Our Life Changer Slimmer Award winner Jill Oliver felt she looked twice her age when she was overweight and had many health concerns. Now she feels like a new woman . . .
“I have struggled with my weight since puberty. It increasing easily, even though I’ve always been active. I would join a slimming club, which would work for a while, then come to a standstill so I would lose faith and put it all back on again . . . and more. They didn’t teach me anything other than cutting out snacks and portion size. I needed more!
“I had my daughter 12 years ago, which made it difficult for me to spend money on myself. The gym memberships and slimming classes stopped.
“It was heart breaking. We’d go to the farm, zoo and theme park and, although I’m a fun person who loves to join in, I was the one standing aside with the bags, watching others make memories. I couldn’t fit on the rides or the fun train, walk up hills or stairs without suffering. I was too heavy to go on the water rides or boats.
“The embarrassment of not fitting on train, tube or theatre seats; frequenting barbecues, bars and restaurants and not able to sit down because I was too heavy for the plastic chairs. And God help me if there were chairs with arms!
“Embarrassingly, I had hygiene concerns; struggling and contorting to clean and dry myself. I travelled for work and holidays and the embarrassment asking for a seatbelt extender on planes. I could not lower the lap tray, going without food or drink as there was nowhere to put them. Seeing people’s faces as I walked down the plane to my seat thinking ‘Don’t let her be next to me’.
“I felt I was known as 'the fat one’. Everyone remembered me and not for good reason. I was sick of being everyone's 'safe, fun, mate'. Whether that is true or not I will never know, but sure is how I felt.
“My husband left three years ago and told me AND our daughter it’s because I’m a ‘fat cow!’ He left me to be the sole carer for our daughter; while I was desperate to find a way to even care for myself. I turned again to comforting food and wine.
“I saw the doctor to find out why I struggled to lose weight and whether I could get any help. Unfortunately I didn’t fit the NHS criteria; they’re only able to help if you’re diabetic, rather than before your health is impacted. I was sent away with another picture of portion sizes. I was desperate, but at a loss.
“I became extremely ill in February 2016, contracting an extreme case of cellulitis. It spread so quickly the infection reached my blood and muscles. I was rushed into hospital into the high dependency unit. After weeks in hospital the infection was under control, but I was so big I could not get up or move about, my legs too weak to hold my weight. I was eventually allowed to go stay with my parents under the district nurse, once I could walk with a walking frame.
“I was 42, looking double those years, being told I was lucky to be alive. But I didn’t feel it . . .
“Further weeks later, once back home, I investigated different weight plans. My daughter needed me; I needed to take control. I still could barely move so included exercise not required within my search and found Cambridge Weight Plan. I’d only heard of CWP being a meal replacement diet, so was sceptical, but the website showed me enough to find a Consultant.
“Julie Lott arrived and explained the Steps and how she could help me. More importantly, she earned my trust that she personally would be there for me through my whole journey AND that the once at target she would not disappear. My first glimmer of hope in years.
“I started on Step 3 the next day at 24 stone 3lbs and with a BMI of 53.1.
“I was surprised about how much I could eat, expecting to be starving and grumpy, but I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few hunger pangs, but it was so do-able!
“In the first week I lost 9lbs! ‘This works’, I thought, ‘I’ll give it another week’. The second week and a stone off. That was it! I decided I could get a good bulk off by Christmas and I’d be happy. The hunger pangs soon left and I really enjoyed the healthier options I was eating.
“As my BMI decreased, I decreased Steps too. I still didn’t feel deprived and was happy I could sit and eat dinner with my daughter.
“Christmas Day came and I sat at my parents having lost 6st 6lbs, and now wanting to carry on. It was still working.
“The losses slowed down, some months only losing 4lbs, but other diets at this stage had stopped working altogether. Julie worked with me to find out what could get it shifting again. We went lactose-free and I was on Step 3 and Step 2, looking at the food choices I was making. I even returned to the doctors for tests, but was advised that I’ve done well so not to worry. Having Julie caring so much gave me the strength and determination to continue. I thank my lucky stars for Julie.
“Come May the weight started shifting again. Now we understood what worked for me, I dropped down to Sole Source to shift more weight and by July 2017 I had lost 10st 5lbs.
“I am now able to attend Pilates classes, increasing strength around my back and leg, weak from the cellulitis. I walk everywhere and feel great for it! I’m complimented instead of laughed at. I join in the fun rides and activities, building memories together with my daughter. I can sit in plastic chairs, get on a plane and climb hills with friends, while talking.
“My daughter tells me how proud she is and I finally feel I am a good role model, showing how you should never give up on improving your life. My family are pleased and relieved. I had no idea how much they worried about my health.
“I am no longer just watching from the sidelines, I am now taking part!”
Rate: 15 months *The weight lost and/or timeframes are particular to this slimmer. Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique to them.