How I lost weight and what happened next…

I’ve never really mentioned my weight loss on this blog before. I prefer to keep the focus of Paddle Pedal Pace on fitness, training and racing, but I realised that this week marks 5 years since I reached my goal weight, and felt it was time to share my story.

I’d been overweight my entire life. My Mum prepared healthy meals for the family, but I’d snack on junk food. During my time at University I really gained a lot more weight- I’d exist on take-aways, sugary snacks and alcopops. I had no real interest in cooking healthy meals or exercising, I just grabbed whatever was convenient. I knew I was gaining weight, but I just couldn’t gain control of my lifestyle. 

 

 
I did try various diets while I was at Uni, and had success with Atkins, Lighter Life and Slimming World, but as is usual with diets, the weight came back on as soon as I stopped following the plan. I was very self-conscious of my weight, but trapped in a cycle of self-loathing and overeating.

At my 21st Birthday party in 2005



After graduating in 2006, I decided it was really time to tackle my weight. I was working in the fashion industry and hated not being able to wear fashionable clothes. I found it difficult to shop, my size 18 clothes were becoming tighter and tighter, and I was reluctant to go up another size into a 20. I decided to give Weight Watchers a try- it was the only slimming club I had never been to.


I found that something about the Weight Watchers programme really clicked with me. The weight started to come off easily- I didn’t feel deprived or find the plan difficult to follow. I guess the biggest changes I made to my lifestyle were:

-Cutting down on my alcohol intake– I used to drink several times a week at Uni, these days I rarely drink at all. Cutting out those empty calories made a huge difference to my weight.
-Planning my meals– I started to get a proper structure to my eating with 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. Glen and I started writing out meal plans for the week ahead, so that we knew exactly what we would eat every day.
-Experimenting with new foods and recipes- I bought a load of WW recipe books and magazines, and Glen worked his way through every recipe. We were introduced to so many foods I’d never tried before- avocado, lentils, figs, chorizo, gnocchi, butternut squash, quinoa were just some of the foods which were new to me. I also began experimenting with adding more vegetables to meals- I’d never been a bit fan of anything green, but I gradually began to enjoy healthier foods. 
-Weighing and measuring my foods– I started to weigh my portions and was surprised that I’d been eating double or triple the recommended portion size!
-Tracking everything I ate– Writing down everything I ate and drank, and keeping a tally of my WW points allowance was really key to me getting in control of my eating. 

Within about 18 months of attending weekly meetings, I’d lost 5 stone (70lbs or 31kg), gone from a size 18-20 to a size 12. I’d gone down a shoe size and my engagement ring had been reduced by 5 sizes. I dyed my hair blonde and bought loads of new clothes! On October 2009, I received my Weight Watchers gold card- a proud moment!

I’m not sure that blonde hair suited me!


I’m often asked if I exercised to help my weight loss, and the answer is that I while I was losing weight I did gentle exercise only twice a week. I attended bellydancing classes and Body Balance (yoga/pilates/tai chi) weekly, but both were mainly for my enjoyment rather than to assist my weight loss. 

At a bellydancing show

I only really got into fitness properly once I had been at goal weight for a year. The story of how I got fit is for another time and another blog post! 

My family, friends and colleagues were all amazed and inspired by my weight loss. I was asked to become a Weight Watchers leader, but decided to help as a volunteer weighing in members at my local meeting.

With my leader Sue at our Saturday morning meeting

Weight Watchers magazine featured me as a success story in their September 2011 issue. It was fantastic being pampered and photographed for the article. My photo was also used as a promotional poster in meetings throughout the UK- it was strange walking into meetings and seeing myself everywhere!

From my Weight Watchers photoshoot


A year after reaching goal, I married my partner of 8 years in size 10 wedding dress…



Getting honest…

I must admit that reaching goal weight was a bit of an anti-climax. I had a vision of how my life would be once I had lost 5 stone, and I was disappointed to find that in fact nothing in life had changed other than the size in my clothing. I was still insecure, still lacked confidence and still had the same problems as before. I still had demons with food. I also was not prepared for the amount of loose skin which had settled on my stomach. I even went for a consultation for a tummy tuck and liposuction, but the £8200 price tag made the decision for me to not proceed with the surgery.

It sounds strange but I was struggled to recognise myself after I’d lost 5 stone. People told me I’d had such a dramatic transformation, but in my eyes I still looked and felt fat. I went into clothes shops and would reach for a size 18, when I was in fact a size 12. It took a while for my brain to catch up to my body!

My answer to the feeling of disappointment was to lose more weight. I lost another 10lbs, and went down to clothing size 8-10. At this point, I became a bit obsessed with the  pursuit of a certain number on the BMI scale- I obsessively weighed myself, measured my food and completely cut out sugar from my diet. I believed that I would only be happy if I lost another 10lbs, then another 10lbs… it was a dangerous slope to be on. My friends and family told me I had gotten too thin, but I just believed that they were jealous!

My Weight Watchers leader would say to me “you’ve done the easy part- you’ve lost the weight, now it’s time for the hard part- learning to love yourself”. 


Losing weight had piqued my interest in nutrition- a topic I’d never given much thought to before. To learn more, I completed a diploma in Nutrition and Weight Management with Future Fit training in 2012. My newfound knowledge made me more critical of the Weight Watchers system- I felt there was too much emphasis on processed low-calorie chemical-laden food, and some of the nutrition advice given out by leaders was totally inaccurate. I stopped attending meetings and started moving towards a more way of eating based around whole, unprocessed foods.
 
I also began to explore the emotional aspect of overeating. So many of our food choices are made based on our feelings of boredom, loneliness, anger, sadness, rather than actual hunger. My belief is that if you are an emotional eater, you can have the most perfect diet plan in the world, but it will never work as diets do not address the underlying issues. Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in a few programmes and self-help groups for those who are emotional eaters or have a difficult relationship with food and body image.

These days, I weigh myself only once every 2-3 months. I gradually gained back that extra 10lbs, and have found that my weight has been stable for the past few years. I’m not as concerned with the number on the scale any more, I go by how I feel in my body. If I’m feeling energised, alert and happy, that means more to me than the number on the scale. 

I no longer weigh my food, or track points. However, myself and Glen are big on meal planning and eating a variety of different foods. We plan a week’s worth of menus on Friday, and shop at the local farm for seasonal produce on Saturdays. We eat a wide variety of different foods- I love my vegetables, fruit, fish and wholegrains. Glen is an amazing cook and I love his home-cooked meals. There are no foods that I particularly ‘avoid’ but I have found that my tastes have changed, and I’m not so keen on sweet or fatty foods.

Right now, I honestly feel that I will never diet again. I don’t regret my time with Weight Watchers, but I’m on a different path now which goes deeper than ‘what’ I am eating and more about ‘why’ I am eating.

Most recent picture I could find!


My body image has dramatically improved, I’ve done a lot of work in this area, and these days I can honestly say that I am happy in my skin. My body is not perfect, but I’m proud of what it can achieve. I’ve accepted my flabby tummy, and I know that dieting is not the answer to true body confidence for me. 


My husband Glen was inspired by my weight loss and began his journey in 2011. He lost a total of 4 stone, to prepare for surgery on his throat, and has maintained his weight loss for the past 3 years. He looks absolutely amazing! 

Before- on holiday in Benidorm 2003



After- on holiday in Portugal 2013


Thanks for sticking with me and reading my weight loss story. It’s not easy for me to talk about such a personal issue in public. 

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