"One thing that really helped me was support from the Connect community. It was my fellow Connect members who encouraged me to do my first run and now I can’t get enough of it."
Start weight: 18st 6lb | Weight loss: 4st 12lbs*
Current weight: 13st 8lb
Height: 5' 6" | Age: 47
Studio: St Paul’s Church, Finchley
WW Coach: Lori Westmorland
Last week, as I returned from yet another shopping trip, my sister said: ‘Leonie, you’re going to have to stop spending money on new clothes – you’re going to get even smaller and you won’t have chance to wear them!’ I know she’s right, because I’m determined to lose the two stone I need to get to goal, but I am so in love with fashion right now that I can’t help myself.
This is such a change from two years ago when I refused to buy any new clothes. Even in the freezing winter of 2015, at a size 22-24 I didn’t have a coat that would fit me. But there was no way I was going to spend a penny on myself because I felt I didn’t deserve it. Instead I put on as many layers as I could and hoped for the best. Yet in the summer I’d had the opposite problem – I couldn’t find anything that would keep me cool yet would cover me up. It was beginning to get me down.
I hadn’t always been this big. The weight had crept on when my father was diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and my sister and I became his carers. I was holding down a full-time job and trying to do my best for Dad but it was so stressful that I turned to food as a comfort. I would come home tired from work as a studio manager, lock my door and eat an entire tub of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. My social life went out of the window and I stopped caring about what I looked like. I wanted to hide way from the world.
It was when I changed jobs in 2016 that something clicked. My new office was up a couple of flights of stairs and I each time I climbed them, I had to stop at the top before I opened the door to the main office. I’d be sweating and puffing and was paranoid that someone would see me. Around the same time, I spotted an advert for WW and a friend had also recommended it. I’d tried loads of other diets in the past but never stuck to them. So why not give this a go? When I walked into class for the first time, it simply felt right.
This wasn’t a diet. It was a lifestyle. I hadn’t weighed myself in years and although I was shocked when I saw the number 18 on the scales, I came away from the WW Workshop feeling totally pumped. I stopped eating junk, laid off the ice cream and although I’m not particularly fond of cooking, I would buy healthy ready-meals that I could track. It was more convenient for me, particularly as I was often so busy looking after Dad. After my first week, I’d lost more than half a stone.
The weight has been coming off steadily until this April when I reached a size 14 and was feeling much happier. I got into the mindset mentality of maintaining rather than losing, which meant I plateaued and even put a few pounds on when I went on holiday over the summer. I was struggling so much that I logged onto Connect and said to fellow members: ‘Help! I’m hanging on here by my fingertips!’ So WW Freestyle could not have come at a better time because I needed to shake things up.
My first impression was good. I absolutely love eggs and when I saw that they were one of the new ZeroPoint™ foods, that made me very excited. Then I saw that beans, lentils and corn on the cob were also on the list, which is great because I can bulk up a tasty chicken and kidney bean stew and make a large batch, which lasts throughout the week. Thanks to all the protein in the programme, I feel fuller for longer. I can even fit in one of my favourite ready-meals in between those days if I get bored.
I’ve only been on the plan for a short while but already I’ve lost 7½lb and I’m thrilled. More than that, I’m feeling healthier. My body is shrinking more than the weight suggests and although I’m a keen runner at the gym, I’ve noticed that I can now do incline runs and at a faster speed. My confidence has soared. I even changed jobs so I’m working part-time in a spinning club called Cyclub so if there is ever a free bike in one of the classes I jump on.