A Cambridge woman said her life ‘did a 360’ after the incredible weight loss journey that saw her shed 10 stone.
Arbury resident Clare Atkinson, 52, said she had struggled with her weight from a young age.
She said: “I’ve always been a big girl. I went all the way through school being a big girl. I was suffering from arthritis, having to walk with a stick and suffering from anxiety.
“My daughter took a photo of me walking her dog and I just didn’t realise how big I was. I thought that something had to change.”
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After several failed attempts at slimming down, Clare decided to fully commit to shedding the pounds in February 2017.
“I had been to a couple of slimming world classes before and had lost a couple of stone,” she said.
“I was adamant that was all I could do, so I left and I put all the weight back on again. I think I got into a bit of a mindset that my body could only lose two stone.
“If there was a blip or I got stuck, I gave up. This time was different. There’s a right time for everyone to do this and, in my words, I didn’t want to be fat anymore.
“I wanted to be able to do the things that everyone else did. I didn’t want to walk with a stick. I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.”
When she first stepped on the scales around three and a half years ago, she weighed 23 stone, one pound.
She said: “I could walk for about half an hour and that was about it. I felt awful.
“I didn’t want to go out – I was a bit of a ‘no girl’, so if anyone asked me to do anything, it was, ‘no, can’t do that, can’t do that.’
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, walking through the doors of Slimming World, but it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done.
“It took me weeks and weeks but I walked through the door, and that’s where I met my consultant, Rainy Luff-Day.”
Clare said she received a huge amount of support, both from her fellow Slimming World members and from consultant Rainy, who said to her: ‘I believe you can do this, I believe in you, and I’ll support you 100 per cent.’
Clare said: “The better I started to eat, the better I felt, the more confident I started to feel.
I’m a strong believer that food and mental health are closely connected.
She also said she had taken up regular exercise as a result of the programme.
“I hadn’t done any fitness before in my life,” she said. “It just wasn’t part of who I was. I didn’t feel I could do it and there was no way I was going to put myself in front of everybody looking like I did.
“I started the couch to 5k and nine weeks later, I completed it. Now, I run 5k three or four times a week.”
Now, Clare weighs a mere 13 stone one pound – exactly 10 stone less than her starting weight.
But she still has seven more pounds to lose before she meets her target.
She expects this to happen in October, at which point she plans to start training to become a Slimming World consultant herself.
Through this, Clare said she hopes to help other people realise their potential and lose weight.
She said: “if I can help and support anyone who is struggling with their weight to help change their life like me, I think it’s going to be a fantastic role.
“I’m hoping to start training in October. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind.
“I still can’t believe it, it’s like I’ve lost a person, a 10-stone person. It’s absolutely crazy. Just someone saying they believe you can do it is all anyone needs.
“I don’t walk with a stick anymore. I can walk as far as I want to, I can run as far as I want to. It’s like my life has done a 360.
“I just look like a different person. I am a different person.”