“Losing weight helped me take control of my epilepsy”
Daniel Hassall from Sandbach, Cheshire has epilepsy and would regularly suffer up to 30 seizures a day. Since joining Slimming World and losing 5st* his seizures have reduced dramatically and he's thrilled to be able to live a much more normal life. Doctors are amazed at his transformation and he's been crowned Slimming World's Young Slimmer of the Year 2014.
“I'd struggled with my weight ever since I was diagnosed with epilepsy aged five. I put on weight as a side effect of the drugs I was given, and it was definitely coupled with bad eating habits too.
“Over the years I spent a lot of time in and out of hospital. I'd suffer up to 30 partial seizures a day and one grand mal (full) seizure every couple of weeks, often leaving me with lasting side effects such as memory loss, extreme tiredness and low self-confidence.
“Things had got pretty bleak and I was miserable, I felt like I was always just waiting for the next big seizure. While I was lying in my hospital bed I overheard the doctors saying that perhaps some of my seizures could be weight-related because my weight and my epilepsy together might be too much for my heart and my brain to cope with. Then another patient Richard, who'd actually gone blind because of his epilepsy, told me that he and his wife had lost 8st with Slimming World and that had really helped him. I became determined to do something about my weight – it felt like my only option.
“I was apprehensive about joining a slimming club and instead tried other weight-loss methods including dieting alone and going to the gym. Unfortunately the diets left me feeling hungry and my fitness regime had disastrous results as I suffered six grand mal seizures. I knew I was going to cause myself some serious damage if I carried on, so I remembered what Rich had said and went to Slimming World with my mum.
“I'd put off going to Slimming World because I thought I'd be in a room full of women and I was so nervous that I don't think I said more than one word to anyone, but my Consultant Julie and all of the other members were really welcoming – and they weren't just old women!
I soon started to feel more comfortable and now I love going to the group every week. I've made so many friends and they've been a constant encouragement.
“I've always been a sucker for fast food because I wasn't much of a cook and it was quick and easy, but I've learned about healthy eating at Slimming World. I've realised that it doesn't mean starving yourself and there are lots of healthy meals that are really simple to make – I love having a big bowl of tuna pasta and can make a great chicken curry and rice.
“I lost 6lbs in my first week and I've lost 15 inches from my waist altogether, going from 47” to 32”. As I lost weight I was able to start exercising without triggering a seizure and I'm now teaching martial arts as a volunteer.
“Slimming down has had a huge impact on my epilepsy - my doctors can't believe it! They thought there might be a link between my weight and my epilepsy but they never expected losing weight to make such a big difference so they're delighted – and so am I. Walking into my Slimming World group was without doubt the best decision I've ever made – it's changed my life – and I really want to share my story with other people who have epilepsy to make them aware of what a difference losing weight could make.
“Before I lost weight I was a shadow of the person I am today, back then I'd never have dreamed I could stand at the front of a group of people but now I've got a new level of confidence and that's thanks to my Slimming World group. I've always felt like an outsider because of my epilepsy and my Slimming World group is the first place I've ever felt worthwhile and part of something. I've found true friends in Julie and the other members and I'd tell anyone who wants to lose weight, especially to improve their health and quality of life, to go for it – they won't regret it!”
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
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