk” food back to work and eat it.  When I got back to work every cell in my body was SCREAMING “don’t tell Deb” but I knew I had to or there would be no going back.  So I emailed Deb and confessed.  She told it was going to be ok and she still loved me!  I knew if I didn’t tell her I would carry on down the path back to where I had fought so hard to get as much distance as possible away from.

My next goal is to start running and do a 5km run.

So far I have lost 35 kgs and the journey isn’t over.

What I have gained so far is:

  • No more reflux.

  • I can do up my shoes AND breathe.

  • I enjoy exercise and crave the feeling I get from doing it.

  • I have dropped 5 dress sizes.

  • I wear dresses now.

  • My skin is clear.

  • Self-respect and I love who I am.

  • I sleep well at night.

  • I am happy and confident.

  • I feel in control!


 28 May 2013 – Today we tried on clothing options for our work uniform.  I asked for size 16’s to try on and luckily some of the other girls got size 12 & 14’s.  The 16’s were TOO BIG.  I nearly got concussion doing a happy dance in the (very small) changing room when I fitted the 14 skirt and shirts!!!  I have ordered 12’s …. I should fit them in about 6 kgs time !!  Now that’s a game worth playing!!!!!



17 June 2013 – Spent Friday at Cooking Class with Deb and went home all re-inspired and did this to my bathroom mirror (photo 6).  I had been stuck on 88kgs odd for a few days.  Woke up Saturday morning and weighed in at 86.7kgs.  I was SO excited.  Amazing what declaring your SELF BELIEF can do! 

While looking in the mirror I noticed how good my skin is coping with the weight loss.  The elasticity is really good.  YAY!  When I started I was really worried I would need surgery to get rid of the flaps of skin.  Too much TV me thinks!!


21 July 2013 – What a weekend! (Photo 7)  I have just had a bath.  I have always loved the bath but haven’t had one in ages.  This weekend I have had three!  All with Epson salts – which is great for drawing out toxins.  The best part is I now fit comfortably in the bath, well it actually felt quite roomy!  Before my hips barely fitted between the sides of the bath and the water wouldn’t cover me.  No longer!

I have had a weekend of realising I “fit” in my world.  Not “I fit in” as I think that is a state of mind ie you decide.  You decide to join in, to start conversations and to make friends.  I mean physically fit in my world.  If fit in chairs, baths, movie theatre seats, hair dressers chairs, bus seats, airplane seats … all the places I was always worried about before.  I fit!

So I was lying in the bath thinking this all through and thinking about Pilates class, which I always enjoyed but stopped going because of finances or that’s what I told myself anyway.  I didn’t think I “fitted” in Pilates class.  I was always embarrassed when I couldn’t do an exercise, even a simple one like hugging my knees to my chest.  My stomach would always get in the way.  Anyway I’m in the bath and I thought I would try it.  And what do you know I can and I can get my knees to touch my chest properly!

While I was laying there “hugging” my legs to my chest I start thinking about the things I have survived and I realise I’m so proud of myself.  And I start to cry, cry for the hurt little girl, cry for the betrayed teenager and tears of joy and pride for the adult I’ve become.

As a kid I tried fighting and when that didn’t work I tried playing “dead” or surrendering … whatever it took to survive.  Nothing stopped it and sometimes fighting made it worse and sometimes surrendering made it worse.  The mental scars took the longest to heal and lying in the bath hugging myself and crying, it felt like the last broken piece that never healed straight rebroke and reset itself.  For the first time in a very very long time I feel whole, complete and perfect.  No longer broken somehow.

 I did what it took to survive and come out the otherwise intact.  I’m so proud of the little girl inside me that did everything and anything she could think of to survive, stay safe and most importantly stay sane! 


15 October 2013 – WOW it has been a while!  Been a huge couple of months! The headlines … A trip to China, a meltdown and some major breakthrough’s.


The trip to China was AMAZING.  A family tour – My dad, his wife, my half-sister, my brother and his partner.  The history of the place is just staggering!  I loved every minute and am so pleased I went.  I don’t think I would have actually said yes to going if it wasn’t for this journey.  My step-mother is Chinese and I have been invited on trips before but have always said no.  Not enough money is the normal excuse.  But this time I said “eff it I’m coming, I WILL find the money”.  I definitely think being 40kgs lighter helped make the trip enjoyable.  I fitted into the airplane/bus seats better.  The hours of walking were easier.  I felt more confident – being in a country were English speaking people are definitely the minority was scary! 


