As our research reveals how calorie counting alone doesn’t add up to long-term weight loss success, we couldn’t miss the chance to share this inspiring slimming story. After years of weighing, measuring and counting every calorie without seeing results on the scales, Caitlin Trick knew there had to be a better way. Here’s how she lost 7½st with Slimming World and discovered the freedom to enjoy her food – without worrying about the calories…
Standing in the supermarket, I opened the calorie-counting app on my phone and immediately my spirits dropped. Trying to work out what I could eat within my calorie limit had become a daily chore and after a busy day at uni I was ravenous, having only eaten a banana and a salad all day. I closed the app and started to walk home, stopping on the way to pick up a large takeaway pizza, wedges, garlic bread and a bag of cookies.
My weight issues had begun when I was 10 years old, and I dislocated my knee while playing with my sister. I had to use crutches for a couple of months, and I turned to food out of boredom. I’d snack on bags of crisps, biscuits, cereal… anything that would boost my mood. That habit continued as I grew up and by the time I was 19, I weighed over 17st. The bigger I got, the less I wanted to go out with my friends, so I’d stay at home and comfort myself with takeaways instead.
Breaking away from calorie counting
I’d lost track of how many times I’d tried to lose weight, each time turning to calorie counting. After a few days of eating nothing but a poached egg or beans on toast, I’d be so hungry and cranky. I’d soon get tired of counting everything and go back to having toast smothered in Nutella for breakfast, sandwiches and a pasty at midday and a takeaway pizza in the evening.
Then, in 2019, during my first year at university, I slipped while running for a taxi and badly dislocated my knee again. I was referred to a knee and joint specialist who told me I’d need surgery to repair the injury. “You’ll need to be 5st lighter for the operation,” he said. It sounded like an impossible amount of weight to lose. In all my years of calorie counting, the most I’d ever lost was 2st. I knew I had to do something if I wanted to have the operation, so when my mum asked if I’d join Slimming World with her, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
As Mum led me into group, I was a bundle of nerves. After being greeted by a sea of smiling faces, though, I instantly relaxed. I think it helped that the other members were open about their own journeys and happy to share their experiences if they’d struggled. It made me realise that no one in that room would ever judge me, because we were going through the same things.
Discovering the freedom of Free Foods
I went home armed with my Food Optimising book and planned out my week’s meals. I started my days with lots of fresh fruit and fat-free natural yogurt. Lunch was a home-made soup or an omelette filled with plenty of veg, and for dinner I made something really tasty like beef tagliatelle or cottage pie. Because I was filling up on Free Foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables, I didn’t have to worry about counting calories all the time – and I didn’t feel hungry at all. When I found out I’d lost 6lbs after my first week, I started to believe I could actually lose weight.
At group, I started joining in the conversations about what everyone had been eating each week, and it felt like a real turning point in my relationship with food. My Consultant, Joanna, and the other members gave me lots of tips for how to handle eating out of boredom, like keeping chopped carrots and celery in the fridge to snack on or going out for a walk rather than turning to food.
As the number on the scales came down, I began to think about becoming more active. I started taking our family dogs out for longer walks, going a bit further each time. Once I felt comfortable doing that, I decided to go to the gym a few times a week. Gradually, my fitness and confidence grew, and soon I was signing up for yoga classes and riding my bike as often as I could.
I’ve lost 7½st in two years and every part of my life has changed. I’m much more confident when giving presentations at uni and, after I graduate this summer, I’d love to be able to help people in the way Joanna has supported me. My outlook on life is a lot brighter and, for the first time, I’m genuinely excited about what the future holds for me. That’s what freedom feels like.