From transforming our health to feeling happier about the way we look, there are so many inspiring reasons for taking that brave first step towards losing weight.
When Donna Howarth joined Slimming World, she had one sky-high goal in mind – to do the wing walk she’d been longing to do since she was a child. Read on to find out how Donna made her dream come true…
Cuddled up on the sofa with my husband, Andrew, I had a bright idea. I’d just joined Slimming World and had been trying to think of ways to help keep my motivation high… and I’d thought of something absolutely amazing. “When I get to target, I’m going to do a wing walk,” I said.
As I raved about going up in a plane and watching the world fly by below me, I could tell that Andrew was really paying attention. My confidence had been at rock bottom and this was the most upbeat he’d seen me in ages. “That sounds like a great idea,” he said. “I’ll go with you… but only to hold your coat!”
Doing a wing walk had been a dream of mine ever since I saw it on telly when I was six years old. I turned to my dad and asked him if I could do that, too. “You’re not old enough,” he said, chuckling to himself. It became a running joke in my family as every Christmas I’d ask my parents if I could do a wing walk, only to be told that I still wasn’t old enough.
By the time I was old enough and ready to book the flight, there was something else stopping me – my weight. The pounds had crept on over the years, especially after having our four children, Ashley, Liam, Jack and Maddison. I’d come to rely on microwave meals and chippy takeaways for dinner, and snacking on crisps and biscuits to get me through the day.
When I’d looked into booking a wing walk, I’d discovered that I needed to weigh less than 12st to do it safely. Although I hadn’t weighed myself in years, I knew there was no way I’d be under that limit. I tried to lose weight using meal-replacement shakes and dropped a few pounds at first, but the weight soon went back on again. I gave up on my wing-walking dream and pushed the thought to the back of my mind.
On a wing and a prayer
Then came my turning point. I had water retention in my legs, and my GP referred me to see a specialist for some tests. When the consultant gave me the results, he told me I was borderline diabetic. I was shocked: I had no idea how much my weight had been affecting my health. “I think you’d benefit from losing weight,” he said. “Have you thought about trying Slimming World?” I knew I had to give it a go.
Straight away, my family couldn’t believe all the tasty, healthy meals I was able to cook from scratch. Beef chilli, cottage pie, mushroom risotto – they didn’t turn their noses up at anything! And the best part was, all my meals were Free, so I could eat as much as I liked to satisfy my appetite – and that meant I no longer felt the need to snack on crisps and biscuits.
My Consultant Sandra and everyone in group were really friendly and always on hand with words of encouragement, strategies and ideas if I was ever disappointed with my weight loss. Having the wing walk to look forward to really helped me to stay motivated, too. I stuck a photo of a wing walker on my fridge and, any time I felt tempted by a takeaway, I’d look at that photo to remind myself why I wanted to lose weight. It never failed to get me back on track.
Fifteen months after joining Slimming World, I reached my target weight. I booked my wing walk and, in July 2017, I stood in an airfield near Sheffield being strapped to the wing of a plane. As I rattled down the runway, hoping the harness would hold me in, suddenly the ground disappeared and I saw nothing but blue sky. I was off!
The next 20 minutes were exhilarating as the plane twisted and turned through the air. I didn’t want to come down. When the plane did eventually land, I saw Andrew waiting for me on the runway, holding my coat as promised. “I’m so proud of you,” he said. I was proud of me, too – I’d finally achieved my dream.
I’ve got a big list of things I’d like to try next. Andrew and I have started doing ‘date runs’ to help us train for the Manchester Marathon next month, and after that I’ll be doing a sky dive for my 48th birthday. We’re also planning a trip to Los Angeles later this year to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and I’m thinking about trying hang gliding while I’m out there.
Most of all, I want to do another wing walk – and this time I want to go even higher so that I can experience a few loops and fast drops, too! I wouldn’t be able to make these memories if I was still 14st 12lbs, and that’s why I still go to group every week to make sure I stay at target. Losing weight has opened up a whole world of exciting things for me to experience, and I’m going to enjoy it!
What an inspiring journey! Donna’s confidence has never been higher (literally!) and it’s all because she took that brave first step to lose weight. If you feel like your weight is stopping you from doing the things you’ve always dreamed of, now is the perfect time to discover ‘that Slimming World feeling’ for yourself – all you have to do is make that leap!
Whether it’s braving a wing walk or something firmly on terra firma, we’d love for you to share your weight loss triumphs with us on the blog or on social using #theSlimmingWorldblog