My Journey – Jane’s Personal Story

I have always had problems with my weight. Even at school I was always the largest of the girls and was bullied as a result.

Fortunately, I met the most wonderful man who loved me for who I was when I was nearly seventeen years of age. He proposed to me on my birthday and I was very happy to accept.

We married 43 years ago and for the most part it has been a very happy marriage.

I started gaining more weight after we lost our son at eight hours old. To begin with I ate very little but once I started to eat again I couldn’t stop myself and comfort ‘ate for England’. This lead me to fall into a deep depression which in the end required hospital treatment, as an outpatient only thankfully.

Family Problems

You would think that other than my husband the next person I would turn to for support at this time would be my mum. But when I tried to talk to her about the loss of our son she told me to just get over and don’t upset other people. She told me ‘you have a daughter be happy with her and forget about this baby’.

I never truly had a good relationship with my mum and this hurt me so much that I was never able to forget it. I really don’t know what it was that she didn’t like about me, but throughout my life I was always in the wrong, even though I was the one of her three girls who she always called upon if she need anything done or wanted to go somewhere.

My weight crept up until I was 17 stones at the beginning of 2015. That May mum was taken very poorly with an infection of her gall bladder which her doctor dismissed as IBS from which she also suffered. Finally, my sister phoned for an ambulance and mum was admitted to hospital where they called me at 2am to visit as she wouldn’t last until morning. In fact she survived for 7 months more, but the untreated infection had damaged her brain, so that she was unable to eat anything but puréed food.

Jane Before Slimming World

Jane Before Slimming World

I visited my mum often whilst at the same time not eating the right foods. Over these months my weight inevitably crept up to 18 stone 9 pounds the heaviest I had ever been.
Mum finally passed away on Christmas morning 2015. We were not able to get to see her before she passed something I will always regret.

Following her funeral, I spoke to my asthma nurse who said they could refer me to Slimming World for twelve weeks. I looked at groups in my area I found one that was held on a Saturday morning which suited me well as it was one of the days I had always spent with mum.

The Start Of My Weight Loss Journey

On the 30th January 2016 I joined the Slimming World group that was to change my life for the better. It wasn’t an easy start though as when I returned home my phone rang. It was my cousin telling me my Uncle had passed away that morning, the last of mum’s family had joined her, my favourite Uncle too.
Another funeral was held three weeks after mum’s, but it wasn’t the last. A week later my mum’s sister in law and my Aunt passed away so we attended another funeral three weeks later. In the space of ten weeks we had been to three family funerals.

Once these funerals had all taken place, I started to focus more on myself and my slimming world journey. I cannot say it was a quick journey. It took me until May to lose my first stone. I achieved my Club10 in July. 2 stones by the end of August. It then took me until October to get my 3 stones. Five months passed before my 4 stones was achieved. 4.5 took another three months and five months for my 5 stone award.

Achieving Target

The quickest was my 5.5 which was 6 weeks. Then I had another three funerals in 3 weeks to go to and I lost my focus. It took from November of 2017 until May of 2018 to get the last half a stone I would lose a pound or 2 one week and put on 3 another. As I said, it was not a quick journey, but on the 2nd June 2018, I finally achieved my target after 2.5 years. I was 6 stones and 1 pound lighter.

Jane At Target - Well Done

Jane At Target - Well Done

I must say I have messed around with my journey, but I have no one to blame but myself even now at target I am messing with my head and put on first week so out of target ‘oops’, back in the next and then out again I must try harder.

Joining Slimming World Braybrooke Hall was the best decision I have ever made, other than agreeing to marry my wonderful husband.

We have both made lifelong friendships with many of the group members. It’s like have an extended family. We have such a great social life now, that our children moan that we are never in when they call. Before joined Slimming World we never went anywhere.

I hope everyone reading this takes comfort from the fact that it is not always a fast journey. Some people can do it fast but others like myself can plod on at a slow pace and get there in our own time.

Good luck each and every one of you.


Slimming World Breakfasts

I had spotted it a few days earlier. Hiding on the top shelf of the fridge behind a jar of pickle. How did it get there? Did Karen or my mum buy it without telling me. Perhaps my daughter left it behind on her last visit. A small inviting pack of Mozzarella Cheese unopened. What’s more it was 50% half fat Mozzarella.

A quick check in my Food Optimising book tells me I can have 70g of this stuff as my Healthy Extra A. 70grams! I’m so going to enjoy this.

I had spent some time fretting about how I should use it. I could top a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise with it, or I could make a WW wrap pizza. Finally, this morning at about 6.09a.m. I simply decided that cheese on toast was the answer. I mean what could be better than cheese on toast for brekkers? I sat up in bed and savoured the promise of it for a while. Around 7.16a.m. I went downstairs to prepare the meal. I didn’t want to rush things.

Slimming World Breakfasts

Slimming World Breakfasts

Huge Disappointment

I checked that we had bread. Yes! I had made a loaf yesterday. I opened the fridge to check that the Mozzarella was there, and it was. Removing it carefully as if I was handling an item of great value and delicacy I glanced at the sell by date. The 4th March 2018. That was six weeks ago! I have had a few disappointments in life and this was up there with the others, let me tell you.

I now had to decide whether I could safely eat it. Opening the pack, I looked at the ball of cheese and prodded it. It looked OK. It didn’t smell weird, it was ready to eat. But I couldn’t do it. I had to be satisfied with egg on toast with bacon on the side. Having been cruelly denied my breakfast of choice and being in a bit of a mood by now, I refused to have any speed food with my meal to punish the Slimming World gods.

14 Tasty Slimming World Breakfasts

Here are some of my favourite Slimming World breakfasts that I enjoy assuming all the ingredients are in stock and not past their sell by date.

Plain porridge with syrup – I make the porridge with water and salt in a microwave oven and add a dollop of syrup for 2 syns on top. Karen usually has jam with hers.

Chocolate porridge with fruit – This smashes your Healthy Extras to pieces in one fell swoop at the beginning of the day but it is delicious. I sometimes have it with banana or mandarin segments. Frozen summer fruits is another option.

Fat free Honey Yoghurt with fruit and Grapenuts – Very quick to prepare and I sometimes only use 20g of the Grapenuts so that I have half of my Heathy Extra B saved for later.

Oaty Waffles with Yoghurt and fruit and sometimes a drizzle of Sweet Freedom Choc Shot

Omellete – almost any sort of omelette served with side salad. This breakfast means that you don’t use your Healthy Extras and can save them for later in the day.

English breakfast - Skinny pork sausages from Aldi 1½ syns each. Plus eggs, bacon, beans, mushrooms tomato et al. Another Healthy Extra saving breakfast.

Huge pile of fresh fruit with perhaps a yoghurt. This is easier in the summer months when there is a huge, plentiful range of fruit available.

Scrambled Egg on Toast – I usually add bacon into the mix.

Weetabix Additions with milk - Our ‘go to’ breakfast when we are away from home and need to be good. Easy to pack and just find some milk to go with it.

Steak and chips with side salad. I don’t have this very often, but It is an option if you are going out for a day of hill walking.

‘Actifry’ roasties/chips with egg and bacon and sweet chilli sauce. The Tefal Actifry manages to cook lots of things for almost no syns but roasties and chips are the best. If ours broke down, we would buy another one immediately.

Rainbow Breakfast – The idea is to have sausage, bacon and egg as your protein with as many salad vegetables as you can find. The more the merrier. It looks very appetising and is great if you know you are going to be busy all day. It keeps you going till supper.

Rainbow Breakfast

Rainbow Breakfast - as many different colours as I could find

Overnight Oats – I think we all know this one. There are many variations but my method, which is the correct way, is usually a muller light yoghurt, 40g oats and frozen summer fruits. Put in the fridge overnight and you have breakfast ready to eat in the morning.

Mozzarella cheese on toast – but not today as my cheese is out of date…

Meanwhile I need to talk about something…

The Elephant In The Room

When you have been on a weight loss program for a long time you get to a point where you nearly stop losing weight. It becomes very hard to finish the job and get to target. This is my experience anyway. As a result of this most people get a bit sensitive and wary of asking me how it is going. I say ‘most people’ but that doesn’t mean ‘all’ people.

The elephant in the room in my case is people asking, ‘How is your weight going?’

Karen and I had the pleasure of attending Nigella’s birthday party in Bracknell a few weeks back. There were many friends from our old Bluebrook Park group in attendance which was good. Not least of these were Martina and Jackie.

There is an Elephant in the room

There is an Elephant in the room - "How Is Your Weight Going?"

‘How Is Your Weight Going?’

We arrived in time for the big surprise reveal – Nigella had no idea about the party – and then sat down with our Bluebrook Park friends. Barely had we got comfy when Jackie asked, ‘How is your weight going?’ Trust her to just come out and say it. Thank You Jackie.

There are a few people in our Killay group who are also always keen to know, Holly, Mary and Shay come to mind. But in the main it’s all a bit secretive and hush hush.

Sidenote About Nigella’s Party

I had a fantastic non-scale victory during the party. The music was playing, and we were dancing in a Bluebrook Park group, about 15 of us. I’ve got moves on the dance floor you know. Not very good ones but I have got them. Anyway, Nigella’s sister who I haven’t seen for a year or so was one of the dancers. Suddenly she shouted out ‘Ken!’ at the top of her voice and ‘I didn’t recognise you!’.

She hadn’t realised how much weight I have lost and was effusive with her praise and congratulations. She came over and hugged me and said a hearty well done. I was on top of the world, if a little embarrassed.

So How Is My Weight Going?

For those people afraid to ask, I am nearly back to reclaiming my 6 stones award. I go down a bit and then up a bit but feel that my head and my body is in a good place to finish what I started. I am trying to overcome a prescribed drug that I must take for life that inhibits weight loss but other than that I have no excuses. And please don’t be afraid to ask me about my weight. I am my favourite subject of conversation.

Gower Walk Day Three – Llangenith to Penclawdd

We had a plan. It was a good plan. Walk around Gower in three days following the Gower Coastal Path in the main. Where possible we would walk the beaches at Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich Bay, Rhosilli Bay and Broughton Bay. I had particularly chosen this week as the low tides were favourable although I feel I must accuse them of ignoring the Tidal Charts that I referenced. The timings were often not quite right.

Quite possibly the worst selfie ever

Quite possibly the worst selfie ever

If you have been following my Gower Walk posts, you will know that from day one we struggled to stay together with the plan. On day three we departed from it completely.

We had been warned in a dream not to follow the Broughton Bay to Llanrhidian section of the path as it was very wet and dangerous. At least I think it was a dream. Maybe it was an angel. No! I remember it was another walker going the other way. The same one we met struggling her way across Mewslade Bay on Day Two.

We earnestly warned her about Pwlldu Head and in return she told us how bad our journey ahead would be. With deep regret we heeded her warning and walked the road route from Llangenith to Llanrhidian.

A Little Bit Boring

The road from the Kings Head in Llangenith to Welcome to Town in Llanrhidian has few landmarks of distinction. We satisfied ourselves with the noisy but rather beautiful black sheep in the fields and the occasional glimpse of the Loughor Estuary a mile to the north. Who knew how many vehicles use that road? It was very busy and a total contrast to the first two days.

Day Three Route

Day Three Route

We almost dreamt of a muddy puddle or a difficult rocky climb as we consumed the fumes and avoided being run over.

The Llanrhidian Marsh Road

It was nevertheless a sensible decision, reluctantly taken, to avoid the coastal path for this section. ‘Welcome to Town’ in Llanrhidian was not open for a coffee as we arrived there in only an hour and twenty minutes.

“The Crofty Inn!” we exclaimed to each other and eagerly set out from Llanrhidian for Crofty.

This is a walk we have done around 40 times since we arrived in Penclawdd last June (2017). We regularly take the 116 bus to Llanrhidian and then walk the five miles home. It’s a simple and rewarding way to end the day. We know the marsh road intimately.

We have over the months shepherded flocks of sheep from grazing on the road a number of times. We are talking thousands of Salt Marsh Sheep. We try not to think about the fact that we frequently order ‘Salt Marsh Lamb’ from the butchers. That must be these very same sheep.

Then there are the marsh ponies and horses. They are always there, mainly gathering around the children’s play area in Crofty.

As well as the sheep and the other wildlife there are many birds and gulls on the marshes. We are still learning what bird is what, but we can still appreciate the diversity of wildlife here in Gower even if we don’t know what it is.

The Marsh Road, Llanrhidian

The Marsh Road, Llanrhidian

We arrived in Crofty to discover that The Crofty Inn was also closed! We were walking too fast for the local pubs to be open. You must understand that we are ‘Ex-Townies’ who are still getting used to the variable hours that pubs and restaurants choose to open in this part of the country.

In the towns around London everything is done with precision and accuracy as regards opening times. Most pubs where we moved from last year, open for breakfast and then drag it out for morning coffee until the real drinkers arrive around 12.00.

Needing A Break

By the time we arrived in Penclawdd we were in need of a public convenience having worked our way through two bottles of water and `walked 9 miles. Penclawdd Health Centre came to our rescue, and as I ordered a necessary repeat prescription (A brilliant but true cover story for us to make use of the facilities) Karen dashed to the Ladies and I went to the Gents, safe in the knowledge that I would be the one waiting for my nearest and dearest to complete her visit rather than the other way around…

And so to Penclawdd. And so to the marshes. We have grown to love these marshes with their strange tidal flows and secret pathways. We see dog walkers meandering around them right out to the edge of the river and yet cannot fathom how they get there. We have much to learn. These marshes have become ‘our’ marshes as far as we are concerned although we are happy to let others enjoy them.

Penclawdd Marshes aka 'our' marshes

Penclawdd Marshes aka 'our' marshes

On Reflection – Lessons Learned From Our Gower Walk

1. Taking photographs slows down the pace of our walking

2. Using a camera saves time over using a mobile phone and gives you better pictures.

3. Even the best laid plans need to be flexible. We did not take into account how wet the months of February and March have been this year.

4. Having all weather footwear and waterproof clothing is a must.

5. 40 miles in three days is a long way for two people in their sixties.

6. Being modest and humble about this achievement is very difficult. After day one we lost our reticence and reserve completely and basically told anyone who would talk to us what we were doing. We almost forced ourselves upon them.

And I am not even ashamed about it. Hey you out there! We are a couple of over 60’s who have just walked around Gower. You need to know this! Humility and modesty have never been strong points of mine.

7. As I write this three days after completion we are still recovering. Karen had no blisters and I only had one for the last mile on Day Three. That is the beauty of training and preparation. By Monday we will be fully functional again I’m sure.

8. Having snacks in the rucksack is important. So is water to drink.

9. We will probably never do this again. Not because we couldn’t but because there was little time to enjoy the detail of each location. There are many places we will return to for a day just to enjoy them. Top of the list, Overton Bay.

10. We will repeat Day Three but using the coastal path as we originally intended, in August or September, when it should be more navigable. With a warm summer it will have dried out. This will add about 5 miles to the Day Three total.

Statistics – Supplied from my Mapmyrun account. They don’t seem to quite add up, but this is what it says, and computer data is always right as you well know.

Day One – 14 miles – Steps 34810 – Average Pace 25 minutes – Actual Walk Duration 5 hours 50 minutes

Day Two – 16 miles – Steps 44449 – Average Pace 29 minutes – Actual Walk Duration 7 hours 51 minutes

Day Three – 10 miles – Steps 21299 – Average Pace 20 minutes – Actual Walk Duration 3 hours 16 minutes

Fastest Mile Time 18.46

Slowest Mile Time 40.00

No Regrets

We have completed another of our ‘bucket list’ items although not quite as fully as we had hoped. But that is all part of the adventure. We could have simply not bothered to plan it or do it in the first place, and we would have been the poorer for it.

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Gower Walk Day Two – Oxwich to Llangenith

I forgot to mention in my post for Day One that we ended the day in Oxwich Bay Hotel. We had an hour to wait for the return bus home. This fine watering hole has for many years provided us with drinks at the end of a sunny beach day. On Tuesday it was needed to help us recharge. Karen recuperated with a large glass of Pinot Grigio, real comfort wine.

Oxwich Bay Hotel Start

Oxwich Bay Hotel Start

Belgian Blue Moon

I scanned the bar for something original to choose for myself. There was a Belgian Wheat beer on offer called Blue Moon which was new to me. I love most wheat beers so decide to enjoy one.

“Do you want a slice of orange with it”

“No thank you, why would I want that?”

“It brings out the flavour of the beer.”


I must have been in euphoric mood or a bit tired but I accepted the recommendation from the barman. It was so exquisitely wonderful that I felt obliged to enjoy a second one before we left.

Our sense of achievement from Day One of our walk had us glowing this morning. We were eager to face the day. But having fallen short of our target of Port Eynon we decided to try and make up the miles on day two.

To this effect we eschewed the delights of the bus and drove to Oxwich arriving at 7.30. There is no early morning bus service to Oxwich. The car park was closed. The little shop opposite had also closed its gates. Oxwich doesn’t lack for yellow lines on its roads so we had a problem. Eventually we parked in the previously mentioned Oxwich Bay Hotel. Thanks to the receptionist who generously gave us permission to leave our car there.

Footpath Diversion between Slade and Port Eynon

Footpath Diversion between Slade and Port Eynon

Oxwich Point

And so to walk. Following the muddy incidents of Tuesday, we decided to miss out Oxwich Point. The initial climb up would have been quite treacherous in the wet. We walked over the point into Slade and then down to the coastal path. Our progress to Port Eynon was fairly uneventful other than to enjoy the crashing high tide waves and the incessant drizzle. We arrived at 9.15 and shared a portion of chips at The Captain’s Table.

