From setback to success: Lydia loses 7st


New study reveals over half of UK adults can fall after just one slimming hurdle – and suggests learning to cope with setbacks could be key to lasting weight loss success


In a new study, 53 per cent of UK adults say that just one setback can derail them from their weight loss goals, with almost one in five (19 per cent) saying a setback made them give up on their weight loss goals altogether. 

The survey of 2,003 adults[1], commissioned by the UK and Ireland’s largest weight-loss organisation Slimming World, reveals 77 per cent of adults say they’ve previously attempted to lose weight and on average people have tried to lose weight seven times in their lifetime.

Of those who had experienced a setback while trying to lose weight, 38 per cent say the top cause was feeling hungry and 29 per cent say it was a stressful life event such as a bereavement, job loss or family illness. For others, it was missing out on their favourite foods (25 per cent), and not planning healthy meals (23 per cent) which derailed them. 

The top temptations which can cause setbacks, according to those surveyed who have tried to lose weight, are having unhealthy snacks such as chocolate, crisps, cakes and biscuits in the house (41 per cent), Saturday night takeaways (21 per cent), cakes and pastries when buying coffee (20 per cent) and fast food after a night out drinking (18 per cent).

Lydia Collins, 38, from Solihull in the West Midlands, had been struggling to lose weight since her late teens. Lydia was no stranger to abandoning her weight loss goals after experiencing a setback, until she joined her local Slimming World group in October 2017 – a decision she says “changed her life” as she went on to lose 7st.

Lydia says: “If I’m honest I’ve probably always struggled with my weight, but it really started creeping up from about 16.  I started thinking I was too cool to do sport at school and discovered takeaways and going out with friends.

“I tried so many different ways to lose weight, but nothing worked. I was always hungry and I felt miserable. My health was suffering, I used to limp as I had excruciating pain in my ankles due to the strain from how much weight I was carrying. My weight made me feel anxious too – I’d worry what people thought of me and I’d hate walking into a room full of people. Even collecting my children from school terrified me in case my kids would get picked on because of my weight.

“It was on a family holiday in Wales, that I realised I had to make a change. Our holiday home was a short walk up a very steep hill. I got halfway up the hill, I could barely breathe and thought I was going to have a heart attack. Everyone else breezed past me and when I finally got back to the house, after crawling on the last stretch, I was so embarrassed and worried about my health I knew I had to do something.

“I’d been a member of Slimming World before, and when a friend mentioned she was joining a local group, I asked if I could go with her.  It was the only weight loss method I’d ever followed which I enjoyed and knew it worked.

“I threw myself into the plan and made healthier versions of all my favourite foods so I never felt like I was missing out.”

Lydia says: “Since joining Slimming World I’ve lost 7st and I love that I’ve lost weight eating healthy everyday food that my family can enjoy too. I cook all day in my job as a catering manager so I don’t want to come home and prepare different meals for everyone in the house! From being a regular takeaway queen on a Saturday night, I’m now a fakeaway queen, replacing all our family favourites with healthier versions – which they say they much prefer!

“My Slimming World Consultant helped me to understand my personal ‘danger zones’ and how planning my meals ahead would help me from getting derailed and feeling hopeless. I would always skip breakfast meaning I’d snack all the way to lunch. Now, I prep my breakfast the night before, fill up on egg muffins or omelettes for lunch.

“I no longer reach for the quick, easy high in fat ‘convenience’ foods I used to as I was always so tired and too busy to cook anything else. Now I cook pretty much everything from scratch and I bring the children in to help me – cooking as a family makes it so much more enjoyable.

“I’m not perfect though – I'm human and things don’t always go to plan – and I’ve learned that’s ok. So now, when I have a setback, I know it doesn’t have to mean I’ve blown it.

“Since losing weight, I’ve gone from a size 22 to a size 10 and while my anxiety will never fully leave me, I’m so much less anxious since losing weight. I now have so many hopes and dreams for the future – like doing a sky dive one day. Slimming World’s activity support programme helped me go from being barely active to a regular gym member and a keen runner – I never thought I’d say that, but being able to take it at my own pace made it doable! I’d also love to run the London Marathon.

“My no 1 piece of advice for anyone trying to lose weight is to be kind to yourself. It’s nice to know I’ve inspired those I love to also take a step to a healthier and happier lifestyle. My husband Gareth has joined and lowered his cholesterol after losing weight. I knew it was my mindset that had to change, and I soon discovered being kinder to myself helped me navigate the bumps in the road. I feel I’m the best version of myself because I’m happier inside and out.”

