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As well as improving our physical health, adopting healthier habits around food, exercise and our weight can be hugely beneficial for our emotional wellbeing. When her son was diagnosed with leukaemia, Lois felt overwhelmed by the stress of his treatment and began to worry about how her weight could affect her ability to look after her family. Here’s how losing more than 3st by Food Optimising and discovering a passion for cycling helped her find the physical and emotional strength to support her son through a life-threatening illness…
Steadying myself on the bike, I pushed down on the pedal and slowly began to cycle towards the lake a few minutes from my home. My heart was racing as I started to pick up speed – it was the first time I’d been on two wheels in years. Trundling behind me in a colourful, tent-like trailer attachment was my motivation for getting back on a bike – my little boy, AJ, who was two years old and having the ride of his life.
Six months earlier, AJ had been diagnosed with leukaemia and we’d spent most of those long, worrying months in hospital, or cooped up at home. Now, as the stretch of water opened up before us and I curved around the edge of the lake, my cares seemed far away. As I rode on, I felt calmer and more relaxed than I’d done in ages.
When we arrived home, AJ was fast asleep in his little trailer and, though my legs were wobbly, I couldn’t wait for our next ride. Despite taking anti-anxiety medication prescribed by my doctor, I usually found myself dwelling on worries about AJ when I was trying to get to sleep. Tonight, though, I settled down much more quickly than usual and had the best night’s sleep since his diagnosis.
I’d joined Slimming World about three months earlier. I’d been slowly gaining weight since having my daughter, Stevie-Louise, then seven, and later AJ, and that had sped up as I’d sought comfort in food to cope with his illness. Now at 14st 11½lbs, I was the biggest I’d ever been – and, struggling to keep up with AJ, I realised I wanted to make a change. AJ’s illness had also made something else clear to me. My little boy had been perfectly healthy until suddenly he wasn’t – none of us were immune to ill health, and I owed it to my kids to take the best care of myself so that I could be here for them for the longest time possible.
Going to Lianne McCalla’s Slimming World group in Birmingham every week gave an order to my life amid the turmoil. My weight was something I could control, and by focusing on becoming a healthier mum – as well as getting the support of the other members in group – I found I didn’t need to comfort myself with food any more.
After three months of Food Optimising and losing weight steadily, I noticed lots of the other members were enjoying Body Magic. They talked about going to the gym, running and swimming – nothing that interested me. Then by chance a children’s cancer charity worker suggested a bike and trailer loan, which seemed perfect! Every day, I cycled around the lake and back home. After two weeks, I spotted a cycle path, so I took it and found it went all the way to the local airport. Then I challenged myself to go a bit further each day, resting for five minutes before riding back home.
I began mapping our rides using an app on my phone, and loved tracking my progress, adding a few minutes to my route every day. Away from the noisy traffic, I felt at peace riding around the beautiful lakes, fields and canals of the country park. Those 55 minutes became my time to relax and unwind, letting go of all life’s worries. I no longer needed the anti-anxiety medication my doctor had prescribed, and I was sure it was because of the time I was spending out on my bike.
Then the world was rocked by coronavirus, and suddenly everything changed. AJ’s illness meant he was considered to be extremely vulnerable if he caught Covid-19 and we had to limit our contact with other people as much as possible to keep him safe. Although we couldn’t go out on my bike, I didn’t want to give up on Body Magic. I bought an exercise bike so that I could cycle indoors, and set up an exercise circuit in the garden to help me stay fit. When the restrictions eased, I couldn’t wait to get back out on my bike.
AJ’s doing really well and last week he rang the bell in the children’s cancer ward to celebrate the end of his treatment. Fingers crossed it also marks the end of a really difficult chapter for our family, even though I’ll be forever grateful for what I’ve learnt along the way. Now I’m back at my real-life Slimming World group, and surrounded by the support of Lianne and my fellow slimmers, I’m going to see how much further my weight loss journey can take me. I know how important it is to do whatever I can to keep my own body and mind healthy.
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Exclusive Slimming World offer for new members
If Lois’ story has inspired you to join a Slimming World group, we’ve got an exclusive offer for you. When you commit to a six-week group membership before 22nd November 2020, six weeks for the price of five, with no joining fee to pay. Contact your local Consultant to book your place in group.
If you’d prefer to join our online-only service, Slimming World Online, we’re currently offering £20/€25 off membership – so there’s never been a better time to make a change and take the first steps towards better health. If you’re not yet a Slimming World member, click here and enter the discount code RESET2020 to take up the offer.