The Many Bays

Then we took a deep breath, knowing that we were about to face the most arduous section of our walk around Gower. The sun also came out to encourage our progress. The walk over Port Eynon point led us to Overton Bay. The view was extraordinary. The sense of awe and wonder at the huge waves and the bustling wind was breath-taking. Why have we never been there before?

On rounding the far end of Overton Bay we caught a first distant glimpse of Worm’s Head. This view was to appear and disappear many times over the next four hours. As a target it was very motivating, but Worm’s Head seemed to be taunting us with its occasional glimpses. It never really seemed to be getting closer until we reached Fall Bay.

Day Two Map

Day Two Map

We trekked through hill and dale admiring the many bays, each with their own shape and character. Over the seven miles we must have met just a handful of people. We had South Gower to ourselves and revelled in the experience. This was until we reached Ramsgrove Bay and Mewslade Bay. We found this section of steep and extremely hazardous rocky climbs very difficult going both down and up. We met a lady coming the other way who was finding it just as hard to progress.

In terms of time this section probably added an hour to our walk time. I recorded the walk using Map My Run which showed the split times for this section as being very long indeed. It reported us doing a mile in 40 minutes which is embarrassingly slow for us.

Worm's Head

Worm's Head

Worm’s Head

Who knew that a coastguard’s hut would be such a welcome sight? It drew us in for the last climb and Worm’s Head hid itself for one more time before revealing its full glory and all its grandeur. I will never tire of seeing it. I always have to take photos of it from every conceivable angle even though I know I’ve done it before.

We had lunch at Causeway. We would rather have gone to the pub restaurant, but I had fallen in the mud at Mewslade Bay and was not looking my best. As we looked across Rhosilli Bay we both knew that to catch up from Day One we had to get to Llangenith. We were already quite tired and our bodies were creaking, but without words passing between us we knew we had to do it.

I asked a Causeway staff member how long the beach is and he said 2.8 miles. But he had been told this in a pub so wasn’t perhaps to be relied upon. I made the distance as 3.5 miles. We stepped it out as we knew the tide was about to turn. Our plan to round the far point at Spaniard Rocks into Brougton Bay was thwarted by the incoming tides. We were about 30 minutes too late.

Instead we got lost on Llangenith Marshes. A somewhat ignominious end to a glorious day. 16 miles of wind, waves and wonderful views. And we were back on schedule.

Gower Walk Day One – Mumbles to Oxwich

After months of planning and preparation, Karen and I finally commenced our walk around Gower today. This feat has been a ‘bucket list’ idea for a long time as we have holidayed here over many years. Now that we are Gower residents it was something we simply had to do.

Outside Verdi's - Start of Gower Walk

Outside Verdi's - Start of Gower Walk

Best Laid Plans

I expected there to be some flexibility in the progress as I wasn’t completely sure of the timings and the distances. I say this even though we have reconnoitred all but 6 miles of the walk in the last 9 months. What could go wrong? What beastly occurrence or mishap could hinder us from succeeding in our venture?

The answer is mud! Pure and simple. So much mud. Mud on the footpaths, mud on the rocks, mud on the stiles and complete mud pools in many places. And if it wasn’t mud it was water. Perhaps I should start with our bus ride into Mumbles to commence our walk.

“It’s only five minutes’ walk from here”

We caught the 7.00 a.m. bus to Singleton Hospital and then jumped on the connecting bus to Mumbles. But it doesn’t go to the Mumbles despite advertising ‘Limeslade’ on the front of the bus. Our local bus company has contrived a route to get to Limeslade without going too close to the Mumbles, even though they are next door to each other.

Mumbles to Oxwich

Mumbles to Oxwich

“I’ll drop you at the nearest stop, it’s only five minutes’ walk from there” our bus driver informed us. “Ha! – I laugh in the face of a five minutes’ walk!” I retorted in my best musketeer voice. I didn’t really do that but, rather strangely, I thought it.

We duly arrived at Verdi’s and took the obligatory selfie in front of it. I had this strange feeling of being important and about to be epic. Not sure where that all came from. I wanted to tell complete strangers what we were about to do. I managed to contain myself.

The first four miles were uneventful, and we celebrated with a cup of tea and half each of an expensive welsh cake in the Surf Café at Caswell Bay. Then we walked calmly to Pwlldu Bay, taking the lower path. It was wet but not too bad. After Pwlldu Bay the trouble started. On arriving at the top of the hill to walk around the head we were met with a huge 40-metre-long pool of mud. There was no way around it so we had to take the road route and omit Pwlldu Head entirely.


Lunch was taken at the Cliff Café, Southgate. A favourite eatery of ours and it did not disappoint us today. But the walk to Three Cliff Bay was like mud pool dodgems. We have never seen so much surface water and mud here before. Eventually we got down to the sand to find that the Three Cliff’s river was swollen and could not be easily crossed.

Oxwich Bridge

Oxwich Bridge

We resigned ourselves to walking inland to Parkmill and back again having crossed the footbridge to navigate the waterway near the lifeguard shed. The tide was low today and we rounded the point easily. The remainder of our walk to Oxwich was uneventful except that our planned destination had been Port Eynon. The mud and water had lost us a couple of hours and we could not make the time up.

Tomorrow we plan to walk from Oxwich to Rhosilli. If that goes well we might extend it to LLangenith. Mud and Water permitting. The final day will be to get us home to Penclawdd. Wish us luck!

This Is Me – Emma’s Personal Story

Tonight, in the 5.30 group there were several members beating themselves up over slow weight loss and comparing their journey to mine and quite wrongly feeling down over it.

Ladies, just by being in the group you should feel proud of yourselves, you are strong enough to have taken steps to lose weight and no matter how slow it’s going, you are still doing just that!

Emma 2011

Emma 2011

So I wanted to take the opportunity to post my story here as nobody in the group knows what my journey has been and what motivates me to be there at all.

The Start Of It All

Six and a half years ago, on September 1st 2011, I was admitted into the intensive care unit at a hospital whilst on holiday in Florida, unable to walk or feel my legs arms and face, I had no clue what was wrong with me and was totally terrified.

