“The new me!”
I wish I could bottle what I've learned, becasue I'm so much happier with the new me!
“I ate too much of the wrong things. I’d stuff myself just before I went to bed – my body never stood a chance”
Emma Thomas was looking forward to her wedding. But there was just one cloud on the horizon: her size. She was determined not to be a big bride, but with her big day just five months away, Emma was weighing in at more than 15½st. Determined to take action and slim down for her wedding day, 15st 9lb Emma joined a Diet and Fitness class run by Sharyn Horan in Nottingham and shed 2st. Her wedding dress had to be taken in three times – and she looked sensational. But Emma did not stop there. Over a period of 19 months, she lost an amazing 5st, dropping to 10st 9lb and reducing her dress size from an 18-20 to a 12-14. Emma lost 9in from her waist, going from 41in to 32in. She also shed nearly 9in from her hips, which went from 48in to 39½in. She lost 7½ inches from her bust, dropping from 45½in to 38in, and even her shoe size changed – from a 6-7 to a 5. “This has made such a difference to my life,” says Emma, close to tears. “I wish I could bottle what I’ve learned, because I’m so much happier with the new me.” And no wonder. Emma, who had been overweight since she was three years old, thought being slim was for other people. “I never knew what it was like to be a normal weight,” says Emma, 32, from Breaston, in Derby. “My family weren’t big – in fact my sister, Lisa, was slim – but I loved my food and never left anything on my plate. I ate massive portions, too. My mum said it was puppy fat, but it never went away.”
“I just ate too much of the wrong things all my life,” Emma says. “I loved cheese and would have mounds of it. I’d stuff myself just before I went to bed – my body never stood a chance. I met my husband, Nick, in 2001 and when we first ordered a takeaway, he said: ‘You eat for four!’ I became a financial analyst so I was very static in my work and got no exercise. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t have the will to do anything about it. At weekends, we would have a takeaway and I would have extra poppadoms and onion bhajis. I drank pints of lager and cider and we socialised frequently, so I drank a lot! Even when I thought I wasn’t eating much, I was, because I’d have sandwiches without looking at the contents, and end up eating lots of fattening mayonnaise and hard cheese. I tried to be a jolly big person, but I always felt like an outsider. I felt that I was different and that there was nothing I could do to change that. By the time I got to my early thirties, I weighed more than 15½st – and I looked it.”
Emma tried Slimming World and Weight Watchers, but after losing a stone at each, she put the weight back on again. “The diets were too fussy and I wasn’t exercising or really learning how to eat well,” she says. “Having tried and failed to lose weight numerous times since I was a child, I accepted that this was just the way I was. “I tried not to let the prospect of not being a size 10 bride bother me too much. Instead, I just set out to lose a stone. I justified my size to myself as ‘the way I was made’. I hadn’t changed since I met Nick, and I knew he loved me the way I was. But I was unhappy and tired all the time, my skin looked awful and I knew it wasn’t good for my health. If I had to walk a flight of stairs, I’d panic because I’d get so puffed out. Something had to be done." After Emma joined the Weigh2fitness class she lost 4lb in her first week and after that I lost weight regularly, very rarely putting any on. I never imagined that I could have shifted 2st by the time of my wedding. My dress had to be taken in three times!”
Emma’s diet had clearly changed dramatically and she’s stuck with it ever since. “I now have porridge for breakfast, or Weetabix,” she says. “My mid-morning snack is fruit and lunch is now pitta bread with cold meat and salad or watercress and then fruit. “I’ll have fruit again in the afternoon and then in the evening I’ll cook a healthy recipe, such as Thai green curry. We try to plan ahead for meals as much as we can. We often cook a meal for four, such as chilli, spaghetti bolognese or cottage pie, and then freeze it. That way you’re not always having to cook from scratch, as we don’t always have time.” Emma also tries to find low-fat alternatives to the foods she and Nick like. “My saviour is cod fillet, mashed potatoes and frozen mushy peas you make yourself,” she says. “That’s my ‘fish and chips’ for when I need real comfort food.” Emma has also come up with ways of regulating her eating habits for socialising. “If we have a night out planned, we look forward to it and have what we want, but the week before, we cut back a little. Afterwards, we do extra exercise to compensate,” she says. “I go out on my bike a lot, and swim and walk. I try to set myself goals, pushing myself to go further or faster.”
Emma continued to lose weight on a regular basis. Finally getting down to 10st 9lb, after shedding an incredible 5st, was a major milestone in her life and she continues to reap the benefits. “For the first time in my life, I don’t have to make jokes about my size before someone else does. I have so much confidence,” says Emma. “I feel in control of myself and I like what I see in the mirror. I would never believe anyone before who said that exercise made them feel good – now I can’t believe that I agree with them!” she says. “I have energy and feel so healthy. I get up early, even at weekends, and look forward to nights out because I have nice clothes to wear. Emma’s confidence has improved so much, she has subsequently become a fitness instructor herself!
“When I think about how my life has changed, it makes me emotional,” Emma says. “I can’t believe I waited 32 years to feel this way. I love my life now – I left my old one behind on January 11, 2006, when I attended my first Diet and Fitness class. I want to tell people that being overweight is not the way your life has to be. You have the power to change it. Losing weight and getting fit is not magic – you have to work at it every day – but it can be done. You just need to be focused and determined.” Emma says seeing the results of her new healthy eating and fitness regime keeps her going. “I could never, and will never return to my old habits,” she says. “Now I look at foods that I used to eat and the quantities I could tuck away and don’t know how I ever did it. My weight loss didn’t happen overnight and it’s been tough at times – but it’s so worth it!”