The peak of the steep hill still seemed so far away as I cycled upwards in sunny France. At just under 1,300ft, this mountain was my Everest and I was determined to conquer it – a feat that would have been unthinkable for me just weeks earlier. With a final, mighty effort, I pedaled to the summit and turned to my husband and cycling partner, Roger. “I did it!” I grinned.
That magic moment on holiday marked just how far I’d come since joining Slimming World. I’d always been very active and I loved hiking and cycling. So when I found myself hobbling after a short walk, I knew there was a problem. I was diagnosed with arthritis, and it was no surprise to me that the first thing the doctor advised was losing weight. At 14st 3½lbs, I didn’t feel at my best. And as well as struggling to exercise I was also unable to enjoy playing active games with my grandchildren – which was devastating, because we’d recently moved to be closer to them. It was time to make a change.
I joined my local Slimming World group in February 2020. I’ll be honest, I was really nervous as I walked into that hall full of people. And getting on those scales for the first time felt like a scary leap in the dark. My Consultant, Beth, and the other members in the group were so supportive, though, and I gradually gained more confidence. To anyone thinking about joining now, I’d say that it’s normal to be scared, but this might be one of the most important and life-changing decisions that you’ll ever make. It’s worth taking that risk and going for it – and you’ll be supported and encouraged all the way!
I really like the simplicity of Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan – it’s so easy to follow and I don’t have to count points or calories. As the weight came off, my arthritis improved and I was able to start being active again. Within 18 months of joining group, I’d hit my target weight of 10st 4½lbs and was back on my beloved bike!
Now, I’m definitely feeling the benefits of my weight loss – I’ve significantly increased my average cycle speed and I’m tackling hills that I would have had to push my bike up before. I’ve also rediscovered my love of yoga and Pilates, and I know that the balance and flexibility it’s giving me will sustain me through a fit and healthy retirement. I’ve gone from being unable to do a ‘plank’ position to holding one for more than three minutes. I’m also doing headstands again for the first time in 25 years!
Losing weight with Slimming World means that I can now continue to do the things that I love. Whether I’m cycling up mountains or having fun with my three grandchildren, I feel fitter than I have in years. I’m definitely on the up!
Sheena’s tips for getting active
- Find a friend to exercise with. You could start with simple walks, making them a bit longer each time and then adding in some hills!
- Sign up for a charity challenge. I’ve cycled for Cancer Research and did a Samarathon walk for the Samaritans. Both challenges were a month long, so I could complete them at my own pace, and I raised hundreds of pounds for worthy causes.
- Take healthy snacks. When I’m out and about, I pack plenty of water or no-added-sugar squash and some fruit, so I’m not tempted by any biscuits that my companions might offer. Bananas give me a great energy boost, too.
The Slimming World get-fit toolkit
Slimming World members are supported to get active, at their own pace, through our unique Body Magic activity programme. Find out more here.
When you join, you’ll also get access to our get-fit toolkit, which includes:
- More than 50 on-demand activity videos, with workouts for every ability
- Easy to follow exercise guides and activity ideas
- An online activity tracker to chart your progress towards your next Body Magic award
- The FIT log tool to help identify any Body Magic barriers and put strategies in place
- Member exclusive podcast episodes
- Get-active support and strategies in group, with a cheerleading community to spur you on!
If you’re planning to start a new exercise programme, we recommend you check with your GP first – especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. If you’re pregnant, check the suitability of the exercise with your midwife.