Having a large amount of weight to lose can feel overwhelming. Our member Jules shares her before and after menu, her five favourite recipes and the top tips that helped her achieve her incredible weight loss success...
In summer 2020, I realised that I was going to sleep – and then waking up – worrying about my weight. It was absolutely exhausting and I knew I needed to do something about it.
It had reached the point where there was no part of my life that was unaffected. My confidence was shattered and I hated how I looked. I’d have happily become a total recluse. My body hurt and I struggled to keep up with my two young daughters, Amy and Jessica, so I was missing out on family life.
As an emotional eater, I consoled myself with food. I ate when I was sad or anxious. I’ve experienced quite a lot of trauma through my life, including six miscarriages and sadly losing my son at 23 weeks pregnant. I used food to cope with my difficulties, and I’d eat when I was happy, too. Unsurprisingly, my weight kept going up.
I lived to eat, and my love for food was focused on high-fat ‘treats’ like takeaways, cake, crisps and chocolate. Then I’d feel guilty, which would make me want to eat even more. I’d become stuck in that vicious cycle.
When I reached nearly 23st, the switch finally flicked. In January 2021, I decided to try Slimming World Online – and once I started exploring the website, I realised there was so much more to it than simply recording my weight every week. As well as taking me through Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan in a really easy to understand way, I discovered an online community of slimmers I could instantly relate to. I was encouraged by other members posting their ideas and tips, and helping each other through challenging times. I’d found my own online slimming support network, which was always there.
I also really enjoyed the live events held online – and still do! There’s something to join in with nearly every day, with the opportunity to ask questions, get advice and receive that extra support for any tricky times that might be ahead. Recent events have looked at family-friendly lunches for the school holidays, money-saving meal ideas and brilliant Free breakfasts.
As well as lots of help around menu planning and cooking in a healthier way, Slimming World Online offers support with getting active, and the psychological side of slimming – something especially useful to me as I had such a strong link between food and my emotions.
Once I joined Slimming World Online, I was hooked. I achieved a 10lb weight loss in week one – and I’ve never looked back. I was amazed at the variety of foods on the Free Foods list (so you can eat as much of them as you like), and I quickly realised that I could still enjoy eating well while losing weight. There are more than 1,700 recipes online, and my menu is so much more varied now.
Jules’s top 5 recipes
Looking back at the 23st Jules, activity just wasn’t on my radar. It was enough of a challenge to get through each day! As I started to lose weight, though, I felt able to do more and more, and now I’ve worked my way through the Slimming World Body Magic awards! Around six months into my journey, we got two puppies, and at first I found their daily walks really challenging (especially as it’s quite hilly where I live). Now I don’t even get out of breath. The Slimming World website is packed with tools to help you get more active, including a set of workout videos that can be done at home, at your own pace.
In just over a year, I’ve lost 11st 7lbs – more than half my original body weight, and quite incredible when you think that I haven’t once felt hungry or like I was missing out. Now I’m full of energy and no longer in pain. I sleep better and I have so much more confidence. Instead of hiding away at home, I’m enjoying life and all the opportunities that come my way. One real highlight has been taking our girls to Lapland at Christmas. I had so much fun doing everything – husky sledging, snowmobiling, ice carting – and I didn’t think about my weight once. Rewind a year and I’d have been worrying before I even got there about whether the snowsuit would fit. And there’s no way I’d have been physically able to get in and out of a small plastic sledge. It was a magical family memory that just wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t found Slimming World – and I can’t wait to make lots more!
Jules’s top tips
Make the most of the tools available. I use the app every day, whether it’s the meal planner or reading the member stories for inspiration. I also love zapping the barcode scanner when I’m at the supermarket – it makes shopping so easy!
I really make the most of Free Foods when I’m planning my meals and snacks, so that I don’t need to think about weighing, measuring or counting. And I know I’m guaranteed a great weight loss when I make Free Food my focus.
I love to batch cook and I’ll throw Free ingredients into the slow cooker (things like lean meat, potatoes, vegetables, tinned tomatoes or beans, and stock) and put it on overnight. It lets the flavours develop, as well as being fuss-free and easy.
I built up my Body Magic by doing it little and often. You might not immediately notice how much your fitness is improving, but when you look back over your journey, you’ll see a big difference. As well as walking, I upped the amount of housework I was doing – cleaning windows, emptying cupboards and gardening can all give you a workout.
Jules’s daily menu
A large bowl of high-sugar granola or three slices of cheese on toast (using thick bread).
Porridge or fat-free natural Greek yogurt with fresh fruit (strawberries and blueberries are my favourite combo).
A pasty or sausage roll with chips and beans, or a jacket potato with tuna mayo and cheese (with six sachets of extra mayo or salad cream).
Either a curry or a bolognese made with a jar sauce, with all the extras (naan and mango chutney with the curry and loads of cheese and a whole garlic bread baguette with the spag bol).
Again, my menu is very varied now. It could be any Food Optimised combination of meat or fish with salad or veg – so steak with chips and salad, or a chilli or curry with boiled rice and vegetables.
Sweets, crisps, chocolate, biscuits, cake – whatever I could lay my hands on, to be honest!
Hi-fi bars, fruit and yogurt.
Weight loss will vary according to individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.