Farzana Mian, 46
Farzana: ‘When Alisha and I offered to help my brother, Zaheer, deliver leaflets promoting his Slimming World group, I wasn’t expecting us to become members! We drummed up a lot of interest, but it was only when someone started asking more detailed questions that I wondered if joining could help us, too.’
Alisha: ‘I listened to Uncle Zaheer talking about everything Slimming World offers – like the freedom of the eating plan, Food Optimising, and the support network you get from group – and it really appealed to me. I’d always struggled with my weight, but the only advice I’d been given by my doctor was to stop eating crisps and chocolate.’
Farzana: ‘I was so worried about Alisha. She always put on a brave face, but when we went shopping, I could tell her weight was getting her down and I didnʼt know how to help. Because of my type 2 diabetes, I’d been advised to lose weight, but there wasn’t much guidance out there. We were so used to eating takeaway burgers, curries made with lots of oil and desserts after every meal, that I didn’t know where to start and I had no idea how to lose weight in a healthy way. I managed my diabetes with insulin, and I assumed that backache and sore knees were just normal for women in their mid-40s…’
Alisha: ‘That’s exactly it! In my final years at school, I just accepted that I couldn’t sit cross-legged on the floor in assembly any more – I never imagined I could do anything about it. And seeing Mum inject her insulin was such a normal part of life, I thought it was inevitable I’d end up doing the same. That day delivering leaflets was the first time I realised that a different future might be possible. And it turned out Mum was thinking the same.’
Farzana: ‘Seeing Zaheer lose 3st had already made me wonder if Slimming World could work for me. And when I realised Alisha was keen, too, there was really only one question: when can we start? A few days later, we went to our first group and we got such a lovely welcome.’
Alisha: ‘It didn’t matter that I was the youngest person in the room – if anything, everyone seemed impressed Iʼd made the decision to join. The only daunting part was being weighed, but my fears vanished when I realised it was completely private. Everyone in group was so friendly and positive, I immediately felt right at home.’
Farzana: ‘I decided to keep mealtimes simple at first, basing dishes around Free Foods like pasta, rice and – my favourite – potatoes! I couldn’t quite believe that I’d be able to eat them and lose weight, so at group the next week I was pleasantly surprised to discover I’d lost 2lbs.’
Alisha: ‘I didn’t expect to lose weight, as I’d never lost any before – so I was stunned when I stepped on the scales and saw I was 7lbs lighter! I’d missed Mum’s amazing curries, though...’
Farzana: ‘I quickly realised that, with a few simple swaps, I could make all our favourite curries slimming-friendly. I switched to low-calorie cooking spray instead of oil, and fat-free natural yogurt instead of cream, and I baked rather than fried my bhajis – and no one noticed any difference! Most weeks I lost 1-2lbs and Alisha continued to make great progress, too. I felt so proud of her, especially the way she helped to motivate the rest of the group.’
Farzana: I love adapting my family’s Asian favourites into Food Optimising meals
Alisha: ‘People would ask: ‘‘How did you do it?’’ And I always had the same answer: ‘‘I just stuck to the plan.’’ Planning ahead was key, too. It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, and that’s when group really helped. The other members were always on hand with tips, ideas and moral support.’
Farzana: ‘Alisha and I were lucky that we were able to support each other at home, too. If one of us said, ‘‘I fancy chocolate’’ or ‘‘I need crisps’’, the other would be straight in there, suggesting a low-Syn alternative. On top of the support we got from group, that really helped us.’
Alisha: ‘About a month into our journey, I started to think about getting more active. Mum had always enjoyed walking, but I used to think of any excuse not to go with her. When she did manage to drag me along, I’d find the first bench to sit on and moan until we could go home. Now, though, I felt differently. Hearing about Body Magic, Slimming World’s activity programme, in group made me realise that I didn’t have to be good at sport to get fitter, and joining Mum for a walk was a great way to get started.’
Farzana: ‘I love discovering new places and taking different routes, because you never know what you’re going to see – and it was lovely to have Alisha with me. I’d often record our adventures by taking pictures of unusual things we saw along the way, like statues and memorials.’
Alisha: ‘We gradually built up our distances until we were doing 10,000 steps a walk, which was unimaginable before. We must have walked around the whole of Birmingham! I even started playing cricket and rounders at college. For the first time in my life, I was loving being active!’
Farzana: ‘A few months after joining Slimming World, it was time for my diabetes check-up – and my blood sugar levels had gone down so much, I no longer needed insulin! The thought of not having to inject while I was having a meal out was incredible.’
Alisha: ‘And I’d gone from a size 20 to a 14. Sometimes it still feels unreal; all the changes we’ve made and how healthy we’ve become. Food Optimising is just a way of life for me and Mum now. It’s completely transformed our lives.’
Fancy a Slimming World curry?
Whether you’re bonkers for bhuna or crazy for jalfrezi, we’ve got a slim-safe version of your favourite curry in our recipe collection. Join a Slimming World group or our digital-only Slimming World Online service to access the full menu of more than 1,700 tried-and-tested recipes. You can find out more about these two great ways to join here.
Weight loss will vary according to individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.