It was after my cousin’s wedding that everything changed. I was doing a course in cosmetics at the time, so I’d put loads of effort into my hair and make-up. Afterwards, though, people started tagging me in photos on social media, and my reaction caught me completely unawares. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that it was really me – I was so much bigger than I’d expected. And it wasn’t just the way I looked that was bothering me – I also didn’t like how I felt. My early 20s were meant to be my freedom years, but my insecurity had been holding me back...
When I finished school at 18, I worked as a fitness instructor and felt fit and healthy. Two years later, I went travelling to Australia, and that’s when my weight started going up. Away from home for the first time, I was living it up and always out with new friends. I’d eat whatever was fast and tasty – nachos, pizza, chips... you name it. I was drinking lots of full-sugar fizzy drinks, too. Whenever I tried to go for a run, I’d have to stop after just five minutes, breathless and frustrated with myself. I stopped telling people I’d been a fitness instructor, because I couldn’t bear to see the disbelief on their faces.
My travels continued on to Asia and Canada, and by the time I returned home, I was much heavier and far less fit than when I left.
After my cousin’s big day, my invisible motivation switch fully flicked to ‘on’, and I got in touch with my local Slimming World Consultant. At my first group I shyly took a seat at the back, but I soon realised there was nothing to be nervous about. It was a lovely, bubbly group, with plenty of people my age. I was so ready to make healthy changes, and in that first week I lost 5½lbs!
People often think that Slimming World is all about food, yet there’s so much more to the plan than that. I discovered a ready-made support network that helped me to change my mindset around food and gave me back my self-belief. When the scales showed a steady 1-2lbs loss every week, the other members celebrated with me, and when things didn’t go so well, I knew they were there for me without any judgement. The more weight I lost, and the more I heard ‘You’ve got this, Ciara!’ at group, the more my confidence grew.
Get in touch with your local Slimming World Consultant here – or find them on Facebook or Instagram
During my slimming journey, I was doing an office job I didn’t really enjoy, and my sights were set on the make-up department of a prestigious store in Dublin. I’d applied twice before and heard nothing, but I didn’t let that stop me sending my CV in again. When I got the job on the third go, I was thrilled. For the first time, I’d backed myself – and it was paying off!
Slimming World encourages members to get active, if and when they feel ready – and by the time I’d lost around 2st, I was keen to make fitness a part of my life again. I started running and immediately wanted to attempt 5K – which, looking back, was obviously a bit bonkers! Luckily, my sister’s partner was a keen runner and he had a much more sensible suggestion. He advised me to start with 2K – going slowly to begin with, then building up gradually so I didn’t burn myself out. He became my running buddy and when he ran 100 miles over the course of a month in May 2020, I decided to cover 100K.
My body was visibly toning up, I was feeling so much stronger and I loved the sense of achievement. I still had 8½lbs to go to reach my target, so I had a final push – Food Optimising 100%, trying new recipes and building up my activity levels even further by running bigger distances. Rather than feeling like the enemy, social media became a tool to help me, and I set up an Instagram account to show off the delicious Slimming World dishes that I’d created. My French toast was an instant hit (scroll to the bottom for Ciara’s recipe)!
I love to make...
Here are a few slimming-friendly meals I enjoy whipping up.
I also post transformation photos, to show myself and others how far I’ve come. I love that I can order new clothes online now and they all fit! I’ve always loved fashion, but these day I can choose things I actually like, rather than whatever I reckon I’ll just about be able to get into.
As soon as I made up my mind to change my eating and activity habits, great things started to happen in every aspect of my life. And so much of that is down to my Slimming World group giving me faith in myself – I feel like I can achieve anything I set my mind to now.
I’m currently working as a sales consultant for a beauty salon software company, and my new-found confidence really helps when I’m chatting to potential clients. I’m also in a relationship – Ethan’s really supportive and loves the meals I cook. He can’t believe they’re all ‘slimming food’.
My all-time favourite quote is by author and poet Iain Thomas: ‘Everything has changed and yet I’m more me than I’ve ever been.’ It’s so true for me! I’m living my best life, doing all the things a 20-something should be doing, like going out and enjoying holidays – and I feel fantastic while I’m doing them. I’ve even starred on the cover of Slimming World Magazine!
When other people tell you they believe in you, you start to believe in yourself, too – and then, anything and everything is possible.
Ciara’s French toast recipe
This recipe will not disappoint!
Drop of milk (from my Healthy Extra ‘a’ allowance)
Pinch of sweetener
Dip your Healthy Extra ‘b’ bread in the egg mix and fry in low-calorie cooking spray. Top with fruit, reduced-fat squirty cream, Nutella or whatever you fancy ✨ (I use my Syns for Biscoff or Nutella on top!)
Yes you can... feel unstoppable with Slimming World!
The support of Ciara’s group was key to her success, and it helped her to prioritise her health, fitness and wellbeing. Just like Ciara, you can receive personalised help and access to our science-based tools and strategies, so that you can start to understand yourself as a slimmer and overcome your own individual challenges. This unique support will make it so much easier to change the lifelong habits that have been holding you back – all while being surrounded by the care and understanding of people who truly ‘get it’.
Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.