I’m back for good
Ten dress sizes smaller and 10½st* lighter – it’s super-slimmer 46-year-old Mandy Emmerson’s time to shine! She's 5ft 2ins and from Chester-le-Street, County Durham.
"I’d just met my idol, Gary Barlow. It was every fan’s dream, and everything I’d hoped for – he was so lovely! Then I saw the photo… and I couldn’t have been more disappointed. There I was, standing next to the man that I’d longed to meet for 22 years, and I looked huge.
"I’d been gradually getting bigger since giving birth to Aaron when I was 20. I had a slow recovery following an emergency caesarean and, as a single mum, I felt terribly lonely and struggled to lose the 3st I’d gained while pregnant. I became heavier still after having a hysterectomy at 30.
"A few months later, I met my nowhusband, Lee, online and after a whirlwind romance we got married. Unfortunately, I became poorly, and was diagnosed with Churg-Strauss syndrome (an autoimmune condition also known as EGPA) and prescribed steroids. I put on another 7st over the following years, developing Type 2 diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. My legs became swollen and covered in varicose veins and, the more my health deteriorated, the more I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. Then, at a routine appointment, the doctor asked me if I’d ever considered a gastric bypass. Me? Surely I hadn’t got that big?
"Even then, I put any idea of slimming to the back of my mind. That is, until I was sharing the picture of Gary and the size-28 me on my social-media pages, and realising I couldn’t ignore my weight any more. I went to see my GP to ask for help and was offered Slimming World on Referral – a few weeks later I plucked up the courage to go to group.
After my first week of Food Optimising, I was stunned to find I’d lost 8lbs… and from then on the pounds disappeared week after week.
"I started to tweet Gary Barlow telling him how well I was doing, and I was thrilled when he tweeted back congratulating me! Feeling bold, I asked if he’d mind us updating that photo once I’d lost weight and he was kind enough to direct message me back, which really spurred me on. Eventually, when I’d lost 9st, my dream came true: I went to see Take That perform on The X Factor and Gary invited me onto the stage for a new photo – and, this time, he could loop his arms right around me.
"Now I’ve lost that final stone and reached my target, I’m learning to love the new me – a fitter, healthier woman with normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels; who has the energy to cycle, swim and go to a FitSteps class; who can get a haircut without shying away from her own reflection… and who feels so proud of herself for getting there. And yes, I still go to lots of concerts – though instead of sending my slimmer friends through the crowds to keep me a space, I now run straight to the front for the very best view!"
With a little help from...
Mandy shares the tricks that made a difference to her slimming journey, and the treats (and people) that spurred her to success.
- Realising I could eat proper food without feeling guilty was a real revelation to me. I decided to share pictures of all my favourite meals on Instagram to keep me motivated and I’ve now got over 5,000 followers. One of my favourite recipes is pulled pork, which I often make when I have friends coming over. If I’m short on time, I pop it in the slow cooker and it practically cooks itself!
- When I fancy some chocolate, I make sure my Syns go as far as possible! A chewy 26g Cadbury Curly Wurly bar feels like a real treat for 6 Syns.
- I love creamy-tasting yogurt – Arla Skyr Icelandic Style Yogurt Mixed with Strawberry is 3½ Syns per 450g pot and is fab with fresh fruit.
- I used to have so little energy. Now I cycle, go swimming and take part in a weekly FitSteps class. Body Magic is such a buzz!
- At my biggest, I really wasn’t into fashion – I just wore whatever would fit. In fact, I pretty much lived in black trousers; day in, day out. Now I’m happy showing off my shape in skinny jeans and fitted dresses.
- When I got to target, I treated myself to a shopping day – it’s so much fun now everything fits!
- After years of avoiding the hairdresser, I enjoy spending time on my hair. My styling tool kit includes lots of products and my trusty straighteners!
*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.