Couch Potato To Wonder Woman: Month One

Couch Potato To Wonder Woman: Month One

In the journey to transform myself from Couch Potato to Wonder Woman, the first step was to get off the couch.

What did I do?

I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to take it slowly to begin with. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve resolved to be fitter, healthier, more active – only to set myself a grueling gym routine straight off the bat I had no hope of maintaining. Of course, I’d read online that you should take it slow at the beginning, so you don’t get too sore to continue, blah blah blah – but I was different, right? Wrong.

So what was “easing into it” for my first month? I started with yoga.


Previously I’d hated yoga. It was boring. It was slow. It was pointless and irritating and I couldn’t care less about chakras and “self”, I just want to be bendy, dammit. Then I found this.

I can do this. I like plans. I like revolutions.

So I started yoga. I roll out of bed and onto my yoga mat at 5am every morning, listen to Adriene’s voice tell me what to do and get bendier.

I’m not quite at #yogagoals instragam levels yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be. But what I do know is I can touch my toes again. Last night I put my head on my knees. My back pain is easing. I don’t feel as stiff, sore, old and creaky as I did a month ago. My balance is better. I’m sleeping better. I feel like life is a little more manageable.

Oh boy, I’m hooked on yoga.

After the first couple of weeks, I started adding more yoga – before bed to wind down after a big day, and after a hike to stretch out my legs.


I used to hike a lot. And I used to hate it. I was dragged along by an ex when all I wanted to do was play Sims in bed. Sure, the views were great, but was it worth it? No. Not at all.

Living in the city has absolutely been a contributor to my sedentary lifestyle. I don’t even have to take the bin out, there’s a garbage chute in my apartment. I often feel an urge to get back out bush where I grew up, so I though hiking would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, and not in the literal avian murder sense.

My first attempt didn’t go so well:

When plans go wrong: I was all set to go for a hike today, and even spent two hours on public transport to get there – only to have the track rained out. Bucketing down. I came back home, disappointed, feeling like somehow I'd failed. And it took me ages to get my motivation back. I cooked lunch, played some Mass Effect, and had a nap. Then I got up and did 20 minutes of yoga (I started the 31 days of Yoga series on @adrienelouise's channel!) then did the 7 minute workout app. Because even if I couldn't do the three hour hike planned, something is always better than nothing. It's not all or nothing. Perfection isn't the goal, doing is. And now my energy levels are back up there, I might head down to the pool for some laps ??#couchpotatotowonderwoman

A post shared by Rae Johnston (@raejohnston) on

But I followed it up strong, made a Facebook group, filled it with other people itching to get out of the city and now I go hiking every single Sunday. Last week’s hike was a 20km 5 hour adventure featuring 119 flights of stairs. Whenever anyone suggests catching up for lunch now, I suggest a hike instead. It’s working.

12km hike in Manly today ??#couchpotatotowonderwoman #hiking #eoracountry

A post shared by Rae Johnston (@raejohnston) on


I’m not “sporty”. I can’t really hit things with things in a way that enables the other people involved to enjoy themselves. But I’m playing tennis, and I’m getting better at it. Aiming for a session a week, it’s turning out to be more like once a fortnight.

What did I eat?

In order to transform myself into a real life Wonder Woman, I took the advice of Australia’s very own Thor.

You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?

As well as my cardio sessions, he sorted me out with a weights routine to complete at the gym I’m still terrified of using. But the real life changing thing was the food advice. Instead of reducing calories, he has me eating more – almost 1000 calories more, every single day.

But what I’m eating is good food, with the right balance of protein, carbs and fats – “macros” I have to fulfill on a daily basis. I use MyFitnessPal to count them.

This is a list with examples of “good foods” I can eat to fill these macros:


  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Coconut oil
  • Cheese (yes!)
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Dark Chocolate

  • Lean red meat
  • Lean poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk & Cheese

  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Oats

So that has meant food like this:


And this:

Was I perfect? No way! I slipped up, I ate a pallid Ikea “hot dog” and it was GLORIOUS.

