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'I beat middle-age spread'

Article provided by NHS Choices

Julie Thompson started putting on weight during the menopause. But with a healthier diet and more exercise, she slimmed down from a size 18 to a size 10.

When Julie Thompson started the menopause at the age of 42, she was happy with her size and weighed 63.5kg (10st).

Slowly, though, Julie - who lives with her husband and young son in east Yorkshire - realised her weight was creeping up.

"I was having to buy bigger clothes," she says. "The menopause was making me depressed, and I was comfort eating as a result."

By early 2006, Julie's weight had increased to 79kg (12st 6lb).

The turning point came during a medical check in February 2006. Julie's doctor told her that, given her body mass index (BMI) of 30, she was clinically obese and at higher risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.

"That really hit home," remembers Julie. "I have an eight-year-old son, and I wanted to stay around to see him become an adult."

Check your BMI using our BMI healthy weight calculator.

Weight loss group

Determined to act, Julie found a local weight loss group. The weekly classes include advice, discussion and a weigh-in.

"One really helpful early session was the habit audit," remembers Julie. "We looked at all the small habits that cause you weight problems. I realised that I was always putting other people's needs first, leaving me no time to exercise.

"We all know that losing weight means fewer calories and more exercise. But classes really helped me get into the state of mind where I could achieve that."

Julie followed a points system designed by her slimming club where all foods are awarded a value. Most fresh vegetables score no points. A restaurant-made chicken curry scores around 24 points.

A daily points allowance is calculated according to age, gender, size and physical activity levels. Julie's allowance was 22 points.

In her first week, Julie lost 1.5kg (3.5lb). By week seven she had lost a stone. "I needed some discipline to stick to the points system, but I was very determined so I didn't struggle. And I developed strategies to make it easier, like filling up on low-calorie foods.

"Quite early on I started to get compliments on how I looked," she says. "That really motivated me. I had more energy, too. When a friend asked me to do the Race for Life with her, a 5km run for Cancer Research UK, I agreed. It was really hard, but overall a great experience."

With continued attendance at classes, today Julie's weight has fallen to 61kg (9st 8lb). Her BMI is a healthy 21.

"As a family we have gone kayaking, indoor wall climbing and horse riding," she says. "These are all things I never would have done before because of my weight.

"These days I think: I lost the weight, I can do anything."

Julie's top tips

Julie used a few key tips to help her:

  • Fill yourself up with low-calorie food. Julie made "no-points soup" from tinned tomatoes, carrots, courgettes, water and Tabasco sauce.
  • Leave spare calories for one treat each night - Julie's was a small packet of chocolate.
  • Each time you drop a dress size, buy yourself a new, fitted item of clothing. The compliments will motivate you.

More information

Begin your weight loss journey with the 12-week weight loss plan.

Learn the basics of a healthy diet in Eight tips for healthy eating.

And find more information and advice in Lose weight.

Article provided by NHS Choices

See original on NHS Choices

Record managed by Oxfordshire Family Information Service