Bedtime story inspires mum to achieve weight loss fairytale!
At her heaviest Hollie Barrett tipped the scales at 17st 11lbs and feared her children would be bullied because of her size. Now the 30-year-old, from Blunderston in Suffolk, has shed 8st 6lbs* and dropped six dress sizes – going from a size 20 to an 8 – to be named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2016.
"I felt like my weight was holding me back in every aspect of my life, especially when it came to doing things with my children. Even things other mums might take for granted, like taking them swimming, seemed off limits because I felt so self-conscious. I once chased Imogen up the stairs to bed and was so breathless I couldn’t speak properly to read her a bedtime story – it broke my heart. Now I finally feel like the person – and the mum – I was meant to be all along.
"I'd been overweight for most of my life and often turned to food for comfort, including after losing my mum to breast cancer in 2013. After we lost Mum I started to really think about my health and my future. I wanted to be around for my kids and to be able to do all the normal things that mums do while they were still young. I didn’t want them to be bullied at school because their mum was so overweight either.
“I was so nervous walking into the Beccles Slimming World group and was worried I’d be the biggest person there. I instantly knew there was no need to be scared though and that the people in the group really understood and cared. And in my first week I lost 9½lbs.
"We’ve had two Consultants running the group in the time I’ve been a Slimming World member and they've both been incredible. Nothing was ever too much trouble and they always believed in me – even when I was struggling to believe in myself.
After years of following strict fad diets that left me feeling hungry, I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to starve myself to lose weight.
"My partner Thomas is a great cook and we all enjoy the same healthy meals as a family now. Salmon and wild rice and BBQ pulled pork are a couple of our favourites and we still eat out regularly as well, because the really great thing about Slimming World is that it fits around my life rather than me having to fit my life around it.
"We’re also a more active family – we love going on long walks and enjoy more active holidays, I walked 40 miles in four days and climbed a mountain when we went away recently. I’ve started jogging and even had the confidence to put on a swimsuit and take my children swimming for the first time since losing weight, which was an amazing experience. Thomas loves my new figure and new-found confidence too!
"I remember when I first joined Slimming World and was setting my target weight, I told my Consultant that I was ‘never going to be one of those girls who’s a size 8’. Without missing a beat, she said ‘Why not, if that’s what you want you can totally do it!’ And I did! Every time I put on a size 8 I feel so proud of myself – I recently completed Race for Life in memory of my mum and I think she’d be pretty proud of me too.”
*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.