When I was first pregnant I lost half a stone through morning sickness. I was overweight before I fell pregnant – and even with that half a stone off I was still overweight – but once I’d had Ted I knew things needed to change.
I didn’t weigh myself at all when I was pregnant (after that first midwife appointment) and I decided not to for the first couple of months after Ted was born as there were much more important things to think about. When I did eventually look I was horrified to find that I weighed over fifteen stone. At 5’7″ that made me clinically obese.
Having struggled with Dysmorphobia and consequently with food when I was a teenager I had always been nervous about trying to lose weight as I would inevitably get obsessed and resort to very unhealthy methods, from starving myself to bingeing and purging. Whenever I even thought about diets I would start to panic, and so I hadn’t been brave enough to tackle my weight for years.
When Ted was six months old I decided enough was enough. I was thirty years old, I had a family, I was responsible for a beautiful little boy and I was going to look after myself so I could carry on looking after him. I knew that I was at a much higher risk of serious health problems if I didn’t do something about my weight, and I was scared that Ted would grow up to be embarrassed by his fat Mum.
At the end of January this year I joined Weight Watchers. I haven’t blogged about it before because this is a parenting blog and I’ve never wanted to seem as though I’m advertising something when weight loss is such a personal thing, but I’m a Weight Watchers member who has reached goal whilst raising a baby and going to work. This isn’t a sponsored post. I’m just writing about it because I’m so happy with how it worked for me, and as I think it’s great for people with families (they don’t even have to know they’re eating healthily if you don’t tell them!) I’ve decided it is relevant. So there.
I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting to support my Mum, who in turn was going to support her sister, and as I had a voucher that made it free I didn’t think there was any reason not to. I didn’t think I’d end up joining as it didn’t seem me and I couldn’t imagine my Mum and Auntie enjoying it, but almost ten months later I still attend every week even though I don’t have any more weight to lose.
When I arrived at that first meeting I was so nervous. I remember looking at the leader, Charlie, and thinking “I don’t want her to weigh me; she’s too skinny!” For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me that she looked as good as she did because she was a Weight Watchers leader. When that dawned on me, some time during that first meeting, I started to think more seriously about Weight Watchers. I loved Charlie’s clothes, I was envious of her figure, and I just thought, “I want to look like her”.
I had expected to find a group full of middle-aged women talking about how much they loved cake and how hungry they were, applauding each other for losing half a pound a month, and generally depressing each other. What I actually found was such a varied cross-section of society, and what they were talking about was what any other group of people talk about – their families, their jobs, their nights out.
When the meeting started we did a quiz, and I remember being surprised that the prizes were chocolate. I soon realised that with Weight Watchers if I wanted to eat chocolate I could eat chocolate. Hearing that I could eat whatever I wanted to eat and still lose weight was great, but it seemed a little bit too good to be true.
When Charlie started to ask people how they’d done that week I was really impressed, because not only were they saying they’d lost weight but also that they’d been out for meals or to parties. I also really liked that Charlie asked those who hadn’t done so well what they’d done wrong and how they were going to change it. I think I had expected her to pretend they weren’t there, but hearing how supportive the other members of the group were and seeing how that support buoyed the people who had gained weight made me reconsider what I thought I knew about Weight Watchers.
At the end of the meeting those of us who were new to the programme – it was January so there was quite a group of us – stayed behind to have the propoints plan explained by Charlie. I’m not going to go into it now, but if you are interested in Weight Watchers just know this: it’s not difficult. I had expected to count calories or do complicated equations, but it’s not like that. It’s not faddy, it’s not a diet and I don’t have to eat one thing one day and something else another.
I felt really positive as we left that first meeting. Propoints are worked out from the protein, carbohydrate, fibre and fat content of food, which makes sense at a very basic level. It doesn’t involve any complicated theories about body types, blood groups or metabolism; it’s just food and people.
My Mum was less positive. While my Auntie and I were chattering away about the changes we were going to make my Mum was stubbornly declaring that she wasn’t going to write down everything she ate. The next week she stubbornly declared it out loud to Charlie, but as soon as she discovered the app on her iphone she was converted.
Over the course of the six months it took me to reach my goal I found the confidence to start exercising and even joined a gym. I bought a swimming costume so I could take Ted swimming and because I survived wearing it in public I decided to give aqua aerobics a go. I then took up adult improver (and back to basics) swimming lessons, moved on to deep water aqua aerobics, and finally worked with a personal trainer to develop a tailor-made fitness plan. The thing I hadn’t expected was that I would love it. Everything I ever heard about exercise being addictive turned out to be true!
One week after Ted’s first birthday I reached my goal weight of ten and a half stone, and I’ve now been maintaining for two and a half months. I’ve gone from a size 18-20 to a size 10-12. I can walk the two miles to work in thirty minutes without breaking a sweat, or twenty if I’m running late and I don’t stop to dawdle. I can not only walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath but I can run up them. I can carry Ted, I can run around with him, I can push his buggy for miles.
Trying to lose weight when you’ve got a baby to look after can be really difficult, but I found that Weight Watchers was really easy. After the first couple of weeks I didn’t even have to think about it. I feel as though I should say I worked really hard because it’s such a big achievement – and I did push myself to stick to it, and to exercise, and to keep tracking everything – but it wasn’t really a big challenge. For the first time I felt that I was losing weight healthily and without being obsessed.
Now I know that I’m less likely to suffer some of the health problems that other women in my family have to cope with; I’m less likely to develop lots of other health problems; and Ted won’t be embarrassed by his fat Mum.
But I’m sure there are plenty of other ways I can embarrass him!