Donna's 17 stone wake-up call

Donna is sleeping soundly after joining Slimming World and losing over 7st in 3 years


Weighing over 17st impacted Donna’s sleep and she would often stop breathing through the night.  In April 2019, weighing 17st 6lbs and with a BMI of 44, Donna Ludlow, 35, was inspired by a friend at work to join her local Slimming World group, not realising how it would change her life.  

Donna’s story backs up research from UK and Ireland weight-loss organisation Slimming World.  Slimming World’s ‘Snooze More to Lose More’ survey* surveyed its members over the course of a week about aspects of their sleep. The survey of 3,156 adults looked at how poor sleep impacts weight loss and how weight, in turn, can impact on our ability to get a good night’s sleep.  The research reveals nearly two thirds (62%) said they had problems sleeping, with many waking up more than twice a night and tiredness affecting their diet and activity choices. Members with a higher BMI were more likely to struggle with their sleep. However, almost 50% of Slimming World members losing 15% or more body weight said their sleep improved after losing weight and over a third of the members surveyed said they’d been sleeping better since joining Slimming World (38%). The survey showed the more weight Slimming World members lost, the more likely they were to report improvements in sleep. 


Donna says, “I was sick of looking at myself in the mirror and worried about my health. I suffered with palpitations regularly which was very frightening indeed. I had a lot of aches and pains; particularly lower back issues and I was also getting sleep apnoea. I would wake up bolt upright throughout the night with a sharp intake of breath as I’d stopped breathing. I always felt tired, I didn’t have the energy to cook or do any exercise which meant I found it difficult to lose weight.

“One morning I woke up and said: ‘It doesn't have to be like this anymore’.  A friend at work recommended her local Slimming World group and I thought I’ll give it a go.  That decision changed my life! I went on to lose over 7st and I know I will always feel forever in my friend’s debt for suggesting I join.  I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t agreed to go with her.

“Throughout my life I’d watched my dress size go up and up. I’d often tried to lose weight on my own, but I rarely lasted more than a month with my best efforts resulting in losing no more than one stone. I’ve always been large and was a bit of a chubby child growing up. I was often bullied at secondary school and can recall wearing a skirt one day and someone pointing at me laughing and shouting, 'Look at Donna's fat legs!'.

“I was also anxious about my family health as in 2006 my mum had a stroke at the age of 45 due to her weight. I remember the day very clearly as it was one of the worst days in my life and one of those pivotal moments where life would never be the same again.  I feel very lucky indeed as thankfully mum is still with us, but ever since that day I’ve been very aware of my health. In the back of my mind, I was convinced the same thing was going to happen to me and it was a source of great worry and stress.

Donna Ludlum

At first, when I was introduced to Slimming World’s healthy, flexible Food Optimising eating plan, I found it mind blowing that I could eat so much and still lose weight.  I was amazed I could still have pasta and potatoes.  At group each week, I discovered more about all the healthy food I could eat, and I gained so much joy at seeing the number on the scales go down each week.  

Donna Ludlum

“The first Slimming World meal I made was spaghetti carbonara and I loved that! It’s great that I can have a treat too and I don’t have to cut everything out. My favourite meal is salmon, chilli, chard and cucumber. I’m never hungry and I never feel as if I’m missing out. Without the support of my Slimming World group, I know I wouldn’t have managed to do so well.  Each week we get personalised support, share tips and inspiration for meals and if someone has had a tough week, we all pick each other up.

“I’m so much more active now too after taking part in Slimming World’s Body Magic programme which encourages members to take small steps and gradually build up until being active is part of their daily routine. I regularly walk to work (over 2 miles) and get out on my bike as much as I can. I find it incredible that I recently completed a 30-mile bike ride – my longest ever – I certainly would not have coped with that when I weighed 17 ½ stone.

“I work full time in a small local convenience store and often see the same customers, many of whom have told me that I’ve inspired them to lose weight too, and several have even said they've joined Slimming World because of me. Since losing weight, I’ve gone down from a size 22 to a size 10 and I love being able to go into any clothes shop as my options were so limited before.

“I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved, I know I’m the best version of myself right now. I never knew that life could be like this! I’m sleeping well, I’ve got a lovely boyfriend and I’m doing things I never dreamt I’d be doing such as roller skating which was a childhood dream.  When I stopped breathing through the night, that was my wake-up call to do something about my weight. I’m so glad I did – joining Slimming World has saved my life!”

Donna’s Slimming World Consultant Dee Wright says, “Donna's journey is incredibly inspiring, her transformation is amazing and when she shares in group each week how active she is, how her confidence has grown and that she’s enjoying life it makes my heart sing! To think Donna used to stop breathing through the night is so scary. Since losing weight, Donna’s found she’s sleeping soundly, she feels healthier, and she’s reached her dream weight – I’m so proud of her!”

Group: Donna attends the Southport Slimming World Group in Merseyside run by Consultant Dee Wright at 9.30am on Thursday mornings. For more information or to find your nearest group, visit slimmingworld.co.uk.


Donna Ludlow

Starting weight: 17st 6lbs

Weight lost: 7st 5lbs

Current weight: 10st 1lbs


Breakfast: white toast loaded with butter, or two croissants and a latte with sugar

Lunch: sandwich, crisps, chocolate and maybe a cake

Dinner: takeaway, followed by snacks

Snacks: chocolate or cake, sweets, crisps or biscuits


Breakfast: 40g wheat cereal and a banana

Lunch: baked potato with cheese and beans or tuna and extra light mayonnaise and a salad

Dinner: home-made salt and pepper cod with chilli and garlic vegetable stir fry or spaghetti Bolognese

Snacks: strawberry and banana chocolate skewer sticks, or a high fibre bar or low-fat crisps, or fruit 

About us

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE in Derbyshire in 1969 and has become the UK and Ireland’s leading weight loss organisation with more people choosing to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme. We support hundreds of thousands of people, both in our groups and online, to lose weight and to adopt new habits to stay slim for life.

Over the years our founding principles haven’t changed:

Our unique programme is based on a powerfully motivating support system called IMAGE (Individual Motivation and Group Experience) Therapy. Underpinned by a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, and incorporating the most effective sustainable behaviour change techniques, IMAGE Therapy is designed to inspire and motivate slimmers to make positive changes and to develop new, healthier habits around food and activity.

Food Optimising is our healthy eating plan, based on the liberating concept of Free Food. We encourage our members to fill up on those foods that are naturally lower in energy density (calories per gram) and also highly satisfying while limiting foods that are highest in fat and sugar and are less satisfying, so they lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived and without having to weigh, measure or count everything they eat.  

Our activity programme, Body Magic helps members to overcome any barriers around activity. Members choose when to start and they set the pace, finding activities they genuinely enjoy, until regular physical activity becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine.  

At the heart of everything we do lies our passion for treating every member with genuine care, empathy and respect.

We’re proud to work with the NHS, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), The Royal College of Midwives and others to help shape the future of weight management in the UK and Ireland.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit slimmingworld.co.uk or slimmingworld.ie

Follow Slimming World on Twitter at twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at facebook.com/slimmingworld

For the Press Office visit our newsroom or email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk