For those of us who could do with shedding a few pounds the prospect of wearing summer clothes, entailing short sleeves and bare legs, isn’t an altogether a happy one. Claire understands and sympathises.
“Looking at holiday photos was the shock I needed to do something,” she told me, admitting that she was initially sceptical when she joined her local Slimming World group.
“But I was so pleased at how easy the plan was to follow. I did it for six months and lost two-and-a-half stone, which was amazing. I had previously tried just about everything, but this is about good portion sizes but healthy eating, so you don’t feel as if you are missing out.”
Impressed with her own success, Claire took a deep breath and a bold step.
“I was doing a stressful job so I gave it up and became a Slimming World consultant,” she said, explaining that she now runs three groups; two in Chichester and one in Fishbourne.
It is hard to imagine this friendly and bubbly lady as anything but a ray of proverbial sunshine, but doing her previous job left her feeling fed-up and demotivated.
“But now my work-life balance is much better and seeing people’s confidence grow as the weight comes off is so rewarding.
“In twelve weeks you could lose a stone, but you need to change your psyche, not just your eating habits. We live in a society where we are used to having a quick fix for everything, including food. We need to change our lifestyles and we have motivational tools that we use in the group that really help with that.”
I suggested that being part of any group where people are united by a common goal and a shared experience is proven to have positive results. Claire nodded in emphatic agreement.
“Absolutely; it’s not just about the food. Often it is the way people feel, but in a group there is support, ideas and a sense of camaraderie. It’s a real mix of people, too. Professional people, youngsters [11-15 get free membership], mums, older people, and we have lots of men coming now. One man has lost six stone and has come off all his diabetic medication. He’s changed his life and his health,” she said, adding that encouraging activity is a key part of the programme.
“Doing it alone is tough so invest in yourself. Just one hour a week for you. I have been at my target weight for four years, but like a lot of people I found walking through the door the first time difficult. You fear being judged. One lady went round and round the roundabout for a month before she found the courage to come in.”
Urging me to keep a dream target in mind (rather than my hand in the biscuit tin, presumably), Claire said:
“And then we’ll help you to go and smash it.”
I signed up faster than I can demolish a fondant fancy.
More info: www.slimmingworld.co.uk
Phot credit: youreventphotography.uk