Wicklow People (Arklow) - - NEWS -

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.

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