When I started my journey with Slimming World in January 2016, I only had one aim and that was to help Ken. He had suffered a serious life-threatening heart condition which necessitated an operation. Thankfully he survived but was then told he needed to lose weight.
I was the one who braved the unknown first, by going to our Slimming World group. I was determined that, unlike previous attempts for him to lose weight, this time we were going to succeed and we were going to do it together! Our motivation was to make sure that he stayed well and that his heart could get stronger. The next step was to lose weight and to start walking to strengthen the muscles in his heart.
Joining Bluebrook Park Group
We joined an amazing group of people at Bluebrook Park led by a long-time friend Mandy-Lace who has shown herself to be a truly inspirational leader. Soon many in the group became real friends too as we learned the ways of Slimming World. Over the weeks we laughed and cried with each other as we all shared our own goals, our highs and our lows. Everyone needs a reason to succeed and needs to focus on that reason. For some it was to lose weight for an operation or to deal with the onset of diabetes, to lose weight after having a baby, to get ready for a big occasion like a wedding, to help a loved one, or after being seriously ill, or even to finally get rid of the excess baggage that we have been carrying around for too long.
During the journey, we shared our struggles and then we found strength through this amazing group. We became competitive and learnt that although our focus was to lose weight we had to go further than this. We had to agree to change our lifestyle. Ken and I quickly realised that we could only reach target if we were prepared to change our way of life. Sounds scary but really we only needed to change aspects of it and re-arrange it. We didn’t need to become different people but more focussed on what we wanted to achieve.
Body Magic and Walking
Firstly, while we were coming to grips with the food choices, we decided to work on our ‘body magic’. We increased our activities and started to record what we were doing. Next we changed our habits and decided to do evening walks instead of sitting by the television. Then we started planning regular events in the week. Before we knew it we had attained the Platinum Award on the ‘body magic’ scale and the exercise had become a much valued part of our daily lives. Somehow this had changed our mind set about activity. We felt better for it and found others in the group who enjoyed walking too. Competition time led to Fitbits and who can do the most steps in a week or weekend. After eighteen months we still walk and think nothing of going for a 5 or 7 mile walk. Sometimes we try to go for speed as well and have been known to walk at under 16 minutes a mile.
We found walking helpful in all sorts of ways. It helped us to drink more water (essential on the Slimming World Diet) and it also helped to ‘keep everything regular’ and avoid constipation. Then there was the amazing feel good factor that we were out and about enjoying seeing things we wouldn’t even notice if we just drove past. In addition it was good to chat together without interruptions or distractions. We could also plan strategies and spend time talking them through just on our own. Then came the opportunity to walk with others in the group and get to know them. It so helped to cement relationships and forge friendships where we could be honest with each other and ‘buddy’ with others to help and encourage them while they did the same for us. These times were immensely important to us and really helped us in our journey.
This Is About Me
I finally reached target in July 2017. It was not easy – it was jolly hard. Sometimes I gained and sometimes I maintained. I was also really ill for at least two months and took about a month or two to be able to get back in the “zone” and start losing weight again. Life has a habit of serving up quite a few curve balls, especially when we least expect them. Losing weight is not a breeze but requires a lot of determined effort and self-sacrifice. It can be quite lonely at times, which is why we needed the help of a really supportive group like Bluebrook Park.
Although we had retired and moved away in June, we came back to Bluebrook Group to share my target event. I realised that somewhere along my journey I had decided that I wanted to lose the weight for me as well as Ken. This was about me too. I had not realised how much weight I had been carrying. I had been in denial that I was carrying more than I needed to, as you will see from the before and after pictures! Everyone in group was supportive, especially those who had walked the walk with Ken and I and supported us on the way.
Being at Target
Being at target is different. I suddenly realised that I felt more confident and started to feel good about myself. I could wear clothes that I wanted to wear and could choose from a more ‘with it’ and modern range of clothing. I could now wear shorts and feel comfortable! No longer did I have to hide my extra weight, it was gone!
I hadn’t realised that the extra weight had affected me so much. Ken was over the moon for me and I was pretty chuffed too! We looked at the history of my weight loss and suddenly realised that my average weight loss was just half a pound a week. I know that many do far more than this but others are like me and lose it just a bit at a time. The important thing is to realise that a loss is a loss and even small losses mean that we will get there. There is nothing wrong with being slow and steady. The important thing is to stay on plan and not lose hope. With the support of the group things are more bearable. We all need encouragement and someone to stand with us throughout our journey.
However, it has transpired that being at target is a whole different mind-set. I started looking over my shoulder and fearing that the weight would come back or that I would fall off the wagon. We had a celebration meal out and in the first week I put on 3lbs! Fortunately I had gone under my target weight and so was just safe by half a pound! This made me sit up and realise that I needed to still count my ‘syns’ and check what I was eating. This was a new phase in my journey. The weight would not magically stay off. I still had to make sensible choices. So far, I have managed to do just that and have dropped back into my comfortable target weight range.
I still want to get my 3 Stone Award but I will concentrate on making sure that I stick to the plan. I have worked so hard to get to target that I am determined that nothing is going to take it from me. I am told that after a year I can become a Diamond member! I am determined to stay with Slimming World for life as the changes we have made are permanent. This is our new way of life as we are determined to stay slim and healthy so that we get the best we can out of our retirement.
I also want to keep on encouraging everyone at Bluebrook Park Group to get to their targets as well as our new group. It is such a life changing event. The boost to self-esteem is amazing. The sense that we can achieve anything once we have set our minds to it is empowering.
My other goal is to make sure that Ken gets to target too. We always do things together so it seems odd to me that I have reached target without him. So I have laid down the gauntlet for him and provoked his competitive streak. I know he is focused and with the continued support from Bluebrook Park Group as well as the further encouragement from our new group I know that he will get there.