My daughter’s wedding was the boost I needed
63-year-old Margaret Ivery from Holywood, Northern Ireland knew she wanted to slim down for her daughter's big day. Margaret is 5ft 7ins tall and weighs 11st 8lbs, having lost 2st ½lb.
"My weight crept up so gradually, I didn’t really notice until I’d put on more than 5st. When David and I married nearly 41 years ago, I weighed only 8½st, and even after having my three daughters I went back down to a size 12. Then came middle age, my new lifestyle as a childminder, plus a liking for chocolate biscuits and cakes. By 2014, I was finding size-16 trousers were getting tight.
"Despite being unhappy with the way I looked, somehow I seemed unable to do anything about it. I tried all sorts of strict diets and even joined a slimming club at one point. None of them were quite right for me, though, and I just ended up feeling disappointed and hungry.
"I’m not sure whether I’d ever have found the motivation to lose weight if it hadn’t been for a very happy event: my daughter, Katherine, announced her engagement to her boyfriend, Stephen. At first, all I thought about was how thrilled I was for them; they’ve known each other since their university days and are such a lovely couple. Then, with the wedding booked for September 2015, conversations in the family turned to outfits and dress choices... including what I might wear as mother of the bride.
I couldn’t stand the idea of clothes shopping and staring at myself in changing-room mirrors, trying on lovely outfits that didn’t fit. And I didn’t like the thought of posing for pictures when I felt so uncomfortable with myself.
"Like most people who are bigger than they want to be, I disliked the limelight, and usually made my excuses and escaped when the cameras came out. I knew there’d be no avoiding the photographs at my own daughter’s wedding, though. And I also knew this could be the perfect opportunity to tackle my weight once and for all.
"Because quick fixes hadn’t worked for me in the past, I decided to give Slimming World a go and see if I could form some new, healthier eating habits. I wasn’t aiming to be a size 10 again, or the same weight I was when I was 18 – I didn’t think that would suit me now I was in my 60s. If I could lose a stone or two, though, and feel confident, elegant and sophisticated on Katherine’s big day, I’d be more than happy.
"I didn’t really know what to expect when I walked into my group for the first time, so I was pleased with how straightforward the eating plan seemed. I was encouraged to eat filling meals like pasta, or roast chicken and vegetables. I read the Food Optimising book from cover to cover in my first week and found the Food Diary a helpful way to keep track of my Healthy Extras and Syns. I made a Slimming World spaghetti carbonara and diet-cola chicken (the cola evaporates, leaving a yummy, sticky sauce), and made full use of Speed Free Foods like strawberries and mandarin oranges whenever I wanted a snack.
I found the Slimming World’s Fakeaways book was brilliant for giving all our takeaway favourites – like kebabs, curries, fried chicken and pizza – a healthy makeover.
"I lost 3lbs in my first week and 1½lbs the week after. After three weeks, I could feel my clothes getting looser, and after about two months of steady losses, I’d dropped over a stone and could actually see the difference in the mirror. I had much more energy, too. I’d spent years feeling guilty about over-eating. Now I was proving to myself that it’s never too late to break a cycle and turn things around – even a two-week holiday didn’t throw me off track.
Bride and joy
"By April 2015, I was just 5lbs away from my 11st 8lb target weight, and I decided it was time to shop for my wedding outfit. I had a wonderful day trying on all sorts of different styles and colours, before eventually settling on a tailored blush-pink dress and jacket with matching hat. I was so excited when the size 14 fitted perfectly.
"Losing the last 3lbs proved to be the hardest part of all. I must have taken a couple off and then put them back on again for about six weeks running! Finally, less than a month before the big day, I reached my target weight. It’s hard to describe just how good it felt; I was so happy and proud.
"Everyone warned me that Katherine’s wedding day would rush by, so I tried to appreciate every moment. Sure enough, it was all over far too soon. Or so I thought... Alison, our youngest daughter, has just announced her engagement and has set a date for August 2017, so I’ll be dusting down my mother-of-the-bride outfit. One thing’s for certain, though – I’ll definitely still fit into it!"
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
Find your nearest group