“My anxiety was through the roof, I was barely able to leave the house. If you'd said “salad” or “exercise” to me I'd have said “No way!” I was in denial - I didn't realise how unhealthy my lifestyle was. I had suffered problems in pregnancy due to my weight and poor health. I put off getting well until I'd had my third child, yet a year later and I'd put on a further two stone. I was very overweight and terribly anxious."
"When I started to make a change in January 2019, I decided to start doing home video workouts. It's just 30 minutes of cardio dance, but it goes in no time! Cardio dance is fun! And afterwards, I don't want to ruin the rest of my day by eating badly.
I joined my local Slimming World group and have found the support incredibly motivating. This is a group of friendly people all in the same boat, all for each other. I'd tried slimming shakes previously, and even managed to lose three stone once, but these fad diets don't teach sustainable habits - the weight piled back on. Slimming World has taught me to cook from scratch.
All my certificates are pinned to my fridge door - I can't help but be reminded about my journey every time I open the door. My Slimming World diary goes everywhere with me, these motivational reminders are helpful. It's not like I'm never going to have chocolate or cake ever again, I still enjoy it but just in moderation.
"I tried my first parkrun at Lodmoor Country Park in 2019. With six-months of exercise in the bag, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and push myself. I was nervous. My anxiety was there, I was sweaty and shaky. But I pushed through. I turn up to find 500 people at the local park! I took my daughter with me, and we got talking with some people - everyone was so supportive. The marshals clap and cheer us all the way and finish with a big cheer!
I go with my daughter once a month now and she’s grown in confidence; is the first to say hi! She gets a great sense of achievement. And because she's achieved the run, she feels she can achieve something else, too. It's the same for me. I recommend it to everyone - it's a real family event with a lovely community spirit. I love working towards beating my time each week. And totally free!
After talking with my LiveWell coach about what group exercise I could join, I heard a friend talking about netball. I've never played before but thought hey, I can give this a shot! I sent a message and had a friendly reply from the organiser. It took me three attempts to get out of the car. I got out of the car, then back in, then out and back in, and finally, I found myself walking in. I expected to be at the back of the pack during the warm-up, but because of parkrun and the video workouts - I kept up just fine. My fitness has improved so much. To think I used to get a sick note to avoid school sports day! I’ve joined Burlex dance fitness classes once a week too.
"In January 2019, I was five stone heavier. Now, with the weight loss, parkrun and netball, my anxiety has improved tenfold."
If you'd said to me nine months ago that I'd be five stone lighter and exercising regularly I'd have laughed! I couldn't walk up the stairs without being breathless and needing my inhaler. I remember my first video workout, it was so hard! But day-by-day, week-by-week, the little steps have added up and it's become easier. I used to need my inhaler after these workouts, and after parkrun, but I very rarely use it now.
It's been a complete turnaround. After years of convenience food, convinced it was easier and quicker to cook pre-processed food from frozen, I've totally changed my habits. Now, instead of snacking on a packet of crisps, I choose something healthy. There's still tempting stuff in the cupboards, but I don't want to undo the hard work I've achieved.
My kids much prefer home-cooked foods than the rubbish we were eating previously. They told me off the other day when I gave them a Friday treat packet of crisps in their lunch box. "Mummy, where were our tomato and cucumber snacks?" they said!
Gone are my days of frozen pies and chips for tea! I now batch cook our main meals; spag bol, chilli-con carne, Mexican rice – lots! It’s taught me the need for a balance of veg, protein and a little carb.
I was barely able to leave the house during the summer holidays last year (2018). I didn't take my kids out unless it involved a car journey. I have asthma and was using inhalers every day. Now, this summer - we were out and about every day!
I'm able to run around with my kids and be a good role model for them. We go for walks on the beach, get out to the park, and I can get fit through the doorways at soft play! It's great to instil healthy habits in them. I feel such a sense of pride and achievement.
I think to myself if I can lose five stone and be so much fitter in nine months - what else can I achieve? I can apply this to all areas of my life. I've gone back to Open Uni this year. Mums at the school gates come and ask how I've done it. After a lifetime of putting myself down, I've learnt to accept the compliments. My mum's still in shock at the change! She's proud. And she's changing her habits too. My husband wants to make a change too, he's joined a football team.
I used to have 'changing room tears' when clothes shopping. Now, it's a completely different experience, a happy one. I used to be sized 18 or 20. Now I can get into a size 10 jeans. It's such a confidence boost to look in shop windows and think I could wear that if I wanted to."
"It's amazing how quickly you can reverse things."