Here's Emma's story:
Towards the end of July 2011, I sent a text message to my friend Emma boldly stating that I was horrified to discover that I weighed 237lbs, 16st 12lbs or 107.6kg (neither weight setting on the bathroom scales made it sound any better) and I was going to lose a pound a week for the following year. Four weeks later, I walked into one of Gwen McCreadie’s classes having lost … absolutely nothing. Twenty-one months later, with Gwen’s encouragement and support, I’ve lost 6.5st on her healthy Eating Plan.
Having three kids, the natural assumption of many is that I managed to get to nearly 17st by not managing to ‘shift my baby weight’. Nope. Truth is, I went to uni straight from school and embraced the student lifestyle wholeheartedly. I took a part-time job while at uni to fund this carefree lifestyle – pints of cider with pub lunches, late night clubbing followed by a kebab on the way home…with chips…and pakora… and ‘Aren’t you finishing that pizza’ – I did always order a diet coke though…
At the time, it really felt great, even when the size 14 tops ‘suddenly’ became size 24 tops because, I worked hard, I earned my money to pay for new clothes. Even when I left uni and started as a full-time NHS radiographer, I thought, I was ‘alright’ – I mean I went to every party, always had plenty clothes but then I started to realise, if a certain high street plus size retailer didn’t stock it, I didn’t buy it. I felt only ONE retailer could cater for me.
I lost a little weight before Scott and I got married but there are always excuses to not doing better, as anyone who’s dieted knows, ‘After the hen do/wedding/honeymoon, I want to enjoy it after all’, ‘After the baby’s here’, ‘After so-and-so’s birthday party/ hen night/ wedding’. I followed these excuses up with, ‘Once the twins are born’. Please understand it’s not that my husband and kids – Gregor (5), Fraser and Struan (2) – weren’t a big enough incentive to lose the weight but I honestly believe the cliché – YOU have to want to do it for YOURSELF.
Then the completely unforeseen happened. I got asked to be a bridesmaid. Twice. I have to say, I did not consider myself an ideal bridesmaid candidate. They’re elegant, poised, serene – not overweight, puffy and sweaty. I freely admit to having a wee panic, considering dress selections and fittings. I was going to diet. I was. Until I realised it wouldn’t work. None of them had before, and I’d tried most of them. I’d ‘try’ again … but still, I didn’t.
The morning I sent that text to Emma, I woke with many motivations – yes, I didn’t want to let my friends down, I wanted to pass on good habits to my boys, I wanted to run about behind them, I wanted my husband to say I looked not nice but ‘Amazing’ or better but it took a further month for me to wake up with my biggest motivation – I WANTED to change. I figured, yeah, I have a nice life but I could have an AMAZING life – I could stop worrying about the fact that every picture I had taken with the kids I was sitting on the sofa. I could stop stressing about having to go to the operating theatre late at night to discover that there were no XL/XXL scrubs left. I could stop second guessing whether friends ever passed comment about the fact that I was always the first to clear my plate.
I walked into Gwen’s class with renewed purpose (and six-month identical twins – which caused a bit of a stir) and a real desire to succeed. I have met many wonderful people throughout this experience – supportive, inspirational and fun-loving people, I now consider friends. Gwen among them. She’s given me the confidence to embrace opportunities offered to me – this year I’ve done an abseil and for my 30th birthday managed to persuade 20 of my friends to join me paintballing. Everyone needs a Gwen in their life, her healthy eating plan has worked wonders for me – not just for the weight. I feel healthier, invigorated and above all, happier. It hasn’t been a chore. It hasn’t been difficult. It’s been a blast.