Baby-weight worries were stopping Amber Findlay from Bristol from booking her wedding. Now she’s more than 2st* lighter, her big day’s got the green light and it’s all systems go...
"My weight has been a problem since my teens, and after I had my daughter it became an even bigger issue for me. Settling down and becoming a mum was such a huge life change, and I didn’t look or feel like myself any more. My partner Luke would try to get me to come out and socialise to cheer me up, or he’d encourage me to go to the gym. I’d say I couldn’t because I was busy looking after Ava – the truth was, though, I couldn’t face it.
"When I was younger I simply didn’t think about the food I was putting into my mouth. I’d never eat breakfast. In fact, I never really ate a cooked meal. At my heaviest, I was 15st; I had no energy and had headaches all the time. It was a revelation when, three weeks after joining Slimming World, I stopped taking daily painkillers for the first time in years.
"I couldn’t face another summer sweltering in a jumper to hide my arms while other girls my age were wearing little tops and short skirts. That’s why, in October last year, I decided to join Kelly’s group. By then, I’d had my little boy, Mac, so I had two lots of baby weight to lose!
When I learnt how much pasta and potatoes I could eat, I was amazed. I lost 3lbs in my first week and I was an immediate Food Optimising convert – despite not being brilliant in the kitchen.
"The plan works whether you’re a keen cook or a busy mum like me who wants to make quick, healthy and filling food for the whole family. It makes me laugh when I think I used to go until lunchtime before eating. Now I have a Hi-fi bar (from group) with fruit and fat-free yogurt for breakfast. Lunch is usually a big chicken or lean ham salad, and in the evening I’ll have chicken with rice and broccoli, or steak with Syn-free chips and loads of salad.
"It’s hard to explain what makes Slimming World work – it’s only when you go to group that it really clicks. Despite being slightly sceptical on my first night, I loved listening to everyone’s stories and tips. I’m quite shy, so it took me a while to have the confidence to speak up in group, but I felt comfortable from the start with the other members and my fabulous Consultant, Kelly. Plus, I’ve got extra support there now: since seeing what I’ve achieved, two of my sisters and at least five of my friends have joined Slimming World – and my mum’s there, too!
"When I came off plan for a week last Christmas, I couldn’t believe how dreadful I felt – and how much weight I gained. It was a good reminder that Food Optimising isn’t some sort of fad diet to be dropped and picked up again; it’s a long-term healthy-eating lifestyle. I couldn’t wait to get back on plan and I lost 7lbs the following week.
When I hit my 10st target, the first thing I did was start shopping for my wedding dress! I got engaged in 2012 and never started looking at dresses or planning the day because I felt miserable about the way I looked. Now I’m so much more confident and Luke’s face was a picture when I arrive at the ceremony.
"My new hobby is running and I completed my first-ever 10K race in May. I can hardly believe it, because the first time I went out for a jog, I gave up at the end of my road. I decided to join the gym and started slowly, building up my time on the cardio machines. When I next went for a run outside, I covered two miles before stopping, then it was three…
Entering the Bristol 10K wasn’t about competing with others; it was just for me. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, and I’m now training for the half marathon.
"This was my first slim summer. I can’t explain how brilliant it was not to be hiding my body under layers, even on the hottest days. I even looked forward to wearing a bikini when Luke and I took the kids away for our holiday/honeymoon. My whole attitude to life has changed – I’m enjoying it and looking forward to a healthier, happier future with the people I love."
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.