Dr Amanda Avery, Slimming World’s Health and Research Consultant Dietitian says learning how to handle setbacks is crucial for long-term weight loss success.  She says: “As Lydia says, setbacks can happen on a weight loss journey. Things don't always go perfectly to plan and that's life. What’s key when this happens, as Lydia found out, is to be kind to yourself.  Learning to accept that a setback is part of your slimming journey can stop you being derailed altogether. The results of the survey support this, with more than half of adults questioned (57 per cent) agreeing that learning how to deal with setbacks on their weight loss journey helped them to navigate the ups and downs of weight loss.”

Dr Avery adds: "It's good to have some personal strategies for dealing with potential setbacks or, even better, have strategies to try to minimise the risk of setbacks. Within Slimming World groups, members receive personalised expert guidance from their Consultant, to help them with the motivation, accountability and commitment they need to avoid or navigate setbacks.  By equipping group and online members with the tools to build their resilience and be more self-compassionate, as well as sharing practical real-life strategies, Slimming World helps members feel empowered to overcome obstacles and stick with their weight loss plans.”


Claire Pykett runs the Knowle Slimming World group in Solihull, West Midlands and is Lydia’s Slimming World Consultant.  Claire says: “When Lydia walked through the doors to my group that first night, I could see she was absolutely ready to make a fresh start. Each week, with support, Lydia grew in confidence. While we were working on her personalised plan, we discovered Lydia struggled with a setback every Saturday night having the takeaways that the family loved. We discussed adapting these family takeaways into healthier versions cooked at home, and now she proudly tells us her family much prefer her fakeaways and she’s saved money!  I’m so proud of Lydia and how far she’s come – not only with her weight loss but also with her confidence and her self-compassion.”

The survey, carried out by Censuswide, also polled members of Slimming World’s 13,000 community weight loss groups and online programme. Of the members questioned, 82 per cent feel more capable of dealing with setbacks than they did when making previous weight loss attempts. The vast majority (72 per cent) of members questioned said they’re less likely to experience setbacks now they’re a member of Slimming World, due to the flexibility and support the plan provides and 84 per cent agree they’re more confident in their ability to recover from a setback while losing weight than they were before joining.

Slimming World’s approach combines support to change your mindset around weight loss with a flexible healthy eating plan and a physical support activity programme – both of which can be tailored to your lifestyle and ability. Members, who attend a weekly group or access support online, gain knowledge and expertise to understand themselves better as a slimmer. They are encouraged to use deep thinking and techniques including visualisation and planning to build their motivation, self-belief and commitment so they can change their relationship with food, physical activity and weight loss in general and achieve long lasting success.

Professor James Stubbs, Appetite & Energy Balance, University of Leeds, agrees having a flexible mindset is important to any weight loss endeavour. 

Professor James Stubbs, Appetite and Energy Balance, University of Leeds

For anyone looking to lose weight, it’s important to remember that this is not a quick fix, it’s a gradual process. As with any journey it is good to be prepared, to have plans, tools to help you navigate and coping strategies for when the journey can get difficult. Behaviour change plays a key role and there will be days when setbacks will be experienced and things don’t go so well, which is perfectly natural.  Learning how to navigate setbacks is what helps people develop the skills needed for lasting behaviour change. Even people who are highly successful at losing weight and keeping it off have setbacks and revisit some of the strategies they used to lose weight initially.

Professor James Stubbs, Appetite and Energy Balance, University of Leeds

Group: Lydia attends the Knowle Slimming World group in Solihull, West Midlands on Saturday mornings run by Consultant Claire Pykett. For more information or to find your nearest group, visit slimmingworld.co.uk.

Lydia Collins

Starting weight: 18st 4lbs

Weight lost: 7st

Current weight: 11st 4lbs

Height: 5ft 7in


Breakfast: Usually nothing

Mid-morning: Toast and two bags of crisps  

Lunch: Cheese sandwich, mini pork pie  

Mid-afternoon: Pork pie

Dinner: Takeaway

Drinks: Numerous coffees with two sugars each


Breakfast: Egg muffins or boiled eggs or an omelette 

Lunch: Healthy sandwich

Dinner: Fakeaways (healthy home-cooked versions of our favourite takeaways) or roast dinner

Snacks: Veg sticks with blue cheese quark dip or homemade hummus or fruit

Drinks: Black coffee, hot water with lemon, peppermint or green tea

[1] The research was conducted by Censuswide, among samples of 2,003 nationally representative UK general consumers along with a self-selecting sample of 1,748 Slimming World members via Slimming World’s website.  The data was collected between 12.03.2024 and 18.03.2024. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.