Also being in a country were the only genetic expression is black hair brown eyes when you have light brown hair and blue eyes was interesting and a bit scary for someone who normally likes to be invisible.  People wanted to take photos of me and with me.  We drew a lot of stares.  I really had to break free of my comfortable boundaries and just have fun. 

I got to eat some thing’s that I would normally turn my nose up at ie Sea Snail Soup!  It wasn’t too bad – tasted like mushroom lol.  But I must say buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner with lovely traditional Chinese foods (my favourite!) wasn’t easy and I have the weight gain to prove I didn’t navigate the tables of food well! 


The weeks leading up to the trip my eating was a little crazy anyway due to the fact that my Dad didn’t know about some thing’s in my past until I shared this journal of my journey with him.  It was going to be the first face to face discussion about it.  In his defence he was just mad he didn’t know and he didn’t get to hunt the person(s) responsible down and hurt them.  Not my favourite conversation of the trip I can tell you.  But it was done and I didn’t shy away from it.


I have been back just over a week and have really struggled to get back into routine.  Coming from two weeks with five constant companions back to a house by myself I am dealing with loneliness and an itch to go travelling again.  And of course instead of admitting it I have been eating to avoid feeling anything.


While in Shanghai I got the ultimate souvenir - Tattoo number 2! (Photo 8)  Down the middle of my back – it starts just below the bra-strap mark and is about 22cm long.  And what does it say I hear you ask … well depending on the grammar … either … A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  OR  The longest journey begins from where you stand. 

I wanted to get a second tattoo for my 40th Birthday (my first one is about 8 years old) but really wasn’t in a good headspace and didn’t trust myself to get something I wouldn’t later regret.  I love this tattoo and even just saying yes to the trip was a Single Step that began a long journey and saying yes to Deb’s weight loss programme has a Single Step that began a life changing journey!  The flowers are cherry blossoms (the Chinese call them Plum or Apple Blossoms) and signify new life – quite appropriate I think.

So I re-join this journey today at 94kgs.  This week is about letting go of the disappointment (I had got down to 83.5kgs a month before the trip) and dropping the negative self-talk around this.  And focussing on motivating myself again and revisiting the reason why I want to do this.  Basically I just need to use what I have learnt over the last year and cement my routine back in place, and of course send my confessions to Deb, which I have done.  The team is back together and this will happen!

5 May 2016 – Well … it really has been a long time! It has been a roller coaster.  Today I weigh 100.9kgs and I’m very close to be back out of the 100’s! So exciting!!

Only 14 odd kgs to go to get back to my lowest recorded weight. Today I feel focused and determined and I have forgiven myself for listening to the little voice in my head that said it didn’t matter or “who cares” when I ate junk food or so much sugar at night that I was too hyped to sleep or just so much food that my stomach hurt and I could barely breathe.

What I have learnt is I CARE and that is all the matters!! I don’t want to get so “high” on sugar that I can’t sleep or so “medicated” with food that I can’t think straight. I don’t want to have to deal with reflux every day and to be very straight and honest I don’t want to be FAT. I don’t want to huff

and puff up stairs. So what do I want?

I want to eat like a sane person … what do I mean by this? Some people say eat like you are feeding your inner child. So… what SANE person would feed an adult let alone a child a large bag of chips, a bag of lollies and a packet of biscuits and call it dinner. Seriously!

I want to feel proud of myself. I want to wear the clothes I want not just what fits. I want to wear nice underwear not the granny sets available in bigger sizes.  I have spent a long time trying to get somewhere, and once I got there everything would be PERFECT. What I have learned is the only moment I have is right now and right now and right now. That is the only moment I have any control over. It is the only moment I have to decide who I am and how I want to treat myself and my body. Then I got that my

head/thinking and my eating are THERE … now I just have to wait for my body to catch up.

So that’s my goal to stay in this moment and wait! And be organised, pack my lunch, plan my dinners, keep my fridge and pantry full of the “right” foods. And surround myself with like-minded people!!

One thing I would like to say is Deb is my rock. She has never given up on me. She has always been there when I was trying to get back on track and also there when I was completely off the rails.

