Secret slimmer wins top award
A mum who slimmed in secret has won a national award for her inspirational weight loss after dropping five dress sizes.
When Azra Bashir was told she needed to lose weight for an operation, she was too embarrassed to tell her family and friends that she’d joined a weight loss club. But now just over two years later the secret’s out and not only is she 4st 3lbs lighter, she’s also opened her own Slimming World group and been named the organisation’s Consultant Slimmer of the Year 2016.
Azra’s weight problems began as a child and by her 30s she believed she was destined to be overweight forever. She tried slimming, including following meal replacement plans and low-carb diets, but would always regain any weight she lost when she went back to her normal eating habits.
The 40-year-old, from Birmingham, says: “At school I weighed the same as my age; at 12 I was 12st, at 13 I was 13st and so on. As I got older I gained more weight with each of my three pregnancies, and I thought being big was just the way I was going to be for the rest of my life.”
However, in July 2013 Azra was left devastated by a photo of herself on a family holiday, and was then diagnosed with gallstones, which doctors said they’d be unable to operate on until she lost weight.
Weight is something that everybody deals with.
After seeing a banner for her local Slimming World group, Azra signed up in November 2013. She kept the decision a secret from her family and friends though, telling them she was going to a nearby Zumba class instead.
She says: “I didn’t tell anyone I was going to Slimming World. I suppose I thought it was something that wasn’t necessarily seen as part of our Asian culture. I didn’t think Slimming World would fit with my life, that I could eat Asian food, but it fits so well.
“The basic concept of Slimming World’s eating plan is making meals from scratch and that’s the Asian way – finding fresh ingredients and putting them all together to make beautiful food. Once I told my husband and my children they were very supportive and now we all eat our favourite meals but in a Slimming World-friendly way – my husband’s lost 5st, too.”
As Azra started to lose weight, she decided to actually give Zumba a go too and now she enjoys going to the dance class twice a week.
In total she’s lost 4st 3lbs, dropping from 14st 9½lbs to 10st 6½lbs and a dress size 20 to a 10. And in May 2015, she took the decision to train to become a Slimming World Consultant herself.
Azra says: “I thought a lot of Asian people would think the same way that I had about Slimming World, so I wanted to bring it into our community and help as many people as I could to lose weight.
“Weight is something that everybody deals with; it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your background is – I always make a joke that even in the rainforest there’s probably someone worrying that their ‘bum looks big’. And that’s the thing at Slimming World, everyone there is in the same boat and everyone will get a warm welcome whether you’re 17 or 70.”
Azra, who also works as a family support worker for Barnado’s, has now been named Slimming World’s Consultant Slimmer of the Year 2016 for the work she does supporting the 150 members of her group in Ward End in Birmingham.
She says: “Losing weight has changed my life. Before I would sit back and watch my kids play, now I’m an active hands-on mum, and I’ve learned to believe in myself too. Being named Consultant Slimmer of the Year is absolutely amazing, especially to be the first ever Asian woman to win this award.
“When I was younger I loved playing princesses but I could never dress up in the pretty dresses like my friends because they didn’t fit me. Now I feel like I’m Cinderella and Slimming World is my glass slipper – it just fits.”
Name: Azra Bashir
Starting weight: 14st 9½lbs/205½lbs/93kg
Current weight: 10st 6½lbs/146½lbs/66½kg
Weight loss: 4st 3lbs/59lbs/26½kg
Starting dress size: 20
Current dress size: 12
Date joined Slimming World: November 9th 2013
Date became a Consultant: May 12th 2015
Group: Azra lost weight at the Bordesley Green Slimming World group, run by Consultant Rahema Mahmoode, and now runs the Ward End Slimming World groups.
Breakfast: a bottle of Lucozade and a Mars Bar
Mid-morning: another chocolate bar
Lunch: Pot Noodle and a baguette
Mid-afternoon: another chocolate bar
Dinner: curry and a chapati
Evening: another chocolate bar.
Breakfast: fresh fruit and yogurt
Mid-morning: a high-fibre cereal bar
Lunch: a wholemeal chicken and salad sandwich, followed by some fruit
Mid-afternoon: cup of tea and a piece of fruit
Dinner: homemade Slimming World-friendly curry, boiled rice and a huge salad
Evening: a Bounty.
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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