Nurse Melissa Conway, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, felt her weight was keeping her in the shadows. Now, after losing 6½st, she’s happy to be the centre of attention and living life in full colour. She shares her story here…
I’m the eldest of identical triplets and when we were young we all ate healthy meals at home. It was when I left school at 16 and started college that the weight began to creep on. I’d snack on chips, chocolate, crisps and iced buns while studying. It was pure convenience – I’d reach for anything that gave me an instant sugar fix. I also cut back on exercise and I gradually went from a size 14 to a 16.
It wasn’t until I was about to start university that I realised how big I’d become. All the size-16 outfits I planned to take with me felt tight, which was very depressing. Instead of doing anything about it, I focused on starting my nursing degree. Like any student, I spent a lot of time going out and drinking too much, which did nothing for my figure.
After qualifying as a staff nurse in 2007, I got a job – and put on nearly 4st very quickly. Being a newly qualified nurse is stressful – it’s quite common to gain weight in the first few years. Sometimes I was doing 14-hour shifts and I found it difficult to organise my eating. I’d end up grabbing toast and coffee for breakfast and a mayonnaise-loaded sandwich from the vending machine for lunch. Then when I got home I was too tired to cook, so relied on takeaways three or four times a week. I was so exhausted I’d take a taxi to and from work even though it was only a mile away, and when I neededa quick energy boost I’d reach for a chocolate bar.
I was soon up to a size 20 – although I never admitted that to people. Shopping was a misery so I started doing it online, and even then half the clothes didn’t fit. I cancelled many a night out with friends because I couldn’t find anything to wear. I had a ‘uniform’ of black trousers, loose top and black cardigan that I thought hid the worst bits… it didn’t! As a nurse, I found it embarrassing that I was supposed to be promoting health and well-being and yet was overweight.
I was finally given the push I needed to do something about my weight when my sister Michaela joined Slimming World and lost a stone within a month. After looking up my nearest group online, I decided to join, too.
That first week, I stuck to the plan 100 per cent and lost 5lb. I was delighted and it really spurred me on. I became much more organised about the food I ate at work –and the weight soon started dropping off. After four months, I’d lost 2st. I felt so much better for it and began to up my exercise levels by fitting in walks. I started making the journey to and from work on foot again, even after a 14-hour shift.
Both my sisters and my mum have now joined Slimming World; Michaela has lost 3½st in total, Danielle has lost 13lb and Mum has lost a stone. Even Danielle’s boyfriend is doing the eating plan – it’s working for him, too.
I’m now as slim as my friends and adore clothes shopping. Rather than black, I’ll pick bright reds and blues to make me stand out. I love being able to go into a store, see several outfits I know will suit me and wonder which one to buy. Losing weight has done wonders for my confidence. My self-esteem is sky high and it really is the best feeling in the world!