At first the doctors thought I'd had a stroke but after many lumbar punctures, MRI scans, blood tests and CT scans I was diagnosed with a rare illness called Guillain Barrè Syndrome which is a rare and serious condition of the peripheral nervous system. It occurs when the body's immune system attacks the nervous system and the cause is unknown.


I spent two weeks paralysed from the neck down in the hospital, under the care of 5 doctors, barely able to move and in constant and extreme pain which was kept under control with morphine. On two separate occasions during that time my heart stopped, and I honestly thought I was going to die, it was quite literally touch and go whether I was to be intubated and put on a ventilator as my body was unable to breathe without support.

Thankfully after eight of a total ten plasmapheresis treatments (a process in which the liquid in the blood, or plasma, is separated from the cells) I turned a corner and started to get stronger. After 15 days I was able to walk with the support of a nurse and a zimmer frame. I was then flown on an air ambulance back to Wales where I spent a further four months in a neuro rehab ward learning to walk, dress, wash, feed myself and write at the age of 31.

Slow Recovery

I was only able to walk a few steps with the aid of crutches but found I was so weak I had to use a wheelchair for eight months and continued to walk with crutches and then a walking stick for another year after that.

My recovery was frustratingly and painfully slow with nothing I could do except to wait for my nerves to regrow and hopefully return feeling to my feet and hands, so I could walk again and just be the person I was.

Today you may look at me and think I've fully recovered but those close to me will know that I deal with the residuals of this horrible illness on a daily basis, chronic fatigue, unexplained pains, muscle weakness and dysaesthesia, there is no known cure and all I can do is manage with what I have.

Before this illness I was a size 10, very active and healthy and was one of those people that could eat anything and never seemed to gain weight (I hate those people now!).

As a result of heavy medication and being wheelchair bound I gained 4.5 stone and hardly recognised myself in the mirror anymore, my boyfriend ended our relationship, I became depressed and cried a lot and didn’t want to be here, be a burden and feel worthless anymore.

This Is Me

This Is Me

Then I bumped into a guy I’d known since my teenage years and things improved, I had already been told by doctors it was unlikely I would be able to have children as due to the side effects of the medication I had stopped ovulating and was due to undergo procedures to investigate this but then, unbelievably a miracle happened and in July 2013 I gave birth to the son I never thought I’d have.

I continued to struggle with my weight as due to my illness I find it impossible to exercise other than walking without experiencing pain and lethargy the next day.

In May 2017 I had my second son and was determined to get back to somewhere near what I used to look like so joined Slimming World in July, six weeks after giving birth.

To date I have lost 4stone 3lb and am almost at target and have posted pictures of what I looked like 6.5 years ago, and my journey to what I look like now.

Everyone Has Their Own Journey

I guess what I’m saying is, everyone has their own journey and for some it’s harder than others but only you can control the pace you lose weight and you should feel so proud of yourselves! Don’t ever compare yourself to someone else and feel you’re not good enough, you have your own story and your weight loss journey is just that... yours, nobody else’s.

I love our little group and the support I’ve felt since joining has been amazing, I just hope I can inspire others by sharing this post to get to where they want to be ?
If you’ve made it this far, well done! Keep going guys, you’ve got this!

Footnote: Thank you to the amazing Emma from Killay Slimming World Group for allowing me to post this. (Taken from her original Facebook post with minor edits)

How I Stayed At My Slimming World Target

Reaching ‘Target’ is a goal that we all strive towards. We ‘Food Optimise’, we measure our healthy A’s and B’s, we count our syns, we scrutinise our social events, we make sure that nothing gets in our way. In theory we all know ‘how’ to get to target but what about ‘staying’ at target?

Karen before and after

Karen before and after

The Big Day

The ‘Big Day’ arrived. Everyone clapped and cheered. Photos were taken of the momentous occasion. I was awarded a ‘target badge’, a ‘target certificate’, a ‘target book’ – everyone congratulated me and then I sat in my chair. That was the moment I realised that my focus for months – even years – had been to reach a certain weight goal. I had made it. Now what do I do?

I didn’t need to lose weight anymore, I needed to stay as I was – but how do you do that? All along the journey I had been telling myself what to eat, what not to eat, how to cook this and how to cook that…  Listening to tips about how to lose weight and I had now arrived! But I didn’t need to lose anymore…

A New Day

It is a bit like going on holiday. You have done the packing, the planning, the journey and you have arrived at your holiday. Now you are meant to relax and enjoy it. If you are anything like me, I need a day to realise that I am on holiday, let alone start to enjoy it!

When you reach ‘Target’, you don’t suddenly become a new person. You don’t suddenly look slim.  Your mind is still in weight loss mode and you sort of feel lost because you don’t know what to do next!

The target book helps – we have been schooled to know that we can read up on Slimming World and know what to do. However, it doesn’t change how you feel as you are still the same person; you have just achieved your target weight loss goal. 

Many people, including myself, initially feel that you can eat anything, and everything will be the same! However, our bodies will put on weight if we go off plan. I discovered this when I went out for a meal and ate the full three courses. Fortunately I had gone under my target and so I had just enough leeway to keep inside the target range of 3 lbs above or below the designated target. Phew!

Tips To Help Stay At Target

It is at this point that we need the help of others in group who have reached and maintained their target weight. I spent ages grilling one particular person in group called Bindi. She and her husband had been at target since before I joined the Bluebrook Park group.

The tips I received were to keep varying things. Make sure you have about seven or more different breakfasts, plus a wide selection of meals and lots of snack options.  Basically, you stay on plan and check that you are maintaining.  Eat a lot of varied food and lots of speed. You can add an extra Healthy B and a few syns but always remember that your weight can go back on. The regime eases but the framework is still there. 

The most important thing for me was to realise that Slimming World is a complete life change. It is a permanent change to my eating habits and not a temporary blip. It doesn’t mean I can never have something that I love to eat or drink – but that I need to allow for it as I had done when following the weight loss journey.

