I’d been wishing I was slimmer for a long time. By the age of 15, I was wearing size-16 clothes and, being over 6ft tall as well, I felt like I really stood out next to the other girls my age.
I also had a hearty appetite, starting the day with four slices of toast spread thickly with peanut butter. I’d usually skip lunch or buy a sandwich and crisps, then have an evening meal of cheesy pasta or chicken nuggets and chips, then snack on family-size bars of chocolate.
As I got older, I tried dieting, but never found a way to slim that suited me. I didn’t really understand healthy eating and would fall into traps like eating 10 sugary cereal bars a day, thinking they were good for me.
Then came a turning point. Standing on a packed Tube, a passenger got up and offered me her seat, while staring at my stomach. I knew she must have assumed I was pregnant – in fact, the same thing had happened the week before. ‘No thanks, I’m fine,’ I muttered, looking at the floor to avoid the stares of other passengers. When I got back to the home I shared with my nan, Pam, I was too embarrassed to tell her what had happened.
I’m really close to Nan, though, and she knew how I was feeling. I’d never told her how unhappy I was about my size, but she’d seen how low my mood and self-esteem had fallen. I’d sit on the sofa for hours and rarely left the house except to go to my university lectures, letting the rest of student life pass me by.
A couple of weeks after the pregnancy mix-up on the Tube, Nan asked me if I’d join Slimming World with her. Deep down, I knew she was really doing it for me. ‘Of course,’ I said, forcing a smile. In reality, I was terrified – I thought I’d be judged and I just didn’t believe it would work for me.
I was so nervous when we walked into group, but when I saw all the friendly faces, I was instantly put at ease. Something in my head just clicked – I knew this was it.
I stepped on the scales and they read 21st 5lbs. Although my heart sank at that number, I went home determined to get started. I went through my Food Optimising book, highlighting the Free Food I liked best. Nan kindly offered to do the bulk of the cooking, but she showed me how to adapt my favourite takeaway meals to make them slimming-friendly – the one I love most is a lean kebab with wholemeal pitta bread, Slimming World chips and salad. It’s so easy to prepare and tastes better than a takeaway!
In my first week, I lost 6½lbs, then 2lbs the week after that. I was constantly amazed by how quickly the number on the scales was dropping.
I loved my Slimming World group – I always left with new ideas and whenever I struggled, my Consultant, Charlene, knew exactly what questions to ask or which tool would help me. I got loads of inspiration and ideas from Instagram, too (you can follow Fay at @faysdays).
In group, Charlene talked about how taking part in Slimming World’s activity programme, Body Magic, could help boost our weight loss. I knew I was still too self-conscious to exercise in public, so I bought some fitness DVDs that I could do at home.
Gradually, my energy and stamina increased, and now I’m at the gym every week, running and doing spin classes – which is amazing considering how grumpy I used to get when my boyfriend parked too far from the entrance of the supermarket!
Before, whenever I walked into a room I’d feel as though everyone was looking at me and thinking, ‘Wow, she’s a big girl!’. Now I can walk into any room with my head held high.
In April, I even achieved my ultimate dream and did a skydive. I’d wanted to do one for years, but I’d always been over the weight limit – now there was nothing to hold me back. Filled with adrenaline, I jumped from the plane then, as the parachute opened above me, I watched the world spread out below. I know now that it’s a world full of possibilities for me and I can’t wait to get stuck into my future!
Fay’s day on a plate
Breakfast: Four slices of white toast spread with butter and peanut butter.
Lunch: Shop-bought sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and a sugary fizzy drink.
Dinner: Takeaway, such as a pizza or a chicken burger.
Snacks: Sweets, chocolates, crisps, jam tarts.
Breakfast: Overnight oats – porridge oats layered with lots of frozen berries and plain quark.
Lunch: A filling pasta salad or ‘pizza’ omelette.
Dinner: Barbecue pulled pork with cabbage and green beans, or home-made kebab with a wholemeal pitta bread, Slimming World chips and salad.
Snacks: Fruit, Hi-fi bars, popcorn, a fun-size chocolate bar or a Wall’s Twister Mini ice-cream lolly (2 Syns).
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose. If you’re planning to start a new exercise programme, we recommend you check with your GP first, especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma. If you’re pregnant, please check the suitability of the exercise with your midwife.