'Life-changing' | 

Mum-of-two lost five stone after being told she could have a stroke

I went home and I cried. I have two girls, and I am divorced, and I just thought, “if they have to look after me, shame on me"

Avril is proud of her weight loss© Denise Smith

Avril

Avril before her weight loss

Sunday World

I started my journey in November 2018. I had been on holiday’s with a friend — we drove down through France and Spain and there were a lot of cathedrals and steps, and I just thought, ‘oh Jesus, I can’t do this.’ My hips and knees were killing me and I was really struggling in the heat. I was so uncomfortable.

My friend said, “you need to go to a doctor when you get back”, so that’s what I did. I had always had high cholesterol but my blood sugars were high so I was pre-diabetic and I had fatty liver disease.

The stats were that my chances of having a stroke and a heart attack had increased significantly by the time I was 65.

Avril before her weight loss

I went home and I cried. I have two girls, and I am divorced, and I just thought, ‘if they have to look after me, shame on me.

If my health was like that purely because I was overweight, I had to do something about it and I had to do something about it now.

I had only moved to a new area and I didn’t know anyone so walking through the doors of my local Slimming World was genuinely one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But I shouldn’t have been so worried. My consultant, Rachel , met me and because she is so bubbly and encouraging, she really put me at ease as soon as I walked through the doors.

I have been on diets throughout my life but something in that class just clicked. And everyone was amazing, offering advice on your bad weeks and helping you through your journey.

Avril

“It was that whole network of support that got me through any difficult weeks.

“I think what people don’t realise is that there is nothing that you can’t have in the plan. And there is nothing that you can’t cook healthily. I love fish pies and curries - everything is made fresh.

In the first year I lost four stone and by the time December of 2020 rolled around I had reached my goal of 11st so I had lost 5st 1lb in total.

When I look back at my pictures I don’t remember being that big. I am so glad that I finally said, ‘now is the time to take care of yourself.’ I had run a company and raised two kids and you don’t prioritise to yourself.

And what I say to the younger girls in the class is that in order to lose your weight, you have to be a little selfish.

Now I feel so good in myself and I am so much happier.

After I lost the weight, I went back for tests and I had reversed the fatty liver disease and everything else was resolved apart from high cholesterol which is just genetic.

That alone is life-changing. It just means if something happened, it didn’t happen because I was overweight.

I really want people to know that this isn’t a diet, the changes I made would have been swapping oil to the fry light and no longer using jars or tins, everything was fresh.

I still have my nights out and I have my gin and tonics. I was away for two weeks and I was only up a pound.

I would say to anyone, don’t be embarrassed. There is no recriminations or slaps on the wrist here. It’s just support all the way. Just do it for you.

I am shocked that I didn’t care for myself because I was too busy caring for everyone else.

I never believed I would get here but what I will say is that I will never find that 5st again.

As you get older you really do need to look after yourself. I am 62 now.

My generation, we were never allowed to be selfish you just had to get on with it.

My consultant Rachel really is amazing. The one thing she said to me when I was asked to do this photo shoot was: “If you think you can help one person.” And that’s the only reason I agreed.

For someone to come from hating themselves and waking up and saying, ‘how did I do this to myself’ to now being the happiest I have ever been. I no longer feel angry or disappointed in myself. I am grateful every day that I walked through those doors of my local Slimming World.


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