If you have a ‘flexible Syn’ day, you need to food optimise to ensure that it doesn’t mean you add a lot of weight. It is a controlled way of eating. You have to keep your new good habits, or the old ones will come back and before you know it you have fallen off the wagon and gone back to your old ways of eating and drinking and the pounds are creeping back on.

Careful Planning

Initially I was quite obsessed with my weight and needed to know I was staying inside my top and bottom weight range. In group we are always encouraged to only weigh in group as the group scales are calibrated and give an accurate weight.

Now you are at target you don’t need to have an accurate weight, you just need to know if you are going up or down or staying the same. You don’t need to weigh every week and are allowed to fluctuate – so long as you stay in your target range. I now use our home scales to keep an eye on my weight but still go to group regularly to make sure I follow the “plan” and help and encourage others to get there.

Special Occasions

If you have an event or a holiday coming up, there is nothing to prevent you from food optimising so that you go to the lower end of your target range. You then have a little more leeway while on holiday. There is nothing more upsetting than relaxing and realising that you have put on extra pounds while on holiday.

Yes, you will come back to the weighing scales, but you can limit the damage by trying to food optimise while on holiday by making good choices, but you have a little safety net to help protect your weight loss so that any increase is minimal and less likely to be much outside your target range – although you will have a short time to get back in range.

Before and After Photos

Make sure you have before and after photos so show how far you have come.  It took quite a few months before I started to realise that I looked slimmer – no matter how many people told me.  I was still dressing as if I was carrying extra weight. We can’t all afford a new wardrobe, but it is important to look at what we are wearing and dress to suit the new shape we have achieved.

You cannot really look good in size 20 clothes if you are a 14! Neither can you look as good in a size 14 or 12 if you are really a size 10 or 8.  It does take a bit of time to get used to seeing the new you and being the new you.  Usually it is a good idea to take a good friend or family member you can trust to help you when you start to get your new clothes.  Sometimes a new hair style can help too as it gives us a new lease of life and more self-confidence.

Enjoy Life 

It is also important to enjoy the benefits of your weight loss. Make sure you get out doing the things you were too big to enjoy before. Join events where people don’t know you. Maybe take up ballroom dancing, join a rambling or other walking group – even start to join in family events that you didn’t have the energy to do before.

You have really worked hard to get to target and it is really important that you enjoy it and all the benefits that it brings. You have been given a new lease of life and need to live life to the full. Be proud of what you have done and let everyone see the difference it has made to you.

Staying To Group

Most important of all – keep going to your group and they will help you to keep on track while you can encourage them to get to target too.  If you need another goal – aim for the Diamond Member Badge. You can only get this by staying in target for a year – and the best chance of that is to stay to group. I can’t wait to get my Diamond Member Badge in July. After a year, you will really know you have created a new way of life and can be super proud of yourself.

No longer do I have to choose clothes that hide my shape and disguise my weight. I can now choose clothes that I want to wear. I can do activities that I want to do without fear of not having enough stamina. I can share in family life and enjoy life to the full knowing that I have taken steps to ensure my weight is no longer an issue.

I have worked really hard to reach my target weight. I fully intend to enjoy it to the max! I’m also not going to let anyone steal my target. The ball is in my court. No excuses. I am in control. It is up to me to maintain my new found ‘Target Weight’. I am determined to enjoy my new found freedom. I encourage you to enjoy it too when you attain your desired target weight.

(Thanks to my wonderful wife Karen for writing this blog post)

Relationship Breakup – Tracey’s Personal Story

Part One – Making the Decision

Tonight has been really difficult for me. Whilst I appreciate I had a loss, it was only half a pound and I am currently living with a saboteur. So, I have made the difficult decision to break up for a while. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I got home tonight after weigh-in and broke the news that it was going to be our last night together for a while. I am going to cherish our last moments together and hope we can get back together in the future as I don’t want to completely break all ties.

So farewell wine, my weight loss is currently more important than you!!!

Bottle of Wine

Farewell Wine!

Part Two – Keeping My Resolve

It’s one-week post breakup, it hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined it would be, but it has still been painful, as we had been together for such a long time. I had a weak moment after group on Thursday and we had a brief reconciliation at The Black Boy, but I made it clear that I was going home alone. That was a big mistake as I wavered last night, and we spent the night together.

I woke with a sense of regret and questioned why I had a moment of madness when I had made the decision to break up. It threatens to sabotage my weight loss yet again, so why did I do it? I am not going to beat myself up about my moment of weakness but have locked the door and will not be sending an invite any time soon.

Being without you helped me lose 3 1/2lbs this week and get my 3 1/2 stone award, so why would I choose to be with you when you seriously hinder my weight loss journey? I think I just need to keep telling us both that I am currently better off not having a relationship with you. Besides, I don’t believe in cheating so have made a choice.

For the time being I have decided who I want to be with - wine, you are dumped yet again and I choose you, prosecco fizz (although please don’t judge me at the Xmas party next week as I did say that we might spend one night together).

Part Three – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

What have you done to me? I have just walked out of class feeling positive about the week ahead then went straight to the local supermarket to seek you out. I was so close to bringing you home with me, but I resisted and came home alone.

You really are testing me, aren’t you? I saw you with that group of women last weekend, flirting. I know you were trying to make me jealous, trying to tempt me to get back with you and take you home. You know that I have been weak where you are concerned. I saw them all fall under your spell, the more time they spent with you, the more giggly they became.

Bye Bye For Now

Bye Bye For Now

They were intoxicated in your presence. I did start to waver, remembering the good times we have spent together. You have been with me through good and bad times. When there has been a celebration, you are the one that I celebrated with. When I have had a bad day, I have turned to you for support, you have that knack of relaxing me and making me think that things aren’t as bad as they first seemed.

That has made me stay with you and want you more. This is why it was so difficult to break up with you. However, I must remain strong and not give into temptation, despite your best attempts to convince me that I had made the wrong decision and needed you, wanted you. I still do want you, but I have realised that I actually do not need you.

You have just become a habit. I have turned to you when experiencing various emotions, believing that you held all of the answers. My weight loss journey is going better without you. Whilst I have enjoyed travelling the scenic route with you, I am currently enjoying being in the faster lane without you (apart from my gain tonight but I am determined to pull it back this week and you weren’t responsible for it!)

