Son’s play date changed my life. Charlene’s weight was ruining her life – but when it threatened to ruin her children’s lives too everything changed….
Hauling myself up from my son’s bedroom floor, breathless and red faced, I stopped for a minute to catch my breath.
At a size 24 and morbidly obese, most things left my gasping for breath, even setting up a game for my son and his fiend to play after school.
As I puffed on my inhaler, my son’s young friend looked at me and said: ‘ You’re very fat aren’t you.’
For a minute I was too shocked to speak, mumbled something about ‘ using kind words,’ and fled downstairs where I sat with my head in hands.
At a size 24 of course I already knew I had to do something about my weight, but the words had still cut like a knife. My weight had ruined my life – was it going to ruin my children’s too ? The thought of them getting bullied and teased for having a ‘fat mum’ was too much…
As a child I was a normal weight, but then my teenage years had hit and I’d grown curves which just seemed to get bigger and bigger.
I was self- conscious and knew I had to try and lose weight but didn’t know how. So I’d just stop eating all together. But skipping meals left me hungry and moody so I’d binge – putting more weight on.
I was already 16 stone when aged 20 I gave birth to my first child Brandon. My poor eating habits were even harder to break now I had a baby to look after.
Rushed off my feet I rarely sat down to meals, instead I’d just snack all day on crisps, pies and chocolate and grab a microwave dinner.
Only when Brandon started toddling, I struggled to keep up with him. I was constantly breathless and relied heavily on the inhaler I’d been prescribed for Asthma.
‘You really do need to lose weight’ doctors told me whenever I visited about my chest.
I’d nod in shame and walk out vowing to, but I was so big I didn’t think it possible.
I had accepted I would be fat forever. I was constantly exhausted with no energy, and my on/ off relationship meant I spent most evenings alone when my son was in bed.
Food was the friend I turned too. But of course as my weight continued to increase my health and confidence sank lower.
In 2011 I fell pregnant again (by the same partner) This time my obesity meant I was at risk of diabetes and then when I went into labor there was more shame….
My epidural hadn’t worked and I was left begging for more pain relief. Only between contractions I heard the midwives whispering: ‘ We can’t give her anything else, her BMI is too high, she’s over 16 stone.’
Was the pain my punishment for getting so fat ? I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
After a painful seven hour labour my daughter Eva was born a perfect 9llb 3oz.
Now with two small children there was even less time to think about losing weight. Even getting through the day was shard enough.
My joints ached and I hated leaving the house, puffing and panting my way through the school run left me exhausted.
Now when I snaked on crisps at night in front of the TV then five- year- old Brandon would join me and my size 24 trousers were cutting at the waist.
Now being called ‘fat’ by his little friend on a play date was the final straw.
So when a few weeks later my mum and some friends suggested we join Slimming World I agreed to give it a go.
‘This is too good to be true,’ I thought as we listened to how we could eat un-limited free foods and enjoy ‘syns’ every day as well as healthy meals.
How can anyone lose weight eating so much ? But when I stood on the scales to be weighed and they hit 17 stone 9 pounds I knew I had to give it a try.
‘I’ve nothing to lose but weight,’ I joked trying to hide my embarrassment.
So that week I ditched crisps and snacks for a healthy breakfast of Weetabix and fruit and ate salad with lots of lean meat to keep me full for lunch.
I cooked a healthy Slimming World meal for tea – low fat versions of the microwave meals I usually went for.
In fact I felt so full I dare not hope that I’d lost any weight at all. But regardless, I felt more energised and alive thanks to not starving myself or binging.
Only when I went for my first weigh in: ‘ You’ve lost six pounds,’ the consultant said. I was shocked.
‘This might actually work,’ I said to myself.
But I still didn’t set a target weight – instead I let the weeks tick by sticking to the plan and losing on average six pounds per month.
Losing it steadily meant I had a better chance of keeping it off. But there were other benefits too. I watched proudly as my two children tucked into healthy home cooked meals and snacked on fruit like me.
I was actually enjoying this diet. Searching for inspiration in the kitchen I turned to Instagram and using the Slimming World hashtag searched for new recipes.
I loved cooking the meals I saw and began posting my own. Soon I had the confidence to post my own pictures.
After hiding away for so long, it was a huge step. But the response was lovely and I began attracting my own followers.
In November 2015 I reached 10 st 9pounds and a size 10. ‘I couldn’t have done it without you,’ I beamed at my consultant.
When she suggested I took my own class: ‘ No way,’ I said.
But as time passed I thought about it more. Because if there’s one thing I had learned it was : ‘Losing weight had taught me I could do anything I set my mind too.’
So in April 2016 I stood in front of a class of 100 members. I’d changed my life and now I wanted more than anything to help others change theirs.
I kept posting in Instagram too and my following swelled to over 38,000 I couldn’t believe it.
Now I teach seven Slimming World classes a week. That’s over 400 people. I love my job so much. Helping others to change their lives is amazing.
My son says ‘You’re a happier mummy now,’ which is the biggest compliment in the world. And it’s true.
I can do so much more now I’m a fit and healthy mum, we’re always out walking or at the park and I love that my children will grow up with a healthy role model.
That play date really did change my life.