Queuing to get into the trampoline park, I spotted a sign that made my heart sink. ‘Why don’t you go ahead?’ I told my son, Donovan. ‘I’ve got a headache so I’ll sit this one out.’ Although I often suffered from headaches, the truth was I didn’t really have one that day – I’d just seen that I was above the trampoline’s weight limit.
It wasn’t the first or the last time my size would get in the way of being the mum I wanted to be. My knees, back and legs hurt when I moved – all of which ruled out a lot of the family-friendly activities I’d have loved to enjoy with my son. And, as a result, I was wracked with guilt. Donovan, then 10, was a lively, happy-go-lucky boy and our summers should have been filled with adventures in the sunshine. Instead, I had to push myself to take him anywhere, worrying people would judge me. When I did go out, I wasn’t sure what to wear, and whatever I chose I’d feel so self-conscious that I usually ended up comforting myself with food and sugary drinks later on.
To make matters worse, the regular headaches I had were caused by a condition called benign intracranial hypertension – a build-up of pressure around my brain. When my optician noticed swelling in my optic nerve, he referred me to the eye hospital. I saw the specialist in spring 2016 and he told me: ‘If you don’t lose weight, you’ll be blind by Christmas.’
His words terrified me. What if I lost my sight and couldn’t take care of Donovan or watch him grow up? The thought was unbearable, so that very week I joined Slimming World.
Donovan wanted to show his support and insisted on walking with me to group. ‘You can do this, Mum,’ he said.
I got amazing encouragement from my Consultant, Donna, and the other members, and Donovan was eager to help me, too. He’d always make dinner with me and then, as I served it up, he’d keep an eye on my plate, telling me if he didn’t think I’d filled it with enough Speed Free Foods. He loved to help me plan our week’s meals and try out new Slimming World recipes. He really was the perfect wingman!
Cooking together, it felt wonderful to know Donovan was soaking up the benefits of eating fruit and veg, and lean protein. On busier nights, I’d put Slimming World sausages in the oven along with home-made chips and we’d have them with a pile of Speed veg on the side. And every Sunday morning, before his rugby training, we made eggs and mushrooms on wholemeal toast, which kept him going on the pitch and meant I wasn’t craving cake on the sidelines!
After 10 months I’d lost 5st and my headaches had improved. In fact, the specialist said he’d only need to see me again if my symptoms returned. And by the summer, another 3st lighter, life was very different. Donovan and I spent hours exploring the local cycle paths or splashing around in the sea in Lowestoft.
My friends couldn’t believe the change in me. They joked that the slim me ‘pinged’ everywhere, and it was true, I did have a lot more energy than I’d had in years.
The changes weren’t just on the outside – I felt much happier inside, too.
I wore whatever I liked and went wherever I wanted with Donovan, without worrying that people might be judging my size. Full of confidence, I applied for a new job as a postwoman, and I was thrilled when I got it! At my biggest, I never could have had a career that involved hours of walking every day – now I had more than enough energy.
I’m always looking to find the next adventure for us, and someday soon I’m hoping to take Donovan away to a water park in Spain, as we’ve never been abroad. I wouldn’t have considered it before, when my weight was affecting every aspect of my life. Now, it’s as if I’m free – to be a fun, healthy mum.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.