I have spent a lifetime being overweight. There are no two ways about that. I was born a big baby and I continuously became bigger through every passing year. It became a way of life for me, and although it upset me, and I would occasionally have sleepless nights worrying about the illnesses it would cause me in the future, I had accepted it. However, that doesn't mean I was happy, I was miserable. I tried to change it. I tried every diet imaginable! I lost some weight, never more than a stone and then it would be back on again as soon as I gave up.
It all came to a head when my eldest daughter was small and I remember sitting in the doctor’s surgery begging for a gastric bypass, I really did believe that was my only option, he refused. Ironically, I wasn't overweight enough, and so that led me to join Slimming World for the first time. You see, this is actually my third time I have been on Slimming World.
I lost 2 stone after the gastric bypass incident and even though it was through Slimming World, it didn’t stick. It was around this time that me and my husband had started to try for a second child, but unfortunately it led us down a path of heartbreak as we suffered miscarriage after miscarriage, and I turned back to the one thing that had always been there for me in my life. Food.
My food habits were extreme, three or four takeaways a week, big bars of chocolate in the evening. Whole packs of ‘galaxy ripples’ were a huge favourite of mine. Of course, the weight came back on, within a matter of two weeks, and I stopped attending Slimming World. I resigned myself to the thought that I was meant to be 'big'. The difference was now though, I had experienced what it was like to be smaller, and even though that two stone hadn’t actually made that much difference to my appearance at the time, I had felt the wonderful benefits of more energy, better skin, and a bounce in my step.
Every single day for the next three years I would say that ‘today was the day’ I was going to be back on Slimming World. Every single morning, I would have a good ‘on plan’ breakfast, but by dinner, I would be back into the habit of takeaways, processed food and enough chocolate to feed a small army. I needed the group, and I knew that, but I was too ashamed to re-join my old one. As well as this, the thought of meeting a whole new bunch of people filled me with fear.
Then, to my surprise I found out I was pregnant. I was over the moon but I was also filled with dread and fear that I would experience the loss of a child again. My husband and I agreed that, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy, this would be the last time we would put ourselves through it. I knew I needed to get my health and my weight in check to give it my best possible chance. I went online, and found the wonderful Bluebrook Park Slimming World group. After an exchange of encouraging texts with Mandy-Lace I plucked up the courage to join.
It was actually Ken that greeted me with a warm smile at the door that first day. He sat me down and made me feel at ease. I followed Slimming World quite happily throughout the beginnings of that pregnancy but I suffered with hypothesis gravidarum… essentially it is extreme morning sickness. I could barely keep anything down and my doctor said I needed to come off Slimming World, not worry about my weight, and just make sure I was providing my baby with enough calories. I understand why she advised me to do this, and I came off Slimming World, but again the old habits crept in. The more fear I felt regarding the pregnancy the more I comfort food I ate. I did it to the point that by the time my baby was born, I was once again at one of my heaviest weights.
It was here that everything began to go downhill for me. Hand in hand with the birth of my second daughter, was also the birth of an illness called Post Natal Depression. It is hard to describe exactly how it made me feel, but I felt like every feeling of failure I had ever bottled up, all those failed diets, the miscarriages, every bad decision I had ever made in my life, came bubbling to the surface and I did not know how to cope with it.
I didn't even want to touch this beautiful child that I had longed for. I didn’t want to do anything. Simple tasks like getting out of bed were too much and instead of turning to food for comfort this time, I stopped eating in the day and survived purely on the chocolate binge I had in the evening. All I knew at that time was that I no longer wanted to be here, and I just needed to find a way where I could make that possible.
Despite the fact that I had become the world’s best actress as hiding the PND, my husband picked up on it and encouraged me to talk to the health visitor. I was diagnosed at 6 weeks with severe post-natal depression and as a danger to myself. Within a couple of hours, I was sat across from my GP who was writing out a prescription for anti-depressants. To begin with, both she and my health visitor encouraged me to take the drugs. I knew that I didn't want to, I don't even like the thought of taking paracetamol. My health visitor wasn't too happy with this, believing the drugs to be the best solution for me and she booked me back in with my GP.
My GP was amazing! She said it wasn’t the only option open to me. She said that healthy eating and exercise are a natural antidepressant and in her opinion, along with therapy, me going back to Slimming World could be a really viable option. So, I went back to Mandy-Lace and my beloved Bluebrook Park group and started my weight loss journey for the final time.
The first week was tough, sticking to the plan properly again, getting out of the habit of chocolate binges and takeaways was hard, but when I nervously stepped on those scales a week later, I had lost 5lbs. More importantly, for the first time in years, I felt proud of myself. A week later I achieved my half stone award and again those feelings of accomplishment washed over me. Then I started to incorporate exercise into my routine, and that became a life changer.
I started to realise that no matter how bad I felt in the morning, if I worked out, it would perk me up. If I could just push through that feeling of I can't do it, I could get there. So, I started to exercise. Every day, I pushed through, every time I thought I couldn't do it, every time I wanted to go over my syns and quit Slimming World, I pushed through it. My willpower won. When I stepped on those scales and saw those numbers go down, with the realisation that I had made that possible, that I had made the best choices and put my health first, I felt proud.
I naturally started to feel happy again. It wasn't easy, and it did take a lot of intense therapy as well, but I managed to start feeling like myself. I also started to feel other things too. Mainly energy. I wasn't carrying around as much weight anymore and I had bundles of it! I remember the first time I raced my daughter to school, something we often do now, especially if we are running late. We got to those school gates and I cried. I had never been able to do anything like that with her before, always watching her play and being too overweight or sad to join in. It made her so happy to play with me like that. Very slowly, I started to come back, bit by bit. The bond with my daughter grew and on the 17th July 2017 I was signed off from my GP and my therapist. I was no longer a danger to myself. I was elated.
This week I managed to accomplish my 4½ stone award. I practically strutted everywhere that Saturday, I was over the moon with myself, I now have only about 1½ stone until I reach target, I hope to get there by Christmas.
I'm not ashamed to admit that Slimming World saved my life. I am happier than I have ever been, weight is no longer an issue for me. It’s no longer the first thing anyone notices about me either. Losing weight has a massive knock on effect, it isn’t just about looking better or feeling fit, not for me anyway. It has allowed me to realise how capable I am, that I am not a quitter and I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.
For the first time in my life I feel like I have something to bring to the table. I recently enrolled with the Open University, so I can finally get the degree I've always wanted. Something I have never thought I could do on my own, having failed many times before. I start in October, and I know that I will do it. Mandy- Lace and the Bluebrook Park group are wonderful, and I can't thank them enough for everything they have done for me.
A huge thank you to Ken for asking me if I wanted to do this guest post. Such an honour.