Bedtime story inspires mum to achieve weight loss fairytale!
A mum who once got so out of breath chasing her little girl up the stairs that she couldn’t even speak to read her a bedtime story has lost nearly half her body weight.
At her heaviest Hollie Barrett tipped the scales at 17st 11lbs and feared her children would be bullied because of her size.
Now the 30-year-old, from Blunderston in Suffolk, has shed 8st 6lbs and dropped six dress sizes – going from a size 20 to an 8 – to be named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2016.
Hollie, who lives with partner Thomas and their two children Ethan, 11, and four-year-old Imogen, says: “I felt like my weight was holding me back in every aspect of my life, especially when it came to doing things with my children. Even things other mums might take for granted, like taking them swimming, seemed off limits because I felt so self-conscious. I once chased Imogen up the stairs to bed and was so breathless I couldn’t speak properly to read her a book – it broke my heart. Now I finally feel like the person – and the mum – I was meant to be all along.”
Hollie had been overweight for most of her life and often turned to food for comfort, including after losing her mum to breast cancer in 2013. It was in May 2015, after seeing a friend posting about her success with Slimming World on Facebook, that Hollie decided to join her local group with her sister Sarah. She says: “After we lost mum I started to really think about my health and my future. I wanted to be around for my kids and to be able to do all the normal things that mums do while they were still young. I didn’t want them to be bullied at school because their mum was so overweight either.”
Within minutes of walking into the Beccles Slimming World group she says she knew she’d found the right place for her: “I was so nervous walking through those doors and was worried I’d be the biggest person there. I instantly knew there was no need to be scared though and that the people in the group really understood and cared. And in my first week I lost 9½lbs.
“We’ve had two Consultants running the group in the time I’ve been a Slimming World member and they have both been incredible. Nothing was ever too much trouble and they always believed in me – even when I was struggling to believe in myself. During my first few months I didn’t want to know how much I weighed so we covered the scales, and whenever I was having a difficult week they’d get ideas from the group on how to help me get through it and keep me motivated and they’d send little cards between weekly group sessions so I knew I wasn’t struggling on my own.”
Hollie, who works in the staff restaurant at her local Tesco supermarket, loves Slimming World’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan too. After years of following strict fad diets that left her feeling hungry, she couldn’t believe that she didn’t have to starve herself to lose weight. The plan is based on satiety and energy density and enables slimmers to satisfy their appetite on a long list of foods that are low in calories yet filling, like fruit and veg, pasta, rice, potatoes, lean meat, fish and more.
Now I finally feel like the person – and the mum – I was meant to be all along.
She says: “My partner Thomas is a great cook and we all enjoy the same healthy meals as a family now. Salmon and wild rice and BBQ pulled pork are a couple of our favourites and we still eat out regularly as well, because the really great thing about Slimming World is that it fits around my life rather than me having to fit my life around it. We’re also a more active family – we love going on long walks and enjoy more active holidays, I walked 40 miles in four days and climbed a mountain when we went away recently. I’ve started jogging and even had the confidence to put on a swimsuit and take my children swimming for the first time since losing weight, which was an amazing experience. Thomas loves my new figure and new-found confidence too!”
Now Hollie’s lost 8st 6lbs – nearly half her body weight – taking her to 9st 5lbs. She says: “I remember when I first joined Slimming World and was setting my target weight, I told my Consultant that I was ‘never going to be one of those girls who’s a size 8’. Without missing a beat, she said ‘Why not, if that’s what you want you can totally do it!’ And I did! Every time I put on a size 8 I feel so proud of myself – I recently completed Race for Life in memory of my mum and I think she’d be pretty proud of me too.”
Name: Hollie Barrett
Height: 5ft 5in/1.65m
Joining date: May 2015
Starting weight: 17st 11lbs/249lbs/113kg
Current weight: 9st 5lbs/131lbs/60kg
Weight lost: 8st 6lbs/118lbs/53kg
Group: Hollie attends the Beccles Slimming World group run by Liz Sunderland, previously run by Joanna Britton.
BEFORE AND AFTER MENUS
Breakfast: Nothing to eat. 2 or 3 milky coffees with sugar;
Lunch: Sometimes nothing. Or thick-sliced white toast with butter and jam, followed by a big slice of cake and high-calorie takeaway coffee topped with cream;
Dinner: Takeaway, such as chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork balls, chips and spring rolls;
Snacks: Chocolate bars, cookies and ice cream.
Breakfast: Overnight oats – porridge oats layered with lots of frozen berries and fat-free Greek-style natural yogurt, followed by a white coffee made with skimmed milk and sweetener;
Lunch: Baked sweet potato with sliced cold meats and salad, followed by fresh fruit;
Dinner: Homemade burger (made with lean minced beef), topped with pulled pork, homemade BBQ sauce and Cheddar cheese, with Slimming World-style chips (baked in the oven in low-calorie cooking spray) and vegetables. A sugar-free jelly.
Snacks: Picked onions and gherkins, carrot and cucumber sticks with homemade hummus, Cadbury’s Highlights Hot Chocolate, a chocolate bar, and sugar-free lemon squash or sparkling water to drink.
Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 18,000 groups held weekly across the UK and Republic of Ireland via a network of 4,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques.
Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. Our phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. The principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by overweight people and a recognition that those who struggle with weight carry a double burden, the weight itself and a burden of guilt and shame about their weight. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating behaviour change in a warm and friendly group environment. Consultant training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.
For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.
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