PENNY FOUND THE KEY TO LOSING THE POUNDS
A PHOTO from a happy day out gave one Co Wicklow mother the shock of her life and set her on the path to dropping a whopping six stone.
Penny Roche from Windgates had struggled with her weight for as long as she could remember but it was a photo taken at a July 2014 wedding of Penny with the bride that gave her the wake-up call she needed to finally do something about it.
‘I got a shock!’ said Penny, who is married to Matthew and mum to Emma (12), Grace (10) and Lucy (6). ‘It didn’t help that the bride was a petite girl to start with, but beside her, I felt like a monster!’
Over the years, Penny’s weight had gone up and down as she tried various diets and slimming groups. Although she would initially lose some weight, she felt that ‘it was never something I could stick with’.
‘Inevitably the weight would creep back on with a little extra for good measure.’
During each of her pregnancies, Penny was considered obese and developed gestational diabetes, meaning daily injections of insulin to control her blood sugar levels. While her blood sugars normalised after each birth, her doctors were at pains to stress that gestational diabetes was a clear precursor to type 2 diabetes in later life unless she took control of her weight.
Staring at that wedding photo, she decided that enough was enough. While she’d heard positive things about Slimming World and decided to sign up, she almost sabotaged herself with negative thoughts before she got started.
‘I was at my heaviest weight ever – 19st 3lb – and I was practically setting myself up to fail, convincing myself that I would never stick with it even before I started,’ she said.
However, that negativity was countered by a group filled with positivity and masses of support. Her consultant Lesley assured her that the hardest part was over (walking through the door) and the group welcomed her with open arms.
While Penny initially set a weight loss target of two stone, Lesley encouraged her to think about where she really wanted to be weight-wise and aim for that. Inspired, she chose a target of five stone.
For Penny, the group was a key element of her success.
‘We were all in this together, sharing our successes, encouraging each other and sharing tips and recipes over a cup of coffee,’ she said.
The lack of restrictions was also a big help – that first week she felt had never eaten so much food and yet she lost 6lbs.
From thinking she was doomed to fail, Penny changed her mentality and committed to always making time to weighin and meet up with the group each week.
At home, change was also afoot and Penny forced herself to make time to plan and batch cook family meals for the week that everyone could enjoy. She realised that she could make the Slimming World plan work for her, enjoying all her favourite foods – such as burgers and chips, curry, Lasagne and Asian food – yet still staying on plan and losing weight by making changes to how she cooked them.
‘As well as my own health, one of the most significant motivations for me was setting a positive example for my three daughters,’ said Penny, whose own mum sadly passed away when she was 14.
‘I was very conscious of the pressures on kids regarding body image and looking good and I was determined to show them that we could eat healthily, have great tasty food and some treats and that this would be the best gift I could give them in their formative years,’ said Penny, who is delighted that her healthy eating has rubbed off on her daughters who also make healthier choices and enjoy treats in limited measure.
While Penny has had a positive influence on her girls, they too have given her the drive to keep going through the tough times.
As the Greystones mum laboured on towards her increased weight-loss goal of 6st 3lbs, her eldest daughter Emma joined her on walks, encouraged her to keep going and told her how proud she was of her.
During a lowpoint about midway through Penny’s progress, when the weight loss had started to slow down and her commitment was waning, her daughter Grace gave her a hug. The little girl exclaimed with pure joy that she could now giver her mum ‘a proper hug’ as her arms could go all the way around her mother’s waist.
This was all the motivation Penny needed and there was no stopping her after that.
The Slimming World has not only made changes to Penny’s weight but to her whole life. Before, she lacked energy and avoided activity of any kind. Her diet was packed with lots of bread, processed foods, takeaways, crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
Now, minus 6 stone and 3lbs, she walks 5km most mornings, enjoys family days out with the kids (and can keep up with them) and enjoys a wide and varied diet that contains all the foods she loves.
Not only that but when she goes shopping, she can buy whatever she wants, wherever she wants.
‘I used to just buy handbags and shoes, which would at least always fit. Not any more! Slimming World has changed my life and this time it’s for good – I’m not going back!’ she said.
As someone who is living proof of what can be achieved through the Slimming World Food Optimising Plan, Penny now wants to spread the word and help others to achieve their weight-loss goals.She will be relaunching the Slimming World group in Greystones Lawn Tennis Club on Tuesday evenings at 5.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m., beginning next Tuesday, July 18.
Penny getting ‘a proper hug’ from her daughter.
Penny Roche before she lost 6st 3lbs.