Mum had been ill for a while before she passed away in May 2018, but that didn’t lessen the blow. My grief instantly transported me back to the very beginning of my Slimming World journey, after the death of my beloved brother Elliot had sent my eating habits out of control.
I lost Elliot in 2008 and it was the lowest period of my life. I’ll never forget how overwhelming my emotions were. As a busy mum, I was good at bottling up my feelings during the day, but as soon as my baby daughter, Jasmine, was in bed, I’d eat whatever I could get my hands on. Cake, crisps, chips, takeaways… all washed down with a bottle of wine. Until then, I’d been a keen gym-goer, but all I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and try to numb my feelings with food.
I’d comfort eaten my way to 13st 3Ibs before I felt ready to join Slimming World two years later.
Like many people who are unhappy with their weight, my tipping point came when I saw some holiday photos. It’s amazing how looking at a photograph can open your eyes to reality – which, in my case, was that I was heavier than when I’d been pregnant with Jasmine. I was horrified.
Making easy healthy eating changes
I felt apprehensive walking into group for the first time, but my Consultant, Nikki, immediately put me at ease. As I learnt about Slimming World and Food Optimising – which is basically a really flexible healthy eating plan – I couldn’t believe how easy it sounded. I lost 3Ibs in my first week and the rest, as they say, is history!
Once I got into the swing of Food Optimising, I quickly went from strength to strength with my weight loss. Simple changes made such a huge difference. My dad’s Jamaican so I’ve always loved jerk chicken, rice and peas, and by changing the way they were prepared and cooking them without oil, I was still able to eat my fill. I could enjoy my favourite spaghetti bolognese and curries – in fact, nothing was off the menu! If I wanted a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine, I’d use my Syns.
Slimming World put me firmly back in control of my eating.
Alongside the healthy eating, I regained my motivation for exercise and headed back to the gym. It wasn’t long before I got my half-stone award and, as the weeks went by and the weight continued to come off, it felt like a little part of me was coming back. After years of feeling lost in grief, my new lifestyle was helping me feel more like myself again. And when the opportunity came up a few months later to become a Slimming World Consultant, I had the confidence to go for it!
An amazing new life
In the years since then, I’ve seen so many of my own members achieve their target weight loss and heard how they’ve improved their health or fitted into a dress for the first time in 10 years. It’s been so rewarding to be able to share in their successes and offer support when it’s needed. I’ve loved my role as a Consultant so much that I’m now a Slimming World Team Developer too, looking after other Consultants in my area.
Jasmine is now an 11-year-old who definitely knows her own mind. Recently she decided to give up meat, so we’ve been enjoying lots of Slimming World vegetarian and fish dishes as a family – veggie chilli with sweet potatoes is a current favourite.
We’ve had some fantastic family holidays over the years, including trips to Cuba and Turkey. It’s amazing to be able to look at the photos and conjure up those happy memories. The slimmer ‘new me’ looks so confident – a huge contrast to the photos that sparked my weight loss journey.
Sadly, though, it hasn’t all been good times. My grief over losing Mum in 2018 sent me back into a comfort-eating spiral, with crisps becoming my go-to snack.
This time, though, I have all the tools that I need to get back on track. We passed the one-year anniversary of losing Mum in May, and that was the point that I felt it was time to focus on me again. I’ve swapped the crisps for lower Syn baked crisps, which I love. I just make sure that I count them in my daily Syns allowance.
Every member will have challenges along their journey. Slimming World offers support to get you through the difficult times – you’re never on your own.
Having things to aim for and look forward to helps to keep my motivation high, and I’ve got some great goals in place at the moment. The Slimming World groups I look after are going from strength to strength, which is wonderful. And I’m really looking forward to a family wedding in Florida – I’m sure it will be a special trip to add to the happy-holiday memory bank.
Slimming World has helped me to get my spark back twice now, and I’m excited to see what good times the future will bring.
Genevieve’s top five healthy eating tips
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore. Simple changes – such as rethinking the way that you cook something – can make a huge difference.
Take it one meal at a time. If you’ve made an unhealthy choice, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just go back to healthy eating with your next meal.
Being organised will make it easier to make healthy choices. We sit down weekly as a family to plan what we’re going to eat.
Mix it up in the gym. I do a variety of classes to stop myself from getting bored.
If you have a weight loss goal, be prepared to invest some time in yourself. The time I spend in group gives me the chance to focus on myself and really helps to boost my motivation.