So for now, I will stay on my own - thanks for the good times - my rock, my Rioja!!!

Thank you to the brilliant Tracey from Killay Slimming World group for writing this piece and allowing me to post it here.

When Do You Draw The Line After Getting Weighed?

As you may know, this summer we moved across country from Berkshire to South Wales. The town we used to live in was near the queen in Windsor, although she never did pop in for a cuppa! This move necessitated us changing many things, doctors, dentists, church and of course our Slimming World group. Who knew how hard this was going to be? Well we did one hundred percent if truth be known.

We had loved and fellowshipped with the Bluebrook Park Slimming World group for eighteen months and made friends for life there. We still love visiting our old group when we go back to Bracknell. Naomi had achieved her target there and I had lost over five stones in my time there. The people of Bluebrook Park will always hold a special place in our hearts.

But we set out to find our new group. After a dreadful and rather desperate false start, we found our current lovely group in Killay. They received us with open arms and we have become completely involved with this new Slimming World group. It occurs to me that there must be hundreds, if not thousands of supportive and friendly Slimming World groups all over the country. We have been truly privileged to be part of two of these groups.

And So To The Point Of This Blog Post…

In our old group we got weighed at 7.30 in the morning on a Saturday. Our consultant, Mandy Lace, would tell us how sensible we should be and not go off the rails after group. Well some of us tried, we really did, but weekends are complicated and difficult.

I'm not Telling You It's Going To Be Easy

I'm not Telling You It's Going To Be Easy

This early Saturday morning weigh time is crucial to understanding what I am saying here. Everyone who has ever been on a diet in the whole of history of the world knows that your ‘diet starts on a Monday’.

By getting weighed on a Saturday you only have two days to get totally wasted before you focus and get back on the plan properly. You know the sort of thing… wine, beer, chocolate, fish and chips, nuts, burgers, pork sausages, pâté, Turkish delight. Experienced dieters like me will know what I mean.

The Saturday morning weigh time meant that you could, if you were so disposed, cheat for two whole days before concentrating and getting back on your plan to lose weight before your next group meeting. There was even the possibility of securing a small loss on the scales.

Now I do not want to appear to be disparaging about the Bluebrook Park members. Far from it! I’m sure that most of them never contemplated such a cheat or a tweak over the weekends. But they are so much better than me. I admit to the occasional weekend binge before realising the folly of my ways and returning to my Slimming World diet on Monday morning.

I am a reformed character now as I don’t weigh on a Saturday anymore. But…

The Extra Problem With Weighing On A Thursday

What I have discovered is that getting weighed on a Thursday carries with it an extra problem. It is nearly the weekend! Theoretically you could get weighed on a Thursday, and have a bad day on Friday, before losing it over the weekend and acknowledging your folly on a Monday morning. This is purely hypothetical, naturally…

I would never involve myself in this type of stupid behaviour. But the possibility remains that you could lose three and a half days before you come to your senses and restart your diet. Then you have an uphill struggle to even get back to where you started the previous week.

Oh dearie me! What to do? Where lies the answer to this conundrum?

Where Do You Draw The Line After Getting Weighed?

Or indeed WHEN do you draw the line? You could of course plan for this eventuality and try to avoid this potential catastrophe before it occurs. Would that be so difficult? Well it seems to be so. One of our members who I’ll call ‘Leaves’ (She’s got a thing for spinach) asked members to share what day they find the most difficult to stay on plan. The answers were varied but demonstrated that we all have times when it is hard not to cheat. Very hard. So how do you overcome this problem?

I’m thinking that a good starting point is Friday morning. You could enjoy the remains of Thursday and be a complete ‘wombat’ for the evening before resuming your diet on Friday morning. This gives you six whole days to pull everything back in and actually make an impact on the scales the following week.

Once you remain ‘off plan’ up to Friday night I’m guessing that you will have lost the plot and are doomed to a bad weekend and destined for a ‘maintain’ next week if you are lucky and a ‘gain’ in all probability.

But here’s a fresh idea. What about planning your Thursday so that you don’t cheat in anyway at all. Say to yourself that you are not going off plan on Thursday this coming week. This is a bit radical I know, but why not try it? Tell your friends and family that you are not going to binge out on a Thursday this week because you are desperate for a loss. This is what you want above all else. It really doesn’t matter what other people want.

By the way… your friends and family are watching you closely and in most cases, want you to succeed with your weight loss. Your ‘going off plan’ confuses them.

Draw the line somewhere

Draw the line somewhere

You Draw The Line

You must draw your own line. Don’t let it draw itself. Don’t let anyone else tell you where your line is. Don’t aimlessly fall into a line that has been placed there against your will.

Control, containment and resolution are the keys to determining where the line exists. Draw your own line and strategise how you are going to leave it way behind as you move forward.

Note: I wrote this on a Thursday evening when I was full of good intentions. Still on plan by Tuesday morning so that’s good.

A Great Day For Freedom – Six Stone Award

So many things to talk about, so much ground to cover. I have not written a blog post for three weeks – my bad! As I read this back I see that it is a little disjointed, but I hope you will forgive that on this occasion. I usually only try and say one overall thing, but I have lots to relate today.

Before Photos

Before Photos

Three weeks ago, I got weighed a day late as my Grandson had been with us all week and we were looking after him.

But so much happened before that weigh in that I must backtrack. I had a visit to my new doctor. In Bracknell I had the same Doctor for over twenty years. Dr Cody is a little younger than me, I’m guessing, probably in his late fifties. We have always got on extremely well.

Following my unwanted heart episode of ten days previously when my heart rate spiked, I had booked an appointment with my new doctor in South Wales. My first GP appointment in our tiny village surgery in Penclawdd. The receptionist asked if I minded an appointment with a lady doctor. I said ‘no’ thinking that I would get the female version of Dr Cody in Bracknell. And after all I was only going to talk about my heart. I was desperate to see anyone really.

‘I Hope It’s Not Her!’

