A super slimmer who shed a show-stopping 7st when she joined her local Slimming Worldgroup and took up tap dancing has won the title of Diamond Member 2012 for her success in maintaining her life-changing weight-loss.
Lauren Leeson, from Northants, has lost 7st 2lb since she joined Slimming World in May 2002 and, with the support of her group in Towcester, she’s kept the weight off now for eight years. She also took up tap dancing when a fellow slimmer recommended the class in 2004 and has been dancing ever since.
The mum-of-two had been overweight since childhood but decided to make a change in her early 20s. She says: “I was a chubby child and always the biggest girl in the class at school. It became more noticeable as I got older and my weight ballooned at university when I started cooking for myself and going out to pubs and clubs.
“I often felt self-conscious because I couldn’t wear the same fashionable clothes as my friends and on planes I’d struggle to squeeze into the tiny seats, but it wasn’t until 2002 when something just ‘clicked’ and I just felt I had to do something once-and-for-all. A friend suggested Slimming World and I decided to go along.”
Lauren, who lives with husband Paul and six-year-old twins Edward and Madeleine, joined the Towcester group run by Alicia Myall and started following the club’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan. “I went to the group by myself which is totally out of character but I was just so determined,” she says. “Having said that, I was still terrified because I thought I’d be the biggest person there but I had nothing to be scared of and was welcomed with open arms.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard about the eating plan. Back in 2002 there were a lot of protein-heavy diets that were really trendy but I love pasta and potatoes, so being told I could eat as much of them as I wanted and lose weight seemed too good to be true.”
By following the plan, Lauren lost 7st by the time she and husband Paul married in April 2004 and soon after she reached her target weight loss of 7st 7lb, dropping seven dress sizes from a size 22/24 to a 10/12. She says: “It’s still amazing to me, I never dreamed I’d ever be a size 10. I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe and even remind people who I am – one of my husband’s friends actually thought he had a new woman!”
Since then Lauren, who is a teaching assistant at a primary school, has attended her Slimming World group as a target member for free. She even continued to come along each week while she was pregnant to receive support to manage her weight throughout the pregnancy, and she was soon back in her size 10s after they were born.
Lauren says: “My Consultant Alicia and the other members of the group were such a big part of my success when I first lost weight and after having Ted and Madeline. Their support helped me to get where I wanted to be and I wanted to help other members to get to where they want to be too. It’s great to keep getting advice and ideas too, there’s rarely a week when I don’t come away with a new recipe. Slimming World really did change my life and I felt like a winner the day I reached my target weight, so winning Diamond Member 2012 really is the icing on the cake.”
Alicia, who runs the Towcester group which Lauren attends, says: “Everyone’s so proud of Lauren. At Slimming World we know that our combination of a flexible eating plan and great group support helps people to lose weight and keep it off, but having real living proof in the group with someone like Lauren is so powerful. Most new members don’t understand why she’s there as she’s so slim, when she explains that she’s lost 7st they’re always gob-smacked! She’s a real inspiration to everyone in the group and she’s definitely a Diamond!”