anne-hayes-after
anne-hayes-before

Crying over the photo in my hand, I knew that things had to change. Obviously I was aware that I was overweight, but the snap of me at a family party really hammered home how far I’d strayed from the fit and active person I used to be. I’d been stuck in a rut for years, telling myself I didn’t care how I looked when, actually, I did care – I just couldn’t find the motivation to do something about it.

I’d tried various diets in the past – high fibre, low fat, calorie controlled – that were just so hard to stick to. I’d also tried group weigh-ins with a slimming club, but I felt so bad about myself by that point that I’d dread the weekly meetings and end up sabotaging my own efforts. I’d gradually gained around 5st and felt truly miserable.

I hadn’t always been overweight. In fact, when I was younger I was a gymnast who loved to compete. Later, I moved on to coaching gymnastics, until an injury meant that I had to give it up. I went from coaching and running 25 miles a week to doing nothing at all, and my weight started creeping up.

My eating habits weren’t doing me any favours either. I’d skip breakfast, then grab a sandwich and chips or crisps for lunch, before eating a huge dinner – often a takeaway or a whole pizza to myself. I’d eat savoury snacks, especially cheese, throughout the day.

Changing up my food choices

The unlimited Free Food really attracted me to Slimming World, as I could still enjoy the big portions that I was used to. I piled my plate with lots of Free veg, salad, pasta and baked potatoes, and I loved cooking up huge pots of chilli and spaghetti sauce to freeze into portions.

My relationship with food is much more positive now – I’m cooking from scratch and trying a wider variety of recipes including vegan, veggie, meat and fish dishes.

I even make my own pizza dough! I do still enjoy chips or crisps as an occasional treat, just making sure I count the Syns.

Being able to join Slimming World as an online-only member was important to me, as I simply didn’t have the confidence to go to group. I used the website to keep me on track and I found the articles, success stories and recipes really useful and motivating. I also wanted to be able to set my own pace, as a slow and steady approach to weight loss suited me best. I felt totally in control of my own slimming journey.

The garden is my gym!

As my weight started to go down I began to increase my activity levels. Now I feel like I’ve rediscovered my old competitive streak. I’m constantly challenging myself to move more and am now clocking up at least 11,000 steps a day, through a combination of moving around the huge office at work and going out for long walks. I’ve got fields, woods and the coast all within five minutes of my house, so there’s no excuse not to get out in the fresh air. I’ve also discovered a new passion for gardening and have landscaped my entire garden from scratch. My garden has become my own private outdoor gym and pantry, as growing my own veggies keeps me fit.

I’m literally digging for my dinner every evening – you can’t get any fresher than that!

Although I’m really pleased to have lost 3st 3Ibs in just over two years, I have had a few challenges along the way. In 2017 I had a sticky spell where I was maintaining rather than losing. I didn’t beat myself up about it, though – Slimming World is a lifestyle change, and slip-ups can happen. Now I’ve got my mojo back and I’ve just hit my interim target weight of 11st 7Ibs. I’ve set myself a new target of 11st and I’m feeling really confident about getting there.

One of the best things about losing weight is the change in the way I feel about my appearance. I love going clothes shopping with my best friend – she takes no prisoners, so if she says something looks good I buy it. I’m enjoying wearing new clothes to work and am making much more effort with the way I look. The ‘don’t care’ attitude has gone!

I even bought a bikini recently – my first in over 30 years.

I’ll be wearing it with pride on holiday this summer. I’ve already given it a test run, sunbathing in my beautiful new garden. The competitive, confident Anne is back!

Anne shares the tips that helped her to achieve weight loss success:

  • I’ve got a naturally competitive nature, so I use that to my advantage by wearing a fitness watch. I’m only in competition with myself but it definitely works to spur me on!

  • I still enjoy eating out – I just make a few tweaks to keep my choices Food Optimising friendly.  I have salad instead of chips and if something comes with a sauce I ask for it on the side.

  • Do the activity you love! I’m at my happiest in my garden, so gardening is the perfect workout – plus I’ve now got a lovely outdoor space and home-grown veggies to enjoy.

Before:

Breakfast – none.

Lunch – sandwich with chips or crisps.

Dinner – takeaway pizza, or pasta with loads of cheese.

Snacks – anything savoury, especially cheese.

After:

Breakfast – fruit and fat-free natural yogurt.

Lunch – sandwich made with Healthy Extra bread, lean meat and loads of salad.

Dinner – lean turkey or pork with potatoes and plenty of veg.

Snacks – fruit, low-fat crisps.

 

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.