I first started gaining weight when I was in my teens. I’ve got a really sweet tooth, so it didn’t help that I worked in a newsagent, where there were lots of sweets and chocolate bars close to hand! I also put weight on with each of my pregnancies, and by baby number three, I was heavier than I’d ever been.
I’d always been the ‘comedian’, making jokes about my size before anyone else could. Deep down, I wasn’t in a good place, though. I was so unhappy with how I looked, I once faked an illness to get out of a New Year’s Eve night out. My health suffered, too, and I was turned down for surgery on my knee because my weight made me too much of a risk for the anaesthetic.
The very first time I heard about Slimming World was actually at the dentist’s! I overheard three women in the waiting room talking about their weekend away and how they would still be able to enjoy a cooked breakfast on the plan.
My ears pricked up and I thought, ‘that’s the plan for me!’
I did join a Slimming World group – a few times actually – and I lost weight each time. Then I’d decide to go it alone and, without the support, I’d struggle to stay on track. That finally changed after my mother passed away. It was a very dark period in my life, as I was also dealing with problems at work, and I started to suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I knew the support I would get from a Slimming World group would help me deal with my weight issue, which was the one thing I could control and do something about.
Taking that first step
The minute I walked into my group, I knew I’d done the right thing. Although I was shocked to see the number on the scales, my Consultant reassured me that I could lose the weight I wanted to. And I realised that, with her and my group helping me to stay committed and giving me that sense of accountability, I absolutely could.
I love the simplicity of Food Optimising; there are just so many Free Foods to choose from, with no need to weigh or measure. It’s great that I can have chocolate and sweet things without feeling guilty, and that it fits around my life, so I can do ‘normal’ things like celebrate birthdays, eat out and go to parties. I’ve always been a picker, and now I reach for healthier snacks first. I definitely still enjoy chocolate, but it’s not my ‘go to’ any more!
As for my group, there’s no better place to be.
I love my Tuesday nights! My Consultant and group just ooze love, encouragement, care and inspiration. Although I’ve been at target for 12 years, I still come away from each session with fresh ideas and feeling like I’m part of a very special family.
It’s not always been a walk in the park, of course. Food Optimising is so ingrained in me, though, I know I have the tools to turn things around if I have a blip. I’ll never go back to my old habits now.
Since I’ve slimmed down, my mental health has improved dramatically. I’ve also had major surgery and I didn’t have to worry about my weight this time, which was such a relief. When I think about my life before, it’s so surreal that I’ve been named Diamond Member of the Year – I feel like I’m in a lovely dream! I’d encourage anyone to give Slimming World a go... life’s too short for ‘if only’!
Watch Linda tell her inspiring story
Linda’s day on a plate
A bowl of sugary cereal or white toast and butter.
Fresh fruit and fat-free natural yogurt
A sandwich with crisps and a bit of cake.
An omelette with a big salad on the side, or slices of ham or cheese and beetroot wrapped in lettuce leaves.
Pie and chips followed by more cake and ice cream.
A lean gammon steak, sweet potato chips and lots of Speed veg.
Hi-fi bars and a milky coffee before bed using a Healthy Extra ‘aʼ choice.
*Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.