After tackling cancer, 20-year-old Emma Parker from Nottinghamshire pledged to tackle her weight too and lost more than 8st – nearly half her body weight – in seven months. She’s been crowned our inspirational Miss Slinky 2012 and shares her story here…
“I can always remember being overweight and bigger than all my friends. In my late teens just walking up the street would leave me breathless and I suffered with aches and pains in my knees and feet. I’d been struggling with my breathing a lot and even started using an inhaler. Then I got a cough that wouldn’t go away. I thought it was all down to my weight so it was a real shock when I found out I had Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer, especially as I was only 18.
“After 12 chemotherapy sessions and a biopsy, I was given the all-clear by my doctor. I felt like I’d been given a second chance in life. I wanted to be as healthy as I could so that if anything ever happened again I would be fitter and stronger. And I wanted to change everything that made me unhappy – which my weight definitely did.
“My auntie had joined a local Slimming World group and every time I saw her she looked better and better. I was nervous about going to Slimming World because I thought I’d be the youngest person there. I worried that people would laugh or stare, but there were people of all ages and I got such a warm welcome from my Consultant, Sue and the rest of the group.
“Sue explained Food Optimising and I knew that the Extra Easy choice was the one for me. There’s so much variety that I’ve never felt bored and it encouraged me to try lots of new foods. I lost 4lb in my first week and that’s when I knew I could really do it. I realised I could lose weight without feeling like I was missing out on the things I like.
Instead of tucking into takeaways and fatty foods, I enjoy big, hearty meals like gammon and pineapple or steak with Slimming World-style chips with peas, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. During the week I enjoy quick and easy pasta dishes like ham and egg linguine or chicken pasta salad. My favourite meal is homemade beef chilli with rice and salad. If I’m hungry between meals, I’ll pick up fat-free yogurts, Walker’s French fries, two-finger Kit Kats or fruit kebabs.
"As I started to lose weight I felt more energetic and confident within my body. I never really had any hobbies before losing weight, now I go swimming with friends, walking with my parents and on bike rides with my boyfriend. Shopping is now one of my favourite hobbies and I’ve bought a whole new wardrobe of slinky size 10 clothes.
“Every week Sue and the rest of the group would congratulate me on how well I was doing and it encouraged me to keep going. Image Therapy is great for sharing new recipes, meal ideas or learning more about the Syns in my favourite foods. I’ve also picked up great tips for eating out and I can still enjoy meals out or nights on the town with friends.
“At first no one knew that I’d had cancer, but the first time I was confident enough to turn up without my wig everyone was so amazing and supportive. My doctor at the hospital has been really impressed with my weight loss too – he says he doesn’t recognise me any more. I’m hoping to be able to celebrate being all-clear for a year in February.
“Losing weight hasn’t just changed the way I look, it’s changed my whole outlook on life. I’m so much happier now and I believe I can achieve anything I want to. I feel that after having cancer, I’ve been given a second chance and I want to make the most of it – now thanks to Slimming World I’m doing just that.”