THEN 152KG NOW 102KG
Jessie Matthews has always been the big girl with the big voice and the even bigger personality.
In fact, “Big” was a label she was comfortable with – one that she even embraced.
Jessie’s still the girl with the voice, but after losing 50kg – dropping from 152kg to just above 100kg – Jessie’s personality shines even more brightly, and she feels like a brand new woman.
“For the first time in a long time, I feel like the real me,” Jessie (34) says of her dramatic weight-loss. “It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I’ve done it. And I did it for me.”
But it hasn’t been a smooth journey – there have been tears, tantrums and what Jessie’s fiancée Sue calls “meltdowns”, but the Hamilton singer, who wowed the judges on
The X Factor NZ show with her mashup of Amazing Grace and the All Saints’ hit Never Ever, says it’s for herself and her music.
“I didn’t lose the weight for my mum or my dad, or even Sue. I figured that I needed to love myself, and it needed to come from me.”
Having tried to break into the music business for years, Jessie realised that she wasn’t being taken seriously because of her weight, so she decided to do something about it.
“Being bigger never really bothered me, it bothered other people who wanted me to succeed. But I reached that point where I wanted to do it for myself, so I asked my doctor to recommend me to a weight-loss clinic in Hamilton.”
From there, she dropped kilos the old-fashioned way – diet and exercise, kick-started by six weeks on a programme that replaces food with specially designed shakes.
“I’ve tried every bloody diet under the sun,” she says with a wry smile.
“Diets do not work. You have to change your thinking. And you have to put in the work.”
Four years later, both Jessie and Sue are still following their strict programme, which sees them up at 5am to get down to the gym, six days a week.
The transformation isn’t quite complete – Jessie fluctuates between 102 and 104kg at the moment, and dreams of seeing the scales in double figures for the first time since she was 12.
“When the day comes that I see 99.9kg, I think I’ll just break down and cry!”
Jessie admits her feelings got the better of her on The X Factor stage, where she received a standing ovation.
“I dressed like me and acted like me – I didn’t do anything that I thought the judges wanted. Being on that stage at that weight just felt so good.
“I was never sad or bullied for my weight at all,” she adds. “But if I did something awesome, I would then go to Burger King and celebrate.”
With her goal in sight, Jessie wants to inspire other women. “I like eating the bad stuff as much as anyone else. But you have got to love yourself enough to push through it.”
Whether or not she makes it to the hit TV3 programme’s live shows, Jessie is looking forward to showing off her new body at her wedding to Sue in October.
“It’s been an amazing year so far,” she says.
“And you know what? I’m incredibly proud of myself.”
• Get creative. You don’t need a gym or personal trainer. YouTube has exercise tutorials, or Google how to use your own body weight for training.
• Get inspiration from wherever you can. I also look up inspirational quotes online! My favourite is: “The scale is just a number.”
• Surround yourself with positive people.
• Do not be afraid to ask
About Kelly Bertrand
“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”more of this author