What were the circumstances that led to your weight gain, is it something that happens often for women?
When I was at school my weight was healthy, however from the age of about 18 I was gaining weight due to an unhealthy diet and no exercise. On top of that I fell pregnant which then of course meantI gained more weight, and with a newborn I fell into bad eating habits for convenience. This led me to realise that something had to be done.
When did you first realise that you were uncomfortable with how you looked and felt?
Looking back at photos of me around 16/17 years old, and seeing how much weight I had gained really affected my mental health and confidence. I also suffered with social anxiety which I have only now just realised I had, as I would be anxious about driving my car or going to places I had never been before etc. The Turning point was the picture of me at Christmas 2020.
I went to Santa’s Grotto with my son and had a picture taken and that was the moment that shocked me. Christmas 2020 was when I realised. The clothes size I was in or trying to squeeze in, my lifestyle with food and exercise.
My energy levels were terrible and I hated how I felt and looked constantly. On top of that I wanted to be more healthy and fit for my son, who is now 3, to have more energy when with him.
How did other people contribute to fighting this feeling of inadequacy and social anxiety?
They encouraged me to do what I want to do in terms of change. They did not say much but did definitely notice how my weight was affecting me. It was not until I made the leap to join Slimming World that they then said they knew it would help me gain confidence and be more happy in life in general.
All my family and friends were very supportive of me, they all knew deep down that I was a healthy weight and I was not my happiest because of it. They have been an amazing support and are all so proud of what I have achieved, even some of my extended family have decided to start their journey as they can see how much of a positive impact it has had on my life.
What effect did social media and fashion/beauty standards exacerbate these issues?
Social Media can be a very positive space but also negative. There is a huge pressure for women to look a certain way on social media and it has contributed to the way I felt about myself, bigger, curvier women have a very mixed experience online.
Some people were very positive about their plus size weight, however I don’t think they were necessarily a healthy weight which can be negative. Social media can make overweight people feel happy to be overweight when in fact it can have serious health complications, but most of the interactions with overweight women online is negative.
Certain clothing brands for instance will cater up to a certain sized woman. Some have special ‘curve’ ‘plus size’ ranges, however it seems to be more expensive to have the same outfit in larger sizes.
This has had a negative effect on me and made me feel worse about myself to the point I can’t even get clothes I would like because of my weight and without feeling worse because I’m having to venture into a separate category, which makes shopping difficult and restricted.
What was approachable about Slimming World and the advice they were giving?
I had joined Slimming World previously, prior to covid, and lost 1 stone, so I knew the plan worked for me. The first week in January I contacted my consultant Liz and started my journey.
At this time when I started it was virtual via ZOOM because of covid, no in person groups could re-open. I had to weigh from home and to be honest at this stage with my anxiety I didn’t even go to the zoom image therapy sessions with my consultant I just did it on my own.
I would use the Slimming World books and the App, however by the time the group re-opened in June I had already lost over 3 stone so I felt more confident and with a little encouragement from Liz I went and stayed at the group sessions which has been the best decision I had made.
I have made some great friends there, some I speak to outside of the Slimming World group. It really has a fantastic community where everyone is so supportive and gives great advice. I was then voted by my group as Women of the Year which was so overwhelming as well as getting my 5 stone award!
How quickly did you notice results and how shocking were said results?
It took a while for me to start seeing results, but others, friends and family started to notice mainly in my face. I used pictures to compare what progress I was making throughout my journey. After losing around 2 stone I started to notice how I would fit into certain clothes. I have also dropped a shoe size which is just crazy, I didn’t know that would even happen. I also have dropped roughly 3 dress sizes.
What skills and actions were vital to your weight loss?
100% commitment has been the biggest strength for me. I have been very strict with myself. I have had 2 off plan meals for occasions but apart from that I have stuck to the plan completely and organised my meal plans so that I know exactly what I am eating and doing on a daily basis which has helped me to stay on plan.
Also use healthy alternatives. Fry light instead of oil, making my own sauces instead of buying jars, checking the contents of ingredients to see what the best options are. Cut down on fibre, make sure I have some but not too much. Just remembering the healthy choices and also enjoying life. Do not be so strict, but be in control of what I am eating.
How different do you feel now that you have so much progress?
I still want to lose a little more to feel 100% in the right place, however I have so much more confidence and I am so happy. People noticing how much weight I have lost is so nice and makes it all worthwhile. I just feel like I am so much happier and content with my life. I am so much healthier from a BMI standpoint which is really reassuring to know.
How important was structure for achieving your goals?
Structure and planning is key! Your head has to be in it 100% for it to work and for you to stick to it, and because I kept looking back at that photo of me at Christmas, that’s the reassurance I needed to know I will and want to get to my goal weight.
What would be your main points of advice for anyone going through the same situation?
The main advice I would give is to have a goal weight in mind, join a Slimming World group locally to you as this is great for support and ideas so that you can still have the same meals you have always liked and eat but tweak it to become healthier.
Plan, be sure it is what you want and put your all into it and you will get to where you want to be. If someone was to tell me that in 8 months I would have lost 5 stone I would have laughed and said no chance but now looking back it was the best decision I have ever made.