“I would have laughed if you told me I’d lose seven stone and I would be able to be a Slimming World consultant.
“I would have told you I love my food far too much for that.”
However, Carey Ann Clarke has now lost seven stone with Slimming World and has still managed to eat all the food she loves.
She has completed her consultancy training at Slimming World Head Office in Derbyshire and is now ready to support others achieve their weight loss goals and healthy New Year ambitions.
“For years I’ve been really embarrassed about my weight. I used to hear friends talking about losing weight or shopping for nice clothes but I would never join in the conversation. I felt ashamed about my weight and a bit of a failure as I had started and stopped so many diets.
“However, if someone started conversations about food - I’d light up and would be right in there talking about tastes and flavours, recipes and restaurants.
“I’m totally passionate about food - cooking in and eating out at great restaurants. One of my favourite things is having friends and family over for lovely food and that sense of sharing. However, years of indulgent meals have meant the pounds and stones piled on.”
Around 18 months ago, Carey Ann struggled to walk any distance.
She suffered pains in her feet and a constant sore back from carrying excess weight.
She had severe trouble breathing with Asthma and physically found it difficult to walk up and down stairs.
She was constantly sick with infections and had panic attacks about taking a stroke or a heart attack.
“My life’s motto had always been that we’re here for a good time and not a long time. I know my family was really worried and concerned about my health but nothing seemed to click with me until a few months before my 35th birthday. I realised my physical health was causing me a lot of distress and unhappiness. I felt old and on the way out before my time and I knew I had to pick up the courage to go and see my doctor for support.”
Her doctor confirmed that she was clinically very obese and at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
There was a pilot scheme operating at the time that enabled doctors to refer patients with very high BMI to a slimming organisation.
Carey Ann recalled: “Discovering I was clinically obese and all that it entailed was what sent flashing alarm bells for me. I knew I had no option but to change my life-style and it wasn’t just about looking or feeling good.
“Following my GP referral, I started going to ‘Georgina’s Slimming World Class’ in the Waterfoot Hotel. A few of my friends had done Slimming World before and this class was close by my home and I knew that there could be no excuse not to get there every week.
“I’ll never forget my first night. I entered the group in the Waterfoot. I was petrified. However, the new member talk was very warm and welcoming.
“They talked about all the food I could eat and, as a bit of a foodie, I decided that was right up my street. I began to get excited about eating and losing weight.
“The weigh-in for new members took place at the end of group and I kept going to the back of the queue in fear. When I stepped on the scales I was devastated.
“I had no idea I weighed so much and I broke down and cried there and then. I felt I had so far to go to reach even a healthy weight. However, Georgina, my consultant, was amazing.
“Straight away she reassured me that I never had to see that weight again if I followed the food optimising plan that week.
“I decided in that moment to take a risk and trust her. At the end of the day I had to do this for me. I felt I had no options left when it came to my weight and my health.”
When she came back to group after her first week following the plan, Carey Ann was delighted as she had lost 7lb.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had lost so much and was still able to eat so much.”
Carey Ann found great support and encouragement from other members at the group.
She said: “Even if some weeks I had a gain – I didn’t leave upset. I was to encouraged to remove personal guilt to focus on what I had already achieved. It’s about not letting one bad day ruin your whole week. I think it’s a great attitude to have in life in general.
“I couldn’t wait to get to class every week. During the group there was great sharing on how to make favourite homemade meals Slimming World friendly, including some of my favourites like steak and chips, big pasta dishes and great desserts.
“There were also budget tips that really helped too. I’d leave group excited for the week ahead, aware that by making wiser food choices I could lose weight.”
A lot of people said she must have been very disciplined to stick to the diet.
“It doesn’t feel like traditional restrictive diets. With Slimming World, I have the confidence to make wiser, healthier choices and I even ask for these in restaurants too.”
Carey Ann has also questioned why Slimming World worked for her.
“Slimming World offers a lot of support around you to make sure you achieve your weight loss dreams. The group members support and encourage each other in class every week and my consultant let me know that she was always there.
“I even loved that our group had its own private Facebook page where members shared recipes online. Other diets had failed me before but Slimming World has enabled me to slowly and surely overhaul my health issues. I have loads of energy and great pride in what I have achieved.”
Talking about her future role as a consultant, Carey Ann said: “I think its okay to say I’m proud of my own achievement and I’m happy having managed to lose weight and still eat amazing food every day.
“I’m excited about now being able to support and reach out to other people who feel hopelessness about their weight, just like me.
“I really want to support others in losing the weight they want to lose and help them make positive changes in their lives – just like me.”
Carey Ann is running a new Chapel Road Slimming World group every Wednesday in St Columb’s Parish Hall at 5.30pm and 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome to come along. Contact her directly on 07833686646