My fresh-start 50s
Margaret, 56, is an interior designer and artist. She lives in Drumcondra, Dublin, and has a daughter, Amy, 29. Margaret is 5ft 9ins tall and weighs 11st 3lbs, having lost 5st ½lb* at Dan Ryan’s group in Drumcondra.
"I started to struggle with my weight in 1986, after my mother passed away. We were very close, and I was absolutely devastated. Not long after losing her, my daughter came along and knowing she would never have the chance to meet her wonderful grandmother made me so sad. I turned to food for comfort – Chinese takeaways, endless cups of full-fat cocoa, chocolate bars – and within just six months, I’d gained 5st.
"What followed were years and years of starting one quick-fix diet after another and then giving up. I must have tried practically every weight-loss method on the planet, with no real success. Then, in 2014, I had my gall bladder removed. Before the op, I couldn’t eat anything fatty as it caused me too much pain – so afterwards, I made up for lost time. I did a month-long gourmet cookery course as well, which didn’t help. I gained a further 2st, taking my weight to over 16st and leaving me feeling really low.
"I’d seen Slimming World success stories in magazines even before the first group opened in Ireland, and I longed to be one of those slim, happy women. Then I bumped into a friend of mine who looked absolutely amazing... and it turned out she’d been a member for eight months. I thought maybe, just maybe, it might work for me, too.
"I went along to my local group, and from that very first day my Consultant, Dan, and his social team were fantastic – making me feel welcome and giving me lots of great recipe ideas to try. Seeing the numbers on the scales continue to go down kept me motivated, and in just over a year I’d lost 5st and trimmed 10ins off my waist.
"I love cooking, and always have, though I used to pack my dishes with lots of butter and cream. So when I joined group it was fantastic to find I could still make great meals without adding all those Syns.
I enjoy being creative, and I’ve found Food Optimising lets me choose what to cook, rather than having to follow a strict meal plan. I think it’s safe to say Slimming World has changed the way I eat. I still enjoy amazing meals – it’s just they’re healthier ones!
"I find looking back at photographs of myself over the last three decades a really emotional experience. I see someone stuck in an unhealthy, unhappy cycle that she can’t find her way out of. Slimming World has shown me how to break free finally from the life sentence of crash-dieting I’d imposed on myself. I’m so happy now and full of energy – it’s incredible to think I’ve spent most of my daughter’s lifetime worrying about my weight. Now I can focus on other, much more important things – what a feeling!"
With a little help from...
Margaret shares the tricks that made a difference to her slimming journey, and the treats (and people) that spurred her to success.
- I used Extra Easy SP a few times, when the scales had slowed. My favourite SP snack is lean ham (all visible fat removed) and melon. Delicious!
- My special treat? A cosmopolitan! Made with 35ml Cointreau, 50ml light cranberry juice, a squeeze of lime and fizzy water, it’s 6 Syns.
- I’ve always loved art, and as well as doing a creative job, I paint landscapes and sea scenes in my free time. Losing weight has given me much more confidence in all my abilities.
- My daughter Amy has encouraged me and helped me stay positive all the way, consoling me when things didn’t quite go to plan, and celebrating every step to success.
- I used to feel embarrassed about getting on my bike. Now I’m confident and comfortable – and hills are so much easier!
*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.