How I found my happy balance
Socialising, surfing, roller skating, good health, climbing the career ladder, life's turned full circle for Anita. Here she shares her story and how Slimming World's helped her lose more than 7 stones*.
"My life today is so different from the way it was in my thirties. Back then, it was literally all about work. I’d started my current job with an insurance company, which involved long hours and travelling both in the UK and abroad.
"I’d been a busy single mum throughout most of my twenties, and my own health and well-being were very low on my list of priorities. I was so tied up with work I rarely ate proper meals and would grab snacks from vending machines in the day and takeaways at night.
"Over three years, I put on about 8st. I became bitterly unhappy with my size-20 body and my hectic work life, but I told myself there was nothing I could do about either of them. I’d gone from being outgoing with a good social life to shy and retiring. On the times I did go out, I convinced myself that people were looking at me and thinking I’d ‘let myself go’. I wanted to be invisible. I stopped making an effort with my appearance, nails, hair and make-up, too – I felt like I wasn’t worth it.
"At work, my boss told me I was becoming too aggressive. It was a defence mechanism because I felt so bad about myself – I’d go on the attack and make enemies of people before they got the chance to say anything negative about me. I didn’t like the person I was turning into.
"My weight was affecting my health, too. I had five miscarriages, and, while I’ll never know the direct cause, I think my size and how I felt about myself didn’t help. I was getting bigger and bigger, and I wasn’t in a good place.
"I was overjoyed when, at 33, my pregnancy with Oliver progressed normally. What upsets me most is that I have only one photograph of myself with my baby son because I avoided the camera. When my children look back at their childhood photos, there’ll be hardly any pictures of them with their mum.
Something's got to give...
"The turning point came in the spring of 2013, when I went on holiday to Spain. I kept covered up the whole time, I never went in the pool with my son, and I avoided other holidaymakers when they tried to make conversation. We flew back on a Saturday and on the following Monday I joined Slimming World. Something had switched on in my head, and I knew I had to tackle my weight. And while I was horrified when I saw the number on the scales, I knew I’d taken an important first step.
On the way home from group, I went to the supermarket and stocked up on loads of Free Foods. I wasn’t totally convinced it would work because I seemed to be able to eat so much. So I was delighted when I went back the next week to find I’d lost half a stone! What’s more, I hadn’t been hungry at all.
"It was during this time I got a phone call that changed everything. For a long time, I’d had abnormal cells around my cervix and I’d undergone nine operations to help. Now, I was told the cells had progressed and were cancerous. I was offered chemotherapy or radiotherapy, but I opted for a hysterectomy instead – I already had my children and surgery offered the best chance of survival.
"I’d lost around 3½st when I had the operation and I’m sure I recovered more easily as a result. The weight carried on coming off – I kept winning Slimmer of the Week – and I was so happy when, in January 2014, I achieved my goal of losing 5st.
"By May that year, when I got the all-clear from the hospital, I was down to 11st 8lbs. I was relieved and elated, and felt so positive about life that I decided to reset my target weight at 10st 2lbs – and I got there in January this year.
My slim life takes off
"The night I got to target, I came home from group, put my award on my fridge and thought, ‘That’s it, I’m where I want to be. I’m at target, I’m well again – and I’m going to start living my life!’ And that’s exactly what I’ve done. I go to the gym five days a week, do yoga classes, and love roller skating – I’ve even taken up surfing again after years of staying out of the water!
My social life has skyrocketed, too. I meet up with friends every Saturday for coffee and a catch-up, and never turn down an invitation – I’m the life and soul of the party!
"At last, I’m the real me – the confident, happy Anita. And the knock-on effect it’s had is just amazing. My boss says I’m a different person – and I can’t help but agree. Losing more than 7st has changed my life so much, words can’t explain it – I'm sure that the smile on my face says it all!"
How I slimmed down my working day
Hectic and Syn-heavy
Before, I’d leave the house as early as 4.30am with an empty stomach. At around 8am I’d stop at the vending machine and buy chocolate and crisps for breakfast – then someone would do a bacon-sandwich run and I’d join in. For lunch, I’d fill up on a huge mayonnaise-heavy sandwich, then after work I’d stop off for fish and chips and take them home to have with four slices of bread.
I’m still up and out at 4.30am! Only now I take boiled eggs, fruit or porridge to the office. I’ll make a big salad for lunch, and if we eat out, I’ll order steak with salad. I always have fruit on my desk at work – I’d forgotten how much I like bananas and strawberries. At weekends I’ll bulk-cook five or six Slimming World curries, Bolognese sauces and pulled pork or chicken dishes – so I’ve got healthy dinners sorted, however manic my Monday-to-Friday schedule turns out to be.
*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.