Zoe's slim for good

Publication Date29 Jun 2021
Zoe's weight problems began when her parents divorced when she was just nine-years-old and she turned to food for comfort. She says: "That's when my unhealthy relationship with food started. I lived off sweets and cakes and would sneak spoonfuls of golden syrup. It made me feel good for a minute or so. My dad worked a lot too so I would cook for us, which meant mainly oven or ready meals."

Unfortunately, Zoe's size didn't go unnoticed at school and she was picked on incessantly. She was regularly spat on and called 'Big Mac' because her maiden name was McGregor. Zoe says: "I had no friends and would often eat my lunch in the school toilets so that no one would see me eating."

After leaving school things got worse as Zoe found herself in an unhealthy relationship, which ended after three years. She says: "I was at rock bottom. I hated myself. One day my sister found me sobbing on the stairs and said 'Enough is enough. We're joining Slimming World'."

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Images: SWNS

In January 2002, weighing 13st 7lbs and wearing a size 18, Zoe walked through the doors of her first ever Slimming World group. She says: "It was one of the scariest things I've ever done - and also the best thing. The main thing that struck me was the acceptance I felt - I'd expected everyone to laugh or stare at me, but for the first time ever I found myself in a roomful of people who didn't judge me. As a Consultant

judge me. As a Consultant myself, I always remember that and I think having the strength and courage to walk into a group when you're at your lowest is something to be very proud of." She began following Slimming World's Food Optimising eating plan and swapped her diet of processed meals and sugary snacks for homemade cooking. She discovered a love of new foods, including pasta and fresh fruit. She says: "I loved - and love - that I can eat pasta and the freedom of the plan which means I can eat without worry and don't have to count and weigh everything I eat or feel hungry. It's so liberating compared to counting calories or fat. After all these years I still discover new recipes each week in my group and love that, despite what a lot of people think, healthy eating doesn't have to cost a fortune."

Zoe hit her target weight of 9st 7lbs in February 2004 and says: "It was a dream come true. Each week my group and my Consultant helped me to find my inner confidence and I did it! It's not just about stepping on the scales and seeing that number, it's about gaining the life I wanted to live."

After losing weight, Zoe had the confidence to start being more active, taking up running via the Couch to 5k app and is due to run the London Marathon in October, and she tried online dating too. As a result, she met her husband Matt.

In 2011, Zoe decided to leave her sales role and train as a Slimming World Consultant. She says: "I felt strongly that I wanted to help people change their lives like I'd changed mine. It really is the most incredibly rewarding role, seeing people feeling great about themselves and their achievements is amazing, and you get loads of support, encouragement and training from Slimming World in the background too."

Zoe says there have been times where she has struggled to maintain her new weight, including during recent lockdowns, and having the Slimming World plan and support of her group to fall back on has been invaluable. She says: "I was surprised to see old habits sneak back in. I realised I needed to regain control, so I joined a virtual Slimming World group because, even after all these years, I needed that support."

Zoe got back on track and is now delighted to be Slimming World's Top Target Consultant 2021. She says: "It feels amazing. I'm so grateful to have found Slimming World, it changed my life and I believe saved my life.

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Now I'd love to inspire others to make a change too."

1 Preheat your oven to 200?C/fan 180?C/gas 6. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

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2 To make the rostis, put the potatoes on a clean tea towel. Roll the towel up and squeeze out as much moisture as you can...

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