Life begins at... 50
Cycling, surfing and wearing out her three dogs... Dawn Pickburn-Glynn from Bridlington, East Yorkshire is putting the energy and excitement into retirement after losing 4st*.
"I ran my own hairdressing salon in Sheffield for 27 years before Peter and I decided to retire. I sold the business and we moved to the lovely seaside town of Bridlington. I loved my new life; the only downside was the extra weight I was putting on. I just wore baggier clothes and tried to ignore it.
"Although I’d never been super slim, it was when I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid at 30 that I really began to gain weight. It didn’t help that I was so busy at work and rarely made time to eat properly. Every so often I’d try to shed some pounds – I gave everything a go, from slimming pills to cabbage soup – but nothing seemed to work for me.
"My turning point came when I saw the reflection of a large woman in a shop window… and realised it was me! My thyroid problems had been under control for years, so I couldn’t use them to explain away my weight gain any more. I knew that if I wanted to live life and enjoy retirement to the full, I needed to take control of my eating in a way that would work for me. I didn’t want to feel hungry; I wanted to feel fantastic.
Testing the water
"I joined Slimming World on 22 April 2014 – it was the 16th anniversary of the day Peter and I met. That first night, my idea was just to collect the books and follow Food Optimising on my own at home, because I was embarrassed and didn’t want to talk about my weight. As soon as I met everyone, though, and heard how well they’d been doing, I was hooked.
I was made to feel so welcome from the start and felt really chuffed when my Consultant gave me a hug and said, ‘You can do it’.
"Going to IMAGE Therapy is like meeting friends for coffee and inspiration every week; there’s always someone to buoy you up. We get together outside of group, too, and keep in touch on Facebook to share tips and support.
"From the start, I took to Food Optimising like a dream. There’s never been a sense that I’ve had to give things up, because I can still have everything I loved to eat before – things like spaghetti Bolognese, chilli, shepherd’s pie – I just cook them the Slimming World way. I trim fat off meat and choose lean mince; I add lots of vegetables to make really filling, tasty, healthy dishes, and I use low-calorie cooking spray, or even dry-fry some food.
"My go-to breakfast at the moment is a massive bowl of fresh fruit with fat-free natural yogurt and a Healthy Extra of muesli, while lunch is something like minestrone soup with lean ham. I make an amazing Thai curry using low-fat coconut-flavour yogurt instead of high-Syn coconut milk. And instead of ordering takeaway chicken tikka masala, I’ll whip up a delicious Slimming World version in the time it would take for it to be delivered.
Target in 12 months
"It’s been great to have such a speedy and consistent weight loss. The first target I set was 12st 3lbs. I got there so quickly, I re-set my goal to 11st 9lbs and then 11st 2lbs. I still felt that my body would feel comfortable a little slimmer, though, so I made my final target 10st 13lbs. I achieved it on my one-year anniversary as a member of Slimming World and I was ecstatic!
"There were occasional gains along the way. I put on 3½lbs when I went away on holiday and some weeks I put on the odd ½lb and wasn’t sure why. That’s when keeping a Food Diary helped. Writing down what I ate every day really motivated me and it was useful to refer back to the good weeks – like the one when I lost 6lbs – and repeat those meals to get me back in the groove.
Food Optimising doesn’t stop me enjoying life or eating out. When I go out to a restaurant, I make healthy choices from the menu. And if I do overindulge occasionally? I just go straight back on plan the next morning.
Leading the way
"Peter's been so supportive during my weight loss and has lost 2½st himself, just by eating the same food I do. The rest of my family can’t believe how different I look, either. My mum and dad are so proud – Dad says ‘we’ve got our Dawn back’ – and my older sister calls me her ‘little, little sis’. Since seeing what I’ve achieved, my best friend, her daughter and my neighbour have all joined Slimming World groups. While they’ve only just begun their weight-loss journeys, you can already see the difference and I’ll encourage them all the way because I know how fantastic they’ll feel when they reach their targets.
Walking on sunshine
"Before I joined Slimming World, the only exercise I got was taking our three dogs – two labradoodles, Dotty and Murphy, and a naughty schnauzer called Billy – for a short walk twice a day. Once the pounds began to come off, I joined a gentle fitness class and soon there was no stopping me!
Now, I love Zumba and aqua fit; I cycle every day and go for long walks with the dogs. Peter and I take the kayak out and paddle through the waves on summer evenings, and we love surfing and bodyboarding.
"As well as swapping my wetsuit for one three sizes smaller (and feeling amazing in it!), I’ve given away all my size 18-20 clothes and replaced them with slinky size 12s, including a gorgeous black and white dress I wore for my 50th birthday party. I used to have trouble with pain in my hip and knees, and constant indigestion, but those niggles are all gone now. In fact, I recently had a health check with the doctor and not only were my BMI and cholesterol at exactly the right levels, I’m also half an inch taller! Apparently, all the exercise I’ve been doing has improved my posture.
"Being fit and active is never a chore for me now. When you’re a kid, you run around all the time and it makes you feel happy – I’ve rediscovered that contented feeling that comes from just getting my body moving. I feel younger, happier, fitter and more confident than I ever have. I’m 50 and can say I’m truly enjoying the freedom years of my retirement with Peter. Life really is a beach!"
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
Find your nearest group