Article provided by NHS Choices
When Cheryl Taylor was diagnosed with cervical cancer, she vowed that if she pulled through she'd lose her excess weight once and for all.
The mother-of-four from Aldershot tells how weight-loss classes helped her drop nine dress sizes in two years and turn her life around.
How did you put on weight?
As a child I was overweight. At school, I was two stone heavier than the other kids and I was picked on. The bullying turned me into a comfort eater. Whenever I felt low or worried, I'd graze and binge on food. It just became a way of life. My husband and I both worked long hours and we lived on junk food. With each pregnancy, I put on more weight.
How did it affect your health and wellbeing?
When I decided to lose weight, I was 19st 3lb. My legs and feet ached, and I had trouble breathing. People thought I had asthma. My doctor told me I should slim down because I also had high blood pressure. I had no self-confidence. I didn't feel happy with myself, so I avoided going out.
Did you try dieting and exercise?
Every now and then I would get the motivation to go on a diet, but when I stopped I'd just put the weight back on again. The problem with fad diets is that they're a short-term and radical change to your diet, which you can't keep up over the long term. I used to hate exercise. I thought that exercise meant going to a gym, but I'm not a gym person. I find gyms extremely boring.
When did you decide to lose weight?
I tested positive for cervical cancer in 2007. I decided that if my life was going to be shortened, I wanted to make sure I spent the rest of it healthy, fit, slim and happy, rather than unhealthy, unfit, fat and miserable. Cancer made me take control of my health. I joined a Rosemary Conley diet and fitness club in my area.
How did you find the group sessions?
The classes made a real difference. I was a little apprehensive on the first day. I was worried about being the fattest person there or being singled out. But everyone at the class was so friendly. We were all in the same boat. There were people of all shapes and sizes. In fact, seeing slimmer members acted as a motivation to stick with the programme. The classes gave me the support and motivation to keep going. There was also a strong social element. The classes were like a social event itself and I've made some really good friends, who I now see outside the classes.
How does the programme work?
When you first join, you're given a diet pack, which includes advice and information on portion control, motivation and healthy recipes. After registering, you are discreetly weighed in by your class instructor and given your personal weight loss target. Then there's a motivational information group session, followed by an optional 45- to 60-minute exercise session.
What's the key to keeping the weight off?
You have to accept that you'll have ups and downs. I have good weeks and bad weeks, but I know how to get back on track now. I like to keep a food diary to keep track of my calorie intake. It helps me to refocus if I've had a bad week. I also keep a photo of my former self on the fridge to remind me of how I used to look. When I get a craving, I remember the photo and I ask myself: what do I want more, that biscuit or to be slim?
How has losing weight affected you psychologically?
I have my confidence back and I love being able to wear fashionable clothes instead of the frumpy tents I was forced to wear before. I feel a lot happier. I feel in control of my body. Before, it felt as though food dominated my life, but the weight loss programme gradually changed my attitude to food.
Has your attitude to exercise changed?
I walk everywhere. I do a school walk three times a day, and that just about covers my 10,000 steps. I go to aerobics classes three to four times a week and I sometimes walk to the classes and back. My exercise classmates have nicknamed me the Duracell Bunny because of my newfound energy. I'm also training to become a fitness instructor so I can help motivate other people to become fitter and lose weight.
Has losing weight improved your health?
My health has definitely improved since losing the weight. I no longer have high blood pressure or any breathing difficulties, and my resting pulse rate, which is often an indication of how fit somebody is, is also much lower. My immune system in general seems to be much better, and I rarely seem to suffer from colds or infections, whereas before I lost the weight, I seemed to have one illness after another.
Article provided by NHS Choices
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