Success Stories

Penny: Happiness is a marathon, not a sprint

Taking control of her life by overhauling her fitness and food choices helped Penny find her happiness.
Published 22 October, 2018
"I soon discovered that exercising made me feel good! "

Start weight: 22st 5lb | Weight loss: 8st 2lb 
Current weight: 14st 3lb 
Height: 5' 10" |  Age: 42
Studio: New Milton Town FC, New Milton, Hampshire

Battling my demons

I’d had anxiety and depression since childhood, and after breaking my ankle at age 10, I gained weight. Because I had a big appetite, it wasn’t long before kids started calling me ‘Big Penny’. My low self-esteem meant I left school with no qualifications, and then, at 19, I was prescribed anti-depressants after the birth of my son. Soon, I found myself a single mum of three and life was a struggle – not helped by my anxiety and unhealthy eating habits.

Kicking bad habits

I started attending night school in 2006. Although I still battled depression, I passed four GCSEs, then studied nursing. Despite finding a job as an A&E nurse, being overweight made me feel like a failure and constantly anxious. The stress led to me having four panic attacks within a month and I realised I could no longer ignore my physical and mental health. My WW Coach, Sam, encouraged me, but I was slow to start and skipped my WW Workshops. Then my GP referred me for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helped me to challenge negative thought patterns. I also began cooking from scratch and was relieved when the kids loved my healthier dinners.

Getting active

As well as changing my eating habits, I bought a Fitbit and started tracking my steps. Then, I used the Couch to 5K app to help me start running. I soon discovered that exercising made me feel good! Now, I’ve lost 8st and, on the advice of my GP, I’ve stopped taking anti-depressants. I’ve even signed up for a marathon! I still have the occasional moment of self-doubt, but being physically and mentally healthy helps me cope with it in a positive way.