I went on my first diet age 12

Highest Weight15st 1lb
Lowest Weight12st 8lb
Highest BMI26
Lowest BMI21

I was a life long exercisephobe

I went on my first diet age 12 when I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Those were the days of cutting out bread and potatoes and eating cheese flavoured Energen crispbreads! Healthy eating was a long way off then – you just went on a diet and felt deprived. At secondary school the boys nicknamed me 'Tank', it used to cut me to the core – they didn't realise how much it hurt me. My 'skinny' friends and I would skip school at lunchtimes to go to the local cafe and buy pies and pasties. They stayed skinny and I got bigger. My confidence was so low I just wanted to fit in, so carried on doing what they did. When I started work aged 17 there was a vending machine down the corridor and we had the services of 'Dial-a-Sandwich' who would deliver to our office. I loved their prawn cocktail rolls and that was just for elevenses – once again I just wanted to fit in with everyone else that was doing the same – but they didn't have a weight problem!

I met Max when I was 19, he was skinny and could eat anything he wanted without putting on weight and I just joined in with him – what he ate, I ate. When he asked me to marry him I didn't want to look back at a 'big' me in our wedding photos. Along with my mum I joined a slimming club and I lost 3 stone by my wedding day but still had 5 lbs to get to target. The weight started creeping back on our honeymoon. When we moved into our flat above Twickenham high street we were within 10 minutes walk of 7 different take-aways and after being at work all day it was too easy to opt out of cooking. After a couple of years I joined another slimming club and lost the stone I'd put on but that didn't last long. When we first moved to Somerset we didn't have a proper kitchen for about 3 years so convenience food was on the menu most nights. I had three more attempts at slimming clubs and lost weight each time and even though I carried on eating an improved diet the weight wouldn't stay off completely.

When children came along my focus changed and trying to bring them up and work at the same time left little time to properly plan meals and 'quick' food crept in again I think most mums would admit to picking at their children's leftovers, but you don't count that as eating. Throughout this time I still tried applying the principles I had learned at the various clubs but I hadn't taken on board the portion control part of the lessons! Every year I would promise Max that 'this time next year I am going to be thin' and every year that came round I wasn't. When I got to 50 I decided that if I didn't do something soon I would never do it. However I was nearly 51 when I saw Rachel was starting a diet and Salsa class in the next village. For the previous 2 years I had been contemplating joining her classes but didn't want to drag into Yeovil in the evening and still with low confidence didn't want to go on my own. I thought it likely that the class in the next village may have someone in it that I knew and even though Salsa wasn't my cup of tea I thought I'd give it a try.

When I walked through the door in January 2012 all my fears disappeared as Rachel strode across the hall with her hand extended to welcome me. I found the class really hard, trying to learn the steps and keep up with everyone. I got extremely hot and spent the night with a migraine. Despite trying very hard I only lost 2lbs the first week – I had expected more. However, I felt this class was really different to all the others I'd tried so worked even harder at the exercise the next week. Once again I got over-heated and ended up with a migraine. Surely the next week I would lose more weight - I stayed the same!! Somehow I wasn't despondent. The following week the weight finally started to shift and this lifelong exercisephobe started to enjoy doing the Salsa!

From then on there was no stopping me or the weight. My confidence soared and I regularly found myself chatting to other class goers and comparing notes. Rachel's exuberant enthusiasm and fun attitude really empowered me and I would look forward to going to class rather than dreading standing on the scales as I had done at the other slimming classes. That Summer Rachel suggested bringing husbands to class and as I was benefitting from the classes so much I wanted Max to share my enjoyment. He came along but got cold feet when he looked round the door and saw a class full of women and after we had 'words' he turned to go home. I think he expected me to go home with him but I just left him and went in to class. Five minutes later I saw him changed into his exercise gear creeping through the door! From then on we have never looked back. By Christmas I'd lost 3 stone and he'd lost 2 stone.

Since then we have increased the number and variety of classes we attend and I can honestly say we have never been fitter in our lives. It really helps having someone to share the journey; we encourage each other and can commiserate with each other when things don't go so well. It is so nice to know that my husband is able to share my weightloss journey and can finally understand all the angst I have been going through all my life. Going to Rachel's classes have added a whole new dimension to our lives. We've made lots of friends, I've twice done the Race for Life and I've always hated running!.We look forward every week to getting our exercise 'fix'. Rachel's classes are more than just diet and exercise classes, they're great fun, they've become a way of life and to pinch one of Rach's favourite phrases...........we're never going to give up!!


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