For Slimming World member Alison Berry, losing weight has led to a full bucket list of milestone moments – from taking on a charity challenge to celebrating her 60th feeling full of confidence. Here, she reveals how she fought back from failing health to enter her 60s feeling fitter, healthier and happier than ever…
When I joined Slimming World in 2014, I was at my lowest ebb. A year earlier I’d been rushed to hospital with a life-threatening flare-up of my diverticulitis (a condition affecting my bowel), and since then I’d felt like I was living on borrowed time. Joining my local group with my daughter-in-law, Abby, felt like my last chance.
I’ve been at my target weight of 10st 9lbs for five years now and I’ve never felt better. I haven’t had any symptoms of diverticulitis for years, my blood pressure is at a healthy level, and I’ve got so much confidence. In 2019, I celebrated my 60th birthday by making a bucket list of all the things I felt I couldn’t do at my biggest and I’ve been enjoying ticking each of them off.
My 60th birthday bucket list
Ride the UK’s longest zipwire ✔️
As I stood at the top of Penrhyn Quarry in Wales, about to ride the UK’s longest zipwire, I thought about how I wouldn’t have been able to do this when I weighed over 22st. Minutes earlier I’d had to stand on a set of scales to check I met the zipwire’s weight limit, and at my biggest I would’ve been 4st too heavy to take part.
Back then I avoided stepping on the scales at all costs, and when I went to my Slimming World group for the first time I was terrified to get weighed. I’d pictured my weight being shouted out to a room full of strangers, so I was relieved when I learned it was nothing like that.
Still, seeing 22st 1½lbs flash up on the screen made me doubt myself… my Consultant, Susan, encouraged me to trust the plan and assured me that if I read my member pack and followed the advice, I’d start to see a difference. And she was right! As the weeks passed, the weight gradually came off. Now I never worry about stepping on the scales because I know I can handle whatever comes next – even if it means hurtling down the side of a mountain!
Tackle a rollercoaster ✔️
I remember, when I weighed more than 22st, taking my family to a travelling fairground and having to get off a ride because the safety harness didn’t fit. I felt so embarrassed and I spent the rest of the day watching my family enjoy themselves while I stayed behind to look after their bags.
When I started writing my bucket list, I knew I wanted to go back to that fairground – and this time I was going to get on every ride. As my husband, David, and I took our seats and I heard the safety harness clip into place, I squeezed his hand. “I did it,” I said. It was a real pinch-me moment.
Brave a firewalk ✔️
As I stepped onto the hot coals, the crowd gathered around me roared in support. In some ways, losing weight can feel like you’re walking on fire – and I couldn’t have made it to the other side if I hadn’t been surrounded by so many supportive people in group.
I remember feeling heartbroken the first time I put on weight during my journey. I was sure I’d followed the plan to the letter, so when I saw that I’d gained 1lb I couldn’t understand it. I turned to Susan for support and she suggested that the small blip might be my body adjusting to my new-found active lifestyle.
I’d recently started swimming four times a week and Susan explained that starting a new activity can briefly lead to a slower weight loss as our muscles get better at storing energy. She reassured me that it was nothing to worry about and if I kept following the plan as I had been – and kept up my activity – the losses would soon follow. She was right again! I lost 4lbs the following week.
Try a treetop adventure course ✔️
Gripping the rope in front of me, I leaned away from the tree and began my 60ft drop to the ground below. Seconds later, I landed on the ground where my son, Scott, and grandchildren, Joseph and Aliana, were waiting for me. I wouldn’t have had the energy to tackle a treetop adventure course at my biggest. Back then, I couldn’t walk to the end of my garden without needing to pause to catch my breath.
I’d lost 5st before I felt ready to give Body Magic a try. Susan explained that I could build up my activity levels in small, steady steps, so I started by getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way. Once I felt comfortable with that, I got off two stops earlier, then three… until eventually I was walking the entire route, and I’d often beat the bus home! Now I walk at least five miles a day and I’ve even taken up wild swimming in the North Sea.
Throw a 60th birthday bash ✔️
I didn’t have a social life at my biggest. I’d become so self-conscious about my size that I just preferred to hide away. Whenever my birthday came around, I’d want the day to pass me by and would insist that I didn’t want a fuss. I didn’t feel I had any reason to celebrate.
I was determined that my 60th birthday would be different. I hired the local social club and invited all my nearest and dearest – including all the friends I’d made at my Slimming World group. For my party outfit, I bought a beautiful purple dress – in a size 10! I can’t tell you how good it felt to find a dress I loved in my size after so many years of feeling like I had to make do with whatever outfit I could find.
At the party, I danced the night away without ever worrying about whether anyone was looking at me, and when I scrolled through Facebook the next day I was proud of how I looked in all the photos. Seven years ago, I was battling my worsening health and I questioned whether I’d even make it to 60. Now, I’ve entered a new decade enjoying life more than I ever thought possible.