Before I found Slimming World, I was in such a low place, and I used food to cope with my emotions. My eating habits were out of control and I’d often have takeaways in secret before going home to enjoy meals with my family. I didn’t feel confident at work and I wasn’t being the kind of mum I wanted to be to my two girls, Kaitlin, 15, and Isobel, 12. At one point, I remember thinking, ‘If this is what my life will be, I don’t want to live it’. I’d just completely given up on myself.
Realising that something needed to change, I visited my doctor. It might sound crazy, but I almost hoped I had a health issue that would spur me into losing weight. Unfortunately, my doctor’s response was to prescribe weight loss tablets, which made me feel awful and did nothing to address the issues I had with food. My niece had recently joined Slimming World, though, and she was doing really well. Feeling inspired, I plucked up the courage to message my local Consultant.
I was so nervous when I first walked in, although I didn’t need to be. My Consultant, Elaine, spotted me straight away and came over to go through Slimming World’s eating plan, Food Optimising, with me. As I sat through the session and listened to the group talk about the weight they’d lost, I began to see that this was something that could really work for me.
At the end of the group, I was weighed privately – not that I could bring myself to look at the number on the scales. I’d been worried about my weight being read out loud, but that never happens at Slimming World, and it was written discreetly in my new-member pack instead. Everyone had been so friendly and as I left, a few people said, ‘See you next week!’ which made me feel like I already belonged.
By the time my next weigh-in came around, I’d lost 9lbs! I couldn’t believe that I was losing weight by eating such amazing food. I’d always assumed I didn’t have time to cook from scratch, but making family favourites like spaghetti bolognese and chicken curry didn’t take any longer after I ditched the processed sauces and packets. Food Optimising has totally transformed how we all eat at home, which I love.
I’d often tried to lose weight before, but the difference this time was the support of my Slimming World group. On that very first night, I’d been struck by how the members all genuinely seemed to care about one another’s success, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that. As the weeks went on, being in group helped me to understand and unravel my own relationship with food, which enabled me to take control and change my mindset around eating, drinking and even – as my energy levels increased – exercise!
I never thought that running would be for me – I was the girl who always got picked last in PE. Losing weight gave me an extra confidence boost, though, and I found it really reassuring that I could take things at my own pace on Slimming World’s Body Magic programme. To start off, I picked a street with a series of lamp posts and ran between the first two, before having a rest and walking to the next one. My fitness levels soon grew and I loved how it made me feel afterwards. As I increased my distances, I found running helped my mental health, too. My next challenge is to run the London Marathon in April 2023. It’s always been a secret dream of mine, so I can’t quite believe it’s actually going to happen!
People often ask me how I stay so motivated, and the answer is very close to my heart. Everything I've done has been for my girls. When I was bigger, I was so down about myself that I just let life pass me by. Now, I’m the first in the queue for a roller coaster and I’ve become the fun and active mum I always wanted to be. I hope I’m showing my daughters the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
One thing’s for sure, my life is unrecognisable from two years ago. I’m studying for a degree, to support my career as a social worker, and I don’t think I’d have had the confidence to meet so many new people if I hadn’t lost weight. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come, and I know I have the love and support of my group to thank for that – I couldn’t have done it without them. Stepping through those Slimming World doors changed my life forever.
Carolann’s day on a plate
Porridge with fruit and fat-free natural yogurt.
Shop-bought sandwich, or something from a fast-food shop.
A Free home-made omelette with a big salad, or poached eggs and salmon on wholemeal toast using my Healthy Extra ‘b’ option.
Ready-made chicken Kiev with chips or a takeaway.
Chocolate, sweets, cakes, crisps, biscuits.
Low-Syn hot chocolate sachets, fresh fruit and sugar-free jelly, or a fat-free, no-added-sugar flavoured yogurt.
Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.