It was time to look after me
With a daughter battling childhood cancer, weight was the last thing on Cecilia Roche’s mind. Then, five years later, someone very special told her it was time to focus on her own, slimmer future… and so she did! Now 7st 8½lbs* lighter, Cecilia from Dublin shares her story.
"Until July 2007, I was an ordinary, happy wife and mum of three – Ciara, then 14, and 12-year-old twins, Sarah and Thomas. Then, my life changed forever, as I found myself struggling to cope with the devastating news that Sarah had bone cancer and needed immediate treatment. I did what so many mums do in such awful circumstances. I stayed outwardly strong, while soothing the pain and fear I felt inside the way I knew best… with food. Lots of it.
"I think I was on autopilot while Sarah was sick. Even when Sarah was able to come home for good in April 2008, I couldn’t relax. I was terrified every time she went for a check-up. I realise now that I was using food to keep the worst of my anxiety at bay. It may have worked temporarily, yet before I knew it, my weight had reached 18st.
"At my biggest, I’d turn down social invitations because it was so hard to find something flattering to wear. Then, when Sarah was five years clear, Joe and I went to a fundraising ball for a teenage cancer charity. Usually, I avoided cameras or made sure I was at the back of the group. That night, I decided to pose… and I was horrified at how large I looked.
"It was Sarah who finally sat me down for a serious conversation about my weight. It was November 2013 and I was ready to listen. ‘Mum, you’ve looked after me so well, but I’m better now, so it’s time for you to look after you,’ she said. Her words hit home.
"A friend’s sister was losing weight with Slimming World, so I went online to find my nearest group. I knew I’d have to change my eating habits, and meeting members who’d lost a lot of weight helped me trust that the plan would work for me, too. I stuck to it 100 per cent and, a week later, I had a shiny half-stone sticker in my book.
"I loved attending group and hearing about new and interesting recipes – unlike other weight-loss plans I’d tried, I never had a reason to cheat because I was never bored.
I worked hard at finding different ways to deal with stress. Instead of sitting down with a cup of tea and something sweet to eat, I’d make myself do a bit of vigorous cleaning or take our dog, Chloe, out for a walk.
"By the October, I weighed 12st 12lbs. Food Optimising had become so second-nature I even lost a pound on our annual trip to Florida – despite eating out every day. I just chose Free Foods where I could and made sure my US-size meals contained generous helpings of Speed Free Food.
"One reason Slimming World has worked so well for me is that you can eat proper family meals, like pasta bake or a Sunday roast, and still lose weight. And I can (and do) spend my Syns on crisps and chocolate. Instead of eating them mindlessly, though, I now take the time to taste and enjoy every mouthful.
"As I became slimmer, shopping trips with Lucia ceased to be an ordeal and became a celebration. And in June 2015, I reached my final target of 10st 12lbs. My lovely father was thrilled to bits. ‘Is that another new outfit? Your wardrobe must be bursting at the seams!’ he’d say every time I went to visit him.
I have to confess, sometimes it still doesn’t sink in that I’ve lost weight. I’ll be ironing a pair of jeans and think, ‘However will I get into them?’.
"Quite often, people I haven’t seen for a while don’t recognise me, and I don’t blame them – I’m pretty astounded by the difference myself! Sarah’s recovery from cancer was miraculous for the whole family. And I like to think that my finding a healthy, happy weight has given us a second dose of good fortune."
Cecilia’s daughter, Sarah, says...
"I remember being ill in hospital and watching Mum eat chocolate when she clearly wasn’t hungry. It was only later I realised she was also doing it because she was so stressed out. After I got the all-clear from cancer, she was still eating the same, and I could see it was making her unhappy. She’d been wonderful to me when I was ill, and now she was the one who needed help – so I plucked up the courage to talk to her about her weight. I’m so glad I did.
"As Mum got slimmer, she became happier and more relaxed. Her love of clothes really revealed itself, too, and we can now fit into each other’s outfits. She looks absolutely amazing – I’m so proud of her!"
*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.