MyKitchenRules su­per-slim­mers

We’ve lost 81kg

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - This week -

With a shared pas­sion for food, their out­spo­ke­ness and a whanau-first men­tal­ity, it would seem Hera Waitai and Tash White­wood have the per­fect in­gre­di­ents for in­stant friend­ship. But when the My Kitchen Rule Kitchen Rules New Zealand tea team-mates met as co-w co-work­ers six years ago, they could not bear bein be­ing in the same room. “W “We couldn’t stand ea each other,” says Hera,He 34. “We both h have strong per­son per­son­al­i­ties and are highly opin­ion­ated, so we clas clashed.” But lit lit­tle did Tash and Her Hera know that these ve very sim­i­lar­i­ties would b bring them to­gether and bond them like f fam­ily all these years later.later When t the duo – who are both mar­ket­ingm

co­or­di­na­tors at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Ro­torua – first crossed paths, they were bro­ken women, each on their own jour­ney to find health and hap­pi­ness.

At 122kg, Hera – mother to son Whakaruru, 15, and daugh­ter Ria-Maieke, 13 – was suf­fer­ing a myr­iad of health is­sues and strug­gling to have more chil­dren. “I al­ways said I was blessed with one of each, but when my sis­ters and friends were all hav­ing ba­bies, I knew some­thing was up – and sex was not the is­sue,” jokes Hera, who got to­gether with her bloke Christy 16 years ago.

“I’d suf­fered women’s prob­lems my whole life, but enough was enough, so I went to the doc­tor, who di­ag­nosed me with en­dometrio­sis.”

A sec­ond blow came when Hera – who was trav­el­ling to Brazil to com­pete with a kapa haka group at the in­au­gu­ral World In­dige­nous Games in 2015 – couldn’t get the air­plane seat­belt to fit over her tummy.

Health­kick

But the de­voted mum’s big­gest wake-up call came when she no­ticed her un­healthy eat­ing habits and body in­se­cu­ri­ties were rub­bing off on her teenage girl. “At that point, I couldn’t even tie up my own shoelaces,” ad­mits Hera. “Some­times my por­tion sizes were big­ger than my part­ner’s – I wasn’t sat­is­fied if I hadn’t un­zipped my jeans af­ter din­ner. When I could see my daugh­ter head­ing in the same di­rec­tion, I knew I needed to step up and be a role model.”

Mean­while, Tash had also lost her way. She’d bro­ken off an eight-year re­la­tion­ship and didn’t recog­nise the per­son she’d be­come.

“I had for­got­ten who I was and what I was pas­sion­ate about,” the 31-year-old re­veals. “I used to paint, write, travel and – be­lieve it or not – I used to love work­ing out. But I got too com­fort­able. I wasn’t happy with my­self and it showed. I’d gone from 55kg to 94kg.”

Over time, the girls learned to work to­gether, but they fi­nally be­came friends when Hera no­ticed her som­bre co-worker could do with a lit­tle cheer­ing up. The next day, she gifted Tash a care pack­age full of mood-boost­ing treats and the pair have been in­sep­a­ra­ble ever since.

“For some­one I barely knew to reach out like that blew me away,” tells Tash. “We dis­cov­ered pretty quickly that both of us were deal­ing with sig­nif­i­cant things in our lives and we helped each other see the light. When we were to­gether, the only way was up!”

Be­com­ing each other’s con­fi­dants, Tash and Hera mo­ti­vated one an­other to reach their goals. They’d skip McDon­ald’s for healthy packed lunches, walk around the lake in work breaks and when they were feel­ing blue, en­cour­age

each other to count their bless­ings. They soon started los­ing weight – with Tash now a svelte 66kg and Hera 69kg.

They are lov­ing their new lease on life. “It was never just about weight loss for me – my jour­ney has been about spir­i­tual, men­tal and phys­i­cal growth,” says Tash, who can now com­fort­ably run half marathons. “Has it been easy? No. I’ve strug­gled, tripped and nearly given up, but I can fi­nally say I’m liv­ing life and I love it. I’ve trav­elled more than I ever have and I’m on a na­tional TV show.”

And the best is yet to come for Hera, who will wed her dream man in De­cem­ber.

“Af­ter 16 years to­gether, Christy fi­nally pro­posed and he did it in McDon­ald’s, over a Big Mac and a cheese­burger,” she laughs. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. If there’s one thing about my man, he doesn’t like to be like any­body else.”

While the girls are ea­ger to take out the TVNZ 2 cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion, their next quest is to find sin­gle Tash a date to the wed­ding. “I have about three months to find a part­ner,” smiles Tash. “And Hera’s only in­sisted on two things – they must be a male and they can’t be re­lated to me!”

It wasn’t love at first sight, but these diet divas are now mates for life!

g Tash (left) and Hera are happy, healthy and ready to turn up the heat on the TVNZ 2 show. SAUCY LADIES!

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