Skip forward to the following Wednesday and I am sitting in the waiting room awaiting my call. I watched carefully as doors opened and closed and all sorts of ladies appeared and disappeared. ‘I hope it’s not her’ I thought to myself on at least one occasion. I do know that I am bad for thinking like that but I’m only human. I experienced an increasing nervousness about the whole lady doctor thing.

Eventually a voice came over the tannoy ‘Mr Kenneth Jones to room 2 please’. I eagerly made my way to room 2 to discover that my new doctor, a certain Dr Busby, is definitely not a female version of my old doctor. Oh no! It seems to me that all doctors, policemen and school teachers are getting newly qualified having just graduated from nursery school. They are so young!

My New GP

Dr Busby must be in her early thirties at the most. She swivelled around in her chair to greet me. Our eyes locked as we assessed each other and decided if we were going to get on or not. I hope I hid my shock and surprise but probably didn’t. She’s a doctor after all and doctors are clever people. We proceeded somewhat uncertainly for a few minutes until I had explained my history over the last two years and why I was there.

I witnessed the moment that she decided I was not a timewaster and she swung into action. I was so relieved that she took me seriously and we set out a plan to find out what is wrong with my poor old ticker.

When I told her about my weight loss and my fitness she was very positive and encouraging. My pulse and other things presented me as being a very fit person, which is why we need to find out about last week’s blip.

She firmly informed me that a particular drug I am on cannot be stopped under any circumstances due to my condition. I must continue with it for the rest of my life. She also confirmed that the drug will inhibit weight loss as a side effect. Not great when you are on Slimming World. It is possible to lose more weight but it will be very slow. Tell me something I don’t know! I have tests booked to find out what is wrong next week.

A Fabulous Week

In the meantime. We had a fabulous week with our grandson Alfie. We played, walked and ate together. He can only eat the weird stuff babies have, but he was with us as we dined in a variety of hostelries and at home. We were exhausted but happy.

As well as this I have been following my eating plan 100% apart from a bit too much wine on Saturday 14th October. My #onplanoctober thing got me focused. But the results were not forthcoming until yesterday.

Mr Sleek and My 6 Stone Award

Mr Sleek and My 6 Stone Award

Six Stone Award

We walked the five miles to Killay over the hills to our group not really expecting anything too great. ‘Just a loss would be fine’ I lied quietly to myself. We have recently joined the social team in our new group, so I get weighed before the main event. I watched as the numbers gave me an unbelievable loss of three and a half pounds. I was ecstatic!

This meant a total loss of four and half pounds for October, but more importantly the gaining of my six stones award. I only have one stone to reach my target. The whole point of me doing my #onplanoctober thing was to get this award and I did it by the skin of my teeth.

Breaking Facebook

I thought for a while that I had broken Facebook with all the likes and comments being made from both my Bluebrook and Killay group friends. Very touching. I was also awarded the Mr Sleek award and had the opportunity to tell my story and show pictures of how grotesque I was before my diet.

These many elements to my recent days have brought me to a new place. There are so many rooms in Slimming World. There are bad rooms… Guilt, Blame, Shame, Deceit and many more. There are good rooms… Pride, Confidence, Joy, Success and so on.

A Great Day For Freedom

That Wednesday doctor’s appointment two weeks ago was a great day for freedom. My Freedom Room! Hearing about my drug made me realise that I can only do what I can do. Not only that, I have done the best that I could possibly have done in the last two years. And my best has brought me a long way. My best is good enough.

My Best Is Good Enough

My Best Is Good Enough

Even if I wander off to another room from time to time I am still good at this Slimming World diet. This has given me freedom in my head to not torture myself and be negative. I know not to berate myself when the scales don’t perform for me and I feel like giving up. After all, I have come this far and I am not a quitter.

The bad rooms are simply part of the overall journey. You can’t have a successful journey without some problems and bad days. As I said, my six stones award was a great day for this freedom in my head.

Copious And Gratuitous Use Of The ‘To Do’ Verb

‘Kerching!’ My head has finally appreciated the monumental thing I have done and am doing. And I am not done yet. I’m still doing! In fact, it’s not done until it’s done. I will keep on doing the same things, with probably the occasional visit to a bad room but I will get there in the end. More than this, I know what I have to do. My head has cleared out some more junk and I have freedom. When I come to my senses I can be in my Freedom Room.

My Usain Bolt Moment

In amongst all this I did something two weeks ago that I haven’t done since I was in my twenties. I was great at sport in school and was one of those kids who made the school teams for most things. I lived in my PE kit. My best sport was cross country running, and I represented Garth Hill School, Bracknell over two athletics seasons for this. The Berkshire youth champion was also in my year, so I regularly came second but I loved sport and was good at it.

As an adult I played football until I was about 28, when I kept getting injured. Fast forward to the incident a few weeks ago. I was on a bus trip to the Mumbles which involved a change of buses at Singleton Hospital. Imagine my concern when I saw the bus I needed to connect with already waiting for me as the first bus pulled in. It was about 100 metres away.

All the people leaving the bus at the hospital were slow getting off, think crutches and people even older than me. By the time I got off I was sure that the second bus was bound to leave without me… So I ran. I literally sprinted across the road at top speed which I never knew I had. About 40 yards into my Usain Bolt moment I had an epiphany of realisation that I was moving very fast and that was not allowed. I had no idea I could even run.

A case of ‘Miss the bus and live, or catch the bus and die’. I know that is somewhat overdramatic, but this thought literally went through my head. Such was the pleasure and sheer joy of the experience that I nearly said a bad word, but I kept on running. I am still alive to tell the tale. My Fitbit told me my heart rate peaked at 87bpm which is well within limits for me.

Freedom Room

Freedom Room

An Honourable Mention

Clarice achieved her six-stone award over a year ago. I was totally in awe of her achievement at the time and can still remember the event clearly now. I expressed my concern that I would never get to six stones and she calmly told me ‘You will get there’ with a confidence I didn’t have for myself. I know I could never have done this without the support of my many wonderful Slimming World friends.