It’s worth noting this was in the early days though, and the thought of eating either of this thing now makes me feel a little ill. Weird.

So…do you have any results?

I lost a grand total of *drumroll please* 1kg. One. One solitary kilo. After daily yoga, grueling hikes, tennis, cutting out all junk food, no cans of coke, no cake on “cake day” at work – one kilo. 1000 grams. And even though losing weight wasn’t the goal, it’s still demoralising to put in all that hard work and have the scale laugh in your face.

Then, this morning, I took a progress photo and measured myself. Well, my husband took the photo, bleary eyed and from bed at 6am. It’s not my greatest modelling work, but it does tell a story. The “before” picture” is on the left, by the way.

Image: Rae Johnston
Image: Rae Johnston

I lost 2cm from by bust, 4cm from my hips and an incredible 7cm from my waist. SEVEN. I went down a pants size. My watch is loose.

More importantly, I feel more capable in my body. I don’t feel like I’m on an awful downward spiral. I feel more confident in my ability to reach my lifelong goal of living to 150.

What’s next?

Continue with “The Plan” but start turning it up”

  • Strength (I’ve just started, but I’m lifting!)
  • Flexibility (Toes reached! Head on knee accomplished! Who knows what’s next!)
  • Endurance (I can hike again!)
  • Eating food that fuels me (Getting real good at this one)
  • Killing a man with my bare hands AKA badassery (A definite work in progress)

Now’s the time to get over my fear of people staring at me at the gym while my weights get heavier, keep up the yoga, extend my hike and build up the speed a little, continue eating good, fresh, real food, head to a martial arts class, and start throwing axes (you think I’m kidding, don’t you?).

You can follow along, even join in, with #couchpotatotowonderwoman on Instagram. Speaking of which, check out these legends:

How cool is that! Until next month, Lifehacker.


      • I find it weird, I’m 3 months into yoga, and my flexibility hasn’t increased a jot. Still am miles from my toes, I can’t even sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me. Glad its working for you though!

  • well done on going from nothing to even getting a routine.
    another option if you want strength and flexibility that might be more fun and better paced than yoga is adult gymanstics. if theyre good with their coaching, they’ll tech you proper technique so you dont injure yourself. i know where i was going for a couple of years we did a 30 minute warm up with light cardio and stretching in the first half, then strengthening and core stuff in the second half of warm up, then an hour out on the floor or apparatus’ which gets you doing strength and flexibility while being aerobic anyway for the things you were being taught.

  • This is really cool – lots of ladies find it so intimidating to fuel their bodies correctly with food and training to be MORE, not less, but when they start, magic happens – keep it up! ??

  • Firstly, great work so far!! You are doing really well and the results reflect that.

    Secondly, has your partner had any change in his weight/size? My wife and her best friend started on a health kick too (better food first followed by light exercise). Myself and her husband have both benefited from it as well even though we are not necessarily doing the same thing. I’m 34 and am now lighter and trimmer than I was in high school!! :O

    • My husband has lost about 400g, but he doesn’t really do any of the active stuff with me, besides the occasional leisurely swim.

  • wow, that’s bloody impressive Rae! I think the biggest change you notice in those photos are in your face. As someone who used to be fit, but then due to injury had to retire, it’s super great to see you spring back. I’ve recently started doing the same – I hope I can get similar results!

  • Why did you choose Yoga over something else like Pilates?

    Also, how does your meals work out in your household? Do everyone eat the same meals as you do, or do you have to make a meal for yourself and everyone else get a separate meal?

    It’s great that you noticed that it isn’t all about the weight – you may have lost less than what you expected, but you seem to have become much trimmer. You have to remember that muscle is more dense than fat, so 1 kg of muscle is much much smaller than 1 kg of fat. I hope that you had a body fat measurement taken before you started so you can use that to track your progress.

  • I miss not having kids… It looks like a lot of fun is being had on the hikes. I’ve injured both arms so exercise is tricky, but walking still works.

    Great stuff providing before and after photos to remind us all that the scales only tell part of the story.

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