'I took control of my weight at 60'
Coping with the menopause and family illness made Janet MacLeod from Sandhurst, Berkshire turn to comfort food. Now she's skating her way into her seventh decade nearly 4st* lighter!
“For most of my adult life, I'd pretty much been a standard size 12 – with an emergency pair of size-14 jeans on hand ‘just in case‘. All that changed when I turned 50 and the menopause hit me. As my hormones went haywire, I started comfort eating and piled on weight really quickly.
“Two photos really brought my weight gain home to me. The first was taken when I was on holiday and I couldn't believe how big I looked. The second was a pre-menopause photo. My friend saw it and said, ‘Is that you?’ in a tone of disbelief.
“There were lots of reasons I found it difficult to eat healthily. I was working part time and caring for my elderly mother and aunt, and my husband Ian suffered three heart attacks in eight years. I'm a coper, so I took things one day at a time. My solace was food, especially vanilla ice cream!
“I reached a turning point as I approached my 60th birthday. I'd had to deal with close family bereavements, yet in other ways life had calmed down; Ian had recovered and I was working from home. I had my hair cut shorter for the first time since my teens – and I looked so much better, it made me wonder what else I could improve about myself.
“I joined Slimming World in April 2013 and I haven't looked back. I've learnt so much since then, and it's great to be able to share my discoveries and show it's never too late to reclaim your body.“
4 secrets to my success
1. Take it one step at a time
The prospect of ‘dieting’ for months was daunting, so I paid initially for just six weeks' Slimming World membership and decided to commit 100 per cent for that time. By the time those first six weeks were over, I'd shed 1st 1½lbs – nearly a quarter of my overall weight loss. I decided to continue signing up in six-week blocks, as the time seemed to fly by and the rewards were so great. I lost a steady 1½-2½lbs at each weigh-in (I gained a few times... once was over my birthday when I ate out five times in one week!) and I could finally see a new me.
2. Think choice power
My biggest Slimming World revelation has been that this isn't a diet; it's about making healthy choices. I still start the day with cereal and I'll have a big, filling Quorn salad with fruit for lunch. For dinner, I'll whip up an omelette and salad, or, because I love carbs, I'll pick pasta with passata or roasted vegetables.
Food Optimising has helped me to rediscover flavours and try recipes I'd never have attempted before. My husband Ian has started growing all our vegetables, so I'm eating courgettes, artichokes and aubergines for the first time in years. And, rather than use my Syns for a glass of wine, I pour one of my favourite diet fizzy drinks into a nice wine glass and enjoy that. I just decided I'd rather not spend my Syns on alcohol. There are so many other things I can use them for instead – like chocolate or cake...
3. Have fun getting fit
I discovered the joy of rollerblading when I was 55. It's not like jogging because your joints don't get pounded, and we wear protective gear in case of (very rare) falls. I also cycle 10 miles three times a week along the river and lanes where I live. Whatever activity you choose to do, Body Magic can help you on the road to looking and feeling fantastic. And I've discovered that it's much less of an effort to stick to regular exercise when you find a way of keeping fit that you love.
4. Stay to group
My life – and my body – has changed since I joined Slimming World, so it might sound odd that going to group is still as important to me, even though I've almost reached my final target weight. I know that it will be the difference between feeling this good, or watching the pounds creep on again. What's special is the support of the other members, the sociability of group and all the tips we swap.
I've learnt about the importance of planning – I shop for food twice a week now and always have fresh ingredients in the fridge so that I'm not tempted to eat the stodge I might find at the back of the cupboard. I've been incredibly inspired by Slimming World and the people I've met. So many aspects of my life have changed for the better. These days, I even enjoy having my photograph taken! We recently came back from a holiday in Crete, where I lived in a pair of denim shorts and felt amazing. I'm not going to give that up. I'm proof that the menopause doesn't have to slow you down. It's a great feeling to be in control of my body again.
*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
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.