A yo-yo dieter came out of the lockdown with a four-stone lighter with a smaller size of 14 inches – looking so different her colleagues didn’t recognize her.
Claire Campbell-Andrews, 59, a mother of two, who describes chocolate and cookies as her ‘kryptonite’, went from 13th 5lbs to 9th 4lbs in 13 months, after joining Slimming World in August 2019.
A supply chain manager, when she returned to work in September 2021 with a new hairstyle and size 10 clothes, compared to the size 18 wardrobe she had before the pandemic, a colleague asked, “Claire, is that you?”
Claire, who lives near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, with her husband, George, 69, who retired after working in IT in the banking industry, said: “It was really fantastic because i know i look very different.
“I cut my hair and although I don’t look like a sheep dressed as lamb, I can now wear close-fitting clothes. “
Yo-yo diet since age 15, Claire, whose children from a previous relationship Lorna, 24, and Guy, 26, are both students, says she “had a little wobble “during the second confinement in 2020, gaining a few pounds, but then became a mom with a mission.
She said: “When the lockdown started I was doing really well.
“I joined Slimming World, while my brother was getting married, although that has been postponed now.
“I really didn’t want to be the big one in the picture.”
She added, “My daughter-in-law had given birth to twins and there’s the most horrific photo of me sitting down holding one and it looks like my stomach is eating the baby.
“I couldn’t have this anymore!”
“I also gained a lot of weight after menopause. “
She added: “But a friend at work lost three stones with Slimming World and she’s older than me, so I thought if she could do it, I could too.
“But, when the second pandemic lockdown hit, like most people, I got really depressed and struggled with everything – including my diet.
“I felt like I was mentally clinging to my fingernails.”
She added, “Then I made the decision to stay motivated, not to wallow and come out a winner from the lockdown!” “
Claire is 5ft 2.5in tall and weighed 13th 5lbs at her highest weight and now weighs 9th 4lbs.
When the world opened up again, she was eager to replace her wardrobe.
She said: “One of my girlfriends runs a pre-loved clothing agency and she took pity on me, seeing that I was in desperate need of new clothes.
“So about a third of my wardrobe is now pre-liked, which is great, actually, because it means that I can afford really beautiful things and that I am doing something for the planet.”
She added: “It’s great knowing that I can walk into any clothing store on Main Street and slip into a size 10, instead of desperately looking for something in a size 18.”
One of the ways Claire maintains her weight is by not having a fight if she is having a “bad day.”
She said, “It’s just a day and I’m keeping it in proportion.”
She added: “I don’t think, ‘That’s it, I failed, I don’t diet anymore.
“I just see it as part of the trip and I’m back on track the next day.”
It’s a major breakthrough for a self-confessed fad dieter.
She said: “I was about 15 when I started dieting.
“I’ve done everything since cabbage soup.
“But, no matter what I lost, I always put it back.”
She added, “Then I woke up to the fact that if I wanted to be healthy in my sixties, I had to commit to a better lifestyle.”
And once she lost weight, every bit of Claire got slimmer.
She said: “I went down four ring sizes and had to take my engagement ring to be resized!”
She added, “Even some of my shoes are like boats now because my feet are thinner.”
Before joining the slimming group, she would skip breakfast, enjoying a Danish pastry or candy and chocolate at work.
Then she would feast on fries for lunch in the canteen.
On the way home, she had a gin and tonic before dinner, then a few glasses of wine with a dinner filled with carbohydrates and cheese, like lasagna.
In addition, during the day, she dipped Bourbon cookies or custard creams in her drinks and slipped into Galaxy chocolate bars.
She said, “Chocolate and cookies were my kryptonite!
She added, “I will always eat nice cheese sauces, but all the ingredients will be reduced in fat.
“Now I start my day with a coffee, but as it prepares I weigh my milk for the day.
“Then I eat porridge with berries and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top. “
She added, “Or my favorite is egg bread with cinnamon and berries, with a dollop of yogurt and a little bit of vanilla powder added to the mix.
“Lunch is normally a salad, or it can be some kind of protein like chicken or smoked salmon with lots of vegetables, like peas, beans and sweetcorn.
“And if I’m making pasta for dinner, I throw in lots of veg, so it fills me up, without making me fat.”
She added, “But dinner will usually be protein, like chicken or pork. Whatever I have, a third of the meal will be vegetables. I also have a much smaller serving of carbs, which tends to be sweet potato or celeriac and mashed potatoes.
“Plus, if I’m hungry around 4:30 pm, I have a few babybel mini light cheeses, with pickled onions, instead of the pile of Bourbon cookies I was munching on.
“If I feel like something sweet, I have an apple – normally I eat two a day.”
Claire’s huge progress even inspired her husband to watch her waistline – lose two stones on a different diet.
While one of her close friends, seeing her success, also joined Slimming World and lost three and a half stones.
Claire said: “We go cycling once a week together and do a 14 mile round trip and we really support each other which is great.”
Now her mind turns to Christmas, and after last year’s non-existent holiday season, she’s looking forward to festive occasions where she can dress up and show off the new look she’s worked so hard for.
She said: “I belong to a book club and we have been together for 14 years.
“I hope we have a Christmas party this year because I have a really beautiful dress that I can’t wait to wear.”
She added, “It’s a shimmering three-quarter-length sleeveless dress.
“I’ve had some really adorable and very flattering comments on my weight loss, now I’m looking forward to the Christmas celebrations so I can really shine.”
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