Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, the embarrassing memories from my summer holiday came flooding back. From struggling to fasten the seat belt on the plane to having a touch-and-go moment when being weighed for paragliding, the holiday had been more about humiliation than relaxation.

I’d always been bigger than the rest of my friends – I was ‘the funny one’. When it came to trying to lose weight I was a ‘been there, tried that, spent lots of money and failed every time’ sort of dieter.

Things went from bad to worse when my doctor expressed concerns about my weight – the surgery scales were showing 15st 6lbs – and high blood pressure. I decided there and then that I needed to make a change, and joined my local Slimming World group in Rathfarnham, Dublin. That was August 2014, I was 24, and it’s incredible to think how much my life has changed since then.

From frozen pizza to Food Optimising

The moment I walked into my Slimming World group, the Consultant, Rachael, welcomed me and chatted through the plan, before introducing me to a few of the other members. I immediately felt like I belonged! Everyone was so friendly and looked like they were having so much fun – I was excited for what I could achieve.

Discovering the Food Optimising plan was a revelation and completely changed my attitude to food. I ditched the big bowls of sugary cereals, frozen pizzas and regular takeaways for healthy, wholesome meals cooked from scratch. I found myself really enjoying cooking (and eating!) satisfying, Slimming World-friendly meals like steak and Slimming World chips, or spaghetti bolognese with a mix of pasta and spiralised courgette.

I also loved making ‘fakeaway’ versions of my favourite takeaway dishes – like a Chinese spice bag (a popular dish near us!) or chicken in oyster sauce and rice. They’re so tasty – better than the real versions, I think!

I’ve never felt like I’m missing out and now I love food more than ever.

Going on holiday the following summer was such a different experience – I felt so much better about myself than I had just a year before. I was really excited to jet off with my family to Portugal and, as well as sun, sea and sand, I had the extra satisfaction of an aeroplane seat belt with plenty of room to spare!

Running for weight loss and wellbeing

That holiday was also the start of my relationship with running – something that’s become a big part of my ongoing journey towards better health. My cousin, an avid runner, was clocking up miles along the sandy seafront every day, and I made the spontaneous decision to join in. Despite a bit of a rocky start which really made me realise how unfit I was, by the end of the holiday I was managing to keep pace and relishing those daily runs.

My love affair with running continued when I got home, and I was soon lacing up my trainers every Saturday morning for a three-mile run. I dragged my boyfriend along with me and encouraged my new friends from group to join in. Soon we’d created our own little running club, and working up a sweat with my Slimming World running squad is still my favourite way to kick off a weekend.

I’d never considered running for weight loss before but, as well as being a brilliant form of weight loss-boosting Body Magic, it has lots of health and wellbeing benefits. I especially love the feeling of achievement I get from improving mile by mile. And it fits in perfectly with Food Optimising, as I can eat all the protein and carbs I need to fuel my body properly. Potatoes, pasta and rice are regularly on my menu – while some diets see carbs as something to avoid, with Slimming World you can eat these energy-giving foods in unlimited quantities.

New me, new job, New York!

The winning combination of Food Optimising, group support and my new running routine meant that I reached my target weight of 8st 12½lbs within two years, losing more than 6st overall. By that point, I felt so passionately about the power of Slimming World that I decided to train to be a Consultant. Since 2016, I’ve been running my own groups in Dundrum, helping to support other members along their own weight loss journeys.

As for my own journey with Slimming World, I never thought it would take me as far as New York! In 2018, I represented Slimming World in the New York marathon – raising funds for the Irish Cancer Society, through Slimming World’s Smiles charity. It felt incredible to be able to do something to raise vital funds and awareness of a disease that affects so many people, myself included. And, of course, I felt super excited to be taking a bite of the Big Apple!

When I started on my road to better health, I couldn’t have predicted that it would lead to me becoming a Slimming World target member, working as a Consultant and running a marathon. Slimming World helped me to lose weight and gain a whole new life!

Lynne’s top tips:

  • I love the fact that I can eat as much pasta as I want when Food Optimising, but spiralised courgette is a great alternative if you want to up your veg intake.

  • If you’re thinking of taking up running for weight loss – or any other form of Body Magic – don’t feel like you have to go full throttle from day one. Start gently, take it at your own pace and build up gradually.

  • Running with other people is a great motivator as you can encourage each other on low-energy days.

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.

If you’re planning to start a new exercise programme, we recommend you check with your GP first – especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma. If you’re pregnant, check the suitability of the exercise with your midwife.