I’d been overweight for much of my life, stuck in a vicious cycle of overeating and then restricting myself that saw my weight go up and up. My asthma was out of control most days and I couldn’t even get up the stairs to bed without using my inhaler.
At more than 26st, my weight really exacerbated my health problems, which included blood clots in my legs and lungs, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis (a digestive condition that affected my large intestine) and lipoedema (a painful build-up of fat in my arms and legs). I also suffered a serious case of blood poisoning following an operation.
I knew that my health issues would continue to get worse if I didn’t slim down. After a period of illness, I was told by a liver surgeon that I had PBC antibodies – indicating a type of liver disease that can lead to liver failure – and I needed to lose weight to give me a better life expectancy. That really scared me. I wanted to live long enough to see my son get married and to see my future grandchildren grow up.
I had to change, or I wasn’t going to be around – and that was a terrifying thought.
I’d tried every diet you could think of before, but none of them worked because I always ended up hungry and then reached for something unhealthy to fill me up. My brother told me he’d joined Slimming World, and listed all the food he could eat. I thought it sounded too good to be true – so I went along to see for myself. Turns out he was right!
I did feel nervous about joining a group, because when you’re 26st, meeting new people is nerve-wracking and you worry they’re judging you. I had my mam with me for support, though, and I quickly realised that everyone there was in the same boat. I’ve never experienced any judgement or been made to feel ashamed at Slimming World, everyone’s been so kind and I’ve made some wonderful friends.
Despite everything my brother had told me, I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to eat so much and still lose weight. I was still having meals like a full English and a roast dinner, I was just preparing them in a different way. At my first weigh-in I lost 10½lbs and I was in complete shock! I quickly realised that Slimming World was totally different from anything I’d tried in the past.
After a few months, my energy levels had soared, and hearing about Slimming World’s Body Magic physical activity programme made me think about how I could become more active, even with my health issues. Losing weight gave me the confidence to start walking and join a gym, which is something I never could have imagined before. Unfortunately, I’m not able to exercise at the moment, but I know my weight loss has had a profound impact on my overall fitness.
Now I’m at my target weight of 9st 4lbs, having dropped from a dress size 36 to a size 10. I’ll always have to live with my health conditions, but now I’m a healthy weight, I can keep them under control with daily medication.
People often ask what my ‘secret’ is and I say the same thing every time – my group! Because I’ve been surrounded by people who are on the same journey, I never feel alone. If I’m struggling, I can always turn to people who understand and care about me and want me to succeed. My health issues mean I’m often housebound, so my Slimming World group is a lifeline for me.
By far the biggest gift to come from my weight loss is the time it’s given me with my family.
I have two beautiful little granddaughters: Willow, who’s nearly four, and India, who’s almost two. There was a point in my life when I didn’t think I’d be around to meet them, let alone watch them grow up. To know I’ve done everything I can to see that is a dream come true.
Dawn’s day on a plate
Bacon sandwich and black coffee.
Home-made cooked breakfast: grilled bacon (fat removed), mushrooms and tomatoes, egg fried using low-calorie cooking spray, beans and two slices of wholemeal toast.
Shop-bought sandwich, crisps and bars of chocolate.
Home-made pasta bake with passata and veg.
Slow-cooker hot pot.
Shepherd’s pie made with lean mince and veg on the side.
Crisps, cream cake, family-size fruit and nut chocolate bar.
Chocolate using my Syns, home-made houmous with veg sticks, cheese and crackers.