I found my silver lining
How Emma Julian lost 3st 2lbs* after a break-up, bagging a new job and learning a thing or two about self-belief along the way...
"I was working on a luxury cruise ship when I started dating an officer. It was January 2011 and I was having the time of my life. It was an extravagant American cruise liner, with incredible restaurants and a focus on food, food and more food! The crew bar was incredibly cheap, too, and there was usually something to celebrate with my ‘sea family’. Predictably, the pounds began to pile on.
"I was mortified when everyone saw my favourite dress split up the back. I knew that I’d put on weight, but I wasn’t too worried about it. My mind was on other things as my boyfriend and I had started having problems. I left the ship that August, while he stayed on board. I’d put on 1½st and gone from a size 12 to a 16. Back home, I was living at my mum and dad’s, I had no money and I ate out of boredom. My boyfriend was eventually able to visit me but when I opened the door, he was obviously shocked by the way I looked. We split up temporarily a few weeks later and broke up for good that June.
"I was heartbroken and comfort ate even more. During the day I snacked on crisps and I bought birthday cakes to eat throughout the week because I liked the icing. And I never, ever prepared a meal. I would nap all the time, then eat more rubbish when I was awake because I felt so lethargic.
My big break
"It was my cousin who hinted I might want to go along with her to Slimming World. Growing up, I was never a slim girl – and I was fine with that. Now, I looked in the mirror and realised I’d lost my confidence. Once I started Food Optimising, I could soon see it making a difference. The trouble was my shift work meant I struggled to get to group each week, so despite losing 7lbs, I stopped going – and promptly put it all back on. Even though I knew I could go to other groups around my shifts, I still felt I couldn’t commit to attending regularly. So when I spotted an advert for Slimming World Online, I figured I’d give it a go.
"My ‘light-bulb moment’ came in January , when I saw a picture posted on Instagram by a Slimming World member. It was a month after I’d joined online, and somehow I still hadn’t got around to following the plan properly. Then, seeing that photo of a delicious home-made Slimming World dinner grabbed my attention, and suddenly I found myself on the site for hours!
I used the Slimming World app when I was out to check the Syn values of foods, and took pictures of everything I ate – even taking snaps in restaurants.
"With every pound I lost, I gained more confidence – and it began with taking control of my eating. I have Slimming World Overnight oats (porridge oats mixed with a Free yogurt and fruit, and left in the fridge overnight) with extra fruit every morning; I’m addicted! Lunch is usually a jacket potato with my Healthy Extra cheese. Dinner will be chicken in a Syn-free barbecue sauce, or an all-day full English – made the healthy way! When it comes to cravings, I’ll have a piece of fruit if I fancy something sweet, or a pickled egg as a savoury snack. Then, if I still have the urge for chocolate or crisps, I’ll use my Syns and enjoy them guilt free.
"Four months after I began Food Optimising properly, I bought my first size-10 dress. It was a brilliant feeling! I reached my first target of 9st 7lbs in August 2014 and I was thrilled. Initially, I found maintaining my weight a bit tricky, then I learnt it’s perfectly normal to go up and down by a few pounds every now and then. The important thing is to work out where you’ll feel comfortable. Eventually, I decided to drop my target weight to 8st 7lbs, which feels just right.
"Losing weight gave me the self-belief to change my life in other ways, too. I really love working for the probation service, so I decided to take steps to further my career, competing against 1,000 other candidates for a role as a trainee probation officer.
"I’ve just bought my first house – something else I wouldn’t have done before I discovered how to cook for myself and be independent. I live out in the sticks now and have got myself a lovely dog, Daisy – she’s all the motivation I need to head out for long walks.
Because I live alone, buying loads of fresh food isn’t always a good idea, as it can sometimes go off before I finish it. Now I buy big bags of frozen fruit and veg, then just a few fresh items when I fancy them. I also cook batches of my favourite meals to freeze.
"Nine months after starting Slimming World, I signed up to do a Tough Mudder obstacle race. A workmate and I were complaining that running is boring, so she said, ‘Well, let’s train for this and make it more interesting!’ I’ve also joined a brilliant ladies-only gym and I've just started pole dancing classes.
"Losing weight gave me the self-esteem to choose what feels right and not settle for anything less. I've just booked a holiday to New York and Nashville next year to visit friends from the cruise ship. I can't wait to show them my new slim-line shape. I’ve put my heartbreak behind me and found my silver lining: a new, slim and confident me."
*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.