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
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.