Changing course at 60
Sue Thomas turned her back on three decades of dieting disappointment to lose a life-changing 9st 1lb*. Now she’s loving every minute of her fit and active retirement.
"At the age of 60, I felt like a failure. Despite trying every diet under the sun, I was a size 28 and desperately unhappy with the way I looked, my lack of energy and my lack of control around food. I’d already been overweight for more than 25 years. I’d tried every weight-loss plan going at one time or another, including a half-hearted stint at Slimming World.
"I found being overweight definitely affected my confidence, especially at work and the leisure activities I enjoyed with my husband, Chris. He loves sailing and, at my biggest, I worried I might capsize the dinghy we used at the marina. And if he suggested a walk, I didn’t have the energy to accompany him very far. Although he never complained or hinted that I should lose weight, I was cross with myself for being so out of control.
"My beloved mum, though, was too worried to keep quiet on the subject. Her main concern was that I would develop some kind of weight-related health issue, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. My knees were already bothering me because of all the weight they were supporting.
The day the switch flicked in my head
"When I was 54, I decided to take early retirement. I found some interesting voluntary work, helping run an open garden project raising money for our local air ambulance. It was then that a little switch flicked on in my head. I wanted a way of eating that would let me have normal foods – combinations that worked, like meat and potatoes, curry and rice, or fish and chips. Even cake. What I wanted was Slimming World.
"When I was originally a member, the Extra Easy plan didn’t exist, so when Gill, my new Consultant, explained I really could slim while eating steak and chips, big bowls of pasta and unlimited Free vegetables as well as fruit, I wasn’t sure she was serious.
I made simple swaps – Fry Light instead of oil or butter, Müllerlights instead of full-fat yogurts, sweetener instead of sugar – and had great fun experimenting with recipes from the magazine, website and Slimming World cook books.
"I didn’t stay to group for IMAGE Therapy at first. For some reason I saw slimming as a solo activity. My group was so warm and friendly, though, that I became curious about joining in. I’m so glad I did! I soon realised how important it was to have that mutual support – especially when I’d had a frustrating week and stayed the same weight or lost less than I’d hoped.
"Gill was wonderful, always ready to offer great down-to-earth advice and a shoulder to cry on when necessary – never dispensing any blame, just loads of support and friendship.
"It took me three years and three months to get down to a weight I felt comfortable with. Although I felt confident that Slimming World was right for me almost straight away, I do think achieving my Club 10 award (for losing 10 per cent of my body weight) was a bit of a turning point. That happened after about three months and it was then I began to see a real change in the way I looked – and in how my clothes felt, too.
Ready for Body Magic
"A year after joining Gill’s group, I’d lost 4st. My knee trouble and breathlessness had almost disappeared, so I felt ready to do some Body Magic. I’d never been a gym person, but started trying a few different activities and was amazed what a difference they made to my posture, strength and vitality. I’ve added Nordic walking to my exercise routine and walking is something I can do with Chris, or I can just take off alone into the countryside for an hour or so. I’ve been back on a horse for the first time in 30 years and sailing’s much more fun nowadays, too.
"There are times when I wish my lovely mum, who died before I joined Slimming World, could have seen me like this. She’d be so happy. And I do feel a little bit sad for the 40- and 50-something me, who so badly wanted to lose weight. I know I’ll never get those wasted years back, so instead I focus on the healthy seventh decade I’m having, the happiness I feel and all the wonderful things in my life now."
*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.