I was incredibly touched that Ken asked me to write a blog for his website. After the initial nerves of sharing my story subsided, I must admit writing this has been extremely therapeutic. My slimming journey has been a long one with many ups and downs, but I feel completely confident for the first time in my life that I will reach my goal weight.
I am slightly getting ahead of myself and should start from the beginning. I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. I had a traumatic experience when I was young and found comfort in food to help deal with my feelings. At the age of eight I remember hating my body, looking at it in disgust and wishing I could be slim like my school friends.
Like a lot of us I was bullied at school for being overweight. I did my best to mask my pain and laugh at their jokes, but each taunt crushed me and my confidence. My parents are the most wonderful people I know and I am so very proud to be their daughter. They did their absolute best in supporting me with my weight loss, encouraging me to get more active and eat the rights foods, I just never seemed to quite stick to it! The vicious cycle began of secret eating and feeling so shameful that I couldn't slim down.
My childhood was not all doom and gloom. I grew up in the middle east spending a lot of my time in Saudi Arabia. I enjoyed my time there greatly and made some fantastic friends. I tried some amazing food and to this day still enjoy middle eastern cuisine. Those meals, as delicious as they were, were not always slimming friendly! Combine that with a very sedentary lifestyle and the pounds just kept piling on. I then went to boarding school in Bristol at the age of eleven, which is sadly where my eating troubles escalated. I loved being back in the UK but I didn't have anyone watching me with my food. I began to eat more and more, not fully understanding the importance of a balanced diet. My poor food choices just turned into habits and I didn't want to stop them! I enjoyed eating and it was a comfort I could always rely on.
These bad habits lasted for many years, all through my teens and by the time I went to university I was a whopping 20 stone 6lbs. I was in complete denial about my weight and couldn't accept that I had put my health in huge jeopardy. My clothing was a size 26 and the only way I felt I could deal with this was to cut the labels out of my clothes. If I couldn't see the size it wasn't true! After I left Uni. I came home to live with my parents for a brief while in Bracknell. My mum has always been my biggest supporter and she was the one that encouraged me to join a slimming group (it's a rival one to Slimming World so I dare not speak its name!). Without her support, I would not have walked through those doors. Seeing those numbers on the scales hurt me more than I could ever describe. I now had to face what I had done to myself. I had no one else to blame!
I did well with this particular slimming group and lost 60lbs. I won't say that it was all smooth sailing. I had my gains but I seemed to get back into the zone and enjoyed my healthier lifestyle. I was starting to feel happy in my own body and was really enjoying people noticing the difference. This didn't last and after a while I started to get complacent. The yo-yo effect of losing and putting on again was happening all the time. I couldn't get past a certain weight bracket and felt completely frustrated, lost and ready to throw in the towel.
I then met a wonderful man called Ryan who I now can call my husband. This sounds completely and utterly cheesy, but he really saved me. He saw me for the person I was inside and not what I weighed. Fast forward a few years and we got married (it was truly the best day of my life). After we got married I didn't want to focus on weight loss. I was happy in my little bubble and honestly, I didn't believe I could ever lose the weight I needed to. It was so much and just felt completely unachievable.
Much to my surprise I fell pregnant 2 months after getting married. I was always told by my GP that my weight would make it extremely difficult to conceive, so I really was over the moon with the news. At the same time, I was absolutely terrified. Would my weight affect my baby? Would there be complications because of my poor choices? I felt like I had really let myself and my baby down already. I ate well during my pregnancy but the slimming group I had been going to couldn't support me until after my baby was born. I did it on my own and was proud that I managed to maintain my weight throughout.
Once my little boy was born (the best thing I have ever done was to become a mum!) something in my brain just clicked. I decided when he was only 5 weeks old to go to my local Slimming World Group. I wanted to be fit and healthy for not only myself but for him. I wanted to live a long and happy life and I knew my current lifestyle wasn't going to achieve that. For various reasons, a few months in I had to change groups. I joined the most fantastic group on a Saturday with one of my best friends Jody. She in turn has become such a huge inspiration to me for her own journey. The welcome from this group was amazing. I felt so at home immediately and was really positive about the plan. Little did I know that soon these people would become extended family to me.
Joining Slimming World has been the best decision for me and my family. My whole outlook on food has changed. I still enjoy eating but I know the importance of a balanced diet. I don't feel deprived anymore and really enjoy cooking different recipes from scratch. The biggest turning point for me is that I enjoy exercise. I was so ashamed to go to the gym before, but now I enjoy my regular workouts. I don't associate exercise with losing weight, it is just a part of life.
I can now proudly say that I have lost 8st 5lbs (3 stone 2lbs with Slimming World). I have 2.5 stone to go but for the first time in my life I am confident that I will reach it. Thank you to my beautiful consultant, who Ken affectionately calls Mandy-Lace, and the wonderful people of Braybrooke Park Slimming World group. Your support, kindness and guidance has really helped and inspired me.
I wish you all the best on your own weight loss journeys. We will all get there no matter how long it takes. That much is certain.
Much love to you all