Losing weight changed my world
Slimmer, happier, more confident… for 25-year-old Becca Schrod from Basildon, Essex, losing 9st* and dropping seven dress sizes helped her land the life she always longed to live.
"For as long as I can remember, I’ve associated food with comfort. I have vivid childhood memories of being upset and knowing I’d only feel happy again once I’d got my hands around a chocolate bar. School and university was hard – I felt bigger than everyone else, and different, so my confidence never had a chance to grow.
"Even when my friends and family paid me compliments – telling me I was more than my size, that I was funny, clever, a good friend – it didn’t make any difference. I felt like the odd one out in every single situation.
"My mum was so worried about me. She always cooked healthy meals and she’d be in tears because she wanted to help me, but didn’t know how – then I’d get upset because I didn’t know, either, and we’d both end up sobbing. We reached a point where it felt as though we couldn’t have a conversation without my health coming up and it turning into an argument.
"I met my boyfriend, Mike, soon after university and even our relationship couldn’t give me true confidence. I didn’t believe anyone could find me attractive or would want to be with me, so I always questioned everything. I can’t have been much fun to be around.
My turning point
"I guess I hadn’t realised back then that the only person who can make you happy is you. That epiphany came in August 2014, when I got a new job in London. The first shock was when I decided to buy a whole new work wardrobe and realised I was a size 26. Then came the final wake-up call: instead of driving to work alone, I had to take the train and Tube with other commuters, and couldn’t comfortably fit into the seats. I started having panic attacks before every journey.
A few months after I started my job, a friend mentioned she’d joined Slimming World. When she started telling me all the things she could eat, like unlimited fruit, veg and pasta, I realised this actually sounded like something I could do.
"Two days later, I went to my first group. I was very apprehensive; I worried about finding out what I weighed and that I’d be bigger than everyone else there. At the same time, though, I felt sort of brave – and hopeful. The other members were so friendly, and although I was shocked to find I weighed 21st ½lb, their support made me feel optimistic.
"It was such a relief to find Food Optimising easy to follow and that it never left me feeling bored or hungry. At home, we adapted old versions of staples, such as chicken or fish with vegetables and potatoes. And we discovered new favourites, too, like home-made chilli – we have it with lots of fragrant, filling rice and Speed Free Food, or serve it with butternut squash chips.
"Feeling so positive about the eating plan inspired me to try out some Body Magic, too. My first trip to the gym was a bit scary – I was sure that everyone would turn around and stare at me when I walked in. That didn’t happen, of course. I steadily built up from going once a week to working out most days, and once I felt more confident I tried the classes, which I was surprised to find I really enjoyed. I started walking more instead of driving, and eventually took up running, too.
"There were some tough times, like when I gained weight after a holiday, or when I unintentionally slipped off plan. Amanda, my Consultant, was brilliant. She talked through my week’s eating with me and together we realised I’d started getting a bit too relaxed about weighing and measuring my Healthy Extras. It was so liberating to understand where I’d been going wrong, and be able to change it. When I weighed in again seven days later, I’d lost all the weight I’d gained, plus more!
Being kinder (to me!)
"Although the weight came off beautifully, it took a little time and effort to change my mindset, too. Body Magic helped so much with my anxiety and depression, and by March, just four months after joining, I was off antidepressants completely.
It was such a relief to go from waking up feeling miserable, unable to get out of bed, to starting each morning excited about the day ahead. It made me even more determined to stay on track. This was about so much more than what I weighed; it was about being happy and healthy, and I knew that was worth fighting for.
"I was right: a year after first going to group I hit my target of 11st 7lbs. It felt surreal; I couldn’t believe I’d managed it! Knowing that food no longer ruled my life felt like such a triumph and I was so proud of myself for getting there.
"There’s no question that my weight, and the way I felt about it, affected me at work. It used to feel like every single day was a struggle. I dreaded giving presentations at schools and colleges – a key part of my job – and would often be in tears beforehand, trying to work up the courage to go in. I hated being in the spotlight and felt that the students were making fun of me. Since losing nearly 10st*, I can do ordinary things – like walking between offices or climbing the stairs to a meeting – without thinking. I’m no longer shy about putting my opinions forward and I relish getting up and speaking in front of an audience. And thanks to my new confidence, I’ve been able to take on more responsibilities. I feel positive about achieving any future career ambitions.
New habits, new goals
"Now, when I get stressed, or if I have a wobble and I’m feeling down, I don’t eat to bury my emotions – instead I talk to my friends and family, or I do some exercise to help me relax. A year ago, I was over 21st, I was depressed, I had a serious comfort-eating habit and I only really left the house to go to work. Looking back at that girl, I see how far I’ve come, and it feels incredible. I’m healthy, fit and confident, and people have even called me ‘inspiring’ on Instagram: around 75,000 follow me at @slimmingworld_becca!
"My relationships have changed, too. Friendships have grown stronger because I’m happier being myself, and I’ve even got back in touch with some of my old friends. Mike and I are tighter than ever – we moved in together in January – and he’s also healthier. And I have a whole new relationship with my mum, which brings me so much joy.
"After so many years feeling isolated by my weight and allowing it to control me, I don’t let anything stop me or hold me back now. I’m looking forward to running my first full marathon next year, and hopefully starting a family one day – both things I used to think would be impossible. I’m a changed person in almost every way and have found an inner strength I never knew I had. I’m living the life I dreamed of and can finally say, ‘I’m happy’."
*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.