From fat friend to bikini model
Being described as the ‘fat friend’ inspired Jodie Rigby-Mee from Royal Leamington Spa to lose an amazing 6st*. Now, 11 years later, she’s won an award for her long-term weight management success.
"I was just 17 and on my first girls’ holiday when I heard a group of boys refer to me as the ‘fat friend’. It took my breath away and I ended up back in the hotel room in tears.
"My godmother suggested we join Slimming World together in May 2002. I thought everyone would really judge me for being so big at such a young age. The truth is that you walk into a room full of people who all feel exactly the same way as you do and who totally understand what you’re going through.
I’d tried other diets in the past but none of them taught me anything about food – I’d ‘spend’ all my allowances on unhealthy foods or end up starving hungry on shakes and pills. This was completely different.
"I loved receiving awards for every half stone I lost and for being active, it’s amazing how motivating it can be to have something to work towards – and to get a new sticker on your book, of course! The fact that Slimming World recognised all activity, even every day jobs and tasks, made exercise seem much easier and more realistic.
"Losing weight when I did completely changed my life. It gave me so much more confidence in every respect. I was able to pursue a career as cabin crew, including moving to Dubai for five years and becoming a safety trainer teaching people how to put out fires, jump down slides and float on life-rafts, which I’d never have been able to do at my heaviest. I found it easy to Food Optimise around the world and would often board a long haul flight with lots of Tupperware filled with healthy meals and snacks.
"I married my husband in a size-10 wedding dress, took part in a bikini photo shoot for a magazine and had a happy, healthy pregnancy with my little boy. My family eat the same meals and it’s easy to make healthy choices when I eat out too.
Lots of my friends have joined Slimming World after seeing how well I’ve done, so they’re always happy to choose somewhere Slimming World-friendly to eat when we go out or we stay in and make a Food Optimising feast – and because nothing’s off the menu we can still treat ourselves to a glass of wine too!
"In 2014, after moving back to England from Dubai, I decided to make a career change too and trained as a Slimming World Consultant. It’s the most rewarding job I could ask for – I love seeing people reach a goal because I know exactly what that feels like. I’m really honest with my members and they know I’m still a Slimming World member too – I attend a group every week to get support to stay on track, even after all these years. I want them to know I’m human too and show them that Food Optimising isn’t a diet to go on and go off, it’s a plan for life.
“When I first joined Slimming World meeting members who’d reached their target weight really inspired me because it showed me that what I wanted was possible, I love doing that for my members and hope by winning this competition I can inspire even more people.”
Jodie’s top tips
Food diaries: Keeping a food diary is a great way to refocus you if you ever need it, such as after a holiday. It helps you to keep track of what you’re eating and seeing it in black and white can help you to feel back in control.
Get support: I still go to my Slimming World group as a member every week as I need the support as much as my members do, I’m still human after all!
Don’t reward yourself with food: I’ve learned food is fuel, not comfort, and I try never to reward myself with food. Instead I’ll treat myself to a bunch of flowers or some new clothes – I love shopping now I’m a size 10!
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
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