‘“Ready or not, here I come…!” As my little girl, Imogen, ran up the stairs to bed, I tried to chase her to read a favourite bedtime story. By the time I’d puffed my way to the top of the stairs, though, I was too exhausted to read anything.
Sitting there on the edge of Imogen’s bed, fighting for breath, I thought about my wonderful mum who’d passed away 18 months earlier. She was only 60 and losing her was a real shock. It made me wonder about my own future – my children might end up losing their mum even younger unless I started looking after my health.
A couple of my workmates had joined Slimming World and I was impressed at how well they were doing. When I asked them about it, they made it sound so easy – you could still eat bacon sandwiches!
Each time I’d tried fad diets in the past, I’d felt hungry and restricted. So the idea of eating real food and losing weight definitely appealed.
A nudge in the right direction
I joined Slimming World with my sister, Sarah. I was convinced I’d be the biggest person in the room and everyone would stare. So when the other members were welcoming, supportive and not in the least bit judgemental, it was such a relief!
Although I had my doubts about whether the plan would work for me, I decided I’d try Food Optimising for a week and see what happened. I told myself if I didn’t lose any weight, I wouldn’t go back. So when I stepped on the scales and learnt I’d lost 9½lbs, I was astounded – I hadn’t felt hungry once!
My husband, Tom, had always loved trying out new recipes and very quickly Slimming World barbecued pulled pork became one of our favourites.
In the kitchen, we made lots of little changes: instead of using butter and oil, we swapped to low-calorie cooking spray, we bought smaller loaves of wholemeal bread instead of full-size white ones and cut the fat off any meat.
For the first time, we started eating together as a family. The kids loved all the new recipes, especially Slimming World burgers, and my son, Ethan, in particular seemed to notice how much happier I was. As the weight started to come off, he’d often say: “You look lovely, Mum.”
I started to increase my activity levels. Instead of driving Imogen to school I began walking her there and then jogging home. I also bought a few exercise DVDs and invested in a fitness tracker.
Then, last March, I made a decision that meant the world to Imogen – I told the kids I’d go swimming with them. She was four years old and I’d never been in the water with her. It was so much fun being able to splash around with my kids. I felt choked up by how happy it was making them.
A month later, I reached my 10st target and Sarah had been losing weight well, too, which spurred us on to sign up for a Race for Life event. I’d wanted to do one since we lost Mum and, as we jogged over the finish line, I was sure she’d have been immensely proud of us both.
Family life is so different now. I can’t wait for Sunday afternoons when we all head out the door for a nice long walk in the countryside. I love nothing more than chasing Imogen around the park, then having a kickabout with Ethan. At last I’m the fun, active mum I always wanted to be.
Just when I thought life couldn’t get better, something amazing happened – I was crowned Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2016!
When I showed Ethan the video of the ceremony at home, his eyes filled with tears. He hugged me as he said: “You’re the best mum in the world.” As for Imogen, she couldn’t stop “oohing” at my full-length shimmering dress and said, “You’re a real princess, Mummy”.
It’s like every part of the jigsaw is now in place. I’ve found a healthy way of life I know I can continue forever – I’ve been maintaining my second target of 9st 3lbs and I’m determined to enjoy every minute with my family. I know in my heart that if Mum could see us now, she’d be thrilled by how happy we are.’
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose