A depressed call centre worker who tipped the scales at 165 kilos has ‘rediscovered herself’ by losing almost one third of her weight and launching a luxury sex toy store.
Susan Jarvis was a ‘lost’ 38-year-old working in a Brisbane call centre at the time of her divorce in 2005. Her weight left her ‘hardly able’ to walk.
Crippled by unhappiness and increasing ill health, the mother-of-one turned her life around by leaving her job, fixing her teeth and shedding 45 kilos in less than a year by cleansing her diet, dramatically reducing portion sizes and lifting weights.
Determined to change more than her physical appearance, Ms Jarvis enrolled in a university business degree which gave her the knowledge and confidence to open ‘The Spicy Boudoir’ in 2019.
Now 53 and in a ‘fabulous’ new relationship, Ms Jarvis – who goes by the name ‘Susan the Maven’ – says she no longer recognises the woman she was 15 years ago, and tells Daily Mail Australia it’s ‘never too late’ to find yourself again.
Scroll down for video
Susan Jarvis (left, in 2005 and right, in 2019) turned her life around after her divorce by losing 45 kilos – almost one third of her bodyweight – in the space of a year
Ms Jarvis’ journey began about a year before her marriage ended in July 2005.
Previously outgoing with an interest in everything from science to art, hobbies fell by the wayside as she drew further inwards, seeking comfort in junk food amid her unhappy relationship.
‘I lost my enthusiasm for life. I didn’t value my own identity or worth at that time,’ Ms Jarvis said.
As her weight ballooned, her health deteriorated, plaguing her with depression, social anxiety and sleep apnoea, a disorder which causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start, leading to sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue.
Ms Jarvis reached a turning point when a close friend wrote her a letter, predicting she would be at her funeral before the year was out and begging her to change her lifestyle.
‘I could hardly walk. At 165 kilos, you feel like you’re carrying cement around your ankles,’ she said.
Motivated by her friends chilling warning, Ms Jarvis started walking around the block and used Weight Watchers nutrition programme to clean up her diet and cut down on portion sizes.
‘Even walking was very hard being a gigantic woman. I felt very anxious and exposed to people’s gazes, but in the end I said f**k them!’ she recalled.
‘I knew I had lost myself and I just wanted to get “me” back.’
Ms Jarvis (pictured in 2019) turned her life around by cleansing her diet, dramatically reducing portion sizes and lifting weights in the gym
Ms Jarvis then joined a gym, swimming and lifting weights under the guidance of a personal trainer who helped her to lose an impressive 45 kilos in the space of 12 months.
‘When I came home from the pool one day and caught myself in the mirror at the front door, I did a double take,’ she said.
‘I thought, “oh my god, I have cheekbones – and a jawline!” It was the first time I realised I was beautiful.’
After being made redundant, Ms Jarvis used part of her payment to fund cosmetic work on her teeth – a decision that ‘changed her life’.
‘I had always been extremely self-conscious about the huge gap in the front of my teeth, and it’s changed my life having people compliment my smile,’ she said.
‘I look back and I don’t even recognise myself.’
The mother-of-one (pictured aged 19 in 1986) says she didn’t see herself as ‘beautiful’ until she was in her late 30s
Eager to find a professional passion to match her newfound personal fulfilment, Ms Jarvis learned Italian and studied business before launching her adult e-commerce in 2019.
The Spicy Boudoir aims to help women over 50 and women with disabilities discover their sexuality through lingerie, intimate toys and bondage accessories.
The inspiration comes from what Ms Jarvis sees as the de-sexualisation of older women in modern society.
‘Women like me are not really visible in the media, and we’re not viewed as sexual,’ she said.
‘I want to create a positive, uplifting experience for people with disabilities and anyone who is overlooked.’
Ms Jarvis (pictured) has regained roughly 20 kilos, bringing her weight back to 140kg, but says with a laugh: ‘It’s happy fat!’
Since her transformation, Ms Jarvis has regained roughly 20 kilos, bringing her weight back to 140kg, but says with a laugh: ‘It’s happy fat!’
She hopes her story will inspire other women to invest in themselves and follow their dreams at every stage of life, regardless of age.
‘It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s always value in rediscovering who you are,’ she said.