Deborah's comments:  "A step sideways or even backwards never means failure.  It only means that if you choose to see it that way.  We always have a choice of what meaning we attach to situations and events.  Our attachment to our thoughts is what shapes and creates our reality.  Many people feel that life is outside of their control, that life is just happening too them, but that is simply an illusion.  When life feels out of control, look to areas in life you CAN control to find balance.  You can control what your eat, drink, think about and how much you love and care for yourself.  A step backwards could be seen as a step forward, so long as the lessons a found and the determination to create a better life prevails!  

Erika is doing this blog to inspire you, to show you that there is no such thing as failure, there are only lots of small steps on the journey that shape the bigger picture. Remember BIG THINGS ARE ACCOMPLISHED BY DOING THE SMALL THINGS. Many small things amount to anything BIG.  And now Erika has the tattoo to confirm that!  I am so proud of you Erika!  All each of us need to focus on in life is taking one more step, just one more step, one more step!"

Our deepest fears and reasons we don't take time to lose weight are:

1.  "If I put myself first, my family will suffer"

Reality: By putting yourself first everyone you love will benefit.  Write down 20 reasons why your family will benefit.  e.g.  I will have more energy, I can play with my children, I can make love to my partner loving my body with newfound confidence o my marriage will be stronger,  I will be helathier, I will be happier, 
I will be a great role model to my children and grandchildren

2.  "If I lose weight people/men will notice me"

Reality:  When you love yourself and engage and embrace life to its fullest, you will have confidence like never before.  Sometimes it takes transforming hurt and pain from our pasts in order to free ourselves from emotional prisons.  

3.  "I have tried every diet under the sun and nothing works or I gain the weight back"

Reality:  This is not a diet, it's a lifestyle but above all else it's about loving your body and loving your life.  When you achieve that state and gather the cognitive thinking to cope with whatever life throws at you, you can achieve lasting success.

4.  "I may lose people I love who I eat with and socialise with and whom like me this way"

Reality:  If you are unhappy or unhealthy due to weight issues, it may be time to take a closer look at sabbotaging relationships.  If someone is holding you back from living a fufilling and healthy life there are some hard questions that need inquiry.  But I would suggest you start by becoming a role model for them.  Sometimes in order to create lasting change we need to develop both reslience and our sense of self love and worth.  With these traits no one stands in your way!  

5.  "I love food too much and don't think I can stick to a program nor do I want to give up some of the foods I love"

There are varying degrees depending on how overweight you are however if you are overweight or obese and you believe you love food, this will shock and surprise you:  You do not love food; you abuse food.  
Love is respect.  When we respect food we understand a deeper connection to it, e.g  'food nurtures and heals my body, it prevents disease and keeps me feeling alive and on top of the world!  I love to be fully present with my food and savour each mouthful consciously'.  That is true love for food.  Conversley abuse of food and over eating stems from using food as an unconscious form of either punishment, self harm or self medication to treat forms of unhappiness, depression or stress.  

6.  "I don't know if I am ready for this kind of program"

Reality:  You may well not be.  This program is not for everyone.  I choose to work with people who are ready and will tell you if I think you are not.  I have no desire to coach people whom are unwilling to dig deep and do the work.  This program will only work for people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being overweight or fat!  And whom are ready to do whatever it takes to finally get beyond whatever story is holding them back.  I am a loving and supportive coach but if you don't do the work you won't get the transformation.  I am here to support and guide you, but I am not going to do this for you.  Clients will often try to sabbotage their relationship with me in order to blame me for them quitting and not succeeding - I am onto people like that!  At the end of the day you have to truly WANT this and TRUST me, this trust does develop as we get to know one another but it is an essential part of your success.  I do know what I am talking about, I can help you succeed, all you need to do is get out of your own way.

7.  "I don't have enough will power"

Reality:  Losing weight isn't about will power, it's about mindset.  When your mindset is strong everything is easy to achieve.  I believe there is a switch in the brain that literally takes us from the consciousness of a fat person to a slim person, once you access that switch, which is different for everyone, you literally can think yourself slim.  
I will help you find that switch!  It's all in the mind!

8.  "I cannot afford private coaching"

Reality: There are a number of ways to pay your coaching off however it is not expensive to begin with.  Clients also find it pays for itself.  You will save this money by giving up certain foods, cafe and resturant meals and savings at